Ovl

Hiro Murai

How did you get into directing?
My interest in making movies started when my dad bought a camcorder. I originally wanted to be a painter but because I was also a tech geek, I was really intrigued by cameras. I made a bunch of shorts when I was in high school, and eventually enrolled in film school. Professionally, I started out as a DP for music videos and short films. I was shooting a lot for the production company Partizan, and eventually they offered me some directing opportunities—which I happily accepted.

What is your most recent project?
I’m currently working on a music video for an artist called B.O.B. As I write this, I’m rushing through storyboards, since it shoots in two days.

What is the best part of being a director?
This might sound like a canned answer, but my favorite part of being a director is when all the fragments of ideas and images that have been floating in my head come together in front of the camera. There’s something incredibly satisfying about translating an abstract thought in your head into something tangibly real, although I guess this is an obvious appeal for all creative work.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons)
and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates most with you?

I haven’t really had any mentors when it comes to filmmaking. I’ve mainly learned through working with colleagues and making mistakes. Although I did receive a lot of guidance and encouragement about freelancing from my dad—who started out his career as a freelancing composer.

Who is your favorite director and why?
My taste in movies are a bit all over the place, but off the top of my head, I love David Lynch and the Coen Brothers. I love films that are sort of tonally ambiguous and idiosyncratic. Oh, and like every other film student I love Stanley Kubrick.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial?
I don’t really have a favorite movie, but the film that had the biggest impact on me when I was trying to decide what I wanted to do for a career was Pulp Fiction. As far as commercials, I love anything by Tom Kuntz because I’m a sucker for absurdism. Especially those Skittles ads.

Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born in Tokyo, Japan. I moved out to Los Angeles when I was about nine years old. I spent a good number of years not speaking/understanding English, which in retrospect probably contributed to my love of pictures. Before I became a DP, I read scripts for a couple of production houses. Thankfully I knew how to read by then.