Continuing with our instructor interviews, we present to you James Sereno who will be conducting the Directing workshop on Tuesday June 26 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm in our Elements of Film and Video Production series.
James, a graduate of the USC School of Cinema-Television, began his career in development at the Disney Studios and Columbia Pictures and then worked in advertising as a producer with clients including Lexus, Adidas and America West. In 1997, James moved back to Hawaii where he started his own production company, Kinetic Productions. His recent short film work has won numerous awards including a British Academy Award nomination and a Cannes Bronze Lion. His latest feature film, Broken Paradise, premiered at last year’s HIFF festival.
What is it about directing that you enjoy?
I love that fact that the director does nothing, yet is involved with everything. It is the director that must touch on every part of the film and allow his/her taste or values to influence the process. Yet, the director needs to work with department and collaborate with people who will also influence his decision making. The ying and yang of that dance is what is most exciting.
In terms of the film and video industry, what are some challenges, as well as rewards, of working in Hawaii?
The rewards are strong. We are a small community and everyone bands together and cares deeply about each project. We create little mini families. The biggest challenge is the fact that we are a small island and the resources that we have are usually limited to what we can get locally.
Why is important for you to utilize local talent?
I believe in the community and feel strongly that we must grow and develop talent from within if we are to succeed. I also believe that the above the line people need opportunties to grow so we are not just a service industry but creators as well.
Do you see any trends in the industry that might impact Hawaii?
Technology is getting cheaper and easier. With that, the process of making a project becomes simpler. The good of that is you need less people so films become cheaper to produce. The negative is that people become less specialized and the professionalism and collaborative circle shrinks. I believe that filmmaking is very communal. The younger filmmakers are gonna face the challenge of having a smaller circle and diluting their energies as they wear multiple hat.
What’s your favorite movie and why?
I have multiple favorites for different reasons. I love the movies of the 70’s with The Godfather and the original Star Wars. But those were movies I grew up with and they take me back to good memories. I also love films from today and Slum Dog Millionaire is one of my favorites. I have that film on my IPad/iPhone and whenever I travel it is always my go to movie.