10 Questions with Tim Nagasawa

September 11, 2020
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As a DIT for major projects like Ray Donovan, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Spider-Man 3, Tim Nagasawa’s job takes him around the world. But he counts himself lucky that he was back home in Southern California when a “shelter in place” order came down. “I’d just finished six months of living in Williamsburg, NY (Brooklyn), and working in New York City,” he recalls, “and was prepping for my next project. I was also training for an Ultra Endurance race.” It was a difficult transition – putting everything on pause. “I basically shut myself off from everyday life and prepared for the worst.”

Has being able to connect with friends/family in distant locations via Zoom revealed new aspects to those relationships?
Absolutely. We have all run out of things to talk about but sometimes just seeing a friendly face makes all the difference. If you are reading this, reach out to me and say hi – maybe tell me about a cool coffee shop or your favorite pizza. When I am working, I become a ghost to anyone outside that particular “crew bubble.” [During quarantine] everything slowed down. I went from one-word text messages at midnight, to Zoom sessions lasting hours.  “Filmmakers, On Zoom, Getting Coffee.” I’ve perfected the Zoom experience. Good backgrounds, good lighting, good props.

Have you attended or participated in any virtual sessions with industry peers?
Yes, more than ever. Everyone should always be learning from other people’s successes and mistakes, as well as be open to listening and teaching our younger filmmakers. I have attended or participated in a wide variety of Q&A’s, interviews, and workshops through ASC, SOC, Local 600, Instagram, Dolby, Zeiss, and TikTok. Having this extra time has also allowed me to reach out to places like the newly formed Cherokee Nation Film Office to help bridge the gap between indigenous filmmakers and Hollywood. I urge anyone reading this to please check out the great things they are doing.

What hobby and/or skills have you resurrected?
Pablo Picasso once said: “Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” He wasn’t wrong. Since I am so accustomed to being active all day, mentally and physically, I have been able to reclaim many of the interests I had to abandon throughout the years of zero free time. I have been spending most of this pandemic staying creative through photography, creating content, and lots and lots of designing – I even started a side hustle. I have also made yoga and meditation a daily priority. Most importantly, I have been working on making the perfect French omelet and the perfect pour over coffee.

Has your streaming diet been inspiring, scary, weepy, or just pure escapism?
Purely inspiring escapism. Besides the endless supply of “For Your Consideration” screeners, I watched before I voted, I have been slowly going through all of Akira Kurosawa’s work with my daughter. If you haven’t seen Ikiru stop reading this interview and go watch it.

What music is at the top of your COVID playlist?
Music is essential. I always have headphones on at catering before work, at lunch, and at wrap. Like most creative types my music preference is all over the place and always on shuffle. Most recently, I’ve had Run the Jewels fourth album [RTJ4] on heavy rotation. If you are into hip-hop supergroups, it does not disappoint.

How many books have you read? What are your favorites and why?
I have read a few books between podcasts and cracking eggs. I tend to focus on biographies and technical references. I finally finished Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. Just an incredible insight into one of the greatest minds in history. I also recently enjoyed Game Changers by Dave Asprey, a collection of anecdotes that makes you ask yourself: “How can you perform better at everything you do as a human being?”

Once the restrictions are lifted what is the first thing you want to do?
I miss going to live sporting events, especially college football. Once there is a vaccine and we get back to a “new normal,” I’m going to go to a game and scream my lungs out! Who wants to go?

What is the one thing you miss most about being on a film/TV set?
Being part of a team of professionals who all work at a very high level; looking at the advanced schedule and seeing that impossible day and knowing it will be fine because that’s what we do; having that long first half of the day and walking into catering to see your favorite dish being served. I even miss that feeling of finishing a long, cold, rainy night shoot, followed by the “circles of death” (pizza) at 2:00 a.m.

Have you been able to do anything to keep your professional skills sharp?
Definitely. I have been upgrading and rebuilding my gear and staying on top of the newest technology trends. I want to make sure I’m ready for anything and everything thrown at me when the industry ramps back up.

How do you think your outlook on life will change post-COVID?
These past few years have been extremely difficult. It’s only been during this time of COVID that I have been able to catch my breath and reflect on how short and precious life is. Everyone, right now, has the opportunity to come out of this pandemic as a better person. Be inspiring, be compassionate, be patient, be unselfish. Most of all I never want to hear these words again “No, I haven’t finished watching The Wire because I haven’t had time.”

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