First Short Film

Growing up "American" Losing his sister in camp Getting an English Name Introduction to Film Seagulls Leaving Tule Lake Getting Started in Animation First Short Film Teaching English in Japan Animations for the Government The Red Baron Paintings reflecting on camp Reparations

Transcripts available in the following languages:

I learned to, well I didn't learn to animate. I was watching these animators working. I says I uh wanna learn to animate now, you know, and uh, 'cause I knew everything about the sheets.  It's a complicated thing. But when I say sheets and all that cause I mean I had to get the drawing and get all the numbers down for camera levels and so on. And so I said, "I can do that."  And so these Disney guys who laughed at me said I gotta have at least 15 years as an assistant.  You know I says, "I can do it."  Just, just draw the bloody thing, you know, just draw the drawings and make them move. You know, he says, "No you can't do that."  

So anyway I borrowed a disc, took it home, and with paper and everything,  and I animated my first film, my first short film.  And it was, uh, I did the storyboard and called it "Banner of Teruaki," you know.  And uh this samurai story with an arrow and a for-fortress thing.  And I animated the thing and I painted it all myself with Magic Markers and stacked the drawings up, you know, and put...used the sheets and everything.  And I put it on the box and brought it to UPA and asked the camera to shoot it.  And he laughed at me.  He says, "Jimmy, what are you talking about? I can't, I can't shoot this.  I mean, it's not part of my job and I'm, I'm...we only have one camera and it's working 24 hours a day with two shifts of cameramen, you know?  And I, uh, we can't shoot that."  So I took it home and burned it. You know? And it took me months to, to do.  

About a few minutes after that the word got around that I had done this kind of interesting film, short film.  They wanted to put it onto Columbia Pictures' short films, you know, what they call a pair of shorts -- two, two short films. I was called in by Steve Azusu, who was the owner of UPA.  He said "Jim, Jim we'd like to pay you $500 for your story and whatever you did, animated.  You know we have a scene" And I said, "You know, well, I can't. I don't have it.  It's all burnt." He goes, "What!?" You know? And he says, "You can't do..." And I says, "Well he didn't shoot it." He says, "You should come to me," he says.  I say, "Well I wouldn't come to a boss and ask him to shoot a tape.

Date: June 29, 2012
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Chris Komai, John Esaki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Animation film

Nikkei Heroes: Trailblazers, Role Models, and Inspirations

Submissions accepted until September 30.

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