I'm Kenji Lee.
I'm a small-town Hawaii filmmaker.
I was born and raised in Hawaii. I left in 2003 to attend Portland State University, and obtained my B.A. degree in Psychology and Minor in Japanese. After graduating university, I then spent the next 8 and a half years working in Japan. I like to refer to my journey thus far as the 'Pacific Trifecta' because living in each of these places has attributed to my success and happiness. As a filmmaker, I am deeply curious about three things: people, purpose, passion.
I didn't always get paid to make videos. For a long while I entertained the idea of becoming an ESL (English as a Second Language) educator abroad. But then on a snowy day in the countryside of Japan, I got my first micro four thirds mirrorless digital camera. I got bit by the cinema bug and never looked back.
You know what makes me smile? Watching my baby daughter stumble her way across the living room floor. It's a delicate crawl meets yoga pose slash drunken monkey kung fu style, and she makes it work! And you know what? She's the only one on Earth with that specific style. Seeing someone grow, learn, fall, hurt, cry and become a better individual - that's what life is all about. That's what makes a great story. If I can convey these kinds of moments in my work, then I've done my job.
Volunteering in clean up efforts 6 weeks after the 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake made me realize the power of media, specifically - motion picture, first-person narrative, and sound. I turned my 5 day volunteer trip into a series of mini documentaries to share with my students and co-workers at the board of education. In the following months I was asked to present this mini series to various audiences at multiple schools and organizations across the prefecture. I had discovered the universal power of storytelling.