Writer needed. Sadness required.

4 months ago we released a short film called “Untouchable”. I was extremely nervous about sharing it for a few reasons. It was our first romantic drama in over a year (it’s funny that romantic stories are such a huge part of WF’s identity, but we actually don’t make that many). I was worried that after so long the fans would be expecting either some grand, epically sad short or a super poignant and meaningful, sweet message.

But I knew it was neither. It was just a simple conversation on the porch. That’s why when the comments started coming in and the response was overwhelmingly positive I was quite surprised. To me there was nothing that special about it, but there were so many people saying it was exactly what they needed to hear, that it was very relatable and helped them.

Typically hearing words like this would be very encouraging (and it was! I’m glad something as plain as a conversation could still be accepted by the fans), but unfortunately, I small feeling of disappointment started creeping in. The reason is because, this was not a short I wanted to make. This was not a script that I had ever hoped I would have the reason to write. I don’t like to have sad thoughts and bittersweet emotions that require such an outlet. But life happens and I had to get these words and analogies (yes, a lot of analogies) off my chest. And here I discover that thousands of thousands of people were glad I made it, glad I shared it, glad… I was sad.

Now, I know that’s being a little melodramatic (surprise surprise), and it’s not like everyone who enjoyed the short was directly telling me, YES Phil, keep being sad so you can keep making these pieces for us! But there’s a reasonable part of me that translates things this way. That sees a positive response as our audience wanting me to keep this part of my brain/heart open to every so often give them a little story of guidance and hope.

And this relates to another challenge I’ve been facing in my brain for years now. The concept of the “pursuit of happiness”. It’s been engrained in me, since I was a child, that searching for happiness is better than actually achieving it. Because once you get there, where else do you go? You risk losing it. Is it better to constantly be on the pursuit? Constantly be unsatisfied and unhappy? At least then you always have a destination.

I know this is wrong and no way to live, but I’ve no clear path of how to escape it yet. And encouragement from fans to keep telling sad stories because it helps them only enables this mopey/stupid side of me. “I need to be sad for the stories! For themmm!” Ridiculous I know, and please don’t start leaving mean comments on my sad videos from now on, haha.

I’ll figure it out, I think. How to partition the sad thoughts from the happy so I can access it as necessary without having to actually live it. Funny thing is, I’m actually not that creative. I feel like truly creative writers can just imagine characters/stories/feelings and translate them onto paper. I’m still an amateur who needs to actually experience things before I can write them honestly. But this is a dangerous way to live, and write.


There’s a completely different post regarding this short that’s more about the actual content, about the conversation actually being all in my head, about the analogies.. but I’ll save that for another time.


17 thoughts on “Writer needed. Sadness required.

  1. I’m not sure truly creative writers can compose narratives without having experienced whatever emotions he/she is trying to address? Unless we’re talking about a science fiction or fantasy genre?
    Having the opportunity to teach Creative Writing at the high school level showed me that students used the various assignments to share their ideas, experiences-honestly, therapeutically, which appeared helpful.
    So is your question, since my telling sad stories is better for the readers/subs, then is that enough for me, considering the cost to me?

  2. But isn’t this also encouragement for you to put yourself out there and continue living life in search of happiness? Perhaps it’s about not focusing on the end goal: happiness, because that’s a tough thing to swallow. Maybe it’s just about living and enjoying the moment, because inevitably life will throw you difficulties to deal with that you can see as experiences to help others who might struggle with the same things as you, or you can choose to wallow in them. It’s not so much the sadness that’s relatable, but the struggles that come to light. Regardless, hang in there, you’re doing great.

  3. My “like” for this blog post is more so for the incredible self-awareness that you possess. What I read here about the pursuit of happiness made me sad because happiness ultimately comes from within and is something that you give or create for yourself. It takes a while to learn this and unlearn what others have told you. Happiness is not a destination; it’s a journey – and I’m glad that you recognize this. We can’t control or predict the destination, anyway. We can only do what we can on the journey and leave the rest to time, fate, God, the universe, whatever.

    I was also reminded of the movie Inside Out, and how it was ultimately Sadness that was able to empathize. Isn’t that powerful? How Joy (happiness) doesn’t necessarily allow for us to truly connect with others, and how it was Sadness that was the only one that could.

    So, I think the connection that happens between people is a good thing, no matter what emotion had caused it. Humans are not 100% happy or sad or good or bad all the time. We are all of these things and it’s the not-so-good parts of our humanity that resonate with others.

    We’re never going to be completely happy or satisfied. Life doesn’t work that way. What matters is how we perceive our emotions and situations, and how we act upon these things.

    Oh, and you are creative. We all are. You’re a creative professional because you do this for a living.

    For everyone who’s reading this who feels the same as Phil… there is nothing wrong with you. It’s not your fault. You are perfectly imperfect the way you are. You are a masterpiece and a work in progress. And that’s enough.

  4. Phil, I love your work because I can relate to YOU, the happiness, sadness, and all the other emotions a person can have. Your stories are a snapshot of your experiences and thank you for sharing them. It’s been cool to watch your videos over the years and see you grow, not only as a storyteller, but as a person. As you continue to evolve and pursue perspective, I will still enjoy your stories because you tell them well. Take heart, friend.

  5. Phil, thank you for sharing not only the end product, but also giving us a glimpse into the back and forth dialogue in your mind. It has been four months, and you are still trying to understand the impact your art is having in the world and on you. I think that keen sensitivity in the middle of all this noise… is powerful.

    You may feel like needing sadness to create is some sort of creative flaw, but for some people (myself included), it is necessary to feel something in order to be authentic and invested. Maybe it doesn’t need to be exact, but the inspiration has to be there so you can hone in and flesh out. It is those moments at 2AM when I am just writing, scribbling, drawing connections, that make life rich. In a strange way, caring that much about something makes me feel most alive. We all have a spectrum of feelings but great storytellers draw them out, and make them real for the rest of us. Thanks for sharing your successes and struggles with us.

  6. Loved the short, maybe because I’ve been in that exact spot on the porch, except the conversation wasn’t nearly so civil. Thank you for sharing, both the “deep” stories like this, and also the humorous ones too . And realize that the pursuit of happiness is not necessarily finding a person, but accepting where you are in life and having enough self-awareness to realize happiness takes many forms.

  7. I’ll leave you with this. There’s no need to pursue happiness. Just see the beauty In all type of emotions. If life was always happy it would be meaningless. You should see the beauty in sadness. Sadness is refreshing. Anger is moving. And fear… Is one of my favorite feelings of all. Its humbling. And almost always lead to curiosity. So maybe u should stop pursuing happiness…but learn to see the beauty in other emotions. Good luck.

  8. I’m glad that you write and create things that are as cohesive and thoughtful as you make them. I don’t think I make sense 90% of the time on a good day. But really.. you’re thoughts make me think, and I like that 🙂

    Honestly, it kind of sounds like you’re feeling sorry for yourself (lol sorry). You make the pursuit of happiness sound like an ultimate end-goal like beating the final boss or something. Actually, since I’m using the video game analogy… finishing a game isn’t just about beating the final boss. I’d say there are some pretty awesome moments gaining achievements and beating mini-bosses along the way. You level up, survive the grind, cry when you forget to save, and in the end you become a Pokémon master.. and then you start a new game to go through the struggle again. I think life is kind of like that. Sadness and tragedy just kind of happen on your way to wherever you’re headed, and I think people like watching your sad stories because that’s the same no matter who you are. We all get it. We’ve all been there in some way or another. So I guess what I’m trying to say is.. don’t try to be sad or feel like you need to be. Feel how you feel and we’ll just feel with you.

    I like watching the sad videos and the funny ones and the lunch breaks 🙂 I hope you won’t be sad, but since it’s impossible to never be sad I hope you continue making beautiful content whenever you have a moment of inspiring sadness. You know, you’re creative like that. Meanwhile, I’ll be here not creating anything with my sadness except for tears, but I’ll feel better after watching what you make ❤ much love from the East coast.

  9. I’d have to disagree with your opinion on so-called “truly creative writers”. I think that the only stories able to touch other people’s hearts are those who have felt pain, joy, love, hatred and indifference, and learned how to translate such raw emotions to words. It can’t possibly be born simply of imagination. Because that would lack dimension and readers/viewers can always tell the difference.

    I’m not telling you to keep being sad. But, is it really that bad to feel sadness? Isn’t it the overwhelming feelings flowing out of your heart and your musings that translate into the very words which would later resonate deep within us?

    I understand your reluctance to use your own sadness as the source of your writing. Because once you let yourself fall into that pit of darkness, it’s difficult to emerge. And, people don’t understand that. They don’t know the hell you experienced- the endless doubts, the anxiety, the questions, the fear. So, when you finally make it out there, you feel like you don’t quite belong. There’s always that feeling of being an outsider even among friends.

    But let me ask you something. Do you force yourself to be sad just to get good content for your films? From what I understand, you just happen to be a sentimental guy with the tendency to overthink and over-analyze events in your life. And, your thoughts start stacking up more and more until you build something more complex than the actual event. Of course that amplifies whatever emotion that event triggers and that gets taxing. But after everything, you see a bigger picture or you grasp onto something. Something grand? Something inspiring? Something simple? Regardless, it is something you need to share to someone so you can finally let it go.

    Of course, all this is based on my own experience and possibly nowhere near how you feel (that’s embarassing, sorry). The thing is, I tend to think too much, to feel too much. Through the years, my output- to possibly keep myself sane- has been writing. And, it works. I don’t necessarily do it for the readers, but I am happy when my writings happen to be something they relate to. So maybe all you need is a change in perspective. You don’t need to be sad to write good content. From what I can see, you write to relieve yourself of your extra baggage. It being relatable and awesome and all that is just a bonus.

    And, you know, maybe sometimes you can let a broken mirror just be a broken mirror. Give yourself a rest once in while.

    P.S. Big Wong Fu fan here. Looking forward to more of your content.

  10. You think that truly creative writers can just purely imagine their stories and characters, without experiencing it themselves. But maybe those that you think are truly creative, are thinking the same thing as you are 🙂

  11. I am honestly so amazed with your credibility as a writer, to keep it real and honest to finally produce an amazing short movie. But honestly though, we, didn’t want you to be sad just to keep us happy. Maybe you should write other’s sad story? I mean like, that’s all the song writers do? They need some inspiration, they do research, and listen, and feel them like it was their story. I believe you are such a talented writer, and an amazing film maker. And i believe that you can still make an awesome movie without you have to experience it by yourself. Keep up the great work, keep inspiring! Keep on going, we will always love you no matter what you do! Because in the end of the day, what makes wong fu is wong fu, is “YOU” guys who wrote them. Your personality will always somehow show up in every thing you guys did. So just be creative, be as wild as you guys can. We already fall in love with your character and the way you be who you are. I hope this message will encourage you. Have a nice day! God bless you.

  12. The truth is I did cry on the part… really relatable every short film you make. The untouchable reminds me of my previous prose… God Bless to the whole production team 😊😊😊

  13. I feel like sadness is something many people want to turn a blind eye on. Like its a contagious disease. In front of my friends I need to constantly put out a happy version of me. The moment I show my vulnerable side, my dad side, they get scared and don’t to have anything to do with it. But sadness isn’t scary. Sadness isn’t bad. In ways it’s romantic. Without the sadness how do you feel happiness? It’s like not knowing what light is without darkness. Some people think that it’s crazy to listen to sad music when you’re sad, but it makes so much sense to me. I want to listen to something I currently resonate with. It’s like an outlet my heart couldn’t fully express but the song gave it some life, relief, and closure. To be able to feel sad is a beautiful thing. It’s being alive and understanding our surroundings. I think you have to value something to feel sadness related towards whatever it is because it touches your heart in some way.

  14. People were glad you shared this with them, but they were not glad that you were sad… no they were glad that they were not alone in the sadness… Thank you for all you have done.
    A thankful admirer.

  15. I cant turn my page too…..!… 😥
    And this feelings sucks… i would really want to read a new book in my life but its hard to fall in love with a new book …

  16. Hey Phil,

    Just wanted to say it’s ok to write from experiences – a lot of writers do that or their experiences strongly influence their writing.

    During my saddest moments, writing was an outlet for me and helped me process everything. I wonder if making videos based on life does that for u – helps u process things? Really not sure if you’ll see this comment among all the other ones, but just wanted to encourage u to take ur time processing and know it’s ok to make shorts that are really sad, because life has its ups and downs and videos portraying such is just a reflection of life and I would say, adds depth 🙂 keep doing what ur doing. Add oil!

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