Alum Kent Ichikawa: A Focus on Inclusion

Alum Kent Ichikawa: A Focus on Inclusion

by Nasci Lobo, Director of Communications and Marketing

As an aspiring young cinematographer, Class of 2019 alum, Kent Ichikawa, likes to explore the idea of inclusion and to look past our physical differences as humans. His latest work, a documentary that depicts the story of a brand new black-owned art gallery in Old City Philadelphia, reveals "a community, a safe space, and an art hub mainly for local, underrepresented artists of color", says the quietly perceptive third year Temple University Film & Media Arts student.

In the spring of 2021 came the cancellation of Kent's classes at university due to the COVID pandemic; he decided to take the spring semester off until in-person classes began again. In his search for work and internships, he came across a posting on Craigslist. "I began as an all-around assistant to the mastermind North Philadelphia artist and producer Miquon Brinkley in March 2021, helping his entrepreneurial aspirations come to life. I decided to put together this piece using the collection of footage I gathered on an impromptu basis between the months of March and October of that year. The documentary did in fact take a lot of work, time, and passion. I feel extremely rewarded and it has given me some momentum as an aspiring filmmaker preparing to break into the industry." The space, known as Thinker Makers Society, opened its doors in June 2021.

Reflecting on working with minority communities and subcultures, Kent adds, "I think it's important to shine a spotlight on the cultures and arts of minorities, because minorities are what makes this country. I've had the opportunity to make friends who happen to be minorities, artists, and entrepreneurs, who needed a filmmaker to document their work. This is a win-win situation where I can practice my craft, build with them as not only friends but also as artists, all the while helping professionally promote their work. This however does not reflect my goals as a cinematographer/filmmaker. I don't feel as strongly about documentaries as I do about narrative films. I want to start narrowing down my true interests and shift toward getting as much experience and practice as I can in the world of traditional narrative filmmaking. This includes set experience, mastering the art of lighting, and learning about all types of equipment, in order to ultimately build a proper foundation as a serious cinematographer/director of photography with a specific style."

Kent's diligence, dedication, and artistic perspective earned him the recognition essential in the film industry. The documentary, Let's Make Some Dope Sh!t Together,  won the Best Documentary award at the Temple University Diamond Screen Film Festival, the Best Student Film award at the Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival, and the Tokyo International Monthly Film Festival Award in July. He has also created a version with Japanese subtitles. "I felt that it was only right for me to make this specifically to enable my Japanese audience, mainly family and friends, to understand the very nuanced cultural context of this piece", adds the thoughtful young filmmaker.

Poster for Kent Ichikawa's award-winning documentary.

Kent works part-time as a freelance cinematographer and editor for a variety of visual storytelling outlets including commercial videos, music videos, documentaries & narrative films. His most recent work was editing the pilot of a semi-professional TV series pitched and directed by a Temple University Alum. "No matter what you're looking to pursue, whether you're set on what you want to study or still figuring it out, it's important to try things out and to explore your capabilities. The more you experience, the more you find out about yourself. It's also important to surround yourself with people who you can be positively influenced by" , he adds.

For Kent, inspiration comes in the form of American rapper Tupac Shakur and a legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. "Tupac was more than just a rapper or an artist. He was a figure that passionately stood up for what was right. The fearlessness of expression is what I resonate with and take heavy inspiration from. Roger Deakins is a 73-year-old cinematographer with 15 academy award nominations, 37 nominations in other award programs and 16 total wins over the course of his career. His naturalistic, adaptive, simple, but beautiful style resonates with me not just as a cinematographer but as an artist", explains the 21-year-old Dragon.

Reflecting on his influences at YIS, Kent recalls, "IB Art class in particular allowed me to explore different mediums and experiment with my abilities, which ultimately helped narrow down what I need to work on, what I like doing for fun, and what I want to do for work. I practiced filming and editing outside school by making vlog-style videos of when I went out to explore with my friends, as well as making my first short narrative film Sooner or Later, which was screened and awarded at the Kanto Plains Film Festival in 2018. I was always into visual art growing up, whether it be sketching, painting, or crafting 3D spaces. I developed a heavy interest in photography during middle school, which would continue throughout high school up until eleventh grade. I then realized that I can combine my interests in storytelling, designing 3D spaces, and photography, which translated into cinematography. Cinematography is the art of designing shots through lighting and framing."

Speaking about the program he is enrolled in at Temple University, Kent says, "I've taken a range of courses for various areas such as Editing, Screenwriting, Lighting and Film History just to name a few. I found that a lot of the classes I took during my first two years were heavy on theory, and as I progressed into my third year I started doing more advanced hands-on learning. I think that some of the prerequisite theory classes are necessary to make sure everybody is on the same page. You can't advance without having the basics down."

Keep up your insightful approach, Kent. We look forward to seeing more from you.

Find out more about Kent's work on his website,

Eaurasin male in early 20s wearing blue and red track top

YIS Class of 2019 graduate, Kent Ichikawa.