Monday, December 1, 2008

Act Naturally

There is no such thing as acting “style” or “technique.” There is only acting. Great acting is to live truthfully. A great actor does what they are naturally compelled to do. Amateurs either over act, and/or are unable to perform with any kind of meaning. It’s important to be able to interpret the screenplay truthfully. This is what separates amateur actors from the best of them.

I studied acting under Mr. J.P. Coburn, a student of Sanford Meisner. He was kind of a jerk, and not pleasant to be around, but he sure knows acting. I don’t like to mention teachers or their “methods” because it can be misleading.

---Coming Soon!---

It'll Take A Lot to Drag Me Away From You

Characteristics of a good screenplay

Why do so many screenplays, even those made into blockbuster movies, fall flat? Hollywood is too preoccupied with star-studded affairs, the latest special effects, and million-dollar marketing campaigns, to make art. Meanwhile, Indie film makers, without the luxury of lavish budgets, strive to call themselves artists, but they fail to realize that “different” doesn’t necessarily mean “good.”

Most books on screenwriting will tell you how to come up with ideas. They’ll say to write everyday, and give you cheesy exercises to help “stimulate imaginative thoughts.” I’m not going to do any of that, because if your imagination is broken, there’s nothing that can fix it, other than yourself. I’m also not going to discuss proper screenplay formatting, because that can be found anywhere. Instead, I’m going to go over three should-be-basic characteristics that make up a good screenplay: Character, rhythm, and clarity.

1) Character

Many screenwriters focus so much on story, they don’t realize that a screenplay’s character lies, well, in it’s characters.

--- Coming Soon! ---

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Man of A Thousand Voices Talking Perfectly Loud

Hey all,

I have a bit of a fascination with languages, and from time to time I may blog about my language-learning experiences. I recently posted a review of My Spanish Coach, a video game series on the Nintendo DS aimed at teaching people languages. You can check out my review here:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kaji Games

Hey all,

I've been thinking about starting different blogs to discuss different topics, and I recently set up a blog where I offer my thoughts on the video gaming industry. Check it out at

Why I Wrote "More Than Just a Brick in the Wall"

It’s always been my vision to use film and music to create art. Sight and sound are obvious compliments to each other. Music and film go hand-in-hand. They both serve to create larger-than-life characters and scenarios, unearth emotions, and elicit drama deprived from everyday life. They do this in their own respective way, with film using the eyes, and music, the ears. Even as a little kid, writing and recording with my imaginary band, I made “movies” to go along with my songs. So when I began songwriting as an adult, it was natural for me to write screenplays to go along with the music.

Nearly all music artists these days have music videos. It only seems obvious to expand those short videos into full-length motion pictures. The Beatles were pioneers of this concept, and they pulled it off well in A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine, and to a lesser extent, Magical Mystery Tour. And though the Beatles did not claim to be good actors, they had a very good supporting cast of directors, writers, producers, and actors, which is what made their films successful. It’s surprising that no one since then has successfully connected film and music in a stylistic and classy way. Alas, this is the Beatle Effect: Everyone tries to emulate them, and few, if any, are good at it, which goes to show just how great the Beatles really were.

It’s an understatement to say the Beatle’s body of work is outstanding, and will continue to transcend the restrains of time. But it isn’t enough to merely emulate artists like the Beatles. Today’s aspiring young artists should look at them as a foundation on which to build. It is important to be in touch with the current generation, and relevant to the time. A Hard Day’s Night, for example, is one of my favorite movies, but it would be dreadful to remake it. Instead, the idea is to add fresh, and original, ingredients to the elements of those who have come before, expanding and building upon their work, the same way Einstein built upon Newton, who built upon Galileo, who built upon Copernicus.

When I was putting together my first album, I wanted a ballad, something that would be played at dances. Sitting at my piano, I pounded out a chord progression. It was simple, but it was the sound I was looking for. I wanted a name for it, and thought, “I think I’ll fall in love with you… before the night is through!” I had none of the other parts done yet, but this, in my mind, was already a song. I immediately envisioned it as a scene from a movie, in a pivotal moment when the main characters are falling in love. Why settle for just a music video? It’s the big screen that engraves memories.

Songs tell stories. A good music video helps people appreciate the song in a way that may not have been realized by listening to the song alone. And yet, many music videos don’t accomplish this very well. Likewise, many motion pictures don’t realize their full potential, and are underwhelming. People tend to not treat music videos and film as art. It isn’t enough to have a singer do a full-length feature film of them performing at concerts, and it isn’t enough to tack on a cheesy storyline with generic characters.

So what are the elements of a good screenplay? And what is the proper way to transition that screenplay onto the big screen? That is a topic for another time!

Related Blogs:

More Than Just a Brick in the Wall - Sample Scene
How I Got Started in Music

“Before the Night is Through”
© 2007, 2008 Rob Kajiwara.
Kaji Music, BMI, 2008.
All Rights Reserved.

“More Than Just a Brick in the Wall”
© 2007, 2008 Rob Kajiwara.
Kaji Music, BMI, 2008.
All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Than Just a Brick in the Wall

Hey all,

My screenplay is currently being shopped, and I thought I’d share a scene from it with you, for your viewing pleasure. First, a short introduction:

“More Than Just a Brick in the Wall” is a comedic satire about a young singer learning to balance his career and personal life. Rob is kept on a grueling schedule of concerts, interviews, and appearances, while answering to his manager, Norm, the media, fans, and industry execs, while still trying to maintain relationships with his family, friends, and romantic interests.

(Please excuse the poor formatting! It doesn't transition well onto the blog posting.)


Rob and Norm in a reception area of an upscale hotel. Rob, in his trademark suit, sits on a couch. Norm stands.

(on the phone)
My client needs at least 40%, that’s firm.
(pause) In that case we’re going to have to
go in a different direction. (pause)
Great. We’ll be there.

He hangs up.

(to Rob)
Fix your hair will you?

Rob brushes his hair with his fingers, not making it any better.

We booked River Plate Stadium. It’s the premier place to play in Argentina. The Stones, Police, Michael Jackson all played there. It –

Rob sends messages on his phone.

Will you put that away?

Rob puts the phone on the table.

As I was saying, we -

Rob’s phone beeps. Norm looks at the phone. Rob looks at Norm.

We leave to Buenos Aires on the 15th. Once we get there you’ll do a press conference.

Norm turns away and Rob takes the opportunity to check his text messages.

In Brazil you’ll do a shoot with one of their top super models. Her –

Turning around, Norm sees Rob with his phone.

You were playing with your -

No I wasn’t.

- phone again.

No I wasn’t.


Is it that important?

I’m expecting someone.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Rob finishes sending the text message.

Can we carry on now?

Rob nods.

We’ve got an appearance at the Cinemax at noon, a photo shoot at two, be at the – are you listening?

(standing up, looking for someone)

Across the lobby, “The Guys” enter.

Be at the plaza by 3:45 for a run through of the television special, and be at the stadium by 7 for the concert. If there’s anything you don’t like you should tell me now, that way I can make adjustments.

I don’t like your tie.

Rob tugs on Norm’s tie, and goes to meet The Guys, who are busy admiring the hotel. Norm follows.

© 2008 Rob Kajiwara.
All Rights Reserved.

May not be copied or reproduced without express written consent from KajiCore and Rob Kajiwara.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How I Got Started in Music

By Rob Kajiwara

Life was enjoyable growing up in Hawaii. When I was 4 years old my dad had a few Beatles cassette tapes in his car, and we would listen to them while driving around the island of Oahu. I instantly loved the Fab Four. I would sit in my room memorizing the songs, listening to them over and over, while flipping through Beatles books my mom had bought for me. I formed an imaginary band, and wrote and performed my own songs live in front of thousands of pretend fans, and recorded them in my “recording studio.” I also wrote and performed my own movies and TV shows, forming an imaginary entertainment conglomerate that would make Walt Disney envious.

When I was 11 everything changed as my family moved to Renton, Washington. This marked the beginning of a long absence from music, writing, and most things creative. I like to refer to this as the ‘Dark Age’ as it was a rather tumultuous period for me. If you had known me during this time, you’d never have guessed I was a creative person, being narrowly focused on a baseball career. It may have been an unproductive period of artistic development, but it was a great period of personal growth.

By the time I was around 18, baseball was proving unable to satisfy me creatively, and I slowly began rediscovering the things I had found interesting as a kid that I had suppressed as a teenager.

Eventually I decided to do music and acting. The problem was, I had no musical experience, and the only acting experience I had was in one high school play. What I wanted to become was drastically different from what I had been the past 8 years. I was unsure of myself, which is not unusual for a teenager, though I took it to the extreme. I didn’t have any friends and felt lost in social situations. Because I was so quiet, people thought I was conceited.

Why did I want to do music? I always knew I’d be good at it, even before I knew anything about it. I dreamt of being a star, a real artist like the Beatles, and Mozart. This was a big challenge since I couldn’t yet sing, play, read or write music. But I knew I'd be good because of my imagination, vision, and desire to achieve what others believed impossible.

Right away I was good at songwriting and quickly wrote many songs for my albums, including “More Than Just a Brick in the Wall.” But being a songwriter wasn’t enough.

I thought of learning to sing and play, but everyone around me was discouraging. I talked to a few music teachers, but none were helpful. One in particular was discouraging, rather offhandedly saying that I was too old to learn music, and that I could never be as good as those who had studied music all their lives. After all, she reasoned, how could I possibly be a music artist when everyone she knew had fallen short?

At first it was extremely difficult for me to learn to sing. For the past eight years I had been anything but a vocal person. It was a major change for me to learn how to project. In baseball, I was expected to communicate and get along with my teammates. The coaches saw my talent, and looked to me to be a leader. But I was unsure of how to project with any kind of authority.

In 2005 I moved back to Hawaii to stay with my grandparents. Finally, in July 2006, I decided to teach myself piano and guitar, but instead of playing basic tunes most beginners start with, I started with one of my favorite Elton John songs, “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues.” Every day I tried to read the Elton John sheet music I had bought while painstakingly finding the notes on my grandparents' piano. After all, I wanted to be a star, and there was no point playing songs I didn’t like.

By August 2007 I was somewhat pleased with my progress, since few people could have learned as much as I did in just one year. But I was also disappointed. I wasn’t nearly at the level I wanted to be at – my vocals, in particular, were weak and I still wasn’t getting anywhere. This was a problem, since I knew it wouldn’t matter how good my songs were. If I couldn’t sing people wouldn’t notice me. I've since been working continuously on my performance, and have begun shopping my project - but that's another story!