Interview Experiences

Everything in the past couple weeks have been moving targets. I was about to throw in the towel as its been 3 months and a week. Still I haven't landed a job. I'd interviewed with 4 different places at this point. Here's what happened:

Let's call this first company, Company H. After the interview, Company H was enthusiastic about starting me off with a project before I joined full-time because I asked for a probation period to test the role out. We were on an email chain, with constant back and forth about the start date. The date kept getting pushed later and later with excuses that he(the bossman) was getting swamped. He links me up with another guy on the production team to get me started. I soon learn that he couldn't start because his boss wasn't notified by mine about this project. The following week I receive an email that he has quit the company. I email my boss to be and ask what are next steps now that his co-worker quit. I get no response.

I email the former employee about his thoughts on Company H and he tells me "I only worked there for two weeks, its not a place to realize dreams but more of a place for retirees." 

With the constant delay of response in addition to insight from a former employee of two weeks, I email the boss man and tell him...I think I'm good, thanks for the meet up.

Next up is Company R. R was an ad agency that called me in for two interviews. The first one was great. The second one was someone much more senior and I'm guessing he's the one that calls the final shots on everything. He starts by saying, I saw your reel and I wasn't sure what role you did in each piece. THIS. This was a surprise to me, because I made sure that my role was clearly labeled at the bottom portion of the frame. I assumed that maybe he wasn't very attentive and I took it as a stupid remark and so I began to walk him through my work. The interview ends and he says, "Do you have whatsapp? I'll whatsapp you later."

I never got the whatsapp. I sent a follow up email. No response. Nobody forced him to say he was going to whatsapp me. If there isn't a right fit I would've just said so right then and there, but I'm beginning to get the sense that people here don't say what they mean and would like to waste time instead. 

Company G is next. G was a completely Chinese production house. My first interview in full Cantonese was nerve wracking to say the least. Their tables were littered with scripts in traditional Chinese from their meeting prior and I think I might've been in deep crap seeing as I can't read or write Chinese. But they knew that before calling me in for the interview and I think it went well overall. The next day they called me for my expected salary. They said they'd offer such and such amount and I said it'd be difficult for me seeing as rent in Hong Kong is off the roof, and said can you do- this amount. Didn't get the job. I assume someone here is always willing to do the job cheaper and also know how to read/write Chinese..

Company J. J needed someone who could edit video but also web develop. That's when a friend explained that Hong Kong is peculiar in that employers expect someone to be able to do two people's worth of abilities for one person's worth of pay.

Lady from Company D calls me in the middle of lunch and asks if I have a Hong Kong ID. I say I don't, I was born in Boston. She giggles and says, "Then how do you know Cantonese? Anyway we will call back if you end up on the shortlist." In my mind I'm thinking.. I probably left the shortlist 2 sentences ago. I never got the callback. 

Company T calls me in for interview, also conducted in complete Cantonese. At this point I think I rehearsed my interview Canto pretty well. They tell me that the youth in HK want to travel to the US and UK, and asked why in the world am I doing the opposite? I tell them that I've been in the US for 27 years, I'm looking for an incredible change. And on top of that, being Chinese, I'd love to know more about the culture here and understand the place that my parents came from. I need a change of speed. However the interview ends with one question that I could not answer. They ask, "If you're not a local, how will you know what the Hong Kong audience likes to watch? I'm just afraid that when we laugh at a joke we write, you won't know to laugh." I left the interview and later that night I had the perfect answer. If the fact of the matter is that I can't give you the benefit of understanding local culture, I can only give you something on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The answer is that not only can I give you a western perspective, but a fresh perspective that a local cannot give you. And if what they said previously about youths wanting to immigrate to the US is true, then most HK people will love western culture. The movie Logan just came out, its a success in the states and it's also a success here in Hong Kong. Doesn't that speak volumes about the Hong Kong people's taste? I wish I had that answer 5 hours earlier. 

Back in Boston, everybody in the film industry basically knew everyone else. I never had to throw in cover letters and resumes the old fashioned way. Everything is word of mouth. I'm half way around the globe, I know no one in the industry. So I'm not sure if it's working all that well. 

stepping stone

The way I used to sell myself in interviews is that I would be willing to do any role even if it was something I was less interested in. It was clear that this company needed a producer position to handle budgeting and organization or perhaps a project manager to be the liaison between the creative team and the client. These were roles I had no desire to even try. I’m a firm believer that someone who actually likes to do it will do it better than I ever will. If I stay sharp and focused on honing skills that I personally connect with, the job that I receive will be that much more in tune with my interests. To be a PM you have to be well spoken, personable. I can say I can't command that at all times.

I’ve become a lot more selective in what a job requires of me. If it’s not in line with nurturing my long term goal of being a filmmaker, I’m less inclined to accept the position. 

A question came up about why I went into advertising instead of a more creative endeavor. The honest answer is that, it was what was there at the time. A year after graduating college I was referred by a great friend who got me the job. The pay offered was not only handsome for someone aged 24, but anybody who needed an IN has to face the fact that not everything you do is something you like when starting off. Let it be a stepping stone. My experience at the agency was in large, learning to be a professional. Being able to command creativity for a 8 hours a day Monday thru Friday was not natural, but now I've got it.

let's absorb

I wonder whether or not my decision to move here was the right call. Cramped spaces, overpopulation, and small but expensive living quarters are some of the gripes. I get air quality warnings from google from time to time, just some of the potential health problems lurking in sight.

I’ve thrown in my application to maybe about 20 job listings and have never interviewed for so many different jobs in my life. The problem with each offer is that I can’t even seem to get half my U.S. salary.

By the end of the day I have to really know what I’m doing all the way on the other side of this planet. Sometimes I forget and it's disconcerting. I’m here to understand a different culture, where my parents come from, what could have been if my parents didn’t immigrate. But of course my situation is not exactly the same as if I were brought up here. People value overseas experience and are curious to see what an American can bring to the table.

Usually I bring a camera whenever I travel, but this is exceptional. In the past I've never used my eyes to see this place. Instead it was always through a monitor or some sort of a viewfinder. It’s like watching a concert while recording it with your phone. You can count the times you rewatch the footage on one hand.

eh grammar

For someone who was never the greatest at writing let alone having any sense of good grammar, blogging on a regular is somewhat of a challenge. But in recent time I’ve felt a need to document movies I’ve seen, television shows, maybe even music that I listen to. I believe the end result will allow me to understand my creative process, separate what I like with what I don’t and hopefully understand what inspires me in my own work.

So I’m going to throw out the anxiety of grammatically correct writing for now and in time, trust that it will get better with each post. The goal is to read back in retrospect and remember the littles pieces that make up the big ones. Art that we consume can be abundant sometimes and not being intelligently aware of them can be a waste, so I'm going to let this be a documentation for those experiences.