“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” – Steve Jobs

In fall 2011, I started on pre-production for the YMAA Andover video projects. We were planning to make 3 videos: a long one about both the martial arts and fitness center programs, a short martial arts video, and a short fitness center video. It was the first time I ever worked on a script and shot ideas. While it was challenging, it was also fun to explain what we do. We started filming in February 2012, when Jon and Javi visited. It was my first time in front of the camera and while it was uncomfortable, I sucked it up. Thank you to the other students for being good sports and doing something they normally wouldn’t do.

YMAA Andover (short)
Yang’s Fitness Center and Yang’s Martial Arts (long)
Yang’s Fitness Center (short)

Fast forward to summer 2012. As mentioned in The Plan, one of the ways of spreading the word about martial arts and my 5YP plans was to make a video. I started on the script and asked around for anyone who knew anyone who could help.

My friend Aaron hooked me up with Andy Kwok. It was fate. Not only was he willing to use his talents to shoot and edit my video, but he was also very involved in the whole process and he made it fun and easy(ish). The hardest part was the interview, and I’ll get to that later.

Aaron Hwang Photography

In October 2012, we had the first day of shooting and my friends Aaron and Meng, and Andy’s wife were there to help. As Andy unloaded his equipment and carted it inside the school, I thought, “What am I getting myself into? I’m not ready, I need more practice. Do I really want to show everyone how bad I look?”

Andy’s cart
First, Jamey held pads for me to kick and strike.
Next, he let me look like I’m beating him up.
Then, we let him go and I did solo shots on the equipment and with weapons.
Lastly, we did the interview. This was the hardest part because I don’t like being in the spotlight. At demos, it’s different because I’m showing the audience my version (hopefully a good one) of a sequence. Here, I was about to tell people who I am and what my goals are. I had to get personal for a video that I hope a lot of people see and share. It’s scary. I asked my friends (whom I’ve known for 15+ years) to leave the room because it was so hard to talk about myself.

It would’ve been easier to pretend I was someone else, but this was me, and I was nervous and it showed. I had to write a script to make sure I included everything. But sometimes when you go by a script, it’s tough to sound natural and sincere.

Setting up for the interview

It’s also really hard for me to watch myself on video. All I see are my mistakes. It took a few days before I was mentally prepared to watch the first cut. Thankfully, Andy was able to make my forms look better than they feel. We decided to rewrite the script and reshoot the interview scenes and make things better.

I want to get used to being filmed. There’s pressure to perform well, especially if you want to be taken seriously as a martial arts teacher. The thing to remember is that each video captures one point in your training. There will always be people who will judge you on a 2 minute imperfect performance. As long as I work to fix my mistakes, that’s all that matters.

I’ll let you guys know when the final cut is released!

A BIG THANK YOU to Andy Kwok for an amazing job filming and editing this video. I am eternally grateful.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
[Steve Jobs. Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

2 thoughts on “Filming

  1. It's a fact that the majority of people actually fear public speaking more than death, so you're not alone. Filming can be intimidating because it's kind of a version of public speaking that's recorded for all time. On the other hand, the editing process can work wonders and re-shoots are a real bonus for anything that's not live.It's great to see that you have the appetite to get used to being filmed, as in most cases the idea of being filmed is much worse than the actual result on tape. Great job with the Andover videos, in any case.

  2. Hi Charles, thanks for the words of encouragement :) It's been interesting dabbling in media production and trying the different sides – in front of the camera, behind it, and editing. They're all hard in their own ways. Jon did all the post-production work for these Andover vids. He's working on vids for YMAA Chile and from his travel pics, it looks like the vids will have a lot of gorgeous backdrops.

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