American Gem 2006 Short Screenplay Competition - LILY
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Hiroshi Nakajima

Runner Up

Hiroshi Nakajima
Westminster, CA
Love story/Romantic Comedy

Hiroshi Nakajima was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. As a youth, numerous weekend trips to theater with his father to catch Hollywood movies inspired Hiroshi to eventually write his own story at the mere age of 11. In 1997, Hiroshi was admitted to Orange Coast College in California as a film student. Hiroshi involved himself in few projects there before he moved to San Francisco State University to study films further. Upon graduation of SFSU in 2003, Hiroshi started working as a screenwriter for a feature film which story was created based on his student short film at SFSU. While working as a screenwriter, Hiroshi has won a couple of awards from screenplay competitions with his feature screenplays. In 2006, Hiroshi started to work on his first directorial piece, "Lily." The shooting begun in July and the film will be scheduled to be completed in October 2006.


I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter.......  

I have been writing stories ever since I was a little kid. Of course, I can’t say that I realized I wanted to be a screenwriter at such a young age. But I used to show the stories I wrote to my mom and asked her what she thought of them.

Being a film director, I have to be able to write a good script because nobody is going to hand me a brilliant story on a silver platter. Also, filmmaking requires a lot of time, energy, and effort from all parties involved. So I definitely need to be satisfied and happy with my screenplay in order to ask so much of people.

To me, writing is the ultimate way of expressing myself at any given point in my life. I just pour my heart into it, read it over, and think, “Wow, I never thought I could think this way….”

I know I've succeeded.......  

Success for me is when I finish a screenplay, let all kinds of people read it, and listen to their opinions—good or bad.

My inspiration to write LILY.......

I have found through my own experiences that women are superior to men when it comes to mending a relationship which is about to fall apart. I believe this is because women know how to express their love and affection much better than men do. I find this female attribute to be beautiful, so decided to try to represent it in my writing. In a way, “Lily” is my way of saying thank you to all of my ex-girlfriends.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Hiroshi Nakajima: Writing allows me to make connections with people who I would not otherwise meet. I’m the happiest when I influence people—in any way—through my writing.

FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to write your first script? 

Hiroshi Nakajima: Watching films by Akira Kurosawa is one of the ways I prepared myself. While I’m in the midst of working, I ask myself if what I’m writing is as good as Kurosawa’s work.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write LILY?

Hiroshi Nakajima: Although I have already written three feature screenplays, this was the first time writing a short story. The toughest part of writing any story is coming up with the basic story line and synopsis. That took me about a month or so to complete. The actual writing process was done in about two nights.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

Hiroshi Nakajima: Not particularly. But I do sometimes sit and think in front of a computer for long hours. But forcing myself to write is a moot process because it’s not coming from my heart. It’s never as good as when I get a sudden surge of inspiration.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Hiroshi Nakajima: I think screenwriting contests give filmmakers, like myself, a great opportunity to showcase their talents and receive unbiased opinions.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the American Gem Short Script Competition?

Hiroshi Nakajima: I had been looking for a professional and highly renowned screenplay festival—like the American Gem Short Screenplay Competition—to submit my story. I am honored that you have chosen my screenplay. Thank you.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Hiroshi Nakajima: Any Akira Kurosawa’s film would be a good place to start. The stories are well structured and flawless. Most of his stories are actually comprised of many different ideas from different writers. I would recommend “Seven Samurai”,
“Stray Dog,” and “Rashomon.”

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Hiroshi Nakajima: I’m a big fan of music from Britain like Radiohead, Muse, The Streets…I love those bands. And I’m a baseball fanatic. I have to say that I’m a big Yankees fan, even though I’m in Los Angeles. I can’t wait to see them in the World Series this year.

Also, earlier this year, Team Japan won the World Baseball Classic Championship. That was one of the greatest moments of my life.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Hiroshi Nakajima To me, Shinobu Hashimoto is one of our best writers. He is a legendary Japanese screenwriter who has co-written many of Kurosawa’s films—notably “Seven Samurai”, “Rashomon”, “Ikiru”, and “Bad Sleep Well.” Although his career ended in the 80’s, there still aren’t any Japanese writers who have come close to what Shinobu did.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Hiroshi Nakajima: Quentin Tarantino, Jean Luc Godard and Wong Kar Wai. They have been my favorite filmmakers for a long time. And I think they are favorite to many other writers as well. To be honest, I think I would have a heart attack if one of them actually picked my screenplay for a feature film.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Hiroshi Nakajima:II like both Tony Leung and Cillian Murphy for their ability to elevate the quality of a film. Tony Leung, of course, is one of the greatest Hong Kong actors. I still get the chills when I see him in such films as “Infernal Affairs”, “2046”, and “In the Mood for Love.” His acting is convincing and memorable to the audience, and the same can be said for Cillian Murphy. I love their acting. They are definitely two of the best.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Hiroshi Nakajima: Write a story that comes from your heart. A story without a soul will not capture an audience. Even if your story strays from what’s considered “normal”—as long as you believe in it—the rest will take care of itself. As I said before, writing is the ultimate form of expression and you will be surprised what comes out of you.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Hiroshi Nakajima: I will be directing my first feature screenplay. It is a very exciting time for me. I hope everyone will enjoy it.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Hiroshi Nakajima: Working as a director/screenwriter and just making one film after the other. Filmmaking is my life and I cannot live without it.

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