Justin Kaminuma: a selection of short films from the suburbs of youth


youtube / instagram

Justin Kaminuma is an 18 y/o filmmaker based in Atlanta who, aside from working with artists and bands, has been uploading personal short films to YouTube for the past 4 years. He hesitantly describes them as “hybrid music videos/short films”, thinking of his YouTube channel as an unfolding collage-like coming of age story. This is a short selection of his films that feels more like a short introduction to his mind (with a few questions and answers, too).

How long have you been making short films?

I think I really started to try my hand at filmmaking around May of 2015 where I made a GoPro montage for my friends' ski trip. After that, I spent all my Christmas money on a camera and tried my own hand at shooting anything and everything I could. 

What do you think is the core feeling/idea/emotion you try to capture when you sit down and start editing?

Although sometimes it depends on what exactly I want to make, I find myself gravitating toward nostalgia and melancholy in what I make. I'm not exactly sure why I do but there's always been something about capturing this perfect harmony between happy and sad emotions, where you don't know whether to smile or cry, that's really special to me. Like that bittersweet moment at the end of a coming of age movie where the characters you just spent an hour with go their separate ways, the music starts coming in and then the screen turns black - that's the kind of feeling I love.

What do you look for in the moments you film? What catches your eye and makes you pull out a video camera?

I feel like my best shots happen when I'm drawn to something I look at and feel for. If I see someone in front of me that I empathize with, whether it's in their body language or the way they're walking, I'll try to find a way to convey the feeling I get as best I can through my camera. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a person - sometimes a napkin floating on the ground or a runaway shopping cart in a parking lot can do so much more at saying something than a person ever can.

What do you hope people feel when they watch one of your videos?

My end goal is for someone to go "wow, I've never felt this way watching a video before". The day I hear that is the day I'm ready to die. 

How do you think you translate your life experiences/thoughts/growth through film?

I've always liked to see my videos sort of as my own journal, so I try to make my videos as true to myself as possible. Honesty is one thing people always see right through in any creative work so I always think about when portraying myself and my experiences to other people.