We had the good fortune of connecting with Darren Haruo Rae and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Darren, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
The biggest decision I’ve made in my career is to stop saying “yes” to every job. Working 60-70 hours a week is a large portion of your life and it means you have to make sacrifices. It’s easy to forget about everything else going on in your life. Filmmaking is a blue collar job and takes a toll so you need to be willing to take a step back and take a breath. I love filmmaking, I will never do anything else, but there needs to be a balance. I see so many people who are afraid to turn down work. Before they know it, years have passed. They made a lot of money, but every single person I’ve talked to says if they could do it again, they would do it different. Making a conscious effort to take breaks has made me particular about what I work on. If I am going to spend months on a project, it should be something that I am excited about. Don’t get me wrong, I still overwork myself constantly, but that is because I am telling stories that I am passionate about. I choose stories and causes that inspire me, which in turn, make a better product. Quality over quantity. If you are not excited about what you are creating then your audience won’t be either.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I wouldn’t say that my filmmaking style is unique. What I would say is that it is relatable. Movies are supposed to be larger than life, a chance to explore worlds we never could in real life. At the same time, a good movie has a grounded story, something that challenges the way we think or a way to help us cope with a situation. My storytelling combines these elements. One of my memorable moments of my career is a screening of my film at the Newport Film Festival. It was after a screening of my film “Park Arcadia”. I wrote the film after my grandfather passed away as a way for me to cope and to try to make sense of it. It is a science fiction piece about a girl with a watch that could travel through dimensions, looking for her father. At its core, it was about trying to hold onto the past. What if you had the opportunity to speak to someone one last time, would you do it, no matter the cost? Yes the world is “unrealistic” but it dealt with very real situations that all of us experience. After the screening, a woman came up to me crying. Her boyfriend of 4 years passed away just a few weeks prior. This was her first time out of her house since then. She thanked me because she could relate to the film. It let her know that others have gone through her pain, and being so mournful means that there were a lot of good times to look back on. I always look back to this moment because it affirms my belief in storytelling. I believe that it is a universal language that can bring people together and let them know that they are not alone in this world. When I look back at my career, I hope that my movies are not only enjoyable, but also carry very human messages that connect us.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am very much a stay in type of person. Whenever my family or friends visit they usually want the “Hollywood” experience. This means Universal Studios, Disneyland, and maybe the beach. Being Japanese though, I always have to take them to my favorite ramen spot, Daikokuya in Little Tokyo Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people I could thank but I will try to keep it short. First I’d like to thank my business partner Nick Martinez for willing to take risks with me and to make stories that we think need to be heard. My girlfriend Jessica Olthof is an amazing producer who often helps me consolidate all of my crazy ideas into a clear and concise message (Including this interview!) My parents, who trusted me in attempting a career in the arts. Without their support I would not be where I am today. The final person, is my high school teacher Mr. Hoffman. Having been in a band when he was younger, he saw my drive and passion for filmmaking. He nurtured my abilities and would allow me to make movies for class whenever I could. Having such a strong mentor at such a critical part of my life gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams.