Be so, so good – it’s not always about your passion.

In this industry, everyone talks about passion, everyone talks about “doing what you love” that it not only bordered on cliché, it trumps it with an american-accented “see ya later, losers!” And I’ve trained my psyche to be commanding enough to own this phrase of passion and make sure the little children in my little circle are given same advice. Clearly, Cal Newport or well, Steve Martin wonder of my childhood for comedy classics such as Cheaper by the Dozen and well, its sequel says otherwise:

Be so good they can’t ignore you.

That’s so unfair. There is a misdemeanour here and I feel absolutely cheated. How come no one told me this when I jumped into the pool of media and communications and fell in love with filmmaking and watching ‘perfect’ people express who they really are in BTS vids from a Vogue shoot? I thought the key had always been passion. I’ve expressed this vehemently when I landed on the shores of Boston Massachusetts and screamed an anthem of success for the international revenue a twenty year-old could be so favourably blessed with.

And then Newport grunts something like the craftsman mindset focuses on what one can offer the world while the passion mindset‘s about what the world can offer you and then I was slapped by the realisation of its opposite: what did offer Boston when I came through its chilly, almost-Melburnian doors? What did offer my Advanced Production in Directing class when I signed up to do a short film and auditioned two talented talented young kids who I know will make a name for themselves in this industry faster than you can say Cara Delevingne? (ps. love her)

Have I been mistaken all along? Has my epiphany come and I’m barely twenty-one? Should I be writing my autobiography already?

I’ve always had this problem of feeling like I am missing out on what I truly love the most when I am doing something, or even when I’m just thinking about doing something that will not benefit my future endeavours to become a Director, Producer and Writer in an industry as fastidious as E&M. And then I volunteered for community television shows and unpaid short films where I got to be on set surrounded by people who are as passionate as I was but are so good at what that they do that I recognised, finally, that to be better is to do better. I learnt more about the craft by allowing myself to be taken under *insert collective noun* of eagles and driving myself to wake up every morning to learn, flippin’ learn, and to best my yesterday today.

I had doubts and I had self-pity about who I felt I was upon my return from the grandest international adventure I’ve been on knowing that I’m on my graduating year. I was all jittery and ready to flight more than fight. But I’ve finally awakened my dormant alter ego – it’s time to adopt a crafstman mindset and be so freakin’ good, the world cannot just ignore you, they cannot handle you. Supervillain, anyone?

No one owes you a great career…you need to earn it.


Books to read, Internships, Film scripts and Camp NaNoWriMo?!

I know you will all keep me accountable somehow, one way or another, so here are some things I’d like to accomplish in the next couple of weeks in regards to self-productivity and growth (oh please):

  • Write a review for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I first read this book many years ago and I remember being beguiled and then nothing else. Now, I am a captive again so…
    Expect a review by July 16.
  • Read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – because.
  • Light-reading Dante’s Inferno in preparation for the IQ Olympics my brain holds every mid-semester break like a birthday surprise.
  • Write a full short-film script for Der Schmerz
  • Create a tag for my 2016 Screen Futures Summit and Youth Media Festival internship where I know you will all follow me there – I’ll be chirpy, promise.
  • Create an outline for my content curation/production project that’s been begging to be Evernoted.
  • Find out who my cabin buddies are at Camp NaNoWriMo and pity-cry for my plan-less demise before calming tea. Look:
    Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 9.27.57 PM

    • It even emboldened the 15 days like I’m not already nervous-sweating.
  • Figure out my abundant use of hyphenated words. I’m sounding like a newspeak editor.


Initiative post: inspiration and the study of Static Movement

On my previous blog posts, I have listed a number of directorial inspirations who all shape my creative endeavour in the industry. I focused on Studio Ghibli’s master filmmaker Hayao Miayazaki for a number of reasons that are all encompassed under simplicity and the essence of the human condition. I would like to point out one of the main reasons as to why I think the 2D animation of Studio Ghibli (complemented superbly by a powerful and evoking story), encapsulates this simplicity and essence in an almost indecipherable way to those who are entranced by them:

Static Movement.

You may think that this is a contradiction, but I’ll give you a few scrolls down to see for yourself the very meaning of this phrase.






I inundated myself with titles upon titles from Studio Ghibli and of the same type of animated feature films as an investigative initiative, propelling myself to come down to a conclusion as to why animated feature films really does “soothe the spirit” and envelop you in its fictional reality better than some fictional realities of non-animated feature films.

I found Julien Douvier‘s cinemagraphs, a combination of cinema and photography (black and white photos above), as the answer to the enigma of static movement. Miyazaki doesn’t just choose a certain character (mostly the protagonist) in his films to show movement and action, but he complements this with one another feature in the scene that moves before he completely makes everything else static so the viewers are attuned to only what moves. Miyazaki builds upon the innate ability of humans to sense movement and draws his viewers through this and the explicitness of it, thus making for a profound play on the senses.

Example: the everyday and the mundane


Miyazaki juxtaposes the idiosyncrasies of fantasy and realism in an understated energy that flows though the powerful tool of scene selections. The sounds of the scratching of pen on paper, the scene of the protagonist turning a prawn tempura cooking on oil (above), or even a character simply breathing. In previous studies of films and even in writing books and novels, most discourage the inclusion of the everyday, the mundane or the innate (the human elements that we take for granted i.e. breathing) for it does not egg the story on.

But that is the power behind these films: the marriage of static movement and the inclusion of the mundane. Instead of jarring the viewers, they are instead given a different form of entry into the world of the characters that you are following on screen, you are given entry to not just what matters to the advancement of the story, but to them as characters whether they be a child or an adult, a slippery monster or a gigantic frog.



I did my internship with a great team, super talented, incredibly professional and who knew the ins and outs the film life very well. I admired the director because she knew exactly what kind of shot she wanted and what lens to use specifically in each shot and when the cinematographer would ask if this length is good, she would sometimes agree and sometimes she would suggest a different length instead and I know for sure that to learn this is very very supercalifragilisticexpialidocious- important.

These above gifs make it seem really simple and easy but how does one actually do it? Please, someone actually explain this to me because I will be extremely grateful. And depth of field, I am still very much at a loss as to how to calculate this and how to actually do this using a cameras but I WILL KNOW by the end of this class and don’t you forget it!



Under this context, I venture off in this class particularly, to study the elements of cinemagraph (how exactly to do this using a video camera) and static movement, and to play around with characters and actions and cinematography that would yield results similar to above: an experience of the human condition and the simplicity of realism and fantasy at the same time.

I am also very much interested in learning the the basic technicalities of types of lenses and depth of field to be able to further experiment and successfully make happen combination of cinemagraph and static movement for my final project.


Final Project Inspiration:

For my final project, I have decided to research, build upon and produce a project that is focused on static movement. This could be a non-animated short that feels like and is shot using the principles of static movement and cinemagraph. More on this very soon!

Reflections – class exercises and motivated shots

I reflect on one class exercise we did titled the abstract image.

  1. The Abstract Image
    Aim: to investigate a place

This exercise involved us directors to choose a certain framing in a specific location we choose to capture. We considered the following:

  • Different planes (of focus)
  • Texture
  • Movement
  • Expressive potential of image size, focal length, focus, depth of field, exposure, colour
  • Implications of framing – what is in and out of frame

What I learned from this exercise is that I am highly in favour of intimate shots whose subject is usually something around us that is often overlooked. I don’t have the videos we have captured but these photographs could give one the sense of what I mean:

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.20.19 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.19.53 PMObserving the two images that I took above (not from class exercise), you can see that in the frame are two subjects: the tree and the lamp post. These two images, though taken months apart, convey my decision to frame my shots on a particular object that is not my subject. Of course, I deliberately chose to place these objects in my frame, sort of like I was the set decorator and the Director of Photography at the same time. In the exercises, my cohorts and I did the exact same. The shots are motivated by a certain object in the frame that is not necessarily the subject of the photograph/video.

Why do I do this, you may ask? I think for me, this certain framing implies a sort of closeness to the scene; an artefact that you can almost grasp or hold on to, something to fall back on and easily remember when you are trying to recall this scene. For example, with the photograph on the above, taken in Massachusetts last August, I was struck by this lamppost that punctuated the first time I have been in an American neighbourhood. It was the image, the artefact, the object that struck me upon my arrival and my soaking in of the scene. However, I can’t say the same for the photograph below it. I could have simply taken a photo of the lake of shining waters and left the palm tree out of the frame but then it just wouldn’t be the same. For me, especially, that image wouldn’t be special, would not have captured the essence of that lake and its simplistic grandeur if I had not included the palm tree (no matter how many times I have seen one in my life).

In video, I work the same way. I could roll and allow things to happen, but I can encourage something to happen also. I think reflecting back on this work and after I edit the videos we have captured, I would be able to eventually define my reasons for these shots and how I can utilise them in my creative practice and vision.

Initiative: the practice of simplicity and the essence of the human condition in film

Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki by dono 2015

When I came across my first Hayao Miyazaki film (Spirited Away) three, four years ago, I finally opened the magical door to a world of film in its most simplistic and also in its most grandeur…simultaneously. The stories are etched in a man who, like everyone else, had been a child once, and has discovered the mystical pulling powers of one’s imagination at play. I loved his films for their presence. There is a realism there that is deeper than showing someone suffering from a sort of emotional turmoil or play. His films are like watching a piece of art come alive.

Ways of Making aims to help us budding filmmakers find a way to actually make a film that is a combination of our “creative vision” and our “respect for the subject matter as an active agent shaping the final form” and I am enthused by the idea that I can make a Miyazaki film, or at least, draw from the essence of his films into my own creative works and directorial vision…something I want to accomplish as a director, writer and producer.

In this particular post, I would like to highlight my inspiration of capturing in my future films what is known as the essence of humanity: that even through a non-animated film, one can create a fictional world that could also “soothe the spirit of those who are disheartened and exhausted from dealing with the sharp edges of reality”. I know it sounds a little contradictory when you think about it but I think the truth very much lies in what story you are telling and how you are telling it.

I allude to my previous post in regards to my admired directors. I mentioned Peter Jackson for his foray into the genre of fantasy and action and adaptation and creating The Lord of the Rings which is now at the heart of every movie-goer and those swimming in pop culture waters. Though Jackson created a world that Tolkien had already envisioned and blue-printed, Jackson (and his team, of course) chose the characters, inhabited the settings, rode the horses, and sharpened the long swords.

Miyazaki drew his inspirations from his childhood imaginations, and also some books, or graffiti maybe, or a stall at a busy night market and like clay, formed them in an image of his creative vision.

This is the kind of storytelling I want to produce, an exploration of the human condition through humans themselves, perhaps, and a conglomeration of both animation and realism.

A lot to think about but I so very much ready to make this happen.

Ways of Making – a media 6 studio

Ways of Making – an alternative approach to the production of film

Okay but listen….

“A film project invariably requires a commitment to a particular from and its methods of production.

But does this limit the film’s expressive potential?”

This speaks volumes to me. As someone who is inspired by a conglomeration of filmic productions morphed into my own signature, to be able to do a studio where I am able to explore and experiment and therefore create films that is no confined by the traditional methods of production (it’s a concern and I am grateful for inspirationally-iconoclast directors out there), it really makes one want to break through the status quo in a Mad Max Fury road.

Imagine I was naming some directors I admire from the top of my head.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 6.17.05 PM

And I would also like to add Alejandro González Iñárritu in there somewhere for complete and total destruction of the word ridiculous, and this list is continuously growing, of course. There are just so many. But I love the above.

Do you think I can do a combination of all of them and call it my own?

In this class, I believe I surely can.

Let’s go, team!



I declare that in submitting all work for this assessment I have read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the assessment declaration.

Re-establishment v.2016

I am running on a 6-month-away-from-home jetlag but I think I’m doing quite fine…slightly. I wrote about 33 resolutions this year and half of them are pretty much goals but they are kind of bracketed under the same umbrella of motivation and keeping it real so let me just add some more to push myself harder than an ob/gyn would a labouring mama sita.

  1. Paper Quirks refurbishment – fresh-faced, graduating year aesthetic whatever that may be. It’ll probably involve corns or something yellow.
  2. Blog.489382309 – a final project for myself. I’ve got some filmic studying to do so I am willing to bore you all, ghosties, with my learning progress there. You may catch some creations or two so don’t hold thy breath.

It’s clearly only two more additions to the 33 so it isn’t too bad. My creative portfolio is running on a bit of a low since I am either dissatisfied by the ones I’ve already made or I’m just too shy to behold them to others. I’m pulling an American here by calling myself a senior and ain’t nobody got time fo’ that. It’s hustling time and I am ready to exert the effort needed to one day work under Kathleen Kennedy because Star Wars is where it is millenium falcon at.

Catch me in a few,