Written by James Tu
MA Directing Film and Television
My pathway is a very diverging and complex one. I discovered my talent of drawing at a very young age and I refined it throughout the years as I got older. However most of the time growing up I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I was letting the school education system push me in whatever direction it took me. Observing the same thing happening to my friends, it was a freeing but restraining period with a solidified structure of waking up, going to school, coming back and letting the parents take care of the rest for more than a decade and a half. I just assumed I would use my drawing/painting skills to produce art in later life since I was proud of that. I was one of the very few people who had this talent so I kept this quality quite close to me. Not to mention, being in an academic institute didn’t exactly give me an advantage with this particular skill but I still held that talent as high as I could among others. I seemed set on doing fine arts.
After A Levels I went to study at the Camberwell College of Art to do an Art Foundation for a year with the intention of going into the Fine Arts division. There were three divisions the other two belonging to Illustration and Digital Media.
Although at this point my doubts started to grow. Producing nice paintings and drawings was fun and all but I started to lose my passion (I’m not even sure if I actually had true passion for it to begin with). The process of it all was becoming stale and I felt almost an outsider among other fine art students. I began noticing differences between my interests and others.
From then I quickly changed my direction into Illustration. This is where I sensed I could express my enthusiasm for storytelling by representing a series of visual pieces for written work. I stuck with that interest for a month or two only to see it crumble again, and then suddenly my mind was directed toward Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s vivid animation movies. I had an epiphany… that could be the thing I wanted to do (And still could be). There had never been a moment in my life where I felt so strongly absorbed and excited about something I could do as a career. This led me to produce my first hand drawn animation that lasted four minutes for my final project in Illustration. It was amateur but I was proud of my result since I jumped into the medium without any knowledge whatsoever.
From there I went to study BA Animation at the London College of Communication for three years, and throughout those three years I had improved vastly. I storyboarded, I scripted, designed, illustrated, I was naive, I was careless at times and I learnt a lot. However it’s intensive, tedious, and snail paced work nature took its toll on me and I started to have doubts about animation too. I worked insanely hard on producing the best animation I could at the time to the point that it even effected my health, I wondered if all the hard work was worth it.
Towards the end of the course, I considered what it would be like to transfer the skills I have developed from making animation films into actual film making. BU was already a recommended place for MA 3D Digital Animation, but I was looking at the MA Directing Film course instead. I knew it wasn’t going to be the same, and I knew there were new skills to be developed. This was a “Let’s give it a shot” type of deal for me. Who knows where I’ll end up next, I like to call it life, fate, and that’s my journey to BU.