Tsubasa Matsumoto
Director / Cinematographer

  ・The Beginning
  ・Because I Couldn’t Understand English…
  ・To My Dream University, and
  ・I Was Able to Reconcile.


Tsubasa Matsumoto
Tokyo Bunkyō


The Beginning

I played for school’s soccer team during the last year of my junior high school. Since I was so bored after retiring from the team, I watched a lot of movies. At that time, I was hooked on Japanese movies, it is different from my current taste of movie, I loved “Nobody Knows”, “Air Doll” (directed by Hirokazu Koreeda), “Hanging Garden” (directed by Toshiaki Toyoda) etc.. I was just watching depressing Japanese movies.

At that time, I got invited by my friend who repeated the same grade to act as an extra for a high school movie club.
Is there grade retention in a junior high school?
Yes, my junior high school was a consistent school, sometimes there were those people.

I was playing lacrosse first in high school, but I couldn’t enjoy much so I quit the Lacrosse team. Afterward, I remembered the existence of the movie club then I got the idea to join the movie club.

At first, I was an operator for the B camera. Shooting stock footage, shooting from the top of the roof… The shooting was fun. Because I was in all boy school, I could only meet girls at the shootings. It was a pleasure.

I was in the movie club for a while and eventually, I took two director’s works.
There are two of them (“Table☆Tennis“, “Wandering“).
Recently, I met the crew which I worked with. Then we saw the “Table☆Tennis“, the movie was too stupid and we laughed.



Because I Couldn’t Understand English…

When I directed “Table ☆ Tennis“, I was still a high school student. When I was a junior in high school, I dropped out from the high school and directed “Wandering” during the summer break. I could not keep up with my studies and I had to repeat the same grade, I wanted to work in film for a long time, so I decided to go to a film school and I left the high school. I received advices from people around me, and I decided to go to United States.

When I told people around me that I’m going to quit from high school, Some of my friends told me that “you are running away”. But my parents told me “You can do whatever you want to do”. Back then, I had nothing to lose.

After passing the high school equivalence examination (Japanese equivalent of GED) , I went to a language school in Idaho. Because I could not speak English at all, I could not ask the location of the cafeteria in English, I could not eat food for the first 3 days! I managed to live by eating the cookies my mother gave me at the airport. Finally I met someone who spoke Japanese, then he took me to the cafeteria.



To My Dream University, and

After the language school, I went to a college in Ohio for two years. I became more confident with my English, so I wanted to go all the way, I transferred to Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. The classes are heavy on technical aspect. At first, we took pictures and told a story with just still pictures. The next is a black and white silent movie, then the color film… It was easy to understand about filmmaking because they taught us by taking steps. One of the good things at Tisch was that the teachers who taught us were actively making movies. It was also a huge benefit to be able to rent equipment with student discount.

I have worked as a freelancer for the past year after I graduated from New York University. The past year has been fun. Now I have a lot of work as a DP (Director of Photography). I entered the university as a director, but I got a lot of shooting works. It seems that my friends liked the work which I did in the classes. I kept shooting for my friends’ movies, then more people started asking me to shoot their films.

What is the difference between shooting gig in Japan and the United States?
Japan doesn’t have the DP system. In the United States, DP (Director of Photography) decides not only the camera, but also the lighting. In Japan, an independent lighting department makes the lighting. The camera department is responsible only for the framing and camera movement, this is the difference. But, in my opinion, the importance of cinematography is about 30% in framing and I think that about 70% is lighting. I want to control the lighting too.

In addition, for the first time in my life I ate a “locaben” (lunch box served on Japanese sets) I thought it was really tasty. The food in Japan is more delicious.



I Was Able to Reconcile.

My father gave me most of the books in my bookshelf. Before going to the U.S. my father told me I should read various books. I received a great amount of recommended books from my father, my father is a person who likes to make people read. I like Motojirō Kajii, I bought these books myself. And I like Shinichi Hoshi and Haruki Murakami too. I think that I love Science Fiction because of the influence of Haruki Murakami. My favorite Sci-Fi is not the classic Sci-Fi. I don’t know how to describe.. At first, It seems normal but something is strange, I like that type of world.

The thesis film which I am editing now is also a Sci-Fi/Romance. I co-wrote the script with a friend from my elementary school. I have wanted to make a film with him for a long time, so I contacted him then we decided to make this thesis film together. I needed to complete the script for thesis, but I couldn’t come up with any idea. And a year has passed since the deadline. The professor got very angry, but when I showed him the footage after the shoot, we made up easily.



Pick up Book

“About the learning method of the 20 scenarios”

Author: Hajime Arai

When I quit the high school and decided to go into the film industry, my class teacher gave me this book. Before she became a teacher, she wanted to become a script writer and this was the book she read when she first studied it. When the people around me said mean words like, “I was running away”. She was the only person who made me feel calm. We haven’t talked for such a long time, but I contacted her recently. Then, we decided to meet again.


Tsubasa’s Homepage:tsubasamatsumoto.com