Lights. Camera. Action!
Not many people understand the grueling process behind the filmmaking process. (I am among them.) To me, filmmaking evokes overwhelming images of techie, expensive cameras, not to mention sacrifice of time and money (with no guarantee of success!). But curiosity drove me to attend the filmmaking workshop, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job,” held at the Goethe-Institut in DC’s Chinatown. The workshop was one of many different events presented by the 11th Annual DC APA Film Festival (www.apafilm.org) between October 9 and 16. Although I was unsure if I wanted to pursue filmmaking as a side hobby or career, I wanted to know how much of the filmmaking process could be fleshed out to busy professionals of different backgrounds.
“Filmmaking must be exercised like a muscle,” the instructor J.P. Chan explained.
For him, the filmmaking process began without film school, but he also did not deny that it could be worthwhile for other people. It just so happened that after he received his Master’s degree at NYU in urban planning, he did not have the time or money to pursue that while working full-time.
Nevertheless, he set out to make short films during his spare time. By eyeing festivals on an ongoing basis, he would feel motivated to submit something on the deadlines.
Chan presented four short films, all within the time period between 2005 and 2009. My favorite was the six-minute film Dry Clean Only, which he had submitted to a 72-hour film shooting contest (http://tiny.cc/32z991u9pe). Showcased in many festivals and winner of two awards, including the 2008 PBS Independent Lens Online Shorts Festival, the film also featured actor Aaron Yoo. Despite success with this film, Chan was still humble and yearning to learn more about the industry. He made efforts to network as much as possible in the entertainment industry. While joining local Asian theater groups, Chan also became friends with people who would later become actors or crew members.
During the last half of the workshop, Chan explained important things that filmmakers should consider. One was low budgeting but not low quality budgeting. His short films would not exceed a couple thousand dollars. He emphasized that quality equipment need not yield to thousands of dollars in expenses. It is also important to pay attention to color correction and sound. Chan also made sure he had a strong crew as a foundation. Such a group of people could be found from attending festivals or theater groups.
On the website for his workshop, several people left notes of praise about what they learned from his class. I could tell that many people were inspired to create a film, but, for me I was inspired to incorporate all forms of art into my everyday life (writing, music, etc). Chan illustrated a process that works; in some ways, we could all be artists. We just need to not give up and keep exercising our skills.
For more information, please visit: www.jpchan.com