We had the good fortune of connecting with Cheryl Nathan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cheryl, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’ve always loved art– from photography to filmmaking to music. When I was 6, my dad bought me my very first digicam and not a day went by that I didn’t use it. I fell in love with taking candid photos of people because it showed the genuineness behind their smiles in moments where they were actually happy– something I didn’t see a lot in myself. Growing up, I experienced a lot of difficult and traumatic situations which now contribute to the kind of stories I like to express through my films. I used to write books as a child and of course at the time, I never thought to put any of those stories out there. I never really thought anything of it. But then one day at school, a friend of mine introduced me to a production team on Youtube called Wong Fu Productions, who told stories mainly about life situations and romance, and I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. They have almost the exact same style I use to tell my own stories.” and from there, it clicked. I loved visuals and storytelling– two huge aspects that make up films. So why not try that out?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When I was 15, I made my first short film called “Only When The Time Is Right”, which showcased a love story with a hopeful yet realistic ending– the type of perspective I wanted to express to the world. Though I now cringe when I look back on the film (lol) it ended up gaining over 3000 views on Youtube– which was a lot at the time, and received a lot of positive feedback which pushed me to keep going. By the time I was 15, I had decided I wanted to pursue filmmaking as a career. It wasn’t until 3 years later that I finally went off to college and left a toxic living situation I was in and flew from the Philippines all the way to Los Angeles to pursue an education in film. It definitely wasn’t easy getting into the industry. In some way, I still feel like I’m not even in yet! There’s always something bigger out there and you just have to keep going and try to explore more of that. I’d say that the best way I overcame challenges along the way was to never stop learning and to try to not be afraid of failure, which is something I struggled with for a long time and often times still do. You also have to keep in mind that although the industry is competitive, we all have different goals and a different creative journey, so it isn’t really a competition. No artist is the same and you just have to do you. t’s been 5 years since I moved to LA and I’ve gained some great connections (including Wong Fu!) and have worked on and developed several projects ranging from short films, documentaries, and music videos. Some of my biggest achievements so far include being selected for a year-long fellowship with Creative Visions where I was given the opportunity to work on the Women Excel Project with the non-profit organization, Maternal and Child Health Access; completing a short documentary on MasterChef contestant, Ralph Degala, which ended up landing in the Top 10 at the CCH Film Festival, and more recently, creating a documentary for the California Art Club which was showcased at the Pasadena Art Night and ended up winning a grant of $20k, which is insane. Currently, I am working on my upcoming short film, “Misplaced”, which is now in post-production, and revolves around a workaholic father and his daughter’s attempt to reconnect during the COVID19 pandemic. I won’t give away too much, but definitely be on the lookout! It comes out in March 2021. In the next stages of my career, I aim to start putting out films surrounding mental health. My goal is to eventually return to the Philippines and to tell stories that offer to break the stigma on mental health and to inspire people to stay hopeful, while also keeping a realistic point of view. Whether it’s to offer new and different perspectives or to simply just brighten someone’s day, I aim to contribute to the Philippine film industry in hopes of making a positive impact through my films, and I would love for others to come along on this journey with me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In LA, they’d definitely have to visit my favorite curry places, Coco Ichibanya and India’s restaurant! We’d also have to go to karaoke at Little Tokyo Market Place, and as strange as it might sound, I would take them to the Filipino supermarket, Seafood City, Lol. Whether you’re Filipino or not, I guarantee whoever goes there will love it. Favorite hangout spots and places to shop at would also be The Americana at Brand, and The Grove. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I definitely owe credit to so many people for helping me get to where I am today! I would like to thank all of my college instructors, particularly Ed McGinty, who helped me get my very first gig on a film set which I feel kickstarted my career; the non-profit organization, FilAm Creative for taking me under their wing and for giving me the opportunity to connect with so many people who are now the majority of who I work with today; my partner, Paulo Arcilla, who has been the most supportive person throughout my entire journey, along with my friends back in the Philippines and the ones I’ve made in LA (huge shoutout to Jojo and Joey!); and lastly, my dad, Ronald Eric Nathan, who always believed in me from the beginning.