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Intermission Edition: Behind the Camera with Derek Edamura

It takes skill to record Public Works from rehearsal to performance. With over 100 community members in the cast, plus the creative team, cameo groups, and more, there’s a lot to have your eye on. Meet Derek Edamura, the videographer behind our Public Works productions. 

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Derek Edamura. Courtesy of the artist.

Derek Edamura: I remember having a coffee meeting with Marya [Sea Kaminski, former Associate Artistic Director] literally the day before the cast orientation for [Seattle Rep’s inaugural Public Works production of] The Odyssey, and was blown away by the premise and was instantly on-board with documenting the process. In college, I received two degrees in Digital Arts and Experimental Media and American Ethnic Studies. This combination of studies was my way of combining my artistic passion with social justice and advocacy, and during my conversation with Marya I was so excited to re-engage with these topics in a creative endeavor. After the meeting was over, she asked if I was free the next day to come by and start shooting. Since that time, I have taken every opportunity to document the journey of Public Works and the experiences of the cast, staff, and artistic collaborators, and loved every moment of it.

SR: What makes shooting Public Works productions different from your other work in media?

DE: The only comparable experience to shooting Public Works has been my experience shooting feature-length documentaries, in that you have to be constantly open to what's happening in the room, and also be constantly updating your mental catalog of what you have shot previously and what you need to shoot in the future to compliment the moment. I have this notebook that I use to sketch out stories that I have heard, notes from different shoots, and quotes from different interviews, and I start to build scenes and stories from the footage that we have captured. I love looking back because I can vividly remember every moment, and I look back at some of the footage and it instantly takes me back to that moment. I hope as we begin to share this footage it will give others that opportunity to step back in time and remember this incredible experience that we have all shared together.

In addition, one of the most impactful experiences I have had in shooting Public Works has been the connections that I have made with people and how those relationships have inspired and motivated me throughout the process. I genuinely care about this community and this program, and the work that I do is my gift to everyone that has been a part of this experience, so that we can all collectively remember the moments that we have shared together in those spaces and on that stage and we can take them with us wherever we go.

SR: What are your favorite types of projects to work on?

DE: I always look for projects that put people at the center of the story. As a documentary filmmaker, I am always looking to connect with people through story, and it has been an incredible honor to have been able to do it for as long as I have. I love interviewing people and I love listening to people's journeys through life. The one thing that I have truly loved about Public Works is that while we all come together in service to one story, it is each of our collective stories that truly make this experience powerful. I can't wait till we are all able to do it again.

SR: What's your coffee order?

DE: My coffee order is very simple, 12 oz Americano with no room.

SR: What's on your watch list during #stayathome?

DE: Right now I am watching “Zoey's Incredible Playlist” and “Schitt's Creek.” I am also challenging myself to watch 75 films this year, so I have been burning through a lot of documentaries right now on Hulu. I would recommend Apollo 11, Free Solo, and Waiting For Superman – they are all older docs, but they are great stories and definitely worth a watch if you have some time. I'm also currently binge-reading Malcolm Gladwell books right now.

SR: How are you keeping centered during #stayathome?

DE: The main thing that I have been doing is calling my family almost daily. I spend a good 10-15 minutes in the morning just making coffee with my French press, which has become oddly meditative for me. I try to be mindful of the amount of time I spend at my desk, so getting up and being active for a moment is super important and keeps me sane during this weird time.

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