Hiro Murai ’02 spends a lot of time in what he describes as a “dingy dark room.” Things are going well.
The setting is just part of what artistic success entails for the talented filmmaker, who is often in an editing bay working on the critically acclaimed television series “Atlanta," which he frequently directs.
Hiro has worked consistently in filmmaking throughout the last decade, specializing in music videos for artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Bloc Party and The Shins. He frequently collaborates with "Atlanta" star and creator, Donald Glover, who raps under the stage name Childish Gambino. Hiro directed his revelatory, Grammy-winning music video “This Is America,” a visually gripping tour de force that confronts issues including racism and mass shootings.
The critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning "Atlanta" similarly tackles challenging subjects, depicting the struggles of three friends in a city beset by poverty, drugs and crime.
“The reception of the show was a total surprise to me,” he says. “The show has such a weird, specific voice that I never expected it to connect with people on such a big scale. But I love it, obviously.
“I try not to be too conscious about style. I think it’s important to think about what you’re going to say rather than how you say it. But in general I guess I would say I like things to be minimalistic. Less is always more for me.”
The mainstream success of “Atlanta” underscores Hiro’s approach to filmmaking. The less he thinks about how a particular project will be received, he says, the more creatively honest it will be.
“I don’t always succeed at not thinking about expectations, but the best things I’ve made have always come from not worrying about outcome. I just try to enjoy the process.”
For Hiro, who was born in Tokyo, the process of launching a career behind the camera included several milestones at Crossroads. He started playing with cameras in middle school, developing his interests in photography and the visual arts. By high school he was taking a video production class and making short films, including one of a pie-eating contest at Alleyween that he remembers vividly.
“Crossroads really fostered my love for visual art,” he says.