Hi Everyone,

It’s been quite awhile since I posted on this platform, and now that I’m coming back to it, I’ve realized how much I miss writing. While I do still write every single day, it is usually for a purpose: such as writing an email to someone or writing a description on a social media post- nothing very earth-shattering. But when I sit down with a pen and paper, or just a blank document on the computer, I realize that the best thing to write about is my own thoughts. And yes, I have definitely worked my way through a few good diaries over the years.

I like to think of my YouTube channel as a verbal diary that exists to help people. I enjoy recapping on my experiences in film school because I believe that at least someone out there will find some of it useful. And while shooting videos is still a very creative process for me, nothing quite compares to the deep connection I feel when putting my own words on the page.

When I was in high school, I didn’t have many friends due to the fact that my family and I moved around so much. I moved to California a few months before my 9th grade year, so I definitely didn’t know anyone that I was going into school with. And then we moved again to Washington state a couple months before my 11th grade year, so I had to start right back at square one. Although it was difficult at times, I was always so grateful that I had a creative brain because I was able to use whatever medium I wanted to express myself, whether it was for emotional purposes or simply just because I enjoyed being a creator.

When I was younger, I used Barbie dolls as a means of flexing my imagination and keeping myself occupied even when I was alone. But as I entered high school, I knew that it wasn’t exactly “cool” to play with dolls anymore, so I put them away in a box under my bed for good. Soon after, I turned to writing, almost as if it were a mechanical decision. My active imagination needed an outlet, and pen and paper were the closest tools that my hands could grab. I began with short stories and then quickly moved into script writing when I realized my love of film making was also developing at the same time.

I knew I wasn’t a prodigy, but the act of putting my feelings and ideas down into one place truly helped me. And in the process, I was also getting better at formatting and story development. Even though 99% of my work was only read by me, I can still look back on old stories now and see how far I’ve come.

As I mentioned before, even though I do less writing now than I used to, it is still wonderful to come back to it whenever I am ready. If any of you feel a similar connection to writing, or maybe it’s drawing or singing, I encourage you to take the time to focus on the activity and let the creative juices flow.

You can also use this space to share your thoughts with me on what you enjoy most.

Thanks for reading!


Movie Review: Isle of Dogs

As a die hard Wes Anderson fanatic, I had no doubts about this movie when I originally saw the trailer for it several months ago. Unfortunately since its release in early April, Isle of Dogs has garnered a lot of negative attention and claims of cultural appropriation. Despite this, I knew I needed to see it to not only understand what reviewers were referring to, but also to keep up with my streak of seeing every single one of his films.

As a disclaimer for this review, I am extremely biased towards Wes Anderson. I know he crafts beautiful films, each one a true work of moving image arts, therefore I will speak of him highly here. From story, to set, to characters, every moment of every one of his films is meticulously orchestrated and well thought out. Isle of Dogs is no exception because it is entirely stop motion animation and we can all imagine how long that must possibly take.

In true Wes Anderson fashion, we will break this review into four parts, starting at the beginning.

Chapter 1: Style is the Crux of the Film

I am aware that the over the top, stylized nature of Anderson can be see as too much to some. Additionally, I must admit that his use of the same cast of actors playing very similar characters throughout each of his films can get repetitive. That being said, I believe that all of these factors are just part who he is as a filmmaker. He sticks to what he knows and he continues to expand his creativity as he becomes more successful.

I have followed Anderson’s career through the years, watching his style expand to a larger and larger scale with each new movie release. Isle of Dogs is the height of his stylized filmmaking career; which is more than likely the result of quite a large budget.

Set pieces and location have always played large roles in his films. Usually each scene features either a very wide shot of the landscape, placing characters dead center, and/or a character narrating what the significance or description of that location is. Isle of Dogs takes this to its highest point- every set, new scene, location, and prop is described and presented to us to see very clearly. And I totally understand why he did this: his crew built these gorgeous backdrops, and we really want to see every detail. Maybe this adds unnecessary dialogue or minutes to the scenes, and maybe he didn’t even need to build as many set pieces in the first place, but that doesn’t bother me at all. When it comes to stop motion, everything becomes fun to look at, like watching a diorama come to life. And speaking of backdrops, this brings me to the not so grand side of the movie.

Chapter 2: The Negativity and the Reviewers

If you have not read other reviews of this film, basically they call Anderson out for using Japanese culture as a clichéd backdrop for the story. They complain that the majority of the main cast of characters is all voiced by non Japanese speaking individuals and many of the references to Japan do not represent the country as a whole.

I actually lived in Japan for a couple years when I was younger, though that doesn’t make me an expert or a judge as to whether or not this film was truly offensive, but I agree and disagree with what some of the critics were saying. On the one hand, the film felt similar to an anime film- slightly exaggerated and expressive. He showed us sumo wrestlers and geishas, all the typical things you would expect to see in a Japanese movie made by a white male.

In an effort not to spoil any aspect of the story, I will just say that the dogs were all English speakers and everyone else aside from a foreign exchange student and translator, spoke Japanese. The English speaking characters, the dogs, seemed very mild tempered and similar in disposition to previous Anderson characters. The Japanese characters were more expressive and less like Anderson’s true characters; they spoke entirely in Japanese and often did not have translations or subtitles for their dialogue. The Little Pilot, who is the main character in the film, does not ever speak a line of dialogue in English. A choice that I thought was very unique but inhibited non Japanese speaking audiences because we were forced to see and hear everything from the dogs’ perspectives rather than from the perspective of the boy who was so important.

Additionally, it didn’t bother me that much that the main characters weren’t voiced by Japanese actors because the film is primarily made for U.S. audiences. But again, Anderson loves to use the same actors in each film, which is great, but I do think in this case it was a missed opportunity to incorporate more Japanese American actors.

On the other hand, Isle of Dogs wasn’t purposefully insulting or offensive. I would genuinely like to believe that Anderson meant to showcase some of the great aspects about Japanese culture while still telling a beautiful story at the same time. He had a Japanese screenwriter working with him and, wether or not they contributed to the story overall or just the translations is unclear, I still think he did a gorgeous job of trying to bring culture into his film’s narrative.

Chapter 3: Never Watch the Trailers

Finally- and this isn’t the fault of Anderson- but this entire film was spoiled in the trailers that I watched. It made me so aggravated because there were no surprises. The beauty of Anderson’s films is that the story unfolds as you follow the characters. I knew all the characters from the trailers and more or less figured out the plan of the evil villain from them as well.
I urge you- if you have not seen the trailer, then you must avoid it at all costs. Also for this reason, I will not tell you anything about this film or its plot. You need to find it for yourself.

Chapter 4: Conclusion

If this is the first Wes Anderson movie you intend to see, or if you have already seen it, I would say that it is a lot to take in if you aren’t terribly familiar with how he runs things. My advice is that you should take a look at his most recent film prior to this one, Grand Budapest Hotel. It is slightly more subdued in terms of editing style and pacing but it is still very stylized.

If you have any thoughts about Isle of Dogs, if you agree or disagree with my opinions, or if you want to tell me if you love Wes Anderson as much as I do, please leave your comments below!

Until next time,

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Student Films: The Necessary Evil

Hey Everyone!

In my recent video about student films, I spoke about the importance of making them in addition to how the world views their quality. While not everyone attends film school, I believe that the term “student film” refers to any amateur short film that is made by someone that is still learning about the craft of film making.

I also referred to them as a “necessary evil”. By this I simply mean that student films aren’t made a the professional level, which leads some people to look down on them for their quality. Yet they are a necessary first step in anyone’s film making career because they provide you with the opportunity to learn and make mistakes before you work professionally.

Honestly, half of what I learned in film school was from the classroom and the other half was from working on student films. If you have any interest in working in a particular position on set, you need to get that hands on practice or experience at the amateur level so you can truly understand what you are doing and how to get better at it.

Working on amateur sets is also a great way to try out every department. I have always wanted to be a director, so in film school I knew that it would be beneficial work in the sound, lighting, and camera departments so I could learn about the various roles in each and how important everyone’s jobs are during the set up and filming of each scene. .

When you start making your own student or amateur films, don’t get discouraged if you start to feel that you are low budget or low quality. Everyone has to start at the bottom, and you will only get better with practice! Just remember that it is a learning process and a great opportunity to test out your skills. And don’t forget to just have fun and enjoy it.

You can check out my video here:

Academy Awards 2018

Hi Everyone!

If you are as obsessed with the Oscars as I am, then you will know that today is the day of the 90th Academy Awards!

I have watched the Oscars every year for as long as I can remember. Although they are long and often seen as just a popularity contest, I can’t help but get excited when Oscar season rolls around. I think my love for this awards show stems from my own undying hope that I will get to attend the Academy Awards one day, maybe even give that acceptance speech that I’ve been planning since I was six years old. Or it could be that I just enjoy cheering for my favorite movies.

Whatever the case may be, I always try to predict who I think will win and who will go home empty handed. I am guilty every year of not seeing every movie nominated, but I still like to guess and vote to see if I’m right. Sometimes these guesses are based on reviews and box office trends, or based on  my own opinion, and sometimes they are just random when I haven’t heard anything about the category. Below I’ve included my guesses for the top categories so we can compare and see if I’m right during the show tonight.

Best Picture:
“Call Me by Your Name”

Lead Actor:
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”

Lead Actress:
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”

Supporting Actor:
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”

Supporting Actress:
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”

“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan

Animated Feature:
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson

Animated Short:
“Dear Basketball,” Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant

Adapted Screenplay:
“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory

Original Screenplay:
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele

“Dunkirk,” Hoyte van Hoytema

Best Documentary Feature:
“Last Men in Aleppo,” Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen

Best Documentary Short Subject:
“Knife Skills,” Thomas Lennon

Best Live Action Short Film:
“The Silent Child,” Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton

Best Foreign Language Film:
“Loveless” (Russia)

Film Editing:
“Baby Driver,” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss

Sound Editing:
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mark Mangini, Theo Green

Sound Mixing:
“Blade Runner 2049,” Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill

Production Design:
“Blade Runner 2049,” Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola

Original Score:
“Dunkirk,” Hans Zimmer

Original Song:
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez

Makeup and Hair:
“Darkest Hour,” Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick

Costume Design:
“The Shape of Water,” Luis Sequeira

Visual Effects:
“Blade Runner 2049,” John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer

Do you have your own predictions? Leave your comments below and let me know who you think is going to win tonight!

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