We had the good fortune of connecting with Joe Han and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joe, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
I think one of the biggest things they don’t tell you about being a cinematographer is that 90% of it is a mental game. I used to view my path to success as ‘things I need to be doing’ by a certain time or age, but it’s really the journey of perseverance that takes precedent and the things around you happen by chance As a cinematographer, I am constantly fighting this uphill battle of looking over my shoulder. I get so consumed with what everyone else is doing that I lose my own voice and my artistic vision. I know a lot of my work doesn’t fit the ‘look’ of what’s hot and popular, and that’s very discouraging to me. But I found that there are people that appreciate that. They admire that I can bring something different to the table. The tough part is reminding myself of that daily, and not becoming jealous or lusting over someone else’s work. It’s a mental game; constantly convincing yourself that you are worthy and to have the spirit to believe in yourself when no one else will. I wish I could tell my younger-self to focus more on building a strong and positive attitude over trying to ‘become the best.’ Those skills will come and more importantly with time, you’ll find your artistic voice, but it is your strong-will and attitude in those times that will distinguish you from the others. This industry is a game of who can outstand the storm. Work on being grateful for the opportunities you’re allowed, and I think you’ll find that everything else will fall in place.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I find myself working in waves so when it gets busy, I am juggling two to four projects, going in and out of pre-production. And with COVID, I can fit in more meetings throughout the day rather than trying to drive all over town. I am either getting inquiries about projects, reading scripts, putting together a lookbook, shot listing or doing all four simultaneously. I also try to keep a balance between my work and personal life so I actively take breaks and holidays when I can. My girlfriend lives in another state so we facetime often and watch movies together. This field can easily consume you and make you a work-aholic. But I actively try to take breaks and step away because my inspiration and drive comes when I get to take time off to slow down, reflect and relax. Keeping rest is just as important as keeping busy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live right around Koreatown and, being from Seoul, I spend majority of my time there. I go to Oo-kook with my non-Korean friends for KBBQ. Beverley Soon Tofu or BCD in the winter time. Myung In Dumplings with my dumpling-obsessed girlfriend, and Jopok Topokki, as a late night snack with the roommates. I go to a lot of places but these are just a few that I can think of right off the bat.
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?
There are so many people who deserve a shout out. They have helped me in the smallest ways but have made a big impact. One of them maybe my mom. Your family will always encourage you, and sometimes can be blind love. But looking back, I think the love and supportive words came at the right time to keep me going. My mom’s not with us any more but I still think back to those times of kind words and encouragement and they keep me going, knowing that someone still believes in me.