Embracing Passion as a Duty

When does pursuing something you love transform into a personal mission for you?

In this video, Yujiro Seki recounts his journey in filmmaking, starting from a passionate pursuit to a sense of obligation, as he strives to bring inspiration to others.

The intricate process of filmmaking

Nick: So what about you, Yujiro? Is filmmaking your ikigai? Or is it something else?

Yujiro: I know you're gonna ask me that. Well, I have the answer for you. So when I started making film when I was in high school, that detective film, comedy detective film, and I showed it to people in my school, and made people laugh — that empowered me.

And I already felt something special of making something out of nothing. So filmmaking became my ikigai. Yeah, for sure. But when I started working on Carving the Divine, it's not ikigai anymore. I hate it. I hate is so much, there's so many obstacles, and there's so many unpleasant experience during the shooting.

And after I finished making a film, people frankly wonder: ‘Why you spent so many years making a film about the woodcarvers? Why don't you just make a film about famous people, like Justin Bieber or something?’ Regular people didn't get it.

And I was thinking that this is really an important Japanese culture, a 1400 year old tradition never been brought to the Western world, and why don't you get it? But people are not enthusiastic about it.

Many people, I mean, some people get it, some people like yourself, you’re my audience, definitely. They just get it right away. I don't need to talk to them anything. I made a film about busshi, and they were like, ‘Oh, I want to watch it. When is it gonna be released?’

But the regular folks, they just didn't get it. So last six years, about six years or five years were not mainly about making the film, putting the film together, but it is about promoting the film, marketing the film.

And marketing the film is as hard as, or even harder than making a film itself. You know, when you tell that to filmmakers, they get really upset. Well, you know what, you made a film and everything, but that's just half the battle, it's not even half of the battle, it's a quarter of the battle — it’s the easy part.

Now you finish the easy part. Now you're going to do a difficult part to promote the film, so the people take your film seriously. To them that's overwhelming, because of making a film itself is such an incredible journey, incredible task. Film is one of the most expensive art form in the world. People don't know it.

People watch it for two hours and just the time passed by, but you cannot make a film alone. Even though you might think that you did the writing, and directing, or producing, editing, and sound, and everything by yourself, you might say that, but I still had to have a people, and I had to have a film composer, and I had to have somebody who can give me advice while I'm editing, so that I can be objective.

So, you cannot make a film alone. You know, people get really upset, what are you talking about? Making a film isn’t the hardest thing you can ever do. And more than making a film, the promoting thing is a bit more difficult. I would say yes, it’s more difficult. Definitely a lot more difficult.

So, after making the film, I started doing that YouTube show Carving the Divine TV, which is about the basic concept and the history of Buddhism. And we also did a lot of shows about statues and how to identify different types of statues.

And we did a blog Butsuzotion, which is about how to appreciate Buddhist statues, Japanese Buddhist statues. This is more like an artistic approach, right? So between my YouTube shows and blogs, I wanted to raise awareness of this wonderful, beautiful, incredible, ancient tradition of Butsuzo.

And slowly, people started to pay attention to my content and started to discover my documentary. And I did my best to do the best possible shows, so that people can benefit from it. My purpose is to promote my documentary, but at the same time, I really wanted to create a great content for the people.

So few people can learn something. And I also wanted to make it entertaining. And I wanted to bring a great guest. So I've done all this. I enjoy doing it, but at the same time, it became a burden. I always thought about, come on, when can I quit? When can I finish it?

So you say ikigai, yes, it was ikigai. But it became a dharma. So dharma, in Buddhist sense, is the teaching of Buddha. But dharma in Hindu sense, is the duty in this life. I took it as a duty in this life. It's not ikigai anymore.