We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Shanna Fujii. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Shanna below.
Hi Shanna, thanks for joining us today. We’d love to hear about a project that you’ve worked on that’s meant a lot to you.
What do you get when you mix a pandemic, a thriller short film idea, and a slew of remarkably talented Asian chefs, actresses, and small businesses? You get my newest short film—and most meaningful project—Madame Hattori’s Izakaya.
Madame Hattori’s Izakaya is a Japanese-inspired psychological thriller about an illustrious top chef, her izakaya, and the twisted evening of her coveted private dinner.
I had the idea for this short film a couple of years ago, but actively started working on it during the pandemic in 2020. In my dreamiest of dreams, I wanted to collaborate with local Asian actors, chefs, and businesses for the film, but I had no idea how it was going to feasibly work with everyone’s crazy schedules—and then Covid-19 hit.
The pandemic put a drastic strain on the small business, restaurant, and creative industries, but it also gave us the rare gift of time. As the writer, producer, and director, it took me one year to scour and assemble every piece of the film together, but in the summer of 2021, we filmed Madame Hattori’s Izakaya and had over 30 people contribute to the project.
I’m also happy to say that my dreamiest of dreams actually came true!
The film features:
– An all-Asian female cast
– Dishes created by Asian chefs in the Valley, including:
– Chef Nobuo Fukuda, James Beard award winner and former owner of Nobuo at Teeter House
– Chef Paulo Im from Obon and Bisutoro
– Chef Justin Park from Drunken Tiger and Keraunos Collective
– Chef Kevin Rosales from Halfway Crooks and Disco Dragon
– Chef Tyka Chheng from Baby Boy and Khla
– Collaborations with local, Asian-owned small businesses and organizations
– Sponsorship from Sapporo and Crescent Crown Distributing
This is only my second short film and I have a lot to learn, but this is something I have worked insanely hard on. And while I’m excited to share this fun story, I am, perhaps, a touch more excited and wildly proud to place a warm, golden spotlight on all the massive talent that contributed to this film.
I am truly grateful to have had an incredibly unique opportunity to blend a smorgasbord of talents and come together as a community to create this film. My goal was to create something that offered an intriguing, new avenue of exposure for each individual involved, and I hope the end product does just that.
Madame Hattori’s Izakaya is currently wrapping up post-production. If you’re curious, you can watch our official trailer (bit.ly/HattoriTrailer) or view our GoFundMe (bit.ly/HattoriFilm) to learn more about the project.
Shanna, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I am a freelance writer and creative director. I’ve written for a variety of organizations including PetSmart, GoDaddy, Instacart, Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, and more. I like to think I add a sprinkle of wit and a warm dose of humanity into copywriting to better connect with the reader.
On the side though, I work on short films. I started dabbling in screenwriting a couple years ago and quickly found myself plunging head first into writing and producing my first short film.
There was a moment on my first set that still sits with me. Amidst all the activity, there was a brief second where I felt like everything went into slow motion. I saw all these amazing humans buzz about, breathing color and life into the words I wrote and held right there in my hand. It was surreal. And if I’m being very vulnerable, I think it healed a part of me that had recently been broken.
It’s safe to say I was absolutely smitten with film after that.
What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?
I think the most rewarding aspect of being a creative is the personal growth.
As a person, I’m not the loudest in the room. I can be quite nervous and scared of a lot of things. But with film, I’m different. I’m stronger.
Through the course of completing one film, I have to bulldoze through so many fears and doubts. And regardless of how many times I may question myself or ugly cry during the process (ha!), somehow, with a magical cocktail of courage, creativity, and great people, it always ends up coming together.
Film pushes me, in a good way. I think it brings out the best version of me. And why wouldn’t I want to work on something that makes me feel alive…and creative(!)…and productive(!)…and happy :)
Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
I think the goal is to simply keep taking on obstacles that scare me because I know the most growth is nestled on the other side of it.
Does that suffice as a “creative journey” goal? Not sure. It might be more of a life goal. But then again, it goes hand in hand.
I don’t think creative people chose to be creative. It’s just a part of their DNA. It clangs and glitters through their system and seeps into everything they do. It’s not a separate journey, it’s just life.
With that being said, I guess the goal at the end of the day—or more specifically, at the end of my life—is this: I hope I can say I had the courage to do big things, I hope I acted towards people with integrity, I hope I used up every ounce of my potential, and I hope I’m exceptionally proud of the person I grew to become.
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/ess.fujii
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shanna.fujii/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannafujii/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpOsDIWG5X2GNW2CNsWXI0g
James Choe, Nader Abushhab, Corey Hour, Joshua Martinez