We had the good fortune of connecting with Calvin Chin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Calvin, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Hi, thank you again for having me! I guess I’ll start with something one of my close friends said to me last year.“Calvin, go touch some freakin grass”.
My work life balance was honestly nonexistent. I think I only recently understood the true value of enjoying simple things and taking care of myself outside of the entertainment industry because for many years…I just didn’t. Career ‘hustle culture’ was my obsession and source of fulfillment for the past half decade. Even during the middle of the pandemic, I spent most of last year building my portfolio, trying to make up for 2020 by taking on as many 2021 independent projects as possible on top of my day job…until burnout happened. Major burnout.
In 2021, I was an editor for six short films, ten movie marketing campaigns, and one feature pilot.While I am still very proud and eternally grateful for all my collaborators and the opportunities that came, I needed to slow down. Taking time to breathe sounds obvious, but as a young adult, it’s really easy to forget about normal sleep hours and stare at your task board till 3 am for a month. At least that’s what it feels like until mild depression kicks in and you realize you haven’t seen anyone besides colleagues and parents in six months haha…never handling that much again.
I’m no mental health expert, but an epiphany I recently had is that personal time outside of my job is actually way more beneficial to my performance at work than it is to keep chugging away. Plus, as I get older, I’m also learning there may be other things I would like to have in life besides a strong resume and portfolio!
Also a shower thought: all the top-notch writers always say that it’s best to tell the story you know – to draw from personal experiences. But what if a writer doesn’t have any new experiences because he’s spent all his time writing? How do you make art about life when you haven’t lived?
Tying back to the question, I’m still working hard on new projects, but have cut down on what I say “yes” to and opened up more weekends and evenings for leisure activities, meeting up with friends, and visiting family for mental and physical health’s sake. Literally the first thing I did this year was hike to Brand Park in Glendale by myself. I touched some grass!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As an editor and director, I have a strong passion for creative visual storytelling that explores diversity and cultural identity! I enjoy all kinds of movies, but the multicultural ones often bring fresh, relatable perspectives that captivate me the most. My early elementary school background in music and 2-D animation also plays a huge role in my editing style and helped boost my confidence in establishing rhythm and genre versatility! Today, I work at Tiny Hero, an agency that creates stylistic movie trailers and TV spots for major studio films, while also editing independent short films and feature films. Please check out Fine China on HBO Max, as well as the live-action feature Naruto: Climbing Silver on YouTube!
Probably the biggest lesson growing up is that persistence matters, cliche as it sounds. The entertainment industry will absolutely break you at some point. You have to be ready for the countless rejections, canceled projects, stressful deadlines, and occasional heartbreak. The stigma of simply being in a creative space is real. Even growing up, there were high school peers and relatives that perceived my dreams as the path of the ‘starving Hollywood artist, questioning if my silly YouTube videos would amount to anything. If I actually listened to them even once, I probably wouldn’t have graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, nor have campaigns like Avengers: Endgame on my portfolio. That said, I still have ways to go and am incredibly humbled to be here thanks to the tremendous support of my parents, friends, and mentors.
Also, I’m learning to recognize and work off failure. Mistakes and low points don’t make you a bad artist….they’re literally just part of the creative process. When a project gets killed, find a way to either revive its spirit in something else or make something better! If you’re in a rut, sometimes it’s just throwing random crap at the canvas until something sticks….or as I re-learned, just take a break haha.
I’m very excited to be mainly focusing on Project Involve this year, a program that develops artists and short films for underrepresented communities. Please look forward to my next collaboration, sponsored by Film Independent!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of my touring fantasies is to ride some out-of-state friends in my company’s golf cart around Burbank to see Walt Disney Studios, Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, and Warner Bros along the sidewalk. Then we’d probably hit the Round One Arcade downtown and stop at Paperback Brewery Co. on the way home. Paperback by the way is owned by my former colleague Brandon Monroe, and has the best beer I’ve ever had in my life…and I don’t even regularly like beer.
The Hollywood Sign Walking Tour and Starlight Bowl may be worth checking out too! Maybe we should just start calling Hollywood “Burbank”. We have a lot of Hollywood over here haha.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mom and dad absolutely come first. When they came around to understanding my goals, their love and support until I was able to hold my own was truly immeasurable. I will probably be in their debt for the rest of my life.
I would also like to thank my former violin teacher, Mr. Chang, and my high school English teacher Richard Cadra. During my teenage years, they were the only mentors who genuinely had faith in me in spite of everything I was going through at the time.
Thank you Nicole Mairose Dizon, Sam Steinle, Matthew Percival, Nik Shaw, and so many other cast/crew members for collaborating and introducing me to all these amazing new film project opportunities I’ve had since recovering from the first year of covid.
Last but not least, thank you to my coworkers at Tiny Hero, associates at Disney, MGM, Marvel Studios, and Lionsgate, and to all my friends who’ve encouraged me thus far to persevere in this insane field!
And thank YOU, VoyageLA and Shoutout Series staff, for having me! In the words of Keanu Reeves….YOU’RE breathtaking!
Other: IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8529356/ Clio Awards 2021: https://clios.com/entertainment/winners?program=entertainment&year=2021&search=calvin%2Bchin Project Involve 2022: https://www.filmindependent.org/blog/project-involve-is-back-meet-the-30-new-fellows-joining-us-in-2022-2/
Tiny Hero, Walt Disney Studios, Marvel Studios, MGM Studios, Dissonance, Kevin J. Nguyen