Film Editor Takashi Uchida’s fluid, crisply rhythmic work has earned him a professional reputation as a first rate, fast rising craftsman. Uchida’s skill is reflected in his impressive roster of achievements, credits he has racked up in short order, not only as an editor but also as a director, composer, writer and in visual and special effects. While he followed a somewhat circuitous route, Uchida’s path to Hollywood was almost inevitable.
“I was born and grew up in Tokyo,” Uchida said. “I was just a typical nerdy kid who liked anything film and TV related. I spent my teenage years exploring films from all over the world and the different cities, beliefs and cultures that I discovered in them made me question whether or not I should stay in Tokyo. I ended up deciding to go to the US after high school.”
“Although I always wanted to do film, during college I focused on anthropology, and then upon finishing undergrad, I started focusing on film making. I went to USC School of Cinematic Arts and started my career as film editor.”
At the SCA, Uchida’s natural flair, flawless visual instinct and sense of clarity were immediately apparent, developing an editing style is driven by an artful enthusiasm. “In the film production program, you learn every aspect of film making during the first year,” Uchida said. “I pretty much like every aspect of film making, but I especially like writing and editing. And if I have to choose which is more cinematic, I believe that editing is the more unique aspect of film making, it really determines the finished film. However boring the footage may be, there’s always a way to make the film better in post-production. I really enjoy that creative capacity.”
Uchida hit the ground running, tabbed by multi-talented performer James Franco to work on Actors Anonymous, the feature adapted from Franco’s own popular novel. With its complex weaving of ten different narrative vignettes, the project was an ideal vehicle to debut Uchida’s deft cutting style.
“Actors Anonymous is one of the films that I am most proud of,” Uchida said. “Not only because it was the first feature I edited, but also because I was working with 10 directors for the project and the result of the collaboration was phenomenal. Every film has different kind of challenges, and struggling with those challenges made the film very unique and emotional, I believe.”
Uchida went on to edit Jessica Darling’s IT LIST, based on the New York Times teen bestseller and starring Disney TV actress and YouTube sensation Chloe East. His ongoing work on the popular Netflix animated series Kong: King of the Apes provides an ideal analog for this talented artist’s professional life: a redefinition of one of film lore’s most abiding, fascinating figures—the oft misunderstood, quasi-human behemoth Kong—that is offered to audiences on the non-traditional web-based Netflix platform, a melding of past and future that reflects Uchida’s solid grounding in film history and his singular, beyond-the-horizon creative perspective.
“Kong was the second animation editing I did,” Uchida said. “I had actually made a couple of animation shorts myself so the opportunity to edit Kong was really exciting to me. One thing I’ve learned is that an editor must know the importance of ‘one frame.’ Film is usually 24 frames per second, so one frame is almost 0.042 second. And indeed that tiny difference actually matters. Kong was reminded me of that importance, it had a lot of action sequences and it was a great experience to see how that one frame can make a scene much better.”
His innate grasp on the intricate technical delicacy each instant of every project demands elevates Uchida to a plateau of his own, and the editor is keeping busy, currently working the post-production end of Rio, another feature adapted from a James Franco novel.
“Film editing is the most unique and creative phase in film making,” Uchida said. “It is a magic of time and the visual. It is very instinctive and creative, but also very logical and knowledge-based. It mixes both, like where the river meets the ocean. And combining intuition and logic is so complicated, it’s almost impossible to consciously grasp. But that’s exactly why I want to keep doing it.”