How to Be a Filmmaker Without Losing Your Soul

Monday, January 16, 2012

preparing for indiegogo campaign
my fifth draft of the script, my memoir: volume one (moving onto volume two very soon), my seven year pen, sketchbooks for brainstorming and campaigning ideas, martin luther king, jr. artwork by faith ringgold

How many times have you been told "no, you're not good enough" or "no, you won't make it" or "no, it's impossible"? Everyday we're bombarded with the idea that we can't achieve our goals. No no no no no no no no no. I think we're so negative, because most of us have lost our fire, our drive, our will to fight. I also think that pessimism is the easier option. It takes a lot of courage to be optimistic and hopeful. The truth is we're all scared. We're scared of failure, we're scared of disappointing our loved ones, we're scared of disappointing ourselves, we're scared of eternal sadness and regret. I'm terrified. I am truly terrified and my fear paralyzes me. Then I stop for a moment and I want to slap myself silly, because I remember that some people have it way worse than me. Then I get upset at myself for being so scared, because there are people out there who are homeless, hungry, sick, on their deathbed and I'm whining about how scared I am.

It is unacceptable. This is why I decided to be a writer and director. It's simple enough. Write a script and direct it. What's the hard part? Producing it. Let me rewind back. I genuinely feel anger when I am told "no". It doesn't bother me in a way that I don't think I'm good enough, it just angers me when someone who doesn't even know me tells me I can't do it. I know there needs to be a balance of optimism and being realistic, but if I'm going to be realistic, I might as well just give up now. But is that an option? No. That's a good no. I have been dealing with the internal conflict of balancing optimism and practicality. I have chosen a path that is challenging and competitive, but what career path isn't challenging and competitive? It's a battlefield out there and I'm not just talking about the U.S. I mean the whole world.

I remember when I first knew I wanted to be in film; I knew it was the right choice for myself, because I couldn't picture myself doing anything else. But that was way back when I had no idea what that really entailed. When kids dream of being a director or working in film, they have no idea how stressful and competitive and toxic the industry really is. But now that I've had a taste of it, I still know with more certainty than ever that I absolutely want to do this for the rest of my life. The moment I realized my passion, I was told that I couldn't do it. I remember there was so much doubt about my dream, because it wasn't a "typical" or practical career. There was a lot of negativity and doubt, but I (now) understand where that doubt came from. I understand that doubt comes from fear and the fear is completely rational, because we're all scared of the unknown.

Now I have finally reached a point where I am ready to let go of the fear. Fear is not allowed to stop me from doing what I want to in life, because I deserve a chance. I think everyone deserves a chance to really pursue their dream. It's not fair that some people are more privileged than others. It's not fair that some people get lots of chances and some get none. I think it's all in the state of mind. Drive and passion come from within. We all have the potential to really strive and fight for our goal. I am sick and tired of letting my fear get in the way, because it has been in my way long enough. I am letting go of the fear and doubt and I'm going to put myself out there to be criticized. I'm ready.

To my second point: I want my voice to be heard through my movies. I know that's a lot to ask from a movie by an unknown like me, but I have something to say and I think I have a pretty valid voice and I want people to hear me. I want to say that I want to make movies for both selfless and selfish reasons. Let me explain. I want to tell stories that speak to people and I want my voice to be heard. That's a pretty selfish reason, right? And at the end of the day, the film industry is a business and not just an art form - so movies cost money. But as for selfless reasons, I want to make movies that can help at least one person, to comfort them or to somehow guide them. I hope that doesn't sound pretentious. If it does, let me know and I'll have to re-word that.

I watch movies to feel inspired. Or rather I watch certain movies to get inspiration. I watch sad movies, because I feel more grateful and hopeful at the end. I don't know if other people do that too, but I prefer sad and open endings. I love art, because I love the story behind the art and artist. I just love being inspired to be a better person and I guess that's why I chose a creative path in life. I just know that I have a lot to say and if one day I can be heard - that's all I want. I don't need to be the next Woody Allen (because I will be realistic, I won't ever reach his level), I won't be the next Quentin Tarantino, Michel Gondry, Darren Aronofsky, Sam Mendes, Alexander Payne, etc. But I just want to write stories and make movies that are truthful and honest.

I know I have to fight for what I believe in, because no one else is going to fight my battles. It is a battlefield out there, but I will fight for my dream. However, I absolutely will not compromise my integrity in order to get there first. I have my morals, I am super strict in that department, because I absolutely believe that if I ever lose my soul in the process of it all, I might as well just not try at all. I kind of love my soul. I think that some people can be so consumed with the idea of succeeding first, they end up losing their soul on the way and do some pretty regrettable things. I think that may come from a competitive nature. I am more ambitious than I am competitive. I have friends who also have career goals in film and I am completely supportive toward their goals, because there's lot of room for all of us.

I don't think someone deserves a better chance than someone else. I think we all deserve the same chance to go out there and fight for our dreams. I think soul is such an important part to creating art and unfortunately, some people don't have a soul anymore, because they forgot their original dream. This is why I am writing this, because I refuse to compromise my integrity, I refuse to lose my soul, I refuse to let this competitive industry ruin who I am. I'm not saying that everyone in Hollywood or the film industry have their lost souls, but I'm sure it has affected quite a few people. I want to be in an environment where everyone loves their craft. The film industry is a business, it is a job and when people are so stressed out, they end up resenting their job - just like any job. But I hope that I love my job every day, because life is too short to hate your passion. I know when you're working, time is money, lalala, but I think having fun is also really important, because we're human at the end of the day - we are not robots or zombies.

This also plays a huge factor of retaining your soul. We're human and we have to pay the bills, pay the rent, pay taxes and that means we have to find a job. If we end up working in the creative field, we tend to hope to do what we love, but chances are a lot of people have become jaded by the whole experience. I refuse to become jaded. I hope we can all work together, get the work done and have fun at the same time. I know I may sound overly and naively optimistic, but I think that I can find that balance and I hope other people can too.

I truly wish everyone success in their endeavors, because we all deserve to dream and fight for our beliefs. I believe that I can do this, because I have let go of the fear and inhibitions. I truly want this. To my third point, I am making my first film this Spring and I am truly excited (and yes a little scared, but go away fear). My IndieGoGo Campaign will be up and running by the end of the week. I hope I can interest you in making a donation of any size or just spreading the word would be amazing. Thank you so much.

To conclude, I would like to share Martin Luther King, Jr's famous speech about racial equality and civil rights. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

martin luther king, jr.

Empire State (Building) of Mind

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

empire state of mind

I finally made my way up to the top of the Empire State Building (on my 7th month in New York). It was an experience to remember. It may seem like such a touristy thing to do, but it is in fact a breathtaking experience. You get to see how majestic and magical New York City truly is. On street level, you see the trash and other unsightly creatures that shall remain unnamed, but the truth is New York City is still a grand and glorious city. It has history. It has class. It is dynamic. It has this inexplicable and enigmatic energy. The moment you move here, you will want to stay here for the rest of your life. New York isn't just the glamorous city you see in Sex and the City and Gossip Girl. It's not just the rich uptown folk, there's the gritty side of New York City and then there's Brooklyn, Queens and let's not neglect to mention The Bronx and Staten Island. This city has so much character. Different boroughs have different energies. Different neighborhoods have different scenes.

I cannot wait to live my dream in New York City. I cannot wait to call this place my home forever. I love you, New York City.

2012 New Year's Resolutions

Monday, January 2, 2012

new years resolutions
secondhand matisse book, the perks of being a wallflower birthday gift from marissa, red moleskine: my memoir, flowerbomb by viktor & rolf - my new scent, my fuck love locket from brooklyn charm, casio gold watch

I was looking over my resolutions from 2011 and it surprises me how bad I am at keeping resolutions. As the years go on, the essential resolutions remain the same and yet I have so much trouble keeping with them. I always tell myself to exercise more and do yoga, but I've been singing the same song for four years now and I have yet to step into a yoga studio. But I was talking to my friend Jane and I've decided this year I will definitely start yoga. She told me about Yoga to the People in the East Village which is based on donations, so I'm going. Finally.

I always tell myself to spend less money and save up and eat in more, but I always have trouble in these departments. But 2012 is the year I have to become more budget conscious. I am making my own short film, which means I absolutely need to stay in budget and this should help me out with my own personal budgeting issues.

I have compiled a list of resolutions and goals for 2012 and I look forward to looking back on them at the end of the year. I hope this year, I will accomplish more and be more proactive and productive. I need to participate more, as Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflowers keeps talking about. I am participating in 2012!

#1. Focus on career. Don't find love. I told myself last year not to find love and guess what? I didn't find "love" or anything near the fanciful idea, but I'm so glad to be living my life and dream in New York and being single is part of the whole experience. I have decided that I'm probably going to be single for a long time, because I need to focus on myself, my career and my future and I have no time for any romantic entanglements. And the truth is that there are no prospects, but hey, that works for me. It's not like a man in my life would make me feel fulfilled, so I don't need or want a man in my life.

I'm at the point of my life where I get to really experience life and enjoy the moments of self discovery and no one can taint this experience for me. I have realized that if I were with someone and something bad happened, those memories would forever be tainted and I would feel resentment towards those moments. I am glad that no one can ruin these first New York memories and adventures. I (HEART) NEW YORK!

#2. Exercise: yoga and kickboxing. I have been ranting on and on about yoga for years. I would pick up an old journal from 2008 and that's when I first decided that I wanted to do yoga. Four years have gone by and I still haven't stepped into a yoga studio yet. But this will all change this year, because I am finally in the right mindset to take on yoga. Believe it or not, but (I heard) yoga is a very intense physical workout. I'm sure a lot of people out there enjoy yoga. 2011 was all about building thick skin in order to survive this brutal city and now I just need a physical outlet to de-stress. Emotionally, I've become stronger, but now I need my body to feel the same kind of empowerment. I am so ready for you, yoga.

#3. Spend less money and save up. Self explanatory.

#4. Be better at staying in touch with friends.
Since I've moved to New York, now I have five sets of friends: Hong Kong, Benenden, London, San Francisco and now New York friends. It's moments like this when I am thankful for Facebook, because it does make keeping in touch a lot easier. But at the end of the day, I have to put in the effort. I hope to be better at keeping in touch with people I care about.

#5. Make my short film. I am finally going to write, produce and direct my own short film. I'm going to publish my online funding campaign with Indie Go Go by the end of this week. After interning and working on four feature films, I'm finally ready to take on the task of producing my own short film. I don't think I was even close to being ready or mentally prepared, but now I have built the mental strength and knowledge to embark on this journey. I know that it's going to be a challenging and ambitious project, but I'm ready to be proactive. I am ready to make this all a reality.

#6. (Still haven't) watch(ed) all Woody Allen movies.
Self explanatory.

#7. Keep up with blog and respond to comments.
Self explanatory.

#8. Paint and sketch. After going to see the Stieglitz and his Artists: Matisse to O'Keeffe exhibition at The Met on Monday, it sparked my desire to paint and sketch again. I want to start painting with watercolors and I want to draw with crayons and pastels. I just need to be more crafty with my hands, because so much of my life is technology oriented and I just want to work more with my hands and produce art. I was so mesmerized (as usual) by Matisse's color palette and the beautiful paintings of John Marin, Paul Signac, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove and Abraham Walkowitz.

#9. Take up a new hobby. I've always wanted to learn to play the acoustic guitar, but I have a hard enough time playing the bass guitar, I don't know if I can handle two more strings. If I stay in the U.S. (which I hope I do), I will buy a second hand acoustic guitar and learn to play it. I need music in my life and unfortunately, I wasn't gifted with a musical inclination, but I'll always enjoy listening to music and hopefully one day, I will be able to somewhat play the guitar. I also want to take singing lessons. Maybe. We'll see.

#10. Cook more.
Self explanatory.

Read a book a week/every two weeks. Last year, I discovered the true joy of reading. I compiled my reading list, which was based off BBC's reading list. I purchased a few of the books from the list, but I have yet to go through them. I've really come to enjoy reading and it will take time to become a faster reader, but I know I will get there. I look forward to expanding my literary knowledge and book collection.

#12. Read TIME, The New Yorker, Monocle and The Economist. I have decided that I need to be more aware and how will I become more aware? I need to start reading current affairs magazines. Last week, I picked up TIME Magazine for the first time of my life. It was an empowering moment. I have decided that I need to be more update to the on goings of the world. This is the year.

#13. Read the news every day.
Self explanatory.

#14. Go to more museums and exhibitions. I visited the MOMA once in July last year and then the Met on Monday. This is unacceptable, since I live in the heart of art and culture. I need to visit the MOMA again and I'll need to return to the Met at least four times, because that place is huge and they always have new exhibitions. I still need to go to the Whitney, Guggenheim, Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Museum, etc. etc.

#15. Design textile(s) with Inez. More on that later.

#16. Discover new bands and songs every month. Create a music mix every month.
Self explanatory.

#17. Start observing Analog Sunday again. Last year, I introduced the idea of Analog Sunday into my lifestyle. At the beginning, it was relatively easy to adhere to, but then it just became impossible. Which is upsetting, because I love the idea behind it and I need to take a one day break from technology once a week. This year, I will observe Analog Sunday until the end of the year, unless I absolutely need to use my laptop if it's work related. Other than work reasons, I shall not use technology for the entire day. Instead, I will paint, draw, read, write, play scrabble, play with my Rubik's cube, play chess, take a walk, go to a museum, go see a movie at the Angelika, Nighthawk, Sunshine, IFC Center or Film Forum etc. I'm excited again!

#18. Keep up with my Instagram. And post a round up at the end of every month. I also need to take more photos of New York, because New York is my muse. I've also decide to paint and sketch New York landscapes, because I feel so inspired by this glorious and wondrous city. I feel so inspired by this city and I need to document it as much as possible.

#19. Live more. Participate. Life is moving so quickly and sometimes I feel like I'm just a spectator. I'm constantly people watching and imagining what their lives are like. I'm inside my own head way too often and I've realized that I need to participate more in my own life and life itself. I need to stop being a spectator and really be out there and doing something with my life. I hope this year I will be more fearless, productive and proactive.

#20. Do things out of my comfort zone, without compromising my integrity. Same as the previous, but really be fearless and courageous and step outside my comfort zone, but without compromising my integrity. At the end of the day, I want to look back at my accomplishments and feel proud of myself and the type of self assurance that is well deserved. I will keep my moral compass intact for as long as I shall live.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

still moving graffiti

Happy New Year! Goodbye 2011 and hello 2012!

Wishing you all a beautiful 2012. May your wishes come true. Be healthy, be safe, be happy. I'm so thankful for all the memories from 2011 and I look forward to more exciting adventures and opportunities. Work hard, play hard, enjoy life (before the apocalypse ends it all, haha).