Independent filmmaker Chihiro Amemiya makes her home in Brooklyn these days, but after spending a month as an Artist in Residence at The Studios of Key West, Chihiro is hoping her next film can be shot in the Southernmost City.
She wants to be able to write, produce and direct the film. Not an impossibility since she’s done it all on other projects.
“Once I have the concept on paper, I can start looking for finance,” she said. “If that happens, I hope to be able to come back here and shoot the film. I know Key West will blend in with my concept.”
While in Key West, Chihiro worked daily on her new film idea.
“Key West has been great because it has allowed me time to work on my new film idea,” Chihiro said. “In the beginning, I need a lot of time to conceptualize. The Studios of Key West has given me the perfect place to do that.”
She said her living quarters offered her the privacy she needed to work and she found the large courtyard was also a great location to socialize with the other artists and supporters, during downtime.
“Since I don’t drink, this was my main socializing area,” Chihiro said from the back porch of her cottage. “And I love mangoes.” She pointed to the large mango tree. “I have fresh mango every day, right off the tree.”
While she wouldn’t share a title for her new film idea, she said it had a lot to do with adjusting to a new culture.
“In Key West, I saw a lot different cultures mix daily and I understand how hard that can be, going from one culture to another,” she said.
She arrives with her understanding of cultural difference from first-hand experience. Chihiro grew up in Japan and came to the United States in 1998 to study biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and had to adjust to a new culture and its language.
“It was hard for me to step into another culture,” she said. “I think it’s hard for anyone to do and my next film will deal with that.”
She went on from Colorado to film school, choosing that career instead of biology. Chihiro received a MFA in media arts production for The City College of New York. She now works for a company in New York that coordinates film production for Japanese companies.
Chihiro’s short documentary film, “Grandpa’s Wet Dream,” was shot 2010, while she was in film school.
“It was challenging because I went to school in New York and shot the film in Japan,” she said. “I did a lot of back and forth. I saw changes in Japan each time I returned, since I’d left for Colorado. I see the culture there changing, being more diversified. I may see it different now because I am more detached from the Japanese culture since I live in Brooklyn.”
The film has been screened at more than 30 film festivals and was screened in Key West, along with her other short film, “Rooftop.”
It wasn’t all work for the dedicated filmmaker.
“I enjoyed the sunset at Fort Zack,” she said and with a smile added, “I also watched it from Mallory Square and got to take in the whole land-side show as well. Key West doesn’t lack characters. I wish I had time to see more and meet more people.”
Chihiro found the local support for the whole art scene impressive. She also liked the smallness and natural feel of Key West.
“I think being close to nature, so much natural beauty, helps me relax and think better,” she said. “Mangos don’t fall off a tree in my yard in Brooklyn,” she laughed. “I don’t think they fall off a tree anywhere in New York. I will especially miss fresh mangos in the morning.”