Yuichi Kodama / Video Director
Amazon Fashion Week TOKYO 2018 S/S & 2018 A/W Key Visual Creator
Born in 1975. Graduated from Tohoku University, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science. After graduating, employed at an advertisement company and later became independent. Since, has been working as a freelance director, on production of CM, MV, etc. Joined “CAVIAR” in 2006. Established “vivision” in September 2013.
[ Website ] http://www.vivision.tv/
Video Director, Mr. Yuichi Kodama, known for his music videos for “Tokyo Jihen (Tokyo Incidents)”, “Sakanaction”, etc. and TV CMs of major corporations, has reared the key visual for Amazon Fashion Week TOKYO 2018 A/W again, in succession to the former season. We’ve spoken to him about his illustrious career as a creator whom represents Japan, including his activity has the chief video director for the flag handover ceremony at the closing of the Rio Olympics, his particularities in video creation, and behind-the-scenes stories in creating the key visual for Amazon Fashion Week for 2 seasons in a row.
First, please tell us how you became interested in video, and how you came to work in this field.
Originally, I wanted to become a scientist, and as a child, I visited Science museums quite often. At such establishments, videos explaining how things work are often shown, and looking back now, seeing designed letters or animation in these videos are, I think, my formative experience in video. I was also largely influenced by movies like “Back to the Future”, “Ghost Busters”, “Star Wars”, and video games. In university, a friend taught me the enjoyment of overseas music videos and began watching recordings of MTV. And through advertisement and design-related magazines of those time, I found out about the existence of creators, and sought employment at an advertisement agency.
When did you yourself start making videos?
When I was a university student, as a part-time job, I used to make motion graphics, and generally learned to use video editing software. After that, when I started working at an advertisement agency in Tokyo, I was assigned to a department related to paper media such as newspapers and magazines, but soon found out I wouldn’t be involved in making videos, so I quit after a year and started working as a freelance video director at Sendai, where I spent my university years. I did all sorts of work including those not involving video, as if I were jack-of-all-trades, like a corner in a local TV program, production of a free-paper, event planning, etc. There was a TV program which I was involved with from its planning stage, and as its broadcasted every week, viewers increased. In now-a-days terms, I felt like a YouTuber (laugh). I found it interesting to see the video I made go on-air 3 days later, and young people talk this and that about it. Although my ideas back then were still very amateurish, I felt a sure response that things can be conveyed.
After that, you begin gathering attention through your music videos and other works, but is there anything you hold dear when making a video?
From when I first started making videos, I’ve always had the wish to make things which have never been seen before, things which make people’s hearts beat fast. Also, to me, making a video is like making an ad. As is in the case of making CMs, in the case of music videos also, I am always aware that I am making this video for somebody. When planning videos, for example, in the case of music videos, I listen to the song to create a flow of imagery in my mind. I think of plans which are perfect for that particular song, or how to build up emotions within its timeline, and once my thoughts are clear, I write them down in a storyboard. Also, I bear in mind to think of a plan in which the staff involved in its making can get excited too, because in the end, it turns out to be a more interesting piece that way.
Do you have any particularities about fashion or styling in your videos?
Well, to begin with, I’m not that knowledgeable about fashion (laugh), but I do believe that styling is greatly important in art direction within a screen. For example, styling must, of course, not only be perfect from an art direction point of view, but clothing must clearly express the personalities of the characters, and movies of Wes Anderson are perfect examples of this. Of course, styling is important also in the videos I make, so I convey the personality of characters or mood of that particular moment to stylists, and I’m always very impressed by the imagination of stylists whom can find or make the perfect clothing.
Now that we’ve gone into fashion, I’d like to ask about the key visual of fashion week. Both seasons you’ve had Mr. Shinichi Mita do the styling, right?
I’ve worked with Mr. Mita many times on various jobs, he is thoroughly knowledgeable in fashion, from high fashion to street fashion, and even undertakes movie costumes, so I thought he’d be perfect for this image I had for a SF-like world view. Neon was the theme for last season, so I asked for clothes which a neon feel or clothes which look attractive in neon lights. This season, I told him of my image of a SF-like world view, not necessary the present nor the future, and he fulfilled both orders exactly, living up to my impression of the great stylist that he is.
What about the cameraman and casting of models?
Mr. Takeshi Hanzawa whom I asked to do the shooting, can cut out subjects in their best-looking moment, but also make viewers feel a sense of humor at the same time, and I thought this balance of his would be perfect for this time’s world view. For the male model, I asked the dancer, Mr. ENDo to be in both seasons, and I wanted to get a good shot of his body line and facial structures. As for the female model, last time I used Ms. Ayumi Turnbull, this season I used Ms. Rina Fukushi, and shot with an image of a story of Mr. ENDo encountering them.
Could you tell us about each season’s theme and concept?
In creating the key visual, I contemplated on the relationship between people and clothes again, and thought, “encounter” is an important aspect. When people encounter new things, they either have positive or negative feelings towards it, but I think that’s the real charm of fashion also, so I settled on “encounter” as a common theme. In 2018 S/S, I turned my eyes to neon, which I’ve always liked, and because the word “NEO” existed within the word “NEON”, I expressed a Tokyo which overseas people would imagine, a Tokyo like the “Neo Tokyo” in my favorite manga ‘AKIRA’, or like that of the world of the movie “Blade Runner”. In 2018 A/W, under a Close Encounters of the Third Kind-like SF-like world view, I focused on the feelings one has when encountering something new.
How do you feel about creating both a graphic and a movie?
Since I don’t usually undertake graphic, I felt it would be difficult to do alone, so I asked Mr. Ryo Teshima of Keiko TOKYO to join me, and we worked together noisily from planning stages to decide on the theme. Graphic is an art of cutting out a perfect moment, whereas movies is an art of expressing within a flow of actions. While each has its own difficulty, we aimed to express a story which is told by combining fragmented images.
We heard you were particular about the designs of the fashion week official bag and other official goods.
That’s right. I’ve always liked making goods such as stickers, key holders, carpets, etc., but as for this official bag, I had strong feelings towards making something truly interesting, so in both seasons, I designed an inside-out version of usual bags. Last time it was a collaboration with ROOTOTE, with large neon colored tags on the outside, but this was a collaboration with HeM, so please look forward to that too.
During the key visual shoot, models Mr. ENDo & Ms. Rina Fukushi, posing with this season’s official bag, made in collaboration with HeM.
Finally, if there is something you would like to make in the future as a video director, please tell us.
I hope to continue making music videos and CMs, but sometime in the future, I would like to shoot a movie. I have a vague image of SF, but I think making a movie from a novel is interesting too. I like the manga, “Cobra”, and because the characters are expressed so fashionably, including their styling, I think it would make a really visually cool movie, with an intermix of the future and 80’s dandyism.
INTERVIEW by Yuki Harada
PHOTOGRAPHY by Daichi Saito
TRANSLATION by Aiko Osaki
*Movie is scheduled to be released in mid-March.