Greenpoint Gazette
Tara Norvell and Yuji Haraguchi

New Greenpoint Documentary Series to Tackle Creators and their Passions

BY Tanay Warerkar

A Greenpoint duo is bringing passion, talent and originality to the screen.

Notes on Doing (NOD) is a series of short documentaries examining the work of people who are passionate about their craft. Its newest offering is a short documentary on the Ainslie Street Japanese restaurant Okonomi, and its co-executive chefs and founders Tara Norvell and Yuji Haraguchi.

NOD is the brainchild of Jenna Matecki, whose “day job” is working as a communications consultant. Through her work, she developed a passion for telling people’s stories, but unlike PR, where she creates a product largely for the purposes of consumption, she wanted something more in the realm of journalism and documentary filmmaking.

She enlisted the help of her boyfriend, Adrian Letechipia, who runs interdisciplinary design studio, Roark, on Richardson Street, working primarily with clients in broadcast and online media.

When Matecki suggested the idea, Letechipia pushed her to follow through. What typically would have been a brunch conversation soon forgotten became a reality. Matecki outlines the stories and the narrative arc, Letechipia does the filming and they work with friends, also in the industry, to create the final product.

Matecki’s inspiration to launch NOD, in part, grew from her role in an alumni-mentoring program at her alma mater, Barnard College. She saw increasingly that young women from the school were taking comfortable jobs following graduation instead of pursuing their dreams, and wanted NOD in part to inspire more people to take risks in their in youth in pursuit of their dreams.

“Now is the time to be poor and eat ramen,” said Matecki, who graduated Barnard in 2011. “I find that in the working world, it’s very rare that you end up doing something that you really love. There’s this pressure to take the cushy job. But when you do find those people, it’s really inspiring to hear their stories.”

Matecki stumbled on the hole-in-the-wall Japanese eatery much like any other curious North Brooklyn foodie, and sensing the attention to detail, meticulousness and love with which the place had been established, recognized that it was a perfect fit for her series.

The owners were immediately on board, as well, sensing her dedication to the project.

“Food is something universal and I knew that I wanted something where the chefs weren’t unapproachable, big kitchen people,” said Matecki, about Norvell and Haraguchi. “They are the most down to earth, charismatic people. You walk into their world, it’s incredibly well designed, the food is perfect, and you feel like everyone is greeting you. It’s just that perfect neighborhood place.”

Okonomi focuses on regional seafood and Mottainai cuisine, a Buddhist style of Japanese cooking. The seafood is caught fresh every morning before it is served, and almost all the produce is locally procured. The restaurant features ichuji sansai style set breakfast and lunch meals, and the menu changes daily based on the produce and fish the chefs procur that very morning.

“It’s really satisfying,” says Norvell of her work, on the documentary. “Even going home at the end of the day and just changing the way we cut one vegetable. It satisfies me so much more than like, you know, making commission on sales, or, making money, or… yeah, something that I guess you would think drives ambition, but that’s not what drives us. Learning things and creating new things is what drives our ambition.”

Apart from the short on Okonomi, NOD has also produced films on Brooklyn-based animator Mark Phillips, and the owners of the West Village skateboard shop, Uncle Funky’s Boards.

NOD currently has four other short documentaries in production, and is eyeing its sights on promoting these films at festivals and raising awareness about the project.

To learn more and watch the film produced by NOD visit http://notesondoing.com/.

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