From writing scripts for Emperor Pigs to publishing his scrapbook novella, Voices, Paul Hikari keeps thinking, "I can do better than that," and has let that propel him through both his voice acting and scriptwriting, largely for YouTube stuff.

Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
King of Blades is basically about a teenage girl whose father used to be the champion of a gladiatorial simulation competition titled Children of the Earth. Think augmented reality buhurt (medieval combat). Anyway, one day, said father ends up paralyzed in a train crash, leaving the girl to decide to take up his mantle and enter the competition herself to prove herself worthy of his legacy. Standing in her way is the current champion, who went crazy following the crash and feels that he doesn't deserve his spot but is still compelled to stay. More importantly, though, the girl must learn to accept the help of friends and loved ones instead of trying to do everything herself, because you can only go so far by yourself.

What are your ambitions with your project?
Ultimately, I want this script produced into a feature length movie, preferably animated, and showcase it in theaters and subsequently on streaming platforms, like Netflix. I'm not looking to make a franchise out of it, as I feel that it's a complete story on its own.

Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
I haven't shot for this script yet, but I will note a few things that surprised me about it. One thing is how I act out certain scenes physically to get a feel for how they might look on screen. Another is how the characters themselves just kind of...take on lives of their own as I write them out, particularly with the dialogue. And speaking of the dialogue, that tends to be the first thing that comes to mind whenever I write out scenes. Everything else soon follows. Visuals, actions, etc.

For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
Primarily teenagers and young adults, but with elements that kids and older viewers can also enjoy, though to be honest, I didn't really think of that while I wrote it.

Why should distributors buy your film?
This is largely an action movie, and action movies sell big.
There's a serious dearth of 2d animation in cinema these days outside of Japan, and this could help fill that niche.
There's a fair demand for female main characters, which this script features.
While there's plenty of diversity in race and disability present in the film, none of it defines the characters, and that's something audiences can appreciate.
The themes of friendship, coming of age, and hard work and intelligence paying off resonate strongly with a wide audience. The underdog narrative that some may see also helps.

How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
Hard to find a story about entering a virtual reality competition with swords and armor from all across the ancient world, let alone one featuring this diverse a cast of characters with their own wants and quirks or striking a balance of individual effort and teamwork as one of its central themes.

Why did you decided to become a filmmaker?
I figure, what better way to constantly fulfill my core desire to make people happy than to be an entertainer? I'm mainly an actor by nature, but writing and making films is another extension of that desire.

Who is your role model?
Peter Jackson, Hayao Miyazaki, James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, and Mel Brooks are my main ones.

Which movies are your favorites? Why?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by Peter Jackson is my #1 pick. The dynamic characters, the vast worlds, the epic battle sequences, the majestic music and visuals, and the simple but greatly executed plot all come together to form the greatest trilogy in cinematic history.

Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
I look to...well, just about anywhere for inspiration, including other shows and movies. For example, King of Blades was largely inspired by Deadliest Warrior when I first wrote the story. I was hooked on the idea of warriors fighting each other from across time and space, but I wasn't too keen on how making them fight to the death would work in real life anymore.

Which topics interest you the most?
History's a big one, hence the historical inspiration in the equipment featured in King of Blades.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
So far, my greatest achievement would be voicing in a series of independent horror games that are quite popular, particularly thanks to YouTubers like jacksepticeye. As far as writing goes, King of Blades has won awards in two screenplay competitions and placed highly in at least seven others.

What do you consider most important about filming?
The most important aspect of any movie is the story, but it alone does not make a great movie. You also have to factor in the characters, the writing, the visuals, sound, etc. Ultimately, a movie's quality depends on how well all of those factors mesh together, the story itself being the foundation.

Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
I'd say animation, because it's the technique where creators have the most freedom of expressing imagination.

How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
On one hand, many of the big studios are running out of ideas and/or care for their viewers, resigning themselves to just rehashing old material until the fans get sick of it. This leads to inferior movies, and thus major losses. On the other hand, too many people spend too much time complaining about the state of modern cinema and not enough time taking matters into their own hands, coming up with new ideas, writing, directing, or producing new works of their own. And then, there's the talk about AI. Let's face it. AI cannot and will not replace human artists, as some people are trying to make it do, because that just yields inferior products. What it can do is serve as a tool for artists to enhance their work.

What can disappoint you in a movie?
If the story is bad, for one. But besides that, there's also if it's too painfully obvious that a movie is trying to pander to certain viewers to the exclusion of others. This can be anything from being more direct fanservice to a certain fanbase to trying to push a political agenda, be it liberal or conservative, and it all detracts from the actual story, the characters, and...everything else in general.

Who supports you in your film career?
My friends and colleagues in the voice acting and screenwriting industries support me, as does my family.