Filmtools Filmmaker Friday Featuring Nathan Wong

An Insiders Perspective On The Creative World of Filmmaking

With hundreds of careers and opportunities, the filmmaking industry can be a unique experience for a filmmaker. Filmtools decided to take a deeper look into the world of a filmmaker. This week, we had the opportunity to speak to filmmaker Nathan Wong about his work. This is what he said:

 

What is your name and where are you from?

Nathan Wong: My Name is Nathan Wong. I was born in the States, but grew up in Hong Kong.

Primary role on set?

Nathan Wong: I mainly do Steadicam operating these days, but I also DP.

Person in the industry that is on the top of his or her game in your role. 

Nathan Wong: I think Scott Sakamoto is an operator that I admire greatly. His work is incredibly accurate and strike powerful emotion.

If you had to impress someone with your work, what would be the most “well-known” content that you’ve worked on? 

Nathan Wong: This was my first commercial feature as a Steadicam operator and B-camera operator, we did Steadicam almost everyday. Working as Steadicam Op under the master of martial arts films was no easy feat. Nevertheless, we pulled off some awesome Steadicam shots, and with Donnie, he’d make sure they were perfect before we moved on.

 

Best craft services food?

Nathan Wong: Hong Kong has no such thing as craft services. Actually our lunch times are on average roughly 15 minutes long. Everyday we get a small unhealthy rice box to eat while sitting on a apple box on the side of a street, and yes this happens even on the biggest budget features. Health and well being of crew is definitely not a priority.

When you arrive at set, what’s the first thing you do?

Nathan Wong: I try and make friends with the first AD and camera crew.

Current TV obsession?

Nathan Wong: Mind Hunter

Do you binge-watch new shows or pace them out?

Nathan Wong: I pace them out if I can. But if its good, I mean nothing’s gonna be able to stop you.

What piece of gear do you have your eye on?

Nathan Wong: I just purchased the MK AR-2 Omega and swapped my g70x arm for the Gpi Pro Titan, looking to put both through good use. Currently I need to stop purchasing new gear for the time being.

Camera – Should you own or rent? 

Nathan Wong:You should always own some sort of camera so you can practice your craft.

 Lenses – Should you own or rent?

Nathan Wong: For serious glass, don’t get it unless you are working features all the time. But a set of nice stills prime should always be in your kit for personal work.

 What is your preferred camera system? Lenses?

Nathan Wong: Alexa XT with Cooke Primes.

What are you currently working on?

Nathan Wong: Just finished a 3 long month feature shot in Hong Kong, Thailand and Vancouver. Currently jumping between a few local features for day calls at the moment for a partial holiday.

What advice would you give to people interested in this industry

Nathan Wong: Filmmaking is a lot rougher that it really looks, but if you love it. It’s one of the best jobs in the world. You can to meet so many different people, see different thing and work in places that you’ll never have access to.

What inspires you?

Nathan Wong: I think working in feature films, and seeing your work being shown to the mass audience and having even the tiniest appreciation is what puts a giant smile on me, because your work is somehow having an affect on people out there. Filmmaking is a constantly changing art, and there is never a right or wrong. And that constant change, inspires me to learn more.

Why did you choose this field?

Nathan Wong: 9-5 is something I could probably never do. Filmmaking was something that I seemed to have a passion and was good at since an early age. So It made sense, that I turned my passion into my career.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on before?

Nathan Wong: I think Chasing Dragon movie might be the coolest project I’ve been on. I felt like I was in bootcamp for a few months, we sleep on average 5-6 hours a day, and start doing intense gun fights at 730 in the morning till around 10 at night. I smelled like gun powder whenever I go home. But we did some serious cool fight scenes.

Do you have a piece of essential gear that you don’t leave without? 

Nathan Wong: Honestly I feel like that Scout carts are an essential kit in every Steadicam operator. Its your home base to rig up the camera and setup you’re your Steadicam. Its design is brilliant

What advice would you give to people interested in this industry?

Nathan Wong: I had a mate who started as 2nd AC few years ago and is not Aerial Dp for some of the biggest features out there. A 2nd AD I met 2  years ago, just won the HK Film Awards for best feature last year on his first film. When I was PA few years back, all these guys gave me a hard time and I couldn’t ever see myself working as a DP or Steadicam OP. And now here I am, working as Steadicam OP in some of the biggest features in Hong Kong. A lot of people helped me through out the way, and always be nice to people on set, you never know who’s going up the ladder or help you up it.

Where can people follow you on social?

Nathan Wong: You can find me on Instagram here.

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