Reid Hildebrand: Impact Hub Kyoto

At the beginning of this semester, I knew my hobbies and I knew my interest in Japan, but I had no idea how they might intersect. I had lots of ideas: perhaps a regular photography blog or maybe a travelogue video or two to illustrate my time in the Far East. However, the CIP program soon seemed like a great outlet for creativity. I weighed my options and found one of two that I liked – initially, the Doshisha student television circle seemed promising (because I do student television at Wesleyan) but I had no idea if they’d let some foreign stranger jump into their production. The presentation for Impact Hub flicked a switch: it was exactly what I was looking for.

There, I would have a chance to use my creative skills and also have a tangible result that is not just self-satisfying but serves a somewhat larger purpose. The photographs I take and videos I create are used as promotional outreach to reach wider target audiences. I get to hone my skills and build my portfolio while also meeting a great group of like-minded people, more of whom walk through the doors at each event.

Initially, I was once again a foreign stranger with worth to prove. Impact Hub already got photography done casually on the side by some of their employees, but I felt like a devoted photo/video person could do them some good. It took a couple weeks to find my niche there: I attended two events to do photo and take some video. At my Wednesday afternoon sessions at Impact Hub I was careful to protect my work from prying eyes – in hindsight that absolutely reinforced the skepticism but I wanted the result to be a surprise. In early October, at the first intern presentation session, I showed the pictures I had taken and the event recap video I had made. The reactions were instantaneous and enthusiastic; my worth had been proven. Afterwards I was soon given much more slack to work at my own pace with my own method. A mutual trust had been established between myself and my superiors and co-workers at Impact Hub.

Now, the goals have extended beyond event photography and short documentary-style video. My last video was a short spurt of live-action animation set to classic American bebop, and a two-month project that I’ve been working on is slowly coming to fruition. The latter is a very cross-cultural project, which in itself epitomizes what Impact Hub is all about. A 60-second long animated promotional video describing what happens and what one can do at Impact Hub isn’t too much of a burden to take on, but to make it bilingual is something that I can safely say I’ve never done before. The translation into Japanese was a challenge twofold: firstly, the meaning needs to stay approximately the same, with connotations and conversational tone in mind. Secondly, the video has a very distinct flow and rhythm – things that occasionally need to be tweaked when switching the tongue from English to Japanese. Overall, I’m very pleased with how it has turned out – last week I received some excellent feedback, and soon I will settle down to knock it out and hopefully create something that they can use for a long time ahead. If I can leave a legacy somewhere in Kyoto, using my creative skills to make a difference is something I’m definitely proud of.

2 thoughts on “Reid Hildebrand: Impact Hub Kyoto

  1. Do you think that it is easier for students that have a specific skill (in your case, photography) to become involved in volunteer work? I liked the idea of this but I was a bit indimidated because I felt I did not have anything to offer except awkward gaijin-ness.

  2. Reid, of all students at KCJS this semester, you definitely seem to have gotten the most out of your CIP. I’m amazed you had the time to complete all of these projects on top of your academic workload, but I guess thats what happens when it is your passion. Did you ever get the opportunity to work directly with a Japanese member of HUB for any of these projects? Or were they all completed alone?