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The Work That Made Me: Kiku Ohe


Superprime director on the influence of the Blue Note catalogue, the films that left their mark and his latest work for the Diablo gaming franchise

The Work That Made Me: Kiku Ohe

Kiku Ohe’s cinematic storytelling masterfully traverses genres and themes. From elevated visual narrative, authentic character-driven performance to sophisticated VFX world builds, his immersive, emotionally charged work strikes a deep nerve.

His highly awarded film craft displays a rare depth and artistry. With a skill for casting and directing non-professional and experienced actors alike, he draws truth and nuance from the human experience. 

His most recent work includes a major brand film for Qantas, reshaping the iconic I Still Call Australia Home campaign, featuring a diverse, star-studded cast of contemporary Australians including Hugh Jackman, Kylie Minogue, Troye Sivan, Rene Kulitja and Ash Barty.

Kiku has collaborated with some of the world’s premiere creative agencies, celebrities, artists and brands including Louis Vuitton, Remy Martin, Johnnie Walker, Blizzard Entertainment, Qantas and Genesis to name but a few. 

An Australian based in Los Angeles, Kiku works internationally across a diverse slate of narrative film and commercial projects.

The ad/music video from my childhood that stays with me…

Kiku> Gondry’s Daft Punk Around the World. It’s playful, seemingly simple yet layered and complex. I still love everything about it. 

The ad/music video/game/web platform that made me want to get into the industry…

Kiku> Nothing specific, it was more a larger passion for filmmaking.

The creative work that I keep revisiting…

Kiku> The Blue Note catalogue is always spinning in my house, nothing like a bit of Grant Green or Kenny Burrell. 

My first professional project…

Kiku> I started off filming EPK’s for Australian bands. 

The piece of work that still makes me jealous…

Kiku> Different things have inspired me at different points in my career. A lot of films left a mark – Tokyo Story, In The Mood For Love, Lost in Translation - to name just a few. Commercials I love are Glazer’s Levi’s Odyssey spot, Gucci Flora by Chris Cunnigham and Wrangler’s Yellow Brick Road – classics!

The creative project that changed my career…

Kiku> Perhaps Nokia HK Honey. It was a small character piece for Nokia without huge pressure behind it, so I went off to Hong Kong with a brief from a smart creative team at RGA and came back with a little short film. I was lucky as Michael Leung was such a beautiful soul and his project Hong Kong Honey was unique. 

Nokia HK Honey

The work that I’m proudest of…

Kiku> Qantas, I Still Call Australia Home. For Australians, Peter Allen's song, 'I Still Call Australia Home', has a special place in the national psyche and the airline that has connected the country for a century. The spot was shot prior to Covid and remained unused for years, like the entire airline industry, but when Australia reopened the work had a deeper significance. It was a true honour to collaborate with all involved. 

Qantas, I Still Call Australia Home

I was involved in this and it makes me cringe…

Kiku> Let’s let sleeping dogs lie!

The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most…

Kiku> I recently co-directed a live-action trailer for the Diablo gaming franchise, bringing the epic Diablo IV universe to life with Chloe Zhao. The script, written by the team at 72andSunny LA was anchored in a powerful call-and-response narrative - pleas for salvation delivered to camera as a direct call to action to fans and new Saviours yet to be summoned. The Diablo universe has such epic scope and a rich lore with a very passionate fanbase, so we needed to be as authentic as possible, while building emotion and journey into the piece. Breaking the fourth-wall is always a delicate line to execute well cinematically. We were conscious the pleas needed to be as powerful as the battles and Saviours that answer them, so grounding them was key. The Diablo game is tonally inspired by Chiaroscuro, which made it exciting to world-build with such a dark and bold visual style within the production design, costume design, and cinematography to craft the thrilling battles between heaven and hell. Working with the VFX team at The Mill was a fastidious and exciting collaboration too. From previz through to final finish they did an incredible job in seamlessly building the featured hero character class powers, demons and Diablo spirit into our immersive live-action journey. 

Diablo IV live action launch

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Superprime Films, Tue, 06 Jun 2023 14:37:21 GMT