Last month I had the privilege of shooting Korean star Jang Dong Gun here for his publicity tour for "Warriors Way" now I have not seen the movie but I hear it had some cool effects. I know that out in Asia there are obviously many good looking Asian actors and models with great leading roles.... however we here struggle to maintain an Asian identity as well as be "American" I love the fact that there are some Asian stars and sex symbols that Asian Americans can look up to. Not just what America thinks is Asian!! I am sure that is why not even the biggest names have not made it here as "just an actor" Jackie Chan (maybe) , Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat...... generally speaking America just does not or will not write them in decent non stereotypical roles!! Asian models I think would have a much better chance. just recently Asian American band Far East Movement reached #1 in internet downloads and I tunes..... huge step for us!! no news in Asia , but we here all knew about it!! So as far as the photo shoot went we had 2 hours to shoot a cover and 8 pages. He was very easy to work with and made the shoot so much easier. I wanted to bring out a different side to him, a more personable side that many do not see because of his good looks I suppose. Here Is a "behind the scenes" clip on CNN. And on a funny note he only had a few hours sleep so he used my bedroom as a place to change and rest!! Never expected him to be in my room..... sorry ladies !! I hope when I return to Asia this year I can shoot more editorials publicity and fashion. Anyone have any cool ideas or coming to America soon???? Video: http://www.shanesato.com/productions/S-sato_clip.mov
I Just fininshed working on a movie called "Sideways" an adaption of the American drama/comedy for the Japanese market. It is the first Japanese production funded in Japan with a Japanese cast and a American crew. You see America copying movies all the time, but this is a first for Japan! anyway I am the still or set photographer....... if there are any set photographers out there I want to know if you get as little "love" as we in the USA get! I am pushed around and shoved into the tiniest of spaces trying to get a shot.... ha ! From what I hear the stills photographer gets a lot more respect in other countries !! Anyway we shot around the usual tourist places like the Chinese Theatre, Malibu, LAX, Hollywood, San Francisco on our way up to Napa Valley where the main part of the film takes place. We stayed in Santa Rosa and had the usual hardships of any film that you can now look back upon and laugh!! well sometimes!! we had the teamsters strike our set beating drums and chanting "WE WANT CONTRACT" at the top of their lungs!! I hear there are no unions in Asia?? maybe just the Mafia !! We lost sets (huge vineyards)and had rain during our only outdoor scenes...... luckily our crew was great and the actors were cool... Kyoka Suzuki, Fumio Kohinata, Katsu Namase and oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi from Babel. everything always seems to fall into place with the chaos and drama. Sometimes you even have a good movie come out of it too. Well to any and all of you that are on set (especially talent, producers, DPs and Camera crew! ).......if you see the stills guy squished up in a little corner with numerous people telling him to "get out " please say hi for me and give them a little love! There is probably a place for them to stand near you!!! I know they need it sometimes !! Remember everyone from the studio/ publicity/ marketing and talent/crew will want and need these pictures LATER........ it always happens!!
I'm a fan of movies..... Asian, Indie,Hollywood , Anime......here is a video from the movie NANA .... some of the Manga turned live action I wrote about! It stars Mika Nakashima who is a J-pop star. I think this was her first movie?? kinda like Wong Faye in "Chung King Express" another of my favorites!! Its a little "girly " but I highly recommend this movie....especially Manga fans! I'm not sure if I would like to see it remade here, but it may be cool for more of the U.S. audience to see the story..... but I think this version rocks!! does anyone know her?? I hope to shoot her one day .... she has a cool yet innocent look to her.... Video:
here is a shot with her with her new image (like the ones earlier) we were trying to create. I guess her other photos were too plain for her!
I wish her the best and I told her about this site , Im sure you can see more of her as she creates a page here too....I wish her the best of luck!
I work a lot in the Asian American community.... this is a possible reason as why. I am a Japanese American a" Sansei or 3rd generation".... one side of my family from Hawaii and the other from Central California. I was born in Los Angeles , so in Hawaiian I am considered a "Ka-Tonk" a mainland born Japanese. When i was young I never spoke a word of japanese, nor anything else but english. I learned U.S. history and saluted the flag during the pledge of allegiance in the morning. My mother cooked tacos , pot roast, corned beef and cabbage, and tv dinners (in the metal trays) . My mother told me she had been to "camp" I thought wow that must have been really fun. As i found out later in life how it was the Japanese way not to complain or talk about bad times. I found out that my mother was imprisoned for being of Japanese ancestry in America after the attack on Pearl Harbor.... I grew up in grade school thinking i was like everyone else, when i went to Hawaii everyone looked like me..... it was only in Central Cali that things were a bit different. Almost all my friends were of asian decent with 50% being Japanese. The older guys were referred to as "Buddaheads" and the younger guys like me as "Superjaps" ,but they were interchangeable. We were the first import racers with Datsun 240zs and 510s. Mazda RX 3s and a few Toyotas. Those times have come and gone with Monterey Park with its japanese gardens to being called "Little Taipei" and known as a Chinese suburb. Little Tokyo and Nisei week festivals are disappearing with younger generations not attending to "pick up on chicks" or "watch the cruise" There were no clubs to go to back then and none would take an all asian crowd anyway. As a JA we all did three things..... joined bowling leagues , went fishing and played basketball. I guess it was something our parents could do together socially among themselves and we just did it too. My dad owned a bowling supply, where one could buy the bowling ball, bag and shoes. there were Nisei bowling leagues and hawaiian leagues and each city had a few. My parents took me fishing, went to little fishing derbys with prizes and a picnic for everyone. Many of the JAs had fishing charters.... owned fishing tackle shops and were well recognized in both fresh and salt water fishing circles. As far as basketball goes, that started with the kids. you wanted to be the cool kids playing ball. And since the majority of us asians were not as tall as the other kids, we formed our own leagues. JAO, CYC, NAU,OCSA and many many others. Each league consisting of different ages and divisions. There were tournaments much bigger than the bowling tournaments up and down the state. So what does all this have to with me today? or what I do now? Im not quite sure either, but maybe because of what happened to my family makes me want to help Asians in the media and recognize them as truly Americans and not foreigners. I am trying to help out our Asian community, something that is probably not thought of as much in Asia. We are not Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. but "Asian American" I did the first Asian American actor series that featured asians in a non - stereotypical role. There is a lot of stereotypes in Hollywood going on even to this day!! Asian men are almost always portrayed as weaker males with little sex appeal. Many are still the gangsters or the nerds with accents. Women have it a little better, as they are "lucky" to be with the American alpha male.... Women are at least shown now to be stronger , sexier and independent , but many are still the demure lady, news anchor, or exchange student. I shot a series on the WWII 442 Japanese American veterans. Men who fought for the United States while their families were imprisoned for being Japanese!!. I work with many asian communities, non-profits, and independent movies and arts. I feel that everything must change, but it should change learning from the past. Many people who live here now don't know that there was a regiment of japanese heroes that fought for the U.S. or that it was one of the most decorated. People dont know why i cant speak Japanese or that my mom was sent to camp .So many japanese around my age cannot speak.... it was not too cool to speak japanese when my parents returned from the war. I only know my Japanese roots, but many Asian American people have many stories to tell and stereotypes to break. In fact every person from every country has some stories of assimilation growing up in this country to share at one time. I guess what I hope is we can all keep and be proud of our heritage and still be American, whether that be in the media or walking down the street.We are in a unique sub culture in America, the Japanese stories are gone and their culture has changed. Some of the things we did will continue...... most will not. I may be just passionate for my fellow Asians, but i feel it is deeper..... and the drive for which I worked with The Asian American Yolk Magazine, did my art series and continue to work with Asian American directors promoting our stories. I just want to do a small part to remember the past and reflect my work to improve how we all look at ourselves as Americans in the future. Oh by the way Im fishing in 2 derbys this weekend.....wish me luck!
So im sitting here in my studio in Los Angeles...... i live in the "artists district" near Little Tokyo. There is lots of construction and gentrification going on all around the area. Its another beautiful summer day as I sit in front of my computer cutting out some images again. I became a photographer so I can be outside, but instead I am inside in front of my computer for hours at a time. I know I used to be like that printing my b+w photos.... in the dark with only a radio to pass the time with various hazardous chemicals being inhaled. It just "feels" less like photography with the images not appearing before your eyes. Times are changing...my work is changing , my surroundings are changing. Change is necessary and good, I just did not think it would change so much!! My darkroom is now storage, the local walls and locations I used to shoot models are now condos with all their "yuppiness" and suburban feel. My computer is just as important piece of photography as the camera itself. My photography mentor died a year ago.... I remember one day I was discussing the new motor drives and that the "auto-focus" was not keeping up. He went on to say how "back in the day" he could only take one picture at a time and the focusing ground glass on the old cameras were so dark you could barely see the image.... not to mention it was upside down !! He asked me if I felt sorry for the older generation..... I defiantly said no! and said that I (as well as everyone in this era) have to work with what is going on now and the past is the past. Well I think the Gods have gotten back at me.....
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