Even as a production company, editing runs deep at Cutters Studios Tokyo.

By Chandler Atton
Posted Feb 7, 2024

It goes without saying that Cutters Studios is one of the most recognizable names in the post production sphere, but you may be surprised to know that its Tokyo branch has actually made more of a name for itself as a full-on production company!

Founded in 2012 by Ryan McGuire – pictured above alongside fellow Director and Editor, Aki Mizutani, formerly a Director at Cutters Studios LA – and nestled in the heart of the city, a short fifteen minutes away from Shibuya’s iconic four-way crossing, Ryan and Aki boast both production and post production chops, although its the former, not the latter, that occupies most of their time and creativity.

We had the pleasure of stopping by Cutters Studios Tokyo this past December, where we had a chat with Ryan about his background, talked about his best work and shared his experiences while working within the Tokyo ad and production scenes for so long. Some of what we learned definitely wasn’t what we expected to hear.

Who do your clients tend to be? Do you speak more with agency producers, brands, or program producers?

Our clients are primarily at the intersection of Japan and the world - global brands marketing in Japan, and Japanese brands marketing overseas. We work directly with brands, as well global agencies. We’re also active in greater Asia. I’m currently in pre-production on a project promoting a new attraction on Sentosa Island in Singapore.

Recently, we’ve started dipping our toes into the entertainment world. We’ve got a deal with A+E Networks for a scripted tv show that I’m writing with a popular Japanese comedian, and Aki just finished work on a feature doc, as well as an episode of the Netflix show Encounters.

What initially sparked your interest in Japan, and later drove you to base yourself in Tokyo?

I was in Japan as a young student and graduated from university here. Japan’s always had an allure for me. The culture, the traditions, the sounds and aesthetics, are all so stimulating.

How does the production business differ in Tokyo as compared to the West -- or even other prefectures within Japan?

I can’t speak on other prefectures in Japan, as I’ve only worked in Tokyo (which is really the only major production market in Japan). It’s been my observation that compared to the West, Japan’s production business prioritizes maintaining a sustainable process over creativity and quality of execution. Japan’s production companies have long lasting client relationships based on mutual benefit and respect.

This is where we saw an opportunity to exploit a niche in the market. We’ve been quite successful in establishing Cutters Studios Tokyo as the company that challenges the status quo and delivers a product a step above. This is particularly attractive to global brands marketing in Japan, and Japanese brands marketing overseas.

You previously mentioned that Cutters Tokyo edits its own productions. Is that the standard for most production companies in Japan? Any notably different techniques for color grading or music/sound choices in comparison to the West?

I believe we’re quite unique here. Aki and I were both editors before we were directors. Editing’s in our blood. In Japan, as in much of the world, the director is relied on more heavily in captaining the product to the finish line, versus the US, where the agency tends to be quite hands on.

What work has your team put out that you're most proud of? Does it primarily stay overseas, or does it reach western shores too?

We love all our babies equally :-)

A lot of the work we do is for the North American and European markets. Notably, the 70th Anniversary campaign for All Nippon Airways we did last year.

Does Cutters Tokyo find itself sharing work with other Cutters offices? Do you ever collaborate with different divisions (Flavor, Another Country, etc.) on jobs in Japan?

Frequently. Being a part of the greater Cutters Studios network is a big attraction for our clients. And it allows us to work around the clock.





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