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The Directors: Kaho Yoshida


The Hush director on the joys of weird scripts, honest communication and making work that is more than just cute

The Directors: Kaho Yoshida

Kaho Yoshida is a director and animator with a special passion for stop motion and mixed media. Her fresh aesthetics and sense of humour bring life to every frame, and her passion for storytelling makes her work relatable and approachable.

LBB> What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to animate them?

Kaho> I like scripts that are not afraid to be personal and a bit weird. If the script is personal, it allows me to really get into their world and make something unique. I also like it when it’s short and sweet. Sometimes scripts can be too wordy and it takes away from the animation. 


LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Kaho> I always start from doing the research, and by asking the client as many questions as possible. I want to know who the ad is for, what the audience should take away from the ad, what feelings it should evoke, etc. And most importantly, what kind of story the ad is telling. From there, I start collecting visual references and then build a moodboard. For me the story is the most important thing and the visuals need to compliment and aid the story telling. 


LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Kaho> It is very important for me to do the research. Oftentimes I just ask the client for information because I want to know what is important to them in their words. But I also do research on the internet. Social media is a very good tool to get real people’s opinions. If I’m working on something that targets youth, I go on Tiktok and see what is trending. I also listen to podcasts dedicated to the market/ audience the ad is targeting. 


LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

Kaho> The most important working relationship is the one with trust and good communication. I hope that people who hire me are hiring me because they like my work. So I hope they can trust me to do my job well. I also like to be upfront and honest in my communication. I think it’s better to over communicate than under communicate to avoid misunderstanding. 


LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Kaho> For me, the best thing I can do with my work is to help someone feel seen and heard. So I am drawn to projects that tell stories of people who are often underrepresented. 

Style-wise, I love working in mixed media. So whenever the client is excited about making a stop motion + cel animation piece, I’m very happy.

LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Kaho> I feel like sometimes because I’m a Japanese woman, my work gets put in a box of ‘cutey’ things. There is nothing wrong with cute, I love cute, but I think my work is much more than just cute. 

LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Kaho> I have not! I don’t even know what they do. I’d love to though. 


LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Kaho> I can’t think of anything crazy I’ve encountered. There were productions with super tight deadlines or unrealistic expectations, but I’ve always managed to solve these by honest communication.


LBB> How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

Kaho> I have not experienced too much issue with this either, because usually people hire me because they like my work. There was one project that the agency promised creative freedom and turned out the client had a very specific style in mind all along, and what they wanted was not at all my style. So after trying to present different styles and being rejected, I created the ads in their style but tried to pepper in excitement in the way I animated things. It was not ideal but it was a good lesson to communicate more before being involved.


LBB> What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Kaho> Oh, I have so many thoughts on this. Still today, often I’m the only woman of colour in pitch meetings and people making the decisions are often all white men. It makes me extra anxious when sharing my creative ideas. It isn’t enough to hire diverse talent if everyone in management/ leading positions remains the same. 

I have amazing women mentors who are also my good friends, and I try to keep open doors to younger BIPOC talents, should they need any help or mentoring. There are amazing groups like Panimation that are really helping to create space for us and it is great to see that things are changing slowly. 


LBB> How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time? 

Kaho> As a freelancer, my life after the pandemic has not changed too much. But I am glad to see studios and agencies being more open to working with international freelancers and I hope that sticks!

LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

Kaho> I try to make videos that can work in 16:9 and 1:1. But other than that, it depends on projects. If the client wants all of the formats, I ask them which two are the most important and make my decisions based on the two formats. I can try to make something that works in different formats, but I can’t make something that looks perfect in all of the formats.


LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

Kaho> I have worked on some VR projects. Though I cannot do the technical aspects of these projects, the possibility of VR and AR excites me. I want to be open to learning new technology and the new possibilities they provide, while integrating them with good old analogue art. 

LBB> Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why? 

Kaho> First video I chose was a project I made for Royal Road University. I directed and animated it and I really like how the mixed media animation turned out. I wanted to take something that is familiar and diverse, and show that they are very exciting and full of possibilities to represent students’ potentials. And mixing it with character animation helped the video from being too abstract and more friendly. 

The project I chose is a mini film I made as a personal project while living in Berlin. I made the sets mostly out of trash I found on the streets of Berlin. I think this film demonstrates my resourcefulness and ability to find beauty in even literal trash. 

The third video I chose is a video I made for a local recycling company. The budget was limited so I couldn’t make a full on stop motion mixed media animation. But I managed to make it mixed media with real plants to drive the message of environmental benefit of recycling. 

The fourth video I chose is my demo reel! (is it cheating?) I am yet to work on super big projects with big agencies. But I am full of excitement and fresh ideas. I think my demo reel will show off the range of projects I am capable of making. 

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Hush, Wed, 28 Jul 2021 11:49:06 GMT