I first learned of Ehrin Macksey when I saw his exceptional story about leprosy in Vietnam called “The Story of Bop.” For the past four years he has successfully raised awareness about multimedia storytelling throughout Vietnam by working for a multitude of clients doing documentary videography, editorial photography, and news reporting. We are pleased to recognize Ehrin as this week’s “Innovative Individual” for his talented work and clear passion for multimedia!
A) I’m my harshest critic. After every job I do, I self-evaluate my performance in a list and write down the things I did well in and what I didn’t. I write down how I could have done something different (shot, interview, transition) so that later I can see if it will work. This list serves me well in helping me fix my weaknesses and develop myself as an artist. Since I live in Vietnam, there is really no one here working similar to me that I can share with or who will push me. I have to be self taught, motivated and make myself not become complacent in just satisfactory work. I know if I really want my work to go to the next level I have to do this. So this is how I drive myself.
Q) What piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?
A) I have a lot of different work and I have favorites for each category. For documentary, I have two that I like. One is about a man who got leprosy at the age of 6 and was born in 1940, â€œThe Story of Bopâ€. The other is about a man who is living with HIV and his story about how he overcame his addiction to drugs and lives a normal life now, â€œHIV….Hope & Beliefâ€. I like these stories the best, as they are stories about people. To me, these stories are the most interesting to work on.
For commercial work, I really like the TV Spot I made for a cruise company in Vietnam, Bhaya Cruise. I like this work the best because I got to direct, shoot it, use talent and edit the whole film. I also got to do some fun film making techniques like time-lapse and using equipment like a boom and dolly.
For corporate work, I like the piece I did for an art gallery when they wanted to promote their photography exhibition. The Bui Gallery pretty much let me make whatever I wanted. It was great fun and it was received very well.
Q) Please provide a brief educational and professional history.
A) I went to school at the University of Florida and studied Industrial & Systems Engineering, Industrial Design and Business. Unfortunately, the only part of this education I use today is for business, marketing, web and flash programming.
After I graduated I went to work for Siemens. I hated it, quit, sold everything and went traveling. I lived in New Zealand for a year where I got a chance to work on a couple of commercials as a runner or extra.
After that I came to SE Asia where I was influenced by my environment and a friend (a photographer) and started photographing everything. I loved it and started to study it as if I was in school. I had books shipped over from the USA and started teaching myself. My first photography project I did was on special Olympic athletes here. Later, I started to hear more and more about multimedia so I started reading film books, blogs and went out to practice. A photographer told me one day about how Vietnam has leprosy villages. I was very interested in this because in Vietnam all you hear about is Agent Orange. At that time, I felt that Agent Orange had already been overly covered so I started doing my investigation into these leprosy villages. This took 11 months and afterward I made my first multimedia / film was about it. After that I got a couple of agencies to represent me and here I am today.
Q) Where do you believe multimedia fits into today’s society and how will that role change over time?
A) Look on the street. People are watching video everywhere. The access to media and the platform in which it is accessed is changing very fast. Mobile media viewers such as, Droid phones, iPhone and iPad are strong indicators on how people want to view their media. Traditional media has moved or is moving to the web so that their content is more accessible as more and more of their audience is choosing it as a way to view their media. These indicators only strengthen my belief that multimedia, video and film will only keep growing and be in more demand.
A) Wow, there are so many things. First there is technology (I’m a total geek), then storytelling, photography, video and sound. I am constantly reading and looking at work from wide range of people. This is my daily education which I do every morning for about an hour with a cup of coffee. I am now reading more and more blogs from filmmakers than I ever did in the past. I’m happy I do so, as these guys are really innovating their field and I learn quite a lot from them. I don’t just learn about gear and stuff that makes me drool, but I learn about how to tell a story in a more cinematic style. I know this has been debated a lot lately for doing documentary work, but since I do a good amount of corporate and commercial work I find it very helpful. Also, there are a couple of photojournalists I follow that have really taken to doing video with a DSLR. For example Dan Chung is rockin’, check out his video of China’s 60th Anniversary National Day Parade.
Q) What specific resources do you recommend for A) beginners, B) novices and C) experts to improve their skills in documentary storytelling?
A) My advice would be the same for every level of skill.
Read: As many books and blogs as possible in a wide area of media. Don’t just look at what other multimedia / video people are doing. Go look at filmmakers, flash designers and audio storytellers.
Watch: Different videos from different areas of media to draw inspiration. If you only watch documentary films then you are limiting your mind in thinking outside of the box for your project.
Practice: Everyone, expert and beginner alike have to keep their skills fresh and new.
Try and fail: Do something crazy or new. It is scary, but it is really needed to grow in every skill level.
Try and fail again: Oh yes you can’t just do it once. Also get someone who is not overly nice to give honest evaluations of your work. This is so needed.
Q) What is one thing on your “To-Do” list?
A) Learn more After Effects. Start another personal project, my soul is screaming for it.
Want to nominate a deserving colleague, friend or inspirational figure to be highlighted in this series? Confidential nominations can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org on an ongoing basis. Self nominations are also welcome. A person will be featured every Friday, so look for the next “innovative individual” Friday, July 9th!