Baby Steps is certainly no billionaire – and does not wish to pay more taxes as a consequence of this post, thank you very much – but nevertheless it has just become something of a job creator. Friend of the blog and Baby Steps contributor Alex Fu just made the big move from San Francisco down to Los Angeles. Within a few weeks of arriving, Alex got a job opportunity as a trainee editor through a contact established through this blog with another Baby Steps alum Charles Yi.
Baby Steps wishes Alex well in his new role as editor in training at Open Road Entertainment and sends out the very best vibes to Charles for his help and support. This is how our friendly little world should work, so let’s hope it is the first of many stories of new opportunities facilitated by the stories and networking enabled by this little site.
More Baby Steps contributions are on their way, so watch this space. If you have an entertaining, informative or inspiring story of your first moves from college into the media world, get in touch via email@example.com.
Charles sent a link to his newest trailer for 50/50. This will be his first playing in theaters so well done Charles!
Charles was kind enough to send some more examples of his editing work. Rather than juggling with the previous post I thought we should make a second one to share the goodness. All three of the trailers below have personal significance for him and show the breadth and quality of the work he has been doing. Enjoy.
This is the first trailer Charles cut professionally:
My name is Charles Yi and I am a graduate of San Francisco State University, class of 2004. Wow that was a while ago! I live in Downtown Los Angeles, and I work in Beverly Hills.
Where I’m at
I am a filmmaker and a movie trailer editor. I currently edit movie trailers and TV spots for an advertising company. That’s my day job. I gotta pay the bills somehow! I’m also writing my first feature script and plan on shooting it as soon as I am done.
Where I want to be in the future
As much fun as it is editing movie trailers, I see myself directing movies.
Has this ambition changed since your college days? If so, how and why?
Definitely. In college, all I thought about was making movies and how great that would be. I felt I had all the time in the world. But once I graduated, reality hit, and I was introduced to obstacles I had never anticipated. When my mom lost her job, and my dad’s hours were cut, I had to help financially. So I had to find a job. Any job. Having a day job and trying to make movies is a difficult balancing act. I have been told many times how impossible this will be, that eventually I will be worn down and forget about making movies. It’s hard and I have to get up every day and have faith everything will work out. I am still fighting and still trying to make my first feature. It may take a little longer than I had anticipated, but I know I’ll get there.
My First Baby Step
I’ve had many first “baby steps”. Long story short, I was an intern at Maverick, PA on a horror film, an editor for a hip hop online/mobile channel, made a short film that played at a few film festivals then was bought by a Japanese film company, won the grand prize for Stranglehold’s True To John Woo short film contest (chosen by John Woo himself). Then I got a job as a runner at an Advertising company, where I am now an editor.
How did that first step lead to the next… and the next?
The runner position (getting coffee, lunch, etc) at the Advertising company lead to an editing position a lot sooner than expected. That doesn’t happen to everyone, but I worked my ass off. Every night I stayed until midnight trying to learn how to edit trailers and TV spots. I watched as many Trailers and TV Spots as my brain could contain. I didn’t have a life, but it paid off. After a month, I showed a TV spot I cut to my boss and he loved it! Immediately, he threw me in the mix and I was editing TV spots and working on big Hollywood movies. I was really lucky because my boss saw potential in me and believed I could excel. It’s also a very cool, surreal feeling to see your work play on TV and in the movie theaters.
What lessons did you learn from your ‘baby steps’?
As for the trailer world, I learned so much and I continue to learn. On occasion, I get the opportunity to see the dailies from upcoming films, which educates me on how directors direct, actors act, and how scenes are put together. Feels like film school. It’s something I will take with me when I make my own movie. Even though I thought editing trailers would be a big road block from my filmmaking, I try to see the positive side. I kept asking myself: “How will this job help me be a better filmmaker?” Besides watching the dailies and learning how directors shoot their movies, I understand the business and creative side to advertising your movie. I know that when it comes to making trailers for my own films, I can do it myself! Haha.
As for directing… Everyone has their own journey. I used to be very disappointed in myself because I haven’t made a feature film by the age of 21! That still bothers me to this day. But I have to understand as much as I wanted to have the careers of PTA, Scorsese, Spielberg, Fincher, Nichols, Kubrick, Nolan - all these directors I admire – I am my own person. I have my own journey. And I have to be patient and not worry so much of how I am perceived especially from my family and friends. And making two short films that were successful really gave me the confidence to make a feature film. And that’s what I am doing right now and I can’t wait to just… do it. Even if it doesn’t turn out well, the fact I am moving a step forward in what I truly love is a success.
House of the Rising Sun trailer
How do you keep your foot in the door?
If you know what you want to do before you graduate: direct, DP, editor, sound editor, or a writer, get a job in that field as soon as you can so you can get a head start. Grow a thick skin. Protect that pure joy you have for movies. The older you get, that joy starts to fade either from people you work with, the business, situation, it can be anything. And it’s important to have a group of filmmaker friends that you can truly trust. I’ve met so many people who backstab you or use you for their own personal gain.
As to keep your foot in the door? Work hard. Show you’re serious about what you do. No one is going to hand you a job or an opportunity. Create. Stay hungry. Stay positive. Do not burn bridges. And really learn your craft. Study! Always be open to learn. You can never stop learning.
April Chase Live Performance
KTown Cowboys, web series co-edited by Charles. The feature version won Best First Feature at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival last year