Establishing Shots #4: Bruce Tetsuya

Welcome to Establishing Shots, an interview series where we turn a spotlight towards the diverse talent that comprise QuickFrame’s Maker Community, emphasizing the personality and artistry behind some of our top video content makers.

Today, we’re talking with Bruce Tetsuya, a filmmaker and member of QuickFrame’s Maker Community.

Tell us a little about yourself!

My name is Bruce Tetsuya, I’m a Japanese American filmmaker, director, photographer, and editor currently based between Denver & California! If I’m not on set, you can find me on the tennis court or exploring new lands. I’m currently working on brand commercials, and in pre-production for my first feature film.

Where did your journey as a filmmaker begin? 

My journey started at age 4 when my grandfather let me play with an old Sony Camcorder. I was instantly obsessed with the art of image-making. I continued to capture family events and joined video club in high school until I went to film school for university. I graduated in with a BFA magna cum laude, in Film Directing. Moved straight to NYC and started working in the industry!

What piqued your interest in the industry?

I’ve always been super interested in the artistic side of filmmaking, but after moving to NYC, I worked in marketing, and from it, blossomed an interest in social media, web marketing, and advertising. I still keep majority of my work in narrative or documentary, but I absolutely love taking those skills and avenues into the way I produce and direct commercials!

Do you think there are any benefits with being a person of color in the video industry?

There are definitely many obstacles and hurdles to get past as an Asian man in the industry. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. My work ethic and my visual style is only the way it is because of my cultural identity.

Do you think there are any complications that arise from being a person of color in the video industry? How have you overcome them?

I’ve been overlooked for work, projects, and opportunities because of it, but it’s always been manageable to overcome, because I’ve been taught to take it in stride. So many of my relatives who paved the way before me, to provide the opportunity for myself I have today, had it far more difficult. I am aware that my position now is an improvement – but it’s hard to be satisfied with the climate of it all, still. There is always room for improvement for inclusion and equity in this industry.

Is there anyone that has been especially inspirational to you?

My parents, and my grandparents on both sides have always been my biggest role models and inspirations. Even in considering industry heroes of mine like Hiro Murai, Hirokazu Koreeda, Pablo Larrain… My family remains my biggest driving force!

For any non advertising work you do (narrative, documentary, music video, etc) where do you draw inspiration?

For my narrative projects, I draw inspiration from dreams, memories, and my heritage. A lot of my work revolves around movement (recently dance films), but I’ve also been working on a short horror film, and will be starting production on my first feature in 2023.

What advice would you give to a videographer, producer, writer, or anyone else who wants to follow a similar path as you?

I would say to just DO work. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect or not – especially when you’re first starting out. Just make things. Practice in all departments truly is the only way to raise your level. It’s also important to not think of it as a race. Don’t network with people so they can help you. Network with people you want to work with, admire, and can offer something to as well. Relationships in this industry should be mutually positive, or you won’t build from a strong foundation. Lastly, keep an eye on the horizon, but do your best to stay grounded and focus on what’s immediately attainable. The next step is always the best one – it can become unhealthy to get used to skipping rungs on the ladder, or having eyes bigger than your stomach. That’s all to say – have big dreams, but also have big plans to get there! No one is going to hand you the keys.

Want to learn tips and tricks on creating video content straight from the Collective? Check out a these entries in our Maker Corner series:

Do More with Video

Learn how we can help you produce more quality videos affordably and at scale.