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!
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.
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.
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?