I Don’t Need To Be A Director

As I get older, the person who I want to be becomes clearer.

All my life I’ve dreamed of working in movies, directing short films and eventually features. Teenage Josh had vision. Big dreams. I’ll always remember something one of my best friends once said to me during high school:

ROBERT
Josh, I really admire how you know exactly what you want to do with your life. It’s taken me years to figure out my own purpose.

I embraced that statement with pride. Most of my friends had no freakin’ clue what they wanted to be. Maybe a doctor, lawyer, the Asian stereotype. Many just wanted to have fun and live in the moment. But not Josh. Even as a teen, my train had one destination. Anything outside my goal was an unnecessary distraction.

For the past ten years, I clutched so tightly to my dreams that I lost them. Filmmaking became a chore. I used to make films out of passion; now I made them to advance my career. Funny thing is, when you make films to advance your career, they don’t.

A few days ago, I had a surprisingly honest conversation with Ien, the creative director of Jubilee Media. We chatted about what we wanted in life. I don’t remember what we said word-for-word, but here’s our dialogue paraphrased:

IEN
I used to want to be a director. But now I realized I was in love with the “idea” of being a director, rather than actually directing.

ME
Yeah, I mean, everyone wants to be Christopher Nolan…

IEN
…or Steven Spielberg, exactly! It’s the honor, the glory associated with the title that makes it so damn attractive.  Now at Jubilee, I probably direct my own content thirty percent of the time.

ME
That’s not a lot.

IEN
It isn’t. It’s not the role I thought I’d be playing. But it’s so incredibly fulfilling. I’m creating communities, building connections with real people. I used to want one specific thing, to direct my own movies. Now my life goals are less specific, and they could look like a number of things. I’m open to different experiences that may not align with what I imagined myself doing, but they align with the person I want to become.

The realization hit me. I used to be disappointed with myself when I wasn’t working toward “my dream.” Feeding the homeless doesn’t help me become a director. Going to Bible study doesn’t help me become a director. Only doing director-ish things helps me do that, and that’s a pretty narrow-minded way of living.

I no longer need to be a director. For the first time in ten years, I can safely say that. I’ve just been fooling myself this whole time, not wanting to let teen Josh’s dreams down. I still love telling stories, in whatever form that takes. I don’t need the accolades or affirmation. Being the truest version of myself is enough.

In fact, by admitting I don’t need to be a director allows me to freely say I want to be one! I want to make movies! It’s fun! I love it! My sense of self-worth doesn’t hinge on whether I become Ridley Scott or not, that’s stupid. But through films I can express my self-worth. And that’s awesome.

Gee, I haven’t blogged in a while. There are A LOT of thoughts that I need to get out so expect more on the way. I’m stuck on a cruise ship right now and paying $119 bucks for a week’s worth of internet is totally worth it.

Josh out.

Pure Filmmaking Intentions

Jubilee Fellowship starts tomorrow, but I have some quick thoughts to get out:

What are my intentions when I make films? What is my desired outcome? Recognition? Or is it enough just to create?


Josh began making films at twelve years old, using one of Canon’s first digital cameras. A brick. He made a Narnia spoof. No one was watching, except his family. He just did it because it was fun.

One year later, thirteen year old Josh screened his fifteen minute magnum opus, Ultrakids, at his church’s retreat. People were ecstatic. They like me. They really, really like me.

Teenage Josh recognized this admiration as a “good feeling” and subsequently desired more. So he made more films. And more films. And many, many more films. All while chasing this high he felt when people praised his work. He forgot what it was like just to make films for fun. The reason he started in the first place.

The sad irony is that the best films come not from an artist attempting to gain recognition, but from a pure expression of the soul. Josh realized this, but how could he retrain his brain after eleven years of making films for the approval of others?

He doesn’t know how he’ll do it. But he knows he has to try. A problem can’t be fixed until it’s acknowledged.


Why did I write this thing in third person?

I Really Love To Do What I Love To Do

I hate thinking myself an artist. It sounds pretentious and probably is. A little voice in my head tells me, “Hey, what about contributing to society?” or “Why should expressing yourself be your job? Why shouldn’t everyone also get an equal opportunity to do so?”

Then I remember how art has impacted my life. How my friend’s short film about relationships led to me having an honest conversation with Jenine about ours. How Disney’s Frozen, believe it or not, restored my relationship with my dad. That may seem silly but it’s true. Art has not only entertained me, but inspired, changing me into who I am today.

I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing. I read it when I was a teenager, but don’t remember a word. It’s my favorite type of book: the type that re-energizes my passion for stories so much that I have to stop reading and start writing myself.

I published a novel back in 2014. After writing, editing, designing the cover, formatting the interior, and self-publishing the damn thing, I burned out. Told myself I was going to take a break. Besides blog posts and a few short film scripts, I haven’t written much in the past four years.

The problem is many of my ideas are based in fear. I started writing “The Mansion” because I knew Goosebumps was a best-selling series and I wanted to write a best-selling series, only to discover that I didn’t like Goosebumps.

This past week, I watched two short films that changed my life. Both made by friends. “Ella” by Dan Chen and “Our Last Normal Conversation” by Cole Bacani. The latter isn’t even finished yet. Both films were profoundly personal and that surprised me. I didn’t know you could do that. I didn’t know you could simply tell your own story and make human connections through film. I thought you needed explosions or a movie star to keep audiences interested.

But that’s what art is. It’s about connection. I realized I needed to stop trying to entertain people and start connecting with them. That’s why I’m more proud of certain blog posts I wrote in an hour instead of a four hundred page novel.

Sometimes I get confused and think that I don’t like creating art. It’d be safer to get the filmmaker’s version of a corporate job. Again, more fear-based thinking. The best art works against logic. If it’s safe, it’s stupid. And I’m done being safe.

I don’t know what I’m going to create next. I’m finishing up a short film called “A Roomba’s Tale” but after that, who knows. My only goal is to make something outside my comfort zone, something new, something bold. Something personal. I’ll keep you guys updated.

Josh out.

Gotta Take Leaps Of Faith Sometimes, Bruh

A few days ago, I got boba with a friend who noted how much I had changed in the past three years. Not change as in, “Oh, you grew your mustache.” Change as in, I’ve matured a lot. Mainly in the way I handle relationships.

Filmmaking used to be my god. My master, or whatever analogy works. I used to suck at collaborating because I liked being a one man show. Yes, it was stupid. I remember pacing back and forth, alone in a room, after a fight with my editor. He thought I was being too controlling, practically editing the entire film for him. I didn’t trust him. I didn’t just want the film cut my way; I wanted to cut the film myself. Enter my internal monologue.

SMEAGOL-JOSH
Look, you idiot. This isn’t the first time this has happened to you. You need to stop being so power-hungry and let others contribute to this project.

GOLLUM-JOSH
HE’S RUINING THE PROJECT, PRECIOUS! Your editing is so much better! This film could be our ticket to success, and you want to leave it at the hands of this dude we met a couple weeks ago???

SMEAGOL-JOSH
You were once a bad editor as well. How do you expect people to learn if they aren’t given the chance? Besides, what’s more important? People or the project?

GOLLUM-JOSH
THE PROJECT, ME PRECIOUS PROJECT!

SMEAGOL-JOSH
(sigh) You’re hopeless. You need to make a decision. Like, right now. Either trust your editor and let him do his work, or completely take over the film and ruin your friendship forever.

GOLLUM-JOSH
WE KNOW WHAT TO DOOOO!!!

SMEAGOL-JOSH
Someone get this dude a breath mint.

Sadly, this wasn’t too far from the actual dialogue inside my head. It took a while, but I finally understood how unimportant projects were compared to deep friendships and great collaborations.

You know, come to think of it…I’m not sure if I ever officially apologized to the editor. I’m going to do that right now.

(break)

Okay, I’m back. Apparently I did apologize already, and that was kind of awkward and kind of funny. We’re still great friends.

I never want to hold back from apologizing, though. Never. Especially to Jenine. Wow, I’ve owed her a lot of apologies.

Being that she’s my first official relationship, I was bound to make mistakes and I knew it. The problem was that her previous boyfriends were pretty awful, making it easy for me to go, “Hey, at least I’m not doing what so-and-so did!”

It took a while for me to learn that being “not as bad” doesn’t make you “good.”

I thought I was self-sacrificial. Humble. Godly. But my definition of those words came from a twisted narrative that put me in the spotlight. This was MY story, and everyone else was a side character.

For example, my definition of humility was someone telling me, “Wow Josh, that was such an amazing film you made!” to which I would reply, “Oh, it was nothing. God gave me the gifts!”

Pause. That’s not actually humility. I’m still getting praise and glory. Yet I lived in this egotistic bubble for quite a while.

The big change in my life was moving to California. I always knew it would be a huge transition, but I never realized how much moving to the other side of the country would affect my emotional and spiritual maturity. In fact, I barely recognized it as it was happening.

See, it was easy to be surrounded by friends and family who knew and loved me since I was a child. And I knew them as well. I knew the right things to say that would make them go, “Josh, you’re a great guy.” I never had any major conflict that would push my limits of being a good person.

I’m not saying I was a total a**hole. I’m just admitting that I had a lot of growing to do. And still do.

It’s scary, isn’t it? To realize that you’re not going to be the same person in a few years that you are today?

Or maybe you will be. There’s a way that can happen. Stay in your comfort zones. Live within your limits. Surround yourself with people who are easy to love. You’ll feel like a fantastic person.

When I moved to the West Coast, I met a lot of people. More new people than I had ever met in my entire life. EVERYONE I met was a new person, except for Brian. Many of them were not like me. They weren’t all Christians. They weren’t all Asians. They weren’t all homeschooled or had an East Coast mentality. Yes, most of them were filmmakers, but that’s beside the point.

For the first time in my life, I had to deal with people who didn’t know me as Josh Jackson from CEMC, or Josh Jackson from Life Covenant Church, or Josh Jackson, friend of my relative, relative of my friend, and so on.

They just knew me as Josh Jackson, stranger. I had a lot of first impressions to make and relationships to build.

It was difficult. But it formed me. It made me realize that not everything, ha, is about me! And I’m so thankful that it did.

I still can be a selfish person, but I’m slowly becoming more aware. And like they say, knowing is half the battle. One that I intend to fight.

But none of this would’ve happened if I hadn’t moved out of my comfort zone, or taken a leap of faith. I am so grateful for everyone in my life, family and friends, old and new, who have stuck with me on this journey. Thanks to you, I think I’m finally learning what it means to love without limits. My friends on the East Coast gave me the foundation. My friends on the West Coast helped me put it into practice.

Anyhoo, enough about me. I hope you all have a fantastic day or night, depending where in the world you are. I want to make a joke or something to end this on a light note, but…nah.

Josh out.

I Don’t Have Time

Man, oh man. In a perfect world, I could relax in a cabin somewhere in the Poconos, sip a glass of orange juice, and just write to my heart’s content. With lots of naps in between. I would wait for inspiration to hit.

I have jobs. Freelance gigs. I have responsibilities. Things I promised others. There are a couple things on my toodoo list that are a couple months old. Ouch. What’s preventing me from just…doing it? Laziness? That’s it, right? Just…laziness.

I was supposed to apply to Buzzfeed as a visual effects artist several months ago. I haven’t. I need to revamp my resume for that to happen. And that’s just not…interesting to do.

You suck. You really, really suck, Josh. You can’t do a simple thing like revamp your resume for SEVERAL MONTHS?

After I finish writing this post, I’m probably not going to revamp my resume. I could. I totally could. It’s within the realm of possibility. That’s one of my favorite things to say, that something is within the realm of possibility. It reminds me the only thing preventing me from making something happen is myself.

I feel like I don’t have time. The reality is I have the same amount of time as everyone else. And it’s time to start moving.

Josh out.

Who Da Heck Am I?

Have you ever watched yourself on camera and think, “I don’t recognize that person?”

I’m probably more self-conscious that I’d like to admit. I’m constantly critiquing myself, but never actually taking the time to understand who I am.

Christian. Asian. Filmmaker. Some broad words that I identify with. But I want to dig deeper.

Why is it important to know myself? Because then I can identify days where I don’t feel like so. Some days I feel grumpy. Anti-social. Mean. But am I a grumpy, anti-social, mean person? Geez, I hope not.

I know it’s not a simple task. Humans are constantly evolving creatures. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago, and I shouldn’t be. The goal is to evolve into a better, more caring, more loving person every day. And that can only happen if I know who I am, being able to identify my strengths and weaknesses. Flaws and everything. Like they say, knowing is half the battle.

Gosh, where to start?

To say I don’t have any flaws would be a flaw itself. Let’s start there.

I can be extremely selfish sometimes. I have an unhealthy mentality that I need to surround myself with the “best” people in order to become the best person. There’s some truth in that, but I’ve taken it to an extreme. Yes, I should surround myself with people that build me up, not tear me down. But if I intentionally push away people who I don’t deem good enough, then I’m missing an opportunity to practice unconditional love. After all, it’s easy to love lovable people, right?

I can be unaware of the needs of the people around me. This stems from my selfishness. Don’t really have time to think of others if I’m constantly thinking about myself. I want to be the main character so badly that I won’t prioritize others, even close friends and family. Again, selfishness. I need to stop, pause, and listen sometimes. Everyone’s going through something at some point in their lives. I get to choose whether I want to invest in their situation or ignore it.

Laziness is another huge issue with me. I’ll have one or two productive days, then I’ll sleep ’til noon for a week. Okay, it’s not that bad. Or is it…and I’m just not aware? (Great. Now I’m second-guessing everything) A random Facebook friend messaged me recently, telling me how he admired my productivity and hustle. Ha. I’ll admit, I have a few shiny trophies on my resume that make me look good. Heck, I self-published my own novel. No small feat there. But it’s not just laziness. It’s good time management. Sure, I can get a lot of things done, but if everything’s finished at five in the morning, then I’m not very efficient, am I?

Okay, let’s do three flaws and three strengths. The problem is that I see my flaws as “more defined” than my strengths. Like I’m a nice person “some” of the time. But I’m definitely a selfish person. See? That needs to change. Anyhow, let’s try to define my strengths.

I’ve never thought about this too much before, but I believe I’m an extremely patient person. It takes a lot to make me mad. Even when people try to antagonize me, which doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I’m usually diplomatic and peaceful. Logical. Understanding. It’s easy for me to see other people’s point of view. I can’t think of a point in my life when I was “out of control.” It helps when I’m in a leadership position. I don’t lose my cool. I’m emotionally responsible.

I also believe I’m a caring person. Some of the most fulfilling moments in my life was when I was able to mentor and encourage others. VBS. Mosaic. Jubilee Project Fellowship. Those are three big areas in my life where I was able to truly invest in others and not just in The Josh Project. Honestly, I love teaching. I love seeing people grow. If the words I say or the things I do can encourage someone and lift them up, that’s a success in my book.

That leads to my final strength of the night. I believe I’m good at encouraging people. Speaking truth into their lives. I’m able to look a person in the eyes and say “I see this strength within you and it’s amazing. Even if you don’t see it yourself.” I can remind people that they’re loved. So many people in my life have loved and invested in me. It’s only right I give back.

Cool. That wasn’t too bad. I think I understand myself a little bit more. For those of you at home reading this right now, I don’t know what you got from that, if anything. Maybe it’s time to think about three flaws and strengths of your own. Idk.

This was fun. Now it’s time to do laundry.

Josh out.

Work For Granted

I’m a video editor slash motion graphics and visual effects artist. There must be a way to condense my job title.

Some people just want a video edited. Some people want their logo animated. I can do it all. And I can do it well.

Sometimes I work better when I don’t get paid. I’m doing visual effects for my friend’s senior thesis film right now, and not to brag, but I’m kind of killing it. The fun part about my job is that I have to digitally create things that don’t exist. I have no reference to what a demon barrier shield looks like. But I have to figure it out and create.

I like to imagine that God created the world using Windows 97. He didn’t have to, but maybe He just thought it’d be fun to harness His infinity power and wisdom through an operating system visually similar to a 90s personal computer.

CLIPPY
Greetings, I am your Office Assistant Clippy! To begin, click ‘Start Universe.’

GOD
Alrighty. This should be fun.

CLIPPY
Congratulations! You’ve created a new universe. Would you like to save your progress or continue without saving?

GOD
Eh, I’ll save after day six. Thanks Clippy.

CLIPPY
You’re welcome, holy_trinity_3_in_1.

GOD
What else can we do here?

CLIPPY
Would you like to create a human? If so, go to File > New > Human.

GOD
Neat. I’ll name him Adam.

CLIPPY
Adam.exe has been created. Just a warning, his social health is very low.

GOD
Hm, it’s not good for him to be alone.

CLIPPY
You do not have enough resources available to create a new human. Would you like to allocate some of your .rib files?

GOD
Sounds like a plan. Clippy, I’m getting a warning that some devilware has infected my universe. What’s that about?

CLIPPY
Sorry, I’m unable to help in that manner.

GOD
Looks like I have some work ahead of me.

Okay, that was fun. Sorry, I got sidetracked from my original topic. Work!

I like work. I like being good at something. As stated earlier, I’m pretty darn good at visual effects. Now all I have to figure out is how to translate that skill into money.

However, even though I like working, I don’t like being told I have to work. Does that make sense? I don’t approve of this instinctive response within me. I much rather be a hard work all the time, regardless of whether I feel like it or not.

Yet sometimes, even when it’s a job that I enjoy doing (e.g. video editing), I don’t like the thought that I HAVE to do this NOW. It’s immature, I know. That’s why I’m blogging about it. To get over it. Usually works.

If you can’t tell, I’m a huge procrastinator. I’m procrastinating right now on a job due tomorrow morning. It’s not a hard job. I need to design some video titles. It’s fun.

I think I take work for granted too often, forgetting that many people would love just to have a job, or skill they can monetize. I’m lucky and blessed by God to be able to work in Los Angeles.

Sigh. I think I’ve blogged long enough. It’s time to do some actual work. Sorry I don’t have a satisfying ending to this post, but I’m not going to think about working any longer and just work. Overthinking can be a dangerous excuse to be lazy.

Josh out.