World Premiere: Im/Perfection

 

As any creative can attest to, there is a fine balance between growing your business, maintaining your personal vision and producing meaningful work. Every creative will eventually find a period where a chasm begins to grow between these values. As the relationship becomes increasingly complex, they find themselves sinking into inner turmoil, struggling and questioning their passion and purpose. This is what I call, "burn-out." I hit that wall earlier this year. Maybe it was the culmination of simultaneously moving across the country, planning a wedding, and working tirelessly. Regardless, I hit that point. 

Reflecting back on the meandering path that lead me to filmmaking I remember an obsession to produce overly-ambitious personal projects at any cost. I created interactive digital projects coupled with exhibitions and community engagement. I usually bit off way more than I could chew, relying on friends and family to bail me out at the last minute. However, no matter how ambitious of a vision, it was still my vision and on my terms. 

Come 2016, I felt like I was having a mid-life crisis. I was struggling to catch my breath and inhale the life-saving passion that used to define my work. It had been over four years since I had dedicated time to work on a personal project–Follow My Steps, my Master's project. Looking close to home, I was inspired by my father's familiar (but incomplete) story and the timing of his retirement late last year. What began as oral history, quickly evolved into an overly-ambitious project that resulted in the short film Im/Perfection

Typically working in the digital world of video and short films, Im/Perfection represents my first plunge into the deep-end of film making. Instead of working on the ground alone, I collaborated with a crew. I directed a post-production team. And I hired a composer and musicians to create and record an original score. The experience was challenging, magical and rewarding all at the same time. The result was a unique film far different from anything I had previously produced whose origin spawned out of personal struggle and burn-out. The result was rejuvenating. 

Next month the film will be premiering at the Hawaii International Film Festival as part of their shorts programming on Sunday, November 6 and Saturday, November 12. My wife, Jenny, and I will be attending the first screening to share this special moment with my family and celebrate the tireless work that so many people have contributed to the making of this film. 

I need to thank my wife and Associate Producer, Jennifer Moncayo for her consultation, endless support and awesome interview skills. Jessey Dearing for cinematography and photography, and for filming all day in paradise in a construction site (I literally wouldn't show him the beach until we finished filming). Duncan Blickenstaff for his incredible talent to create the original score for this film. Drew Jordan for bringing my father's illustrations to life. The musicians, Mark Robertson on violin, Josefina Vergara on violin, Luke Maurer on viola, and Cameron Stone on cello. Satoshi Noguchi for recording the music and his Jedi sound mixing skills. Sarah Brady Voll for designing the sound of the film. Michael Curry for his meticulous eye in the color grade. And my father, Hitoshi Hida, for sharing his story with me and the world. 

I hope to see you next month in Honolulu for the world premiere of Im/Perfection.

52/52:11

For five weeks I have worked day after day, to shoot, sometimes for 6-hours at a time, and lay the ground work for the first eight features of 16 Stories from 16 Square Blocks. In an accidental search for identity, over the course of the past month I have come to explore my Chinese heritage and begin to understand a confusing culture that I seem to have almost missed growing up as a second-generation Asian-American. Last week I met Virgilio (Gil) Besabe, an 85-year-old World War II Filipino veteran. Suffering from many debilitating ailments, and recovering from massive heart failure, he has lived a rich life now condensed into dozens of photo albums and endless memories. He shuffles through life with small, baby steps, occasionally pauses to catch his breath, then explodes in raucous laughter at a light-hearted poke at life. Working intimately with him has opened a door into my life, where I see similarities, but many differences between him and the situation facing my grandparents, my mother's parents.

In December, I returned home for a familiy reunion, where I was reunited with cousins, aunties, and uncles, some of whom I had not seen for more than a decade. With a small family, most of my relatives either reside in Hawaii, or are dispersed throughout Canada. Two weeks of casual dim sum lunches, Chinese dinners, and salmon brunches culminated in an elaborate Chinese banquet to celebrate my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary on Christmas day. This year was particularly difficult to see the changes in my grandparents that become ever-more obvious with each return home to the islands. As if an outsider looking in, I feel disconnected and only see dramatic jumps instead of the fluid transformations of life's ups and downs. Compounded with dementia and physical ailments, I see them growing further apart in their old age, increasingly stubborn in their resistance to losing their independence, and denial of their old age. This is particularly true with my grandmother, 90, who nearly convinced my uncle to purchase a computer for her, when something like figuring out the answering machine on her cordless home phone, simple to you or me, entails five phone calls to my mother insisting it's broken and in need of replacement.

I do not know all the details of the current situation at home, though in the past couple weeks my grandparents have finally conceded to the idea of assisted living and a transition out of their condominium into a home. It's not that my mother doesn't want to deal with it, because God only knows the years of sacrifice, financial burden, and the stress and worry that have carved into her conscience. Rather, being the only child near her parents has left her with a tremendous reponsibility and obligation to ensure their well-being that is difficult to manage as one person. This development may provide the ideal situation where my grandparents' health and safety will be safe-guarded, while my mother, who still works full time, may finally find time to seek peace and contemplation in her garden, or relaxation on the couch below the humming whirl of the ceiling fan.

This image was taken on a Canon EOS 5D and a Canon 24-105mm f/4.0L lens.

Check back again next week Wednesday for the 52/52 picture of the week!

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