When I look back on my filmmaking journey, two themes keep finding their way into my life.
Timing and Passion
In retrospect, theses two philosophies have opposed, complemented and accelerated my craft on every level. In 2000, while I was a student majoring in Asian American Studies at UCLA, I just happen to meet this film school graduate student who was making his first feature film. At the time, I knew nothing about filmmaking and was quite intrigued. He told me about his story and what it was going to take to make his movie. He shared his dreams and goals with passion that made me believe that his impossible...was possible. A low budget movie shot on 35mm with 15 days. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what he was talking about but this was an exciting energy to be around.
This film school graduate student was a young Justin Lin.
When I look back there was nothing I could've done to will this fortuitous meeting to happen. Timing was the only organic force at play. Timing allowed us to meet, timing allowed us to develop a relationship, and timing set me on my filmmaking career. I didn't go to film school, but I did go to the school of Passion and it was run and taught by professor Justin Lin. Everything I learned was through hard work, struggle and an organic mentorship. If it was any other time, a year before, a year after, our stories probably wouldn't have synced. It still blows my mind how fortunate I was, but this was just the beginning of my story about being in the right place at the right time.
But back to Justin Lin and his school of Passion...
I never understood it at the time, but J used say it ALL the time. "Passion is the Currency, passion is the currency, passion is the currency." Regardless of the budget, making movies is hard. There are so many variables at play that it would make life a lot easier not to do it at all. You're willing an enormous operation to fruition against insurmountable forces. And then if you must continue, you must first find the roots of why you are doing this. This is usually what you're passionate about. Passion is a powerful energy to utilize in this craft and should be the first goal to realize on any project. Ultimately, if you are honest with yourself you'll find the truth in the age old question: what makes you passionate about telling this story? And that is the engine in my creative journey.
In conclusion, I'll end with some latin. I took 3 years of Latin in high school if ya'll ain't know. The root etymology of passion comes from the latin word passionem which means: to suffer, to endure. There is a ton of suffering for what you create. There is a lot to endure for this craft. Although fulfilling at times, the struggle is the norm. What is a filmmaker to do when he can't raise money? When no one is calling? When you have no opportunity? You suffer, you endure, you prepare. You use that passion to prepare.
Then one day, timing meets passion.