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Alex Chen: Photographer + Videographer

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Submitted on January 11, 2020 - 1:54pm

We recently asked Alex Chen to write about the work he has done with the Center for 21st Century Liberal Learning (C21) in the College of Arts & Sciences plus any other extra-curricular projects. This is what he had to say.


My name is Alex Chen, and I am a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts with minors in DXARTS, Informatics, and Art History.

I initially found out about the C21 Media Production internship through the emails the School of Art + Art History + Design academic advisers send out. After reading the internship description, I was drawn towards the aspect of working with other students that share the same interest in filmmaking as I do. I was brought onto the C21 Media Production team because of my previous experience working on professional film sets. Prior to this internship, I mostly worked with for-profit companies such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, Zoka Coffee, travel agencies, and various local shops to produce commercials. Alongside my freelance work, I am also the lead photographer/videographer for UW Recreation. So, this transition from creating commercials to informational videos with the purpose of educating and helping undergraduates entering the professional work force was a genre of video that was quite new to me. This was one of the main reasons I was excited for this internship; I am always eager to learn and advance my skills as a filmmaker to explore new types of film styles.

During the internship, we followed the standard workflows of film production, starting from pre-production in scripting and storyboarding to filming and post-production. Aside from filming short informational videos, we also visited career professionals with art and science degrees to film interviews regarding their work experiences and any advice they would give to students entering the workforce with an Arts & Sciences degree. These trips were valuable experiences for me as I was able to gain more experience filming interviews, but I also gained valuable work advice from these interviews. I was able to learn firsthand what employers are looking for when hiring other than just resumes and cover letters.

Another project that I am currently working on is a short film about the ASUW Shell House. The ASUW Shell House is a 101-year old building located on the University of Washington waterfront by the football stadium. This historical landmark is full of history that is unknown to most of the general public. The building has so many stories hidden in it, such as being one of the last two remaining World War I airplane hangars in the United States to serving as the training grounds for UW's 1936 rowing team that won the Olympic gold medal against Nazi Germany (made famous by the book The Boys in the Boat and a PBS show titled The Boys of '36). There is also lesser known history that happened there, such as the building serving as a canoe rental house for the community and also once housing George Pocock's famous boat shop. The university is currently undergoing a campaign to restore the building into a collaborative space for students that is capable of hosting events and classes. For this project, I had to conduct a lot of research uncovering the many forgotten stories of the building with the help of archived photos and documents.

Aside from filming, I also enjoy sharing my passion for filmmaking with others. The Digital Arts & Experimental Media (DXARTS) minor has allowed me to do this. After completing the film track in the minor, I was asked to host weekly camera workshops for the department. Every Friday I have a 1.5 hour equipment training workshop open to all current students at the University, where I teach a variety of topics ranging from basic camera settings to working with professional grade cinema cameras. Other than cameras, I also teach about lighting, sound, and filming with drones. I have a lot of fun teaching about filmmaking, but even more so I enjoy meeting other people that share the same passion as I do.

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