We had the good fortune of connecting with Hao Yu and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Hao, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
That is a big big question for me, very hard( and feel it’s still a little far) to talk about “the end” for my career because I want it never end haha. But, I would love to work professionally as a DP ( Director of Photography) for narrative content by the end of my career. If you ask me 100 times I think I still will say the same.

DP role has its own magic to me, especially when you get to work with a good crew, have your buddies and jokes around you, and it will be the dream come true to have a good story/script to tell thru the lens.

So yes, if I could be anywhere I would love to be DP who stays behind the camera. I think it’s always the best place to be!!

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a freelance cinematographer, I also work as a local 600 camera operator, sometimes I even do lighting and grip when needed. My recent work includes interviews, commercials, documentaries and music videos. I enjoy working with some close friends I know, also I enjoy meeting new faces on set and usually I got lucky to have real talented people around.

The process of filmmaking always appeals to me. Personally I like those character piece films where you can also feel involved in the historic background, whether it’s a period piece or a modern time piece. Some of my favourite are A Brighter Summer Day(1911) and the Irishman (2019). And to make a film like these you have to work hard not only on the technical side, but also spend efforts on the research for the creative side. Usually it’s the preparation for a project that gets me more excited, because I could potentially have more creative options and discussions, and plus who doesn’t want to get their hope high!

However no one would say it’s easy to make any film, let alone the great ones. During the years I figured the only way to improve is to practice. You only know better about your cinematography skills when you go out and take images. You can probably only learn it by doing it or making some mistakes doing it. In other words, “make mistakes while you still can”.

I am happy to say I’ve learned some great lessons by showing my way to people and let others correct or advise you. Over the years there are many talented people who also are kind enough to show me a trick or two. It could be some brilliant ideas for lighting a scene or rigging a stand, or it could be a set management or even life advice. I still remember my mentor Johnny was telling me” I never sit on a chair on a film set” when I was just about to relax myself in a workshop class. I still keep that in my mind whenever and where I work, reminding myself it’s the hard-working spirit that makes the job done.

Sometimes it also makes me feel behind or lost, or maybe even depressed. But eventually I am always grateful for that. And I am proud to say I am in a industry and community where people with talents are united and standing together with each other.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I were to take my best friend to the city tour – haha I have to say there’s a fried chicken place, and people close to me all know that’s my fav place to get fried chicken, called Gus’s world famous fried chicken! That alone would make him/her day!

Of course a movie theater is required in the tour. I would bring them to places like New Beverly or somewhere has a private/special screening.

Last but not least, some beer drinking, wine tasting and hot pot!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are truly a lot of people I should say thank you to. I feel grateful and lucky to meet all the people along the way because we all know film industry is a competitive world. And life is just not too different at some times!

I like to say thank you to my girlfriend, Ting, for supporting me when it’s downhill and encouraging me to try things that I normally wouldn’t. Of course I remember the joy and laugh we share those are my inside powers too.

I would say thank you to Chapman University Dodge College where I graduated from. I joined the school green and left with knowledges and skill, but more importantly, thanks to the my mentors/ professors, Johnny Jensen ASC, Bill Dill ASC, and Jürg Walther, also classmates and friends I made, I keep the passion for filmmaking I was looking for when entering this business. I dream to be someone like these people someday, that is still the coolest thing that I can think of at this moment.

I would be mad to myself if I don’t mention the colleagues, but it’s truly too many of them. I feel like I always can learn from them and they even get back to me with more. I feel good when I realize I got to make some close friends from the workplace and keep the friendship. As a foreigner in this county I feel I am americanized(in a good way)! If they ever read this they know who I am talking about!

Instagram: hao_cinematographer

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