The Ambition Series: Meet Alvin Dang
Posted on 14 July 2017
This month I was able to sit down with Alvin Dang, an aspiring aussie filmmaker here in Melbourne. The creativity and storytelling through his eyes, is not only captivating but the attention to detail, shows his hard work and passion in what he does! I have been following his journey for sometime and his creativity has inspired the work I do with my start up Thrilla Studios. He has always been helpful sharing his knowledge and experience! At such a young age, he is definitely one to keep an eye on! I hope his story inspires you! ~Sunny
Who is Alvin and what do you do?
My name is Alvin, I’m 18 years old, born in Melbourne, Australia and I’m a freelance filmmaker.
How did you get started?
So basically when I was around 14 - 15, I asked my parents if I could borrow $1000 to buy a Canon 60D because I enjoyed taking photos. I wanted to pay them back so I started a little side business called Party Animals and became a Photographer for friends parties. Then when I was about 16 I quickly learnt and realise that I don’t want to be an 18,19 or even 20 year old shooting underage parties.
So I try to branch out to different avenues in Photography but it never really picked up and not to mention, I had no idea what I was doing! Then around December 2015, I stumble across Film Making. What caught my eye was a fitness video with cool transitions and music. This sparked up something and I was like “man I wanna make something like this!”.
One day I was at the gym and I saw this guy, John-Peter Pipicella and I thought he had a crazy physique and I was thinking I gotta shoot with this guy! So the whole gym session, I basically spent just trying to construct what to say to him. I was sh*tting bricks (not gonna lie), but as he was about to leave I went up to him and asked if he wanted to shoot and he was like yeah. We shot that first video and from there that’s how it all began.
What have been your highlights to date?
Every time I shoot I’m always experiencing something new and totally different. But if I had to choose something it would probably be working along side with the family at Muscle Nation, I’ve met so many people in the industry whilst working with them such as Jeremy Beundia and Jason Poston and when I was starting out in film, I used to follow all our athletes, Robbie Frame, Ryan Spiteri, Mathew Bartholomew, Zac Smith, Ethan Ban, Rachel Dillon, Hattie Boydle and I use to just think to myself how crazy it’ll be to collaborate and work with them.
Now I get to work with all of them on a regular basis and I’m good friends with the whole team. That’s something I’m always going to remember.
What were the challenges you encountered when starting up?
One of the biggest challenges was turning this “hobby” into a career. It was difficult at the start because I didn’t have much support from my parents as their mindset was stuck in the traditional old school way of, get good grades equals success and I was in the middle of completing year 12! So there was pressure to perform, so I could get into a good university.
I had two co-ordinators who basically spent, mid-year on ward’s pulling me in to their offices constantly, telling me that I’m not gonna pass school, I’m gonna fail, it was crazy!
I remember there was this one time where I came late to school because I spent the previous night editing some videos for my clients and basically they came into my classroom and they pulled me out and told me I’m not gonna pass high-school and then asked what do I want to do with my life and when I told them, then they did this chuckle, like in their head there like “keep dreaming, that’s not gonna happen”.
But another thing I faced in the early stages starting up was overcoming my shyness, I’m a very shy and quite kid, I always have been growing up. That made it very difficult for me to direct and ask people to do things whilst shooting and it made it hard communicating with my clients in general and running your own business you play so many different roles so me being shy wasn’t the greatest.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I don’t remember what I was doing at the time but all I remember was, I was really angry about something and I just said to myself
“F*ck it, I’m doing this sh*t and going to make it my career, I rather spend the rest of my life trying to make it or die trying, than do some other boring sh*t where I’m not gonna be fully happy. I have one f*cking life and I’m not going to waste it on some 9-5 bullshit.”
Like I said I wasn't in the greatest mood haha.
But that split moment was when I just switched on and from then on, there was nothing else in sight, I just worked on my filmmaking every second I had, I even did it during classes because I saw more value in it, then getting told off by my teachers because I didn’t use “TEEL” properly in an essay or paid attention to different management styles. From that point on I just went to school so I could get that certificate I passed for my parents.
For me to overcome my shyness I had to throw myself into a lot of situations where I had to force myself to grow up very quickly and as the more shoots I did, I started to become more confident in what I do and also the way I shot which help me direct and project my voice out a lot better.
Don’t get me wrong I still am slightly shy til this day haha, but I remember it was Andrew Coleman (owner of Strong Lift Wear) who told me I need to speak up more at shoots. That really made me notice that I need to stop being a little b*tch. It was a shoot with Zac Smith and I remember half of the shoot , Zac was like “huh?” “What was that?” “Sorry bro, what did you say?” and Andrew had to repeat half the things I said because I was so quite.
So that really made me take note that if people are hiring me for the shoot, I need to say and do what I need to get each and every shot and deliver the work.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a passion?
Just f*cking do it, take your best shot at it and don’t ever let anyone’s opinion affect that no matter how bizarre it may sound!
“There's no talent here, this is hard work. This is an obsession. Talent does not exist, we are all equal as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that is that. I am not talented, I am obsessed.”
To what do you attribute your success?
I definitely have not succeeded, way far from it! But what will contribute to it is the fact that I
constantly was being told I couldn't do it, this drove me to wanting to prove them wrong! I’ve always questioned a lot of things in life and I just never wanted a 9 - 5 life, it just never made sense to me why I would work 9 - 5 for years and go through the stereotypical life of buying a home starting a family because that’s what I was taught growing up, I just wanted more and didn’t want to waste this life I have.
I was always a creative person, when I was younger I used to create anything and everything, at the age of like 11, I made Duct tape wallets! I actually sold them to my school teachers and students haha! Also other creative ideas like making slingshots, launchers and basically anything I found amusing and had tutorials online.
So now with my filming I just love the process of going from an idea on paper, filming it, interacting with people, and then bringing it all together and producing the video, adding other elements such as visual effects and sounds to take people on a journey!
How do balance work and life?
That’s a hard one, I’m gonna be truthfully honest I haven’t yet, I’m still finding my balance with all this. But my friends understand what I do and accept that I can’t always come out to be here and there but I try to make time for them still.
I go gym everyday just to break up my work and zone out from everything and have down time to myself but other than that their isn't much balance! I take breaks here and there and do things out of the norm just to clear my mind, but to be honest this is my life, so when I go on work trips and things like that I really try to appreciate and make the most of the experience.
My work isn't structured so I’ll get so caught up in working that I just forget about the time and I would have missed 2 meals and it’s like 3am. Sometimes I’m just so hooked that I’ll be editing and then it’s 5am and the sun is rising haha.
So yeah, like I’m still trying to find my balance with work and life.
Who inspires you and why?
I would say my parents, although they weren’t supportive about my career choice. My parents were immigrants who fled their home country to come here for a better future for my siblings and I they came here with nothing and were able to provide for my 5 siblings and put a roof and food on the table for all of us. So that inspires me to do more, because of all the access and tools I have been provided.
Another inspiration would be Randall Pich, CEO of LiveFit. He was the first ever entrepreneur I stumbled across when I first starting doing everything, because my cousin was like check out this guy’s brand and from there I went home and looked into him and I basically watched all his videos and it was the video “Against all odds” that ignited my fire! I was thinking “F*CK!, this guy is basically saying everything that I think about in my head.” and that video added more to my belief of doing this and made me go “yep okay, this sh*t is happening.”
Whats your Grand Ambition?
I want to develop my own style in filming and really showcase and produce short films for the enjoyment of it through my own platform on YouTube. I also want to produce commercial content around the world for mainstream companies such as Nike.
I also want to grow and build up my clothing line which I have recently started which is called Undefeated Brotherhood Co (UBC).
Thanks for taking the time to read this, please share it with your friend's and I hope this has inspired you in some kind of way!
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