10 years of love lessons in 10 short films

For 10 years I’ve made videos about love and relationships. Unintentionally, I’ve also grown 10 years in that period of time, and my understanding of these topics has also grown. What I never really realized was that everything I was learning and going through was being reflected quite literally through my work. Not only that, but each year was marked by one particular piece, a personal one that stood out to me, that I had to make time for and get out despite the many “Wong Fu videos” we produce every year. I never intended to create this pattern, but looking back now on the past decade, an “evolution” is very apparent. Thought I’d share…

2004 – “What If” lip sync video – Age 19 – I’LL NEVER LOVE AGAIN!

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This is the beginning. The prehistoric years of Wong Fu (before narrative shorts). My perception of love was at its purest and most vulnerable. This is me being a young, naive romantic who thought his world was ending because he lost his first love. It was my very first experience with heartbreak and I had no idea how to proper deal with it. So I did what any normal guy would do.. I made this lip-sync video to express my grief and sadness. At the time I really believed I was already old and wise and that I’d never love again. I’m glad I went through this phase, this heartache, because I think many young people experience this, and I’m thankful I can empathize and respond with encouragement.

2005 – My Unspoken Words – Age 20 – I want to create a perfect fairytale for myself.

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This was the first video I ever made with an actual story, not to mention a love story. Not only does it clearly show my super n00b “skills”, but it’s also a clear reflection of the type of stories I was drawn to and influenced by. This is when I still believed in fairytales. Love and pain were simple and cliche. It was what the movies and songs told me, and I just wanted to recreate it myself, shot for shot. If the pervious “What If” music video was me learning the reality of losing love, this video was me thinking I had grown up and knew what I wanted. I wanted the fairytale again.

2006 – A Moment with You – 21 – It’s not going to be perfect, but have hope!

 This was Wong Fu Productions’ first (only) student feature film. Wes, Ted, and I made it during our final year of college. Going into the story and script, I attempted to be more mature, to be the most “honest” as possible. At this point I felt like I had a better understanding of why relationships formed and ended. I had seen my own romantic stories finally reach unexpected resolutions after some time and I was beginning to grasp the concept that not every relationship is meant to last. Although it was a little overly emo, I think the general ideas still stand.. I just wouldn’t write the lines the same way now.

2007 – Just a Nice Guy – 22 – Why don’t the people I like, like me back? This is hopeless.

 All through high school and college I had the “nice guy” complex, and it all came out in this short. This was the result of years of feeling like I had gotten the short end of the deal, frustrated and feeling sorry for myself. I think in the early 20s, a lot of guys feel like they’re grown up and that they deserve to be loved immediately by whomever they desire. And when it doesn’t happen, many just complain instead of doing something about it (this is a whole other entry). I definitely felt that way. At this stage in life, all I wanted was a girlfriend. Plain and simple. In the midst of all the uncertainty that comes right after graduation I was looking for someone to be close with and bring happiness. A relationship to me at this point was simply getting the girl, that’s it, happy ending. There was nothing beyond that. So this short was all about the “struggle” to get to that point, because that’s all that I was going through.

This short had a happy ending (i got the girl, theend), but real life didn’t reflect the same and I continued to live uneasy and like a victim… really attractive huh? But honestly, I believe this stage is necessary in a “man’s” growth. Awkward, confused, but ultimately you learn from it… it’s like a 2nd puberty. I dealt with it through this short, and I’m glad it’s still having that affect on others in this stage today.

2008 – See Through – 23 – You’re going to let people down, but don’t be afraid.

 I suppose this is where things started to get a little more real. The aspirations for a fairytale were fading. I did get the girl, and it didn’t last. Guilt over failed relationships and the realities of growing up were building and affecting my perception of love. I realizing that just getting the girl wasn’t the end of the story like I wrote just a year before in ‘Nice Guy’. If anything, that was just the first step in a journey (or perhaps in a cycle) which would eventually lead to ‘Strangers, again’ in a few years. And on this journey, there will be people who you know, deep down, you are not supposed to continue with. As a result, one must know when to leave; know when it’s over. Trust that the other person will be happy eventually, and even though it hurts now, you have to do what you feel is right. I struggled with these feelings, and the voices of the 2 characters here were my own internal discourse.

2010 – The Places We Should Have Gone – 25 – Even if you’ve been hurt, look for something positive to take with you.

 In 2010 I found myself in Taiwan on a trip with my parents. At this time, someone’s post about wanting to “forget” about an ex-boyfriend didn’t sit well with me. I think by the mid-twenties many of us had been through a couple of relationships, the joys and pains, and because of that pain, our first instinct is to try and forget about the person who caused it. But really, we shouldn’t, because all relationships, good and bad, provide important, valuable lessons. I wanted to remind myself of that and encourage others, in the form of this short. There is always something to gain despite being hurt. Keep the positive things close, while you move ahead. It’s not one of the other. You grew through that relationship, and you’ll use that growth in the future.

2011 – Strangers, again – 26 – Most relationships will end. yeah, it’s sad.

 This short came out at a very unique and fitting time in my life. As I passed the quarter century mark a lot was changing in my own life, and around me. This definitely lead to a lot of reflection about relationships past and the patterns they all shared. Not a very high point in my twenties, reflected in the overall message of the short. The fluffy love stories were completely gone now, and even the emotional pain was less glorified and more grounded.. just, real. There’s a ruthless/lifeless structure and cycle to this thing called “falling in love”. The harsh, but simple truth. That’s what I began to believe. I tried to have a silver lining with some hope at the very end, knowing all “strangers” live on in memory, but, breaking up sucks. No way around that.

2012 – The Last – 27 – Don’t be ashamed of your past failures, it’s part of your journey.

 For the first time, things were starting to make sense. All past experiences prepared my heart and mind to be open for a new perspective. I’m really glad this short could follow ‘Strangers’, like a positive appendix. Serving as a destination for where the cycle of previous shorts could ideally end. This short was a celebration of not just past relationships, but all people who played a role in my life. Appreciating everyone that was a part of my story, instead of being bitter and remorseful, and not being ashamed to talk about them with others.

2013 – To Those Nights – 28 – We’re all at different points on our journey, and we’ll all make it.

 Undeniably in my late-20s, this short was my tribute to the 20s. I thought I had it all figured out. I used the 3 stories within the short to represent places I had been, or things that I wish I had done. I thought this was my exit, and my closure. This short will always remind me of the many facets of where I’ve been romantically. Romantically optimistic, lost and guilty, and false conclusions. I thought that my learning was over, but I was so wrong.

2014 – (unreleased project) – 29 – You’re not done learning yet.

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I thought by this age we were supposed to have it all figured out. I thought 29/30s was sooo old, and then I got here and discovered, not even close. At this stage/age there are new factors and pressures that I never foresaw. Perhaps someday I’ll share in more detail, but until then.. no comment, you’ll hafta see for yourself (although I hope you don’t)

2015 – Accumulated – 30 – Love cannot last without active choice.

 A little bit jaded, after seeing relationships in my own life and my friends come and go, and the variety of reasons, you wonder, what makes anything last? There will always be a reason to doubt, to fear, to lose feelings or attraction, to end it. Always. Different reasons have accumulated to make us lose hope. So where does that hope come from? Another relationship? Another more perfect person? No. It comes from yourself. Choosing to have hope. To work. To grow. I’ve said it before.. Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is the real challenge. Is this removing the “magic” from love? In some ways yes, but I think most of growing up means having to face “reality”, or at least being aware of both and balancing.

(ok, that was actually 11, but I just wanted that even number, you probably wouldn’t have even noticed had I not mentioned it)

Some of these lessons may have been “no duh” to you, or maybe you learned them all within one year, but hey, I’m taking the scenic route I guess, taking my time. And I’m glad that this route is producing pieces which resonate with you out there on different levels. I never really thought about my writing and my work as anything that special. It was just my creative outlet. So, it’s weird to see how it’s naturally outlined my development, and will probably continue to do so. What will come out of 2016? 2026?


34 thoughts on “10 years of love lessons in 10 short films

  1. It’s comforting to know that there’s someone out there having the same thoughts as well. But hey, have faith. Looking forward to more shorts (and posts!) written by you.

  2. Sometimes I find it kind of interesting that I even fell into these short films you guys have made over the years. Love and romance normally isn’t my thing, and as a result, I’ve learned a lot about romantic relationships, despite having very little experience with them.

    But generally speaking, I guess what really attracts me to some of these shorts is the unique ideas and philosophies that are presented every now and then (and that extends out to the shorts beyond the ones you listed here). In fact, your stories and ideas have been intriguing enough to where I often credit you guys as one of my main influences for my debut novel.

    What I find funny about this particular post of yours, Phil, is that I’ve been tempted to write one like it; one that lists each of my favorite short films by you guys; one per year from the year I first started watching your videos (2010). Funny enough, out of my favorites, only one of the ones you listed here made the list. This is what they are:

    “Lost to Luck” (2010)
    “Shell” (2011)
    “The Last” (2012)
    “Left on Shing Wong (2013)
    “The Other Side of Yesterday” (2014)
    “Komorebi” (2015)

    Anyway, once more you’ve written an enlightening post Phil, and I look forward to more blog posts (as well as videos from Wong Fu) as we go forward in 2016.

  3. The Places We Should Have Gone is my favorite of all. Then To Those Nights and When ‘I love you’ isn’t enough. These 3 shorts contain messages/realizations that I wholeheartedly agree with, and hope to live by throughout my life. I admit sometimes it’s difficult to be sensible. Relationships can make us very emotional and we tend to act based on these emotions, leading to actions or decisions we will regret. I think when we become emotional, it’s because we have this ideal relationship in our mind and when it doesn’t go the way we want it to be, we break. Having these 3 shorts serve as a constant reminder of the realities of relationship: that past relationships are just as significant, but should not hinder us from being hopeful about our future. And this in itself should be a decision we make everyday.

    Thank you, for sharing your life with us. May we continue to grow together through your works.

  4. I’ve been a long time fan for a while now and the growth and development of your love stories and concepts is definitely prevalent, it’s going to be interesting looking out for more videos falling under this trend. I love how your stories express deeper meaning and understanding of “real” love through various periods of one’s life rather than most happy-ending/ tragic type love stories circulating out there. All in all, thank you for sharing your experiences, it gives valuable insight and preparation for people like me who are still in the first stage of your noted journey.

    Looking forward to more blog posts and videos in 2016!
    oh and please post more on your personal channel if you have the time 🙂

  5. Analyzing love is a hobby of mine. I think it would SO interesting if you did something like a documentary (while keeping it anonymous to keep it real) of 35 year olds recounting their lessons in love and life. If you do enough of these honest stories I wonder if you’ll find a trend in lessons and realizations, similar to yours. everyone has their own journey in their definition of love. But it would be interesting to see where there are repeats of history, stories of those who learned and grew, and of those who are still lost at the age of 40, or 50, even 60!

    Love is a moving target and at every stage and age, you learn something new about yourself that you hopefully apply to your new and future relationships!

    On a personal note i’ve been following you guys since your UCSD days and its interesting to see the post-college 30 yr old wong fu Phil. I’m also curious but dont have the time to find on Youtube — what ever happened to Ted? Did he move to NY with his fiance and decide to do something else with his career? You 3 had a great chemistry.

  6. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

    I love your blogs, keep writing!!

  7. Very insightful. I hope that 2016 or the near future will bring you to “The Last”, or knowing when she’s the one. Along the way I hope your shorts will explore how that relationship differs from the others; and how you know it is the one that’ll bring marriage (which for most is the ultimate goal) instead of a break up- as discussed towards the end of “Strangers Again”. I hope you’ll be able to explore the complexities of how to make a relationship work and last, versus the many different ways in how it can end (even though they do make interesting shorts).

    I’m rooting for you sadness (Phil). Choose love again and again and again- except find that one person and just choose it for her. Happy New Year and good luck! *fighting*

  8. Your 24th year story struck me hard. My first relationship didn’t end on good term. The girl left me while I was so deeply in love with her. Like you said, I thought that my world had come to an end. Very naive. When everything you did revolves around just a single person, it was a disaster when she’d gone. After getting up from the slump, I think to myself that if only I can find a person that can love me forever, I would have a perfect relationship. On my mind, I would never want to end the relationship on my own unless my girlfriend wants to. Again, very naive. The second relationship came a few years later and this time I found the person I was looking for or rather I thought I was looking for. She loved me. She loved me hard. I guess as hard as my first love because this time it was also her first love. We were having quite a good time but it also didn’t last long. I started to feel the pressure she was giving me. She didn’t like it when I talked to my girl friends, constantly checking my messages on my phone when we meet, wanted to know my Facebook account password. Despite doing all that, she never dared to tell me that she didn’t like what I did. Even when I asked her about it, she wouldn’t tell me. That what I was doing then made her feel unhappy. I couldn’t stand to see theses anymore so I asked for a breakup. The thing that I thought that I would never be able to do. I felt like both of us were unhappy and it wouldn’t progress with her current attitude. I threw all the blame on her on why this relationship wouldn’t work. Thinking back, I suck at relationship. I know that it comes with problems but I don’t know how to fix them or thinking that I don’t create the problem, why should I fix it. Nice guys? I thought I once was but I’m not entirely now. Maybe “nice guys” is just a relative term naive guys called themselves.

  9. This is my first time commenting on one of your blog posts. I’ve been a silent admirer of you and your work for so many years, but this post just had me wanting to say something.
    I am currently at the mid-20s mark and feel the same way you felt when you were 29 – that you have it all figured out. People close to me ask me for relationship advice. My understanding of love and what kind of a person I’m looking for has developed so much. I’m just more realistic now even if I don’t like the entire reality of it.
    However, what you wrote for the last section just hit me hard. I’ve never been able to have a relationship for long. I don’t even know the ABCs of staying in love. Media and society has taught me that if I don’t like someone, I should just move on. Keep moving on until you find the perfect one? But of course there is no perfect one; and what if I move on from the best one in search of the non-existent perfect one? Just over a simple issue? I know relationships take a lot of compromises on both sides, but it’s always easier said than done. You’re right. I still have a mountain worth of learning to do. Thank you so much for sharing this post and your experiences, Phil. I hope you make a short about a couple that “constantly chooses to love” and the hurdles they choose to overcome for each other. It would give people like me so much learn.

  10. Thank you for sharing your journey with us in finding love! I’m nodding my head in validation while reading/ watching each piece. Often times, I have these self revelations on the same learnings, but it’s comforting/ good to know we aren’t in the only ones experiencing these twists & turns. Perhaps, you could shed some light on the path of one getting back in to search for love after college when it’s not the same playing field and in a new age with “dating apps”. There’s definitely a lot of complex feelings and thoughts—unsure if you can find the right one like your other friend, feeling like it’s the same repetitive introduction with each new person, maybe I need to try harder or be more open minded, am I being too picky, maybe i’m just meant to fly solo and focus on family & career, and etc .. the list goes on. If there is one video/piece already done, please share!

  11. I’m seventeen and have never been in love. It has always been that one crush I left behind when i moved to canada.
    I read this and like a lot of your shorts, this got me into thinking so much about this marval called relationships. They say it’s all this brain chemistry messing with our vision of the meaning of life. And of course peer pressure and stuff. But life from now on seems like a roller coaster. Things have their ups and downs. Even though i have zero experiences to talk about any of this, just looking at the world around, i can tell it’s not that fairy tail-ish as it feels like. I guess it’s a learning process on experiences, making mistakes and acceptance. Facing things with an open mind. thanx phill for leading me to this whole new level of thinking.

  12. I really love all shorts created by Philip Wang. And i noticed that you do vids that anyone can relate. And i understand that these are based on your experiences. But i am wondering if you can do a different short that is about marriage? Something that will cater your more mature audience.

  13. Hey Phil, this is my first time reading this blog actually (hope it’s not too late). What struck me the most is the sentence “We’re all at different points on our journey, and we’ll all make it.” Totally agree with this sentence but always felt that it’s the society, social norms that make us feel otherwise. Like when you see people around your age are already getting a degree, getting engaged, getting married, etc. Like what am I still doing here?

    But I still choose to believe in that sentence even though sometimes I would still feel “disappointed” to myself… Anyway will continue to visit your blog from now on! 😀 have an awesome 2016, Phil!

  14. Hey! 🙂 So I’ve been a fan for really long but I never knew you had a blog and I just so happened to find it today. Tbh right now as I’m writing this I’m just feeling really awkward cause I’ve never done anything like this before. And I feel kinda embarrassed too. But I really just want to say that I love reading your blog posts. I read some of the more recent ones and I’ve also gone back to read some of much older ones. As I read more and more, I gain a lot of insight and feel really inspired. And as weird as this sounds, I also feel like I can get a closer glimpse of you. This kinda inspired me to start my own blog and I can’t wait to get started! So thanks a lot for writing all these wonderful blog posts and I can’t wait to see more in the future! 🙂

  15. This post makes me think of the idea that people often tell you to get to know yourself first and love yourself before you get into a relationship. Often times the thought process behind that is that you will learn a lot about yourself while you are alone. though that holds some truth, there is a lot of growing that can only happen in the messiness of love. The falling, the crushed naivety, the rejections, betrayals, heartbreak, enchantment, all of it. It transforms you and humbles you in a way that no other experience can do for you.
    Thank you for being so raw and honest and letting us get a glimpse of your messiness so we can feel a little less lonely in ours

  16. Hello Phil.

    Like others, this post resonated with me. I do believe that love is a choice and it goes hand in hand with commitment. You choose who you like, you choose to act on it, you choose to stay or leave. Sometimes people may feel like they have fallen out of love but it is one’s commitment to the other that helps shape that choice to stay – especially in tougher/darker times. At the end of the tunnel, one chooses to love and to commit but it begets the question – have you made the right choice? Who knows?

  17. Hi Phil. I have just recently become a binge viewer of wongfuproductions and have enjoyed most(I wouldn’t be very objective if I said all, right?) of what you guys have put out in youtube land. It was very interesting reading this recent blog of yours and it would certainly be a shame if you stopped writing about topics and themes that are important and influential to you.
    Firstly,it is nice to see males be open and brave enough to open the dialogue about issues concerning love.In particular, asian males traditionally do not voluntarily talk about these things at all and much less in depth. You guys are creating an avenue for people of all ages and emotional stages to realise that love IS wonderful but it can also be the opposite as well. And despite the hurt, pain and rejection, it is ok to articulate it. Essentially it is how we deal with it and grow from those experiences that make us a better person. To not be afraid to fall in love but to know that to achieve that happy ever after it requires right person,right timing,right location,right path, right language(verbal and non verbal) and right attitude. We make mistakes as we are human afterall but no great love story ever happened without preceding adversities and persistence.
    Secondly, its is comforting to know people(young ones in particular) can see someone as well known and successful as you, also has the same problems and issues as everyone else. You guys have a style that is easy to connect with and storytelling that is relatable. I am sure you are helping many others feel better by being able to connect with your stories.
    Finally, I am in the same stage in life as you where at 30, you thought you would have the career, the marriage and children. you are constantly bombarded with pressure from parents who want grandchildren, pressure from society to conform to what they perceive is what you need to be happy and biological pressure with its ticking time time lol. But after slogging my way through school and college, creating a professional career, travelling the world and enjoying my 20s, I stepped into my 30s without trepidation. Im ecstatic for all my friends who are following the social standard of work, marriage and kids by 30. But everyone has a different path. I know what I want in life and I make all choices with no regrets. I am privileged with the life I have after the sacrifices from my courageous asylum seeker parents. Id rather be alone than to be unhappy. I happily attend friends wedding and hold their babies and never feel a twinge inside cause I dont have what they have but just joy that they are living their dream. I am still walking on my path and one day I am sure I will meet someone whose path compliments and parallels mine, but if I dont that’s ok. Cause love comes in many forms- parental, sibling, extended family, framily(friends who are essentialIy family), children, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers, pets, mother nature, god/whatever deity you follow but most importantly yourself!. A soul mate, lover, partner, spouse, exclusive other half etc… is great to have, but they are not THE person who completes you or gives you your happy ending. They are just one of the many pieces of your life puzzle. Lovers are usually the piece most difficult to find and quite often we try to squeeze in a piece that doesn’t fit but no matter how good our tetris skills are it will never work. Life puzzles dont have square borders because we continue to build and expand it, so I find it interesting how people rush and limit themselves and not see that everything is infinite. Possibilities in all cardinal directions.
    So Phil, I hope you continue to write,produce and share everything you pheel and that you dont feel emo and forlorn about love and the future. Everything is fluid, so just go with the flow and let it go.
    My gosh, sorry for the crazy long post. Wishing you and the wongfufam an awkwardly awesome 2016!

  18. “So where does that hope come from? Another relationship? Another more perfect person? No. It comes from yourself. Choosing to have hope. To work. To grow. I’ve said it before.. Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is the real challenge.”

    Is it still “staying in love” if you have to choose to continue to have hope, to work, and to grow?

    I agree with the above quote completely, but I’m not sure if I would call it love. Or maybe I don’t believe in life-long love? I think that in the end, most relationships (namely marriages) involve each person just tolerating the other. Not necessarily in a bad way, like the way it is in the tolerance stage from “Strangers, Again.” I think what it all comes down to is finding a person that you get along with and know that you can get along with. Someone that you’re able to work out your problems with. Someone you don’t mind being around. Someone that doesn’t make you cringe. Someone that overall you can just see yourself spending the rest of your life with.

    But is that love? Or is it like you said, “choosing to have hope. To work. To grow.” OR if you have that desire to work and grow a relationship, is that what “love” is??

  19. Loved this blog post! I felt like it was really easy to connect with you because I, too, have experienced the ups and downs of a few relationships. Staying in love is definitely the hardest part (especially when you pass that honeymoon phase), as it takes two to make a relationship work. Love is not always that fairytale that we see in movies and I feel like there is so much more to learn out there. I enjoyed how this post addressed all of the realistic aspects of love and how a huge part of understanding love is to experience it for yourself. Keep up the good work with your videos & I hope to read more of your future blog posts! 🙂

  20. Loved the post. We may not all have the perfect love story or know when the right person is right for us, but until then we can only live in today and keep on going, and hey even if we did have it all to, you it my he perfect but to someone else it may not be. Everyone will have their own kind of happiness. Phil I hope you someday find the special someone to enjoy with you on your journey to happiness! 😀😜😘

  21. “Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is the real challenge.” – This is very true. How do couples stay together years after they got married? Great insight, I enjoyed reading this post!

  22. Love is so dumb. It hurts, makes me cry, makes me laugh, makes me doubt, makes me hope.. It makes me laugh until I cry and cry until I laugh. I always like to be sure about things and I’m too afraid to be sure about love, but I still always give it a shot. Love is just so… Blergh. I’ll always want my fairy tale though I know I’ll never be a princess, damnit.

    I like my share of happy endings but I love the bittersweet endings the most. “To Those Nights.” “Strangers, Again.” (I wish I was better at keeping up with WF shorts and videos.. whoops :T) Those feel the most real to me and I wonder how many people out there feel the same way. the craziness of life and the mistakes I’ve made are what make me feel alive – that this is all real and happening. I want to be a little reckless and know it’ll be okay. If I pinch myself and it hurts, then I know I’m not dreaming. I am really not making any sense.. Oh ho, lol.

    Anywho, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Well actually, I don’t know you or any of your supporters IRL, so I guess it’s more accurate to say that it’s nice not to feel alone.

    Falling in love makes no sense. Staying in love makes less sense. But at least we’re lost together? 🙂

  23. Phil, do you believe in destiny and things happening for a reason?

    Maybe your “scenic route” is a journey which will lead to to a destination, where all the pieces you have collected over the years will start fitting, a bigger picture will emerge and finally everything will make sense…

    Maybe the circle of “Strangers again” will stop only after you have figured it out how to stop it or once you start a circle that was meant for you to be the last, a not-ending one?

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