Growing up in Sagamihara City, Japan, Yuito Kimura had no idea what he wanted to spend his life doing. Choosing a career path seemed like an impossible task, and as a teenager he decided to move to the United States to learn English. When it was time to leave, he wanted to express how thankful he was to his host family for letting him stay and growing such a close relationship, so he created a music video with over 300 pictures. Not only did his experience of staying in Denver change his life, but this seemingly simple act of creating a heartfelt music video was cataclysmic; while putting together the images, Kimura realized he had a passion and innate talent for filmmaking, and he since has never looked back.
“I gave them the video when I left the house, and later I got a message from them that the host mother cried while she was watching the video. That made me so happy that I could impress somebody with what I created. This experience made me realize the magic of filmmaking and it made me decide that is what I needed to spend my life doing,” he said.
Now, over ten years later, Kimura is a sought-after cinematographer both in Japan and abroad. His resume is filled with successful projects, from the music video “We are Stars” to an acclaimed television and web commercial for Townforst. His work on films like Dropping the S Bomb and Back to the Future? showcase his immense talent and versatility.
When creating the video Star Wars: Amulet of Urlon, Kimura had the chance to honor one of his favorite franchises while creating an impactful piece of art, and it was an opportunity too good to miss. The film features a Relic Hunter who explores a cave in the quest for buried treasure in an unknown planet in the galaxy. The story is simple, and it is a visually exciting film, especially for Star Wars fans.
Not only did the film resonate with fans of the classic Star Wars films, but it went on to receive critical acclaim. It was an Official Selection at the Tampa Bay Comic Con Film Festival 2017, San Francisco Comic Con Film Festival 2017, GeekFest Film Festival 2016, TRIFI International Film Festival 2016, Hero16 Rose City Hero/Fan Film Showcase 2016, and the MidAmeriCon II Film Festival 2016. Kimura’s touch on the project made it all possible.
“Working with Yuito was a great experience, he is very talented and had a broad understanding of different cinematic styles and technical skills to efficiently execute ideas on set. I was first referred to him by a work colleague who insisted his talent was perfect for this project, and it was. He is also a team player, he took time to understand the creative direction, add to it, and create something truly remarkable. Collaboration skill is a must in this industry and Yuito has it in droves,” said Matt Lopez, Producer.
There was no dialogue throughout the film and the story was only told by the character’s movement. This made the cinematography that much more important. Also, because of the amount of visual effects created in post-production, shooting was a fun challenge for the cinematographer.
The opening and the ending scene are set in a deep treasure cave, so Kimura and his team needed to walk a long way to find a big cave along the beach that would suit the film.
“What I enjoyed while working on this project was overcoming the challenges, making sure it looked the best it could. This is always fun for me. I love puzzles, solving problems under a certain condition is very fun to me. Working as a cinematographer is like playing a three or four-dimensional puzzle game. Shooting a Sci-Fi project is always complicated, but it’s more fun because of that,” he said.
Kimura’s favorite scene to shoot was the lightsaber fight. Most of the shots in this scene were handheld and the director trusted the cinematographer’s vision, allowing him to freely move around to capture what he really wanted.
“We had limited choice of location but revealing ten to twenty percent is enough to understand what’s going on in the movie. I believe that one of the enchantments of filmmaking is trying not to show everything I see in order to really transport the audience,” he described.
The team also needed to fake a lot of things to make it look like a set, as they were shooting in a forest with an abandoned cabin. They used two big black cardboard pieces to create gates for the main character. There were two people holding the boards by the side and slowly stepped back at the same time, so on camera it looked like the gate opened and the character appeared. This, as Kimura explains, is the magic of movies.
“As a big Star Wars fan, it was fun to imagine on set how the lightsaber fighting scene with Relic Hunter and enemies would turn out with VFX on post production. That made me very excited,” he concluded.
Star Wars fans should watch Kimura’s captivating work in Star Wars: Amulet of Urlon here.