Khanh Ta: FBI Filmmaking Circle

For my CIP, I decided to do something that was related to my main major, Film, so I found a filmmaking circle named FBI to join. Because there are neither film-related classes offered nor are there opportunities to boost up my resume during my time here, I figured joining FBI would be a great way to network as I would also like to find work soon after KCJS is complete. Considering that film is my passion, I figured that this would also help me improve my Japanese exponentially as my interest doubles; getting an insight on how Japanese function within the film industry is also a good place to start professionally.

The club meets irregularly as it depends on whether or not there are upcoming film shoots. There are around 4-5 projects per semester being developed, so I had to try to join a project in order to attend film shoots. After messaging them on Twitter and going to the first general meeting, I was able to get the vice president’s contact information and learned about upcoming film shoots through her. There are also many screenings that we get to attend, considering the club also collaborates with other local universities. We even participate in the Doshisha school festival. The professional level of the club really surprised me, as everyone takes their jobs very seriously. Although everything is student-run and self-organized, I was very surprised of how similar it felt like one of my beginner-level film classes back at BU.

Nevertheless, the first and perhaps still biggest challenge that I faced when joining this club was obviously the language barrier. Because film is a very jargon-oriented thing, I had to learn many new industry-related vocabularies in order to communicate with my club members. It’s difficult communicating advices to club members when I was struggling to find the Japanese word for cinematography or light meters. I came into the club originally assuming that – because this is film, something belongs to Hollywood and America – everyone would automatically at least know the English terminologies at least in some shape or form, even katakana. However, that’s definitely not the case, as, after some heavy research, I realized that there are many kanji words for film-industry jargons. I had to self-teach myself all these things before every shoot in order to communicate well with fellow club members. Even slating is different. Because slating is simply saying the scene’s name and takes’ number, I assumed it would be simple in Japanese as counting and listing the alphabet cannot be that different. However, that was not the case when I arrived on set, as the Japanese slating system that the shoot I was in was completely different to what I anticipated. There was actually no slate; my club members simply kept a notebook to keep track. Perhaps this is a result of lack of funding, but even so I was surprised that they did not use a slating app on their phones instead.

Overall, my advice for future students who are thinking of joining this club is that we all need to be very prepared, especially with learning the specific industry-terminologies in advance. This circle is more of a professional circle for filmmakers, as I really do believe and can see that everyone in the club works very hard and takes their duties seriously. Without the CIP, I would say that my KCJS experience would have been much less fulfilling, and I am incredibly thankful for this experience. Not only was I able to make such amazing friends – my first Japanese friends actually! – I was also able to enrich myself with the things related to my career in Japanese.

4 thoughts on “Khanh Ta: FBI Filmmaking Circle

  1. Your CIP sounds like so much fun and the Japanese friend you made is really cool!! And I didn’t know that there are slating mobile apps.

    What other differences or things they did that you noticed are different?

    • Another thing that was different was lighting equipment! Since it’s only a student club, many of us just held up multiple iPhone’s to replace any lighting that we lack. I found this really interesting, but at the same time it’s just to show despite the lack of resources, everybody works hard, takes this seriously, and tries their best!

  2. This sounds like such a cool club! I’m always amazed at how self-reliant and responsible Japanese students are. The professionalism of this club makes it sound a bit daunting, but I’m glad you were able to learn things and really take advantage of this opportunity!

    I’m wondering, what kinds of film shoots did you help out with? What were your duties?

    • I helped out with lighting, mostly. But I mean since I have more experiences than most of the people in this club, they decided to see me as a supervisor of some sort? I give them tips and advices on how to direct or what would make things better, as well as general advices about storytelling and screenwriting.