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Monday, April 12, 2010

Would I recommend another to join the film industry?

Well, dad had came for a visit since Friday. The following photo was taken on his first day here, in Shibuya.

Dad in Shibuya

Today we went to Roppongi. Outside Roppongi Hills, I asked a Korean tourist to take photos of us, but one tricky thing about DSLRs is that SOMETIMES, the settings might be in manual focus.

... and the photo ended up out of focus. Sigh.

With dad at Roppongi Hills

At night we went to have dinner with Maiko the Producer, who had started working in NHK earlier this week.

Having dinner with dad and Maiko the producer at Restaurant Acacia

With Maiko the Producer. Restaurant Acacia.

Now that she has left Waseda University to forge greatness for herself, I'm left alone. Among everyone who is pursuing a Masters degree in the past two years, Maiko was the go-to producer, the fact that she could speak English made her invaluable among foreign students too. Of course, it's also a little tragic that most in my department are more interested in becoming directors than producers, hence Maiko was the last of her kind. Her graduation = immediate doom for those who want to direct.

Filmmaking is a tough job for most when passion is not one of their main drives. There are much more jobs out there where you can easily earn more and work less, jobs that are taken more seriously by a materialistic society used to disregarding the seriousness of creativity and art.

As I was growing up, I have met many in the creative field (be it film, music, literature or art) whose first description of what they do was "difficult", or "tough". Back then I was a little annoyed that everyone seemed to have such a one-note answer for such an important question in my young, undeveloped mind.

Yet here I am now. Whenever I had old friends, or people who had once studied filmmaking with me, asking whether I could introduce them to a job in either film or TV, I would usually recommend them against it. Especially when financial considerations were the first in their minds.

Person A: "Can you recommend me a job in a production company? But I need at least 2500 ringgit for my salary."

Me: "Nope, get another job."

After that she got a more stable job in another industry, paying more than she mentioned. Our recent conversation were like this:

Me: "Hey, how are things? How's work?"

Person A: "So-so. At least you're chasing after your dreams."

Me: "Yeah, but I sacrificed financial stability for that. So I'm pretty much living like a peasant in Tokyo. Starving myself, skipping meals, etc. Haha. At least you don't have money to worry about!"

Person A: "No, it's still not enough for me."

Me: "Oh, I'm sure it will. Someday."

Most people who get into entry level jobs in the film industry are paid less than half of what Person A asked for. They did seem pretty damned happy with it (despite, yes, some grousing about the stress), but hey, the lack of numbers were made up by job satisfaction, I guess. But nonetheless, it's not financially stable for most, so it's not a respectable job in a capitalistic, and materialistic society. All these sprang up from a conversation we had during dinner, between dad, Maiko and I.

(for the record: If financial earnings is the sole measure for job success, I am definitely a failure.)

Maiko the Producer was left to choose between two jobs last year, one with NHK, another was a respectable company in another industry that would have paid her twice. And unlike NHK, which might station her somewhere far from Tokyo, the latter was situated in Tokyo.

She had asked me which one would she have chosen, and I asked her to go for money (being Chinese, I can't help being somewhat materialistic when thinking for other people). My reasoning then was that with more money, maybe it could make it easier for her to pursue her dreams some other time.

But after a few weeks of consideration, she went for NHK.

I realized later that she did the right thing. It IS better to work in somewhere closer to what she loves doing. There's more focus. More room for her to concentrate.

Now, I don't deny the fact that one can do a completely unrelated job WHILE trying to balance it with their own creative endeavors, perhaps in this crazy, unpredictable world of ours, there are many who can juggle in such a way.

I suck at multi-tasking, hence I thought one needed more commitment if you were doing something creative. A friend who studied film with me was going to do a job that her mother wanted her to do, and she said (more to herself than to me) that she might dabble in filmmaking for the sake of rekindling her passion for the latter. I was dismissive, I cited Maiko the Producer as an example and said that if filmmaking was indeed her passion, then do something related to it. Otherwise, wouldn't she be jeopardizing her day job? (after all, that being what her mom wanted her to do, I would think that some concentration would keep her for being fired)

Some people are passionate about things. Some people just drift through life without having anything to be passionate about. I was once quite incredulous about the latter group, wondering how can they not be the masters of their own destinies? But my friend, Peng Shien would offer his most favourite retort whenever I launch into another one of my monologues regarding my dissatisfaction with the mechanical workings of society.

"Hey, why the hell do you care? As long as they're happy with their lives, that's that."