November 2014, I was in Tokyo with Wong Fu Productions for a special YouTube Space event. As we often do during our group trips we try to use our free time to be inspired and create. See and feel the energy of the city, write a quick script, gather a small crew of friends, and shoot a short. Returning home with a film is one of the most satisfying feelings and we’ve done it many times.

This particular trip I really, really, wanted to make something. I had some rough ideas, one being about a delivery boy who was able to know his “regulars” based on his different deliveries. But due to time, and lack of focus on one idea, and also being unsure of the message I was trying to convey, I was unable to make anything. Meanwhile Wes had made an incredibly beautiful film “Komorebi” and I felt like I failed, creatively frustrated.

Over the last couple years I’ve held onto this idea of a delivery boy who knew his city. I tried to adjust it for different cities and other trips. But instead the idea just became more and more blurry. I never even put a word down for a script.

Senior year 2002, my last year of high school I got a job at Target. It was my first real job ever and I was so excited to be working and getting a pay check. I’ve shared this story a lot, but in case you don’t know, I was a “Cart Attendant”, which is just a fancy way of saying, “the guys who collect carts”. But we also often got assigned to cashier during busy hours, and I would often have to help people to their cars if they had particularly large items.

I worked there for 11 months, getting drenched in rainstorms, seeing the terror of the holiday season, moving bbqs, TVs, Christmas trees, and racing back to the AC of the store after pushing 100s of carts in 100 degree weather. I look back rather fondly on that first job, partially because of those crazy stories, but also because of the quiet ones. See, the best part of the job was when my girlfriend at the time would come visit me here and there. We’d go to a secluded corner of the lot where I’d push my “15” to the limit, or she’d come toward the end of my shift, as I was closing for the night, and it’d just be us in the empty parking lot lit by the street lamps, hanging out before I had to go home.

May 2016, the year is almost half over?! So much had happened in these first 5 months. Personally and professionally drained, a feeling of wanting to start over began to grow. I felt like hiding, running, somewhere, anywhere. But I quickly realized it didn’t matter where I go. A new environment doesn’t change my history.. and accepting this was both liberating and disheartening.
I shared this feeling on IG (my emo-outlet when I’m too lazy to write a full blogpost).

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Last month, in the earliest stage of developing an idea to present to Vitasoy, Wes wrote a logline about a cashier who falls for a customer. This instantly made me think about the idea I failed to complete in Tokyo 2 yrs ago. Put into a new context, I brought in the imagery from my job as a cart pusher. As I began to write I integrated a conflict and message for Lynn (from that silly little IG post) which I had been unable to pinpoint before. It all clicked.

Last week we released a new short film called “From Here on Out”. People often ask us where we get our ideas and inspiration. The answer is always the same for me, “daily life”. If you choose to look around with a different lens, you’ll see stories everywhere. We collect thoughts and feelings from our lives, not necessarily knowing when they’ll be used, if ever. FHOO is a perfect example of how different ideas in life can connect unexpectedly for a project I didn’t even know we were gonna make. Seeing things work out like this have taught me not to force ideas and that just like in real life, every story has its own timing.

8 thoughts on “From there to “… Here On Out”

  1. “Every story has its own timing.” What a beautiful and simple way to put it. Every story has its own timing, including your own. So, be patient, be curious, and be open. Thanks, Phil!

  2. This speaks to me:

    “May 2016, the year is almost half over?! So much had happened in these first 5 months. Personally and professionally drained, a feeling of wanting to start over began to grow. I felt like hiding, running, somewhere, anywhere. But I quickly realized it didn’t matter where I go. A new environment doesn’t change my history. And accepting this was both liberating and disheartening.”

    April/May 2016 kick started a very difficult time for me (actually, still trying to get my feet back under me). I wanted to run. But I couldn’t leave. So I did the next best thing possible, weekend trips. The trips helped while I was away. But when I’d come back, not-so-great feelings persisted. When I watched FHOO, I immediately thought, ugh, wouldn’t it be great to just leave completely; it’s so much easier. In a way, figuring it out without physically leavening is the “path less traveled.”

  3. In a way it’s ?good to see that these feelings of wanting to ‘start again’ is quite universal. I have been chasing a professional dream for about 10 years now, sacrificing holidays and leave to get me there and all the more wondering if I am doing the right thing and whether I even want to do this. Breaks are good.🙂

  4. I love hearing about the stories behind the stories. I’m so glad to hear that through it all, a story came to you. Please do post more often Phil! I love hearing these insights from you; both on the various projects from Wong Fu and life in general.

  5. Thanks for sharing Phil. Amen, to how our inspirations comes from our daily lives. I’ve been going through a rough transition, and this video was nothing but reassuring and a huge encouragement. Wongfu, has truly inspired me in so many ways. Thank you, for your vulnerability and your transparency.

  6. I absolutely relate to the idea that “every story has it’s own timing”. As a writer, this is is critical for me to not crumble under the weight of writer’s block.
    I remember I had an idea for a book once, which felt as if it had chosen me to be its vessel. The idea for that book spoke to (still does) as if muses had weaved it in my DNA from conception. Upon getting that idea, I spent countless night crafting the outline, collecting quotes and sources, choosing a title and when it came down to writing, I could never get past chapter one. It was the most frustrating experience ever. Meanwhile, another idea for a book was sprouting in me but I wanted nothing to do with it because I wanted to book number 1 first.
    Then one day, I just say maybe this book, as connected as I am to it, just doesn’t want to be written right now. So I surrendered, and started on book 2. That day, I wrote until 5am and wrote nearly half of that book. It had been begging to be written so much, but I was attached to my own timing so I stayed stubborn. But when I surrendered to the ideas and stories and let them be written when they wanted, things just flowed.
    Book 2, I ended up releasing as a blog posts series called 31 days of self compassion, which I will eventually collect into a book. The way the stories want to come too, is a lesson on surrendering.

    But I say all this to say thank you Phil, because your blog post is a great reminder again to surrender to the timing, to get comfortable with not knowing, but also learn to trust in the ideas that choose you.

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