Nao Nakazawa, born in Nagano, Japan in 1977, has been interested in the art of film making since his youth. As a teenager, he set his goal to study film in the US and produce movies of his own. He moved to San Luis Obispo, CA in 1996 to attend Cuesta Community College. In 1999, he transferred to the University of California, Santa Cruz to study film and digital media.
Through his life long study of classical violin, Nao has garnered a great appreciation for music of many kinds. In the spring of 2004, Nao had the opportunity to combine his love of filmmaking and music by following the developing career of his friend, Kevin Kmetz, who studies the traditional Japanese three string lute, Tsugaru Shamisen. After two and a half years in the making, Nao completed a documentary film about Kevin called The Birth of California Shamisen. The film was premiered in Santa Cruz Film Festival on April 27, 2007 and selected for screening at Boulder Asian Film Festival on August 18th 2007. Also the film will be shown at several screenings around San Francisco Bay Area throughout 2008.
Nao is always interested in using his skills in film and video in new and exciting ways. In the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2007, he joined a one month national tour with the band, Estradasphere, working as a videographer for the production of the band’s DVD as well as the video projection artist for their multi-media stage art. In the summer of 2007, he also took part in Subject to Change production of a dance and multi-media collaboration titled Study: 2013. In recent years, Nao has worked closely with Bay Area’s local producers and artists including Greg Landau, Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Trey Spruance.
Throughout these experiences Nao met many talented artists of all types in the bay area community and have realized great potential in collaborative productions. For the past year Nao has been experimenting with different modes of production in which artists can express themselves freely. One of his recent production is Portraits of Oakland Series. In this on going production, Nao explores Oakland’s lesser known back streets by filming their landscapes. Each episode of this series features one or sometimes two streets. He explores different artistic styles according to the feeling he gets from observing each street. After editing the video with the direct sounds, he hands the video to a poet and a composer. Each artist then composes a piece on their own without my direction. He applied similar concept of the production to his most recent short fiction film titled Vignettes in The Mist.