16 September 2016

Meet the alumni: BA Filmmaking Graduate Chris Huang discusses growing documentary career

By Danny Kelly | Categorised in Alumni Interviews, Student Stories, Filmmaking Tips

Oh, how time flies! Next week a brand new cohort of our Two-Year BA (Hons) Practical Filmmaking course will begin their study at Met Film School, launching themselves into an immersive journey of hands-on creative learning. Spaces are also being booked up for both our February and October intakes next year, with 2017 bringing us to a milestone 10th year of offering our flagship undergraduate course.

All this excitement has got us a little nostalgic, so we decided to go all the way back to 2007 and speak to an alumni from the first ever cohort. Chris Huang has been busy forging a successful career working with documentary content – here he talks about the benefits of his time at Met, along with his industry experience so far.

What inspired you to go to film school in London? 

I was originally studying Theoretical Physics at UCL, but I have been interested in film since childhood. Growing up in China during the mid-90s I was exposed to Hollywood blockbusters, and I recall that it was particularly James Cameron’s work that sparked my initial interest in Sci-Fi, and film as entertainment. Having studied in the UK since GCSE, I think the “self-driven learning culture” encouraged me to pursue my passion, so I decided to learn the craft through film school.

What skills did you learn that have helped most in your career since graduating? 

Apart from the basic technical skills, I have to say the most valuable thing I learnt in film school was an approach and understanding of editing. This learning was supported by hearing about the experiences of visiting industry professionals, which enabled me to see the whole creative process more clearly, and provided me with the knowledge and tools to slowly build my own approach to filmmaking.

What is your fondest memory of your time at Met Film School?

TV production with tutor Chris Bould: great teacher and mentor – charismatic and knowledgable. The whole class came together as a team because of Chris and we all learnt so much from working together.

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After graduating, what kind of work were you involved with?

I struggled with inconsistent freelance work in London for about a year, while at the same time developing a feature documentary project with a director in China. We were lucky to be selected to pitch at Asian Side of the Doc, and this lead to production grants from a few places including Sundance Documentary Fund. I then moved to China during the production period for 3 years to work as the producer and editor. 

You are now working with NHK World on a “special documentary series” – what is the project and how did you join?

It was a rare opportunity and I was incredibly lucky. Towards the end of the rough cut stage of my feature doc project, I moved back home to Japan simply because we ran out of money! Luckily the network I built through doc forums helped me to connect with a producer at NHK [International Broadcasting Service], whose been very supportive of my project over the years and is very keen in helping young filmmakers. It just so happens that he was starting a new documentary series – Inside Lens – at NHK World when I moved to Japan, and my multi-lingual background and experience in documentary was helpful for this English-language program. So I joined as a versioning director and editor.

What has been the most interesting story you have explored with Inside Lens?

Inside Lens‘ is a human interest program set in the backdrop of the changing Asia. The most interesting story I did was a film called “Time to Sing Together“, which is about a retired Korean opera singer teaching music in the slum of India, who hopes to create more opportunities in exposing the children to other parts of society, and help to broaden the mindset of the parents. The story itself is quite simple but the approach was refreshing because it felt very grounded in everyday life and true to a sense of reality, without over dramatisation through strong social conflicts. The characters and their relationship were very strong as well.

What are your aspirations for the future? 

I just finished my first feature doc project in China, and we hope to get the film out to as many festivals as we can. On top of other doc projects, I am currently developing a few fiction projects for the Chinese market as well. I am fully intent to utilise the Chinese market while it’s still growing, and hoping to build my profile as a producer/director.

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring documentary filmmakers what would it be?

Stay true to what motivates you. Documentary filmmaking can be a marathon of challenges and uncertainties. You can only keep going if you truly know why you did it in the first place.


Interested in studying our Two-Year BA (Hons) Practical Filmmaking course in 2017?

Call +44 20 8280 9119 to have an informal chat with a member of our admissions team, or request a prospectus today.

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