Han Chuan "Vicky" Kuo
Action! I pressed the play button on an old v8 camera that was propped up by several pillows and dolls on my parents' bed. My two younger, ignorant siblings with Disney shirts and wrinkled shorts ran into the frame and pretended they were soldiers fighting against each other. I was in fifth grade, and quite satisfied with the execution of my vision. A pity my two sibs had to expire.
Sadly, so did my footage when I accidentally hit the "delete" button. Painful, but being one who always gets a laugh at the foolish things I sometimes do, I thought the mistake also kind of cool. One's work, like people, don't live forever.
I was always interested in art: drawing, photography, and music were my best friends who took me away from my rigorously crazy twelve-hour blocks of studying.
I found my sedentary life not varied or colorful enough, and the balance between work and play was ridiculously out of whack. So I decided to attend a golf training program. That short stint turned into a three-year excursion, with my life pivoting in another the other direction. I practiced from sunrise to sunset, and tried, and more often failed, to keep my eyes open in the night classes I was no enrolled in
Thousands of hours of practice and hundreds of golf tournaments later, my handicap whittled down to three. Then came the major turning point in my life: I landed on the radar screen of the golf coach from Academy of Art University. He came over to recruit me, offering me a full scholarship.
Not only was my education going to be free, my dream of making films was going to turn into a reality. But there was one problem - as mind-crushing as watching my golf ball plop into a lake or bury itself in a sand trap: my abominable ability to speak or comprehend English.
Thousands of questions would swirl in my head, but they were always in Mandarin, and came out of mouth as incomprehensible Chinglish. Dan Harris, one of my instructors, saw the tears forming in my eyes from time to time during a lecture. He pulled me aside at the break, and gave me the words that I will remember till the day I die: Don’t worry, you don't need language to express your ideas when making a film.
His soothing, wise words became my mantra when I felt frustration deepening. As did my time spent on the golf course, which occurred frequently in the competitive season. I have a keen ability to play well under pressure, to calm my mind when the stakes are at their highest. I have also developed the ability to problem-solve quickly when faced with daunting circumstances on the course. And though it is only you in charge of your destiny on the golf course, your fellow team members can play their part when they shout words of encouragement.
The skills I learned playing golf have come in quite handy on a set, where trouble always seems to be lurking just around the corner. I am the calm in the eye of the storm; I am the one offering ways to troubleshoot the problems; I am the first to praise a cast and crew that always has my back.
As I wind down my career at Academy of Art University, I am proud of my prodigious output. I have made more than fifteen short films, commercials, and music videos as a director. I have been nominated for awards at film festivals. I get to explore the human condition by making movies I get to helm. What an enviable place to be.