Justin Usami
10-10-10 Screenwriting and Filmmaking Participant, SBCC

Hi! My name is Justin Usami, and I'm a third-year film production student at SBCC. I was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan, and I moved to Santa Barbara in the summer of 2018. I actually attended the 2019 10-10-10 screening, and I promised myself that I would participate in the 10-10-10 before I left Santa Barbara. Since then, I've had the privilege of working on a number of productions, including a few I've written and directed. I'm incredibly excited to be a contestant this year, and I'm looking forward to continuing to work alongside my wonderful team again.

1. What is the first film you remember seeing?
The earliest first real film that I can remember seeing is “It’s a Wonderful Life” and it has remained one of my all-time favorites to this day.

2. What is the last film you saw?
The last film I watched was "Bladerunner 2049." Blown away by the visuals.

3. Which film has had the biggest impact on you and why?
“It’s a Wonderful Life” has probably had the biggest impact on me both personally and as a filmmaker as well. George Bailey is such a great character and the storytelling is excellent. It constantly reminds me that most people don’t go to movies for spectacular visuals. They go to experience something, which is something I’ve tried to implement in my own storytelling.

4. Which film or films could you watch over and over?

“Ocean’s Eleven” I could watch over and over. Something about the subtle witty banter between Clooney and Pitt is so incredibly satisfying. It’s the dynamic between Clooney and Pitt’s characters that make the film so great.

5. Which films and directors inspire you?
“It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Inception,” and “Baby Driver”; Christopher Nolan, Taika Waititi, and Edgar Wright inspire me the most.

6. If you could have been a fly on the wall during the making of any film in history, which film would you choose?
I would have loved to watch Taika Waititi direct “Jojo Rabbit". I want to see how he balances his childlike imagination with his professional creativity as a director.

7. What is one of your favorite cinematic sequences?
The scene in Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” where Desmond Doss lowers the many wounded soldiers down at night alone always gives me chills.

8. Why do you love cinema?
My dad always enjoyed the cinema so I remember watching movies with him, and it stuck ever since. I enjoy getting immersed into a world not my own, losing myself to the story. It’s my escape.

9. What is your dream job?
I would love to be able to direct a mini-series about the Japanese American 442nd Infantry Regiment that fought in Europe during World War II. That’s the dream.

10. What excites you most about joining SBIFF’s 10-10-10 Program?
My film studies professor Michael Stinson brought me to the 10-10-10 in 2019, and I made a promise to myself that I would be one of the contestants. So it’s super exciting to be among those I looked up to two years back and being a part of that legacy