Documentaries as Gifts for Society
What is the purpose of a documentary film?
Is it, in the literal sense of the word, for documentation? Is it storytelling as an emotional device? Or both? Should we be running around in search of “The Truth”? Perhaps, but surely the more we chase the truth, the more it escapes us, and it is impossible to ever tell the whole story. Should we judge everything as either good or bad? Should we favor one person and denigrate another? Should we be the hammer of justice, and expose wrongdoing? Should we be the standard bearer of the helpless and the weak? Or should we skip the hard stuff and produce cute little stories and fun gossip? For certain, there is no need to be a slave to the fashions of the times, but on the other hand if a film is boring then who is going to watch it? If only it were possible for the filmmaker to be as invisible as the proverbial fly on the wall. But since there is no such thing as absolute objectivity, who is to say the filmmaker can’t pursue self-expression to the limit?
Like all forms of expression, images cannot remain independent of society. This is even more so with documentaries. Documentary is a form of social expression. Documentaries exist to be gifts to society. They are a collection of ideas that people can use to help themselves think about issues, and to help positively evolve both themselves and society — both a gift and a favor. Like an eccentric woodsman planting trees for grandchildren yet to be born, we offer gifts to society, honestly and earnestly. Whether it is a feature film or a short commercial, we call the spirit that pervades it a ‘work of art’, and we call the people who create such things ‘artists’.
What we, as dreamers, want to make are relay batons filled with the passion of ‘gifts to society’. A baton must be passed on to the next runner. That is why we sow the seeds and nurture new ‘artists’ to pass the baton from one person to another, in the belief that the gifts we create have at least some little value to society, and us all.
Representative director / producer / director
From 1977 to 1994, he worked for two TV program production companies, East and Nexus, producing all kinds of TV programs other than light entertainment. At the behest of the first company he worked for, he opened a European bureau and spent two years in Paris. Established workflows for overseas coverage, including finding coordinators.
Produced and directed information, travel, art, nature and science commentary programs; in 1990, made a film adaptation of British science writer Dougal Dixon's “After Man”, a program composed of special effects and live action before the heyday of computer graphics.
In 1995, believing in the potential of computers, he set up his own company, Evolution Inc, to realize a digital workflow, and carried out production activities incorporating the web, CG, etc.
In 1999, he was involved in the conception and operation of 'Q's Eye', the large scale outdoor screen at the landmark QFRONT building in Shibuya. He built Japan's first system for sending images from a hard disk, similar to non-linear editing. Applying this system, he participated in the renovation of the Aurora Vision at the Tokyo Dome, and also operated it.
Around the same time, in 2002, when the International Space Station was only operated by the Russian module Zvezda, he participated in a plan to bring an HD camera into the module in cooperation with JAXA and NHK's affiliated companies. He was involved in JAXA's PR activities for nearly 10 years.
Founded an experimental film label, releasing 10 DVD titles and two CD titles, which had some success.
Also produced overseas commercials for Japanese companies (NIKON, Suzuki, Konica Minolta, etc.) in partnership with CNN.
In 2013, in order to care for his aging parents, the company's head office was moved to Sakawa, Kochi.
In 2016, produced a three-dimensional HD work 'Joganji River' for the Tateyama Erosion Control Museum in Toyama Prefecture. Established a workflow for remote work in an internet environment.
Web video production by remote work together with Evoworks, a web production company spun off from Evolution Co.
In 2022, with the goal of “redefining documentary”, Evolution was relaunched with Tom Vincent and Mile Nagaoka as company directors.
Company Director / Filmmaker
Born 1979, Yotsukaido City, Chiba.
Lives and works in Sanagochi Village, Tokushima Prefecture.
Based in Tokushima, he travels around Japan and has produced numerous documentary-based films.
After dropping out of the Tokyo Polytechnic University, he went to Sweden to study and began self-taught photography. After returning to Japan, he attended the Film School of Tokyo and studied under a number of film directors. Later worked freelance in Tokyo as camera, lighting and art staff for various independent films, organized film workshops, apprenticed to a traditional paper craftsman, art director for an NPO, set up and managed a share house in downtown Tokyo, and worked as creative director for GreenTV, an environmental film company.
In 2010, he moved to Kamiyama-cho, Tokushima Prefecture. After working for Tonoloop Networks Inc, he set up Nagakatz Studio and began producing a variety of films both in and beyond Shikoku. He also travelled throughout Japan with filmmakers from various countries and produced the feature-length documentaries Ubusuna and Ubusuna 2 - Kai.
In 2016, he produced The Birthplace of Soy Sauce at the request of the town of Yuasa in Wakayama Prefecture. The film was featured on National Geographic's official website, received over 2 million views on YouTube and became a top 10 film on Reddit.
In 2017, he completed the short documentary film Kamiyama Alone, which took six years to make and won the Best Documentary Award at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival and the General Jury Award at the 1st Obuse Short Film Festival, as well as being screened at various theaters in Japan and abroad.
In the same year, he was selected together with Swedish butoh dancer Frauke for an artist-in-residence program at the residence of legendary director Ingmar Bergman, and produced the experimental film Fortuna on the island of Faure.
In 2018, he produced a PR video after a year-long filming period in Seiyo City, Ehime Prefecture. With the support of Tokushima entrepreneurs, he also began work on his first fiction film, which was completed in 2020 as the film Awauta. The film was selected as an official selection at many film festivals and won the Best Feature Film Award at the London Independent Film Festival in 2020 and the Best Director Award and Special Jury Award at the Porto International Film Festival in Porto, Portugal in 2022.
In 2022, he joined EVOLUTION Co.
CEO of Nagakatz Studio.
Director / Creative director
Born 1967, London, UK.
Lives and works in Hino-cho, Gamo-gun, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.
Based in Hino-cho, Gamo-gun, Shiga Prefecture, Tom Vincent works with companies, governments and local authorities on everything from concept strategy development to branding, promotion, media and content production.
From 1999 to 2008, he was company director and creative director of IMG SRC Inc. He worked on brand and campaign websites for global companies such as Sony, Fujifilm, IBM, Swatch and JT, and won various advertising awards, including the One Show and the Cannes Cyber Lion.
In 2009, he founded Tonoloop Networks Inc. While assisting major companies and projects such as Nissan, NTV, Yoshimoto Kogyo, Heibonsha, Kirin, METI, Japan Tourism Agency, NHK World, The Japan Times, Smiles, National Association of Towns and Villages, Mitsubishi Industry, etc., he has also participated in various local town/island revitalization and community activation projects, including Kamiyama-cho in Tokushima Prefecture.
In 2012, he produced a film for the exhibition Tema-hima exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight. In 2011, he produced the documentary films Ubusuna and Ubusuna 2 - Kai, which depict ways of living with forests in various regions of Japan, and in 2016 he produced Ubusuna 3 - Setsu. In 2013, produced the opening film for the November edition of the NHK historical drama Yae no Sakura. In 2013, appeared as a navigator in the BS11 special program This is My Hosomichi. In 2017, produced the short film The Birthplace of Soy Sauce, which was selected for the National Geographic Short Film Showcase in the US. In 2018, appeared as navigator in the TV special program 'AIZU', commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Boshin War. In 2021, produced the audio drama 'Watashi wa Hino-cho ni Koishita Monogatari'; in 2021, produced the short film 'Hinokurashi'; etc.
Co-owner of craft beer company Hino Brewing with the sixth generation of Hino's long-established liquor store and a Polish braumeister living in Hino.
Member of the Cool Japan Strategy Advisory Board of the Cabinet Office
Part time faculty member in the field of cultural design and art education at Kyoto University of Arts Representative Director of Tonoloop Networks Inc.
Company Director of Hino Brewing Co.
Born in Tokushima, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan.
Her real name is Yuri Sasada, but she has been using the name without the 'da' since 2023, as it is easier and looks better, and maybe even brings her some good luck.
In 2015, she set up the event planning unit Hitoiro in Tokushima Prefecture and organized music-related events. Self-taught in video, graphic and web design.
In September 2022, she graduated from the 25th class of the Fiction Course at the Film School of Tokyo in Shibuya, Tokyo, and set up the Tokyo-based film and art organization VACANCE pictures with her colleagues.
Joined Nagakatz Studio in November 2022, to produce documentaries and advertising films that convey the appeal of people and organizations through a comprehensive process of planning, filming and editing.
Director / consultant
Born in Tokyo. Lives and works in Tokyo.
Joined Hamano Research Institute, Nomura Co. in 2005 and CPCenter in 2010, where she worked on concept creation and MD planning for urban commercial facilities.
Freelance since 2012. In addition to producing commercial facility development, she has also conducted numerous business development and brand development projects.
Main achievements: commercial facility development production｜ QFRONT, Futakotamagawa rise, Tokyo Midtown, GRAND FRONT OSAKA, Kyoto Tower SANDO, Shibuya Scramble Square, Tokyu Main Store project food and beverage concept planning, business style development production｜ CHEESE GARDEN, Shibuya Food Show renewal, cafe & bakery Atami, gallery & salon kojin kyoto, project management of the "eye eAt" exhibition, an exhibition to taste the world of food with the eyes.
Born in Kyoto.
While a student at Kyoto Seika University, she was responsible for the stage management of the school festival, which became a catalyst in her life. Since moving to Tokyo, she has worked energetically as a "behind-the-scenes" worker at LOFT9 shibuya and Daikanyama Haretara Sora ni Mame Maite (Beans in the Sky), while also organising exhibitions of manga artist Jyunta Shima's original drawings and various live stages. Karate Inyoryu 2dan. Loves hashed rice.