Chikara has been a principal collaborator on 14 independent films with Rob Nilsson, a Berkeley-based Sundance/Cannes award-winning filmmaker. Primarily a Cinematographer and Editor, he has also worked as Producer and Location Sound. A Japanese native, Chikara has spent over 25 years in New York, Hawaii, and San Francisco Bay area as freelance Director and Cinematographer for various Japanese television networks, including NHK, Japan’s public television.
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A Japanese native, Chikara has spent nearly 35 years in New York, Hawaii, and in the San Francisco Bay area as a freelance Director, Cinematographer, and Editor for various Japanese television networks, including NHK, Japan’s public television. Chikara also was a principal collaborator on 14 independent films with Rob Nilsson, a Berkeley-based Sundance/Cannes award-winning filmmaker.

Since 2011, Chikara has partnered with Paul Zehrer for PotentialSF — working as Co-Producer, Cinematographer, and Co-Editor on numerous award-winning films including “Why Waldorf?”, “Preparing for Life”, and “Being Seen”. Recently Chikara was a Co-Cinematographer for “The Test and The Art of Thinking,” a documentary feature about the SAT exam.

In 2019, Chikara premiered his first feature-length documentary  “Journey to Hokusai” at Mill Valley Film Festival.

Journey to Hokusai

Producer, Cinematographer, Editor

Journey to Hokusai trailer

Tom Killion has long held a dream – to go to Japan and learn a traditional method of printing by hand. Deeply touched by the artist Hokusai’s prints when he was a child, Tom has for almost 50 years successfully created iconic California landscape prints. This film follows Tom’s journey to Japan to finally learn the traditional technique from Kenji Takenaka — a 5th generation printer in Kyoto. This film also examines the source of aesthetics found in Japanese art, crafts, and lifestyle.

Visit Journey to Hokusai site to find out more about the film.

Documentary Reel:

Cinematographer, Co-Producer, Co-Editor

Corporate Reel:

Producer, Cinematographer, Editor

Dramatic reel:

Cinematographer, Co-Producer, Co-Editor

The Test & The Art of Thinking: Film Teaser


For decades, the SAT & ACT have loomed colossal as a teenage rite of passage for those aspiring to college in the U.S. The experience, and the score, remain indelible for many. Students, academics, and test-taking professionals expose the bias and influence, both cultural and psychological, in this surprising documentary.

Being Seen:

Cinematographer, Co-Producer, Co-Editor

“Being Seen” explores the poorly understood subculture of people living with “developmental disabilities.” These individuals’ candid and articulate self-awareness quickly shatter preconceptions of who they are and how they think about themselves and the world — leaving us with existential questions about the meaning of “disabled” and “normal”. Rather than defining themselves by their diagnosis, individuals (young and old) strive to create meaning, meet adversity, and dream of their futures. Bay Area filmmakers, Paul Zehrer and Chikara Motomura, spent over three years following individuals living with developmental disabilities throughout the Bay Area.

Preparing for Life:

Cinematographer, Co-Producer, Co-Editor

“Preparing for Life” takes viewers inside the Waldorf School of the Peninsula where the focus is on developing the capacities for creativity, resilience, innovative thinking, and social and emotional intelligence over rote learning. Entrepreneurs, Stanford researchers, investment bankers, and parents who run some of the largest hi-tech companies in the world, weigh-in on what children need to navigate the challenges of the 21st Century in order to find success, purpose, and joy in their lives.

Partner Filmmakers:

Rob Nilsson

Paul Zehrer

Beth LaDove