Ryan Kawamoto

Film Director

Class of 1993





By Dalas Hedstrom-Adams


Ryan Kawamoto is a director of commercial, television and film projects.   He is in charge of executing and leading the creative and technical elements of a production, including casting, selecting film locations, collaborating on the script, editing the final product and staying within the film’s deadline and budget.  He says, “I’m a coach, cheerleader, general and a psychologist all rolled into one.”  He has directed television commercials for such companies such as Toyota, McDonald’s, the Aloha United Way, Zippy’s and HGEA.  In 2004, he was named the Outstanding Young Ad Person of the Year by the Hawaii Advertising Federation.

Ryan has also worked on the PBS documentary series, “Arirang: the Korean American Journey”  and is finishing work on “The First Battle,” about Japanese Americans during World War II. His most recent film is “The Sand Island Drive-In Anthem”, featuring Augie Tulba and based on Cedric Yamanaka’s book, In Good Company.   The film won the Audience Award for Best Shorm Film at the 2005 Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival.

While at Waiäkea, Ryan already had a keen interest in filmmaking and was one of the first members of Waiäkea’s video production class, producing a news segment called “News 101" which aired on the KGMB 9 news.  “Doing this,” he said, “gave me the confidence that I could compete with other kids from bigger programs.”  He furthered his education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he majored in communication.

Ryan’s years at Waiäkea prepared him for the future, teaching him the basics and principles such as cooperating with others which is a necessity in any field of work. He also states that, “I am thankful for all the classes I took because they do apply in my career and everyday life. If I didn’t take all those history and social studies classes, I wouldn’t be able to work on documentary projects. If I didn’t study hard in English and writing, I wouldn’t be able to write and edit scripts and screenplays.”

After graduating from high school in 1993, Ryan pursued his interest in film upon entering the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he created his first student film, “Paper Cranes,” which went to the local film festivals and opened doors for future opportunities. Despite common belief, it is not easy to achieve success. It requires hard work and dedication, often times skipping out on a social life.  Ryan ended his interview with an anonymous quote, “Live life as an exclamation, not an explanation.”


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