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Conversations with Tsubasa Maruno

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tsubasa Maruno.

Hi Tsubasa, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I have been always fascinated with stories and characters. I grew up watching Anime, and reading comic books in class was pretty much all I did when I was at elementary school. But I had a teacher who turned me to books. Then I discovered Quentin Tarantino and cinema. He is the biggest influence in my life and eventually, I started to aspire to be a filmmaker myself.

When I was around 20, my brother started his company in Tokyo. He was a VJ (Video DJ) at clubs and events. He had a camera and computer to edit so I started making wedding videos, initially for friends, using my brother’s equipment. That’s how I learned to edit.

When I first moved to LA, I went to lots of student-film sets as a volunteer. Going to AFI (American Film Institute) shoots were really great opportunities to learn the craft of filmmaking and meet great people. Then I started making short films with the people I met.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. I guess I was focusing too much on myself. What I can do, what I want to do, how I want to do, etc. Only recently I started to pay attention to what is going on around the world and what kind of creative people are out there. Because the way people make movies and consume movies and the platform to distribute movies are changing. The kinds of movies made are changing, too. I just realized the importance of connecting to people who have similar interests.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I make movies. I do other video work for now but my main interest is narrative. I make horror movies and sometimes other genres. It was funny that when I just started writing scripts, everything I wrote turned into horror. I thought I wrote a comedy, but when I showed it to people, they told me it was very scary! I tried drama and ended up being horror again, like that. But in fact, I do love horror movies. More than I admit it to myself. Horror movies are great because they let us explore dark subject matters and the fear of death. Everyone can relate to that. I believe through horror movies, we can take all kinds of fear and incongruity in our imperfect lives and society and form them into a monster (sometimes it is just a man) in a story, so that we can express and deal with them better.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
To enjoy every single moment of the process of making movies. When I made a short film called SCUM, I was very miserable throughout the whole production. It was the most ambitious project I ever embarked on at the time and I invested a lot of time and energy and money. I guess my expectation was too high and the production didn’t go so well. I faced many compromises and challenges and disappointments. While I was editing, I was really depressed. Then I thought “Wait a minute. Filmmaking is all I wanted to do and now I am doing it and feeling this way doesn’t feel right.” So I just decided to enjoy everything that comes during a shoot from that moment on. I like to do a lot of prep work for any shoot but also learned to throw away any expectations for what comes out of it. And be ready to enjoy whatever comes out and be flexible

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