What do the words "Creative Community" bring to mind for you? How do you feel is the best way to utilize members in a Creative Community?
Animation, by nature, requires working within a community of diverse, creative individuals; so I'm pretty used to working like that. But recently at my university, I've had the chance to work on a project called The Green Ninja Show; a series of quirky, fun videos aimed at teaching young people about climate science and protecting the environment. Each episode has associated teaching resources for the classroom and is hosted by The Green Ninja - the climate action superhero. In doing so, I've had the opportunity to branch well out of my "regular" creative animation community, and work with creatives from education, theater, film, and science; it's something I've found to be very refreshing and enlightening. So I feel the best way to utilize members in a Creative Community is to never limit oneself to a specific group, but rather to look for opportunities to collaborate with folks in fields one may have never considered.
How did you discover your creativity?
My father is a Korean, retired Electric Engineer. So many people find it surprising that he has never tried to get me to go into a similar field. Instead, he always wanted me to become a cartoon strip artist; probably one of the most financially risky fields to pursue. This is because he says, I was drawing since birth and he saw it as my calling. I think I discovered my creativity because fortunately, I was allowed to. My parents saw some potential, and supported and encouraged me all the way. This is why I am who I am today, and why they have twenty boxes of my comic books still in one of their closets.
Name the biggest challenge you have had in your career to date. How did you solve it?
Being a long-time nudist, I found it unbearable to be encased all day long in the shackles of society's insecurity - clothing. I solved this however by investing in a Turkish, inflatable full body undergarment that prevents my clothing from ever touching my skin. While my employers think I am going through the day business casual, I am free as the naked Turkish eagle.
Just kidding, I didn't really have a good story.
What's in your backpack/handbag/tote right now?
A sketchbook, pencil, pencil sharpener, empty reusable water bottle, and small tobacco crumbs from a Cuban Cigar.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out in your creative profession?
Get up, set up, and never let up!
What are some of your favorite places/books/blogs/websites for inspiration?
I love film festivals. My favorite one in the whole world for inspiration is the Ottawa International Animation Festival, which I attend every year. Not only does it showcase an unbelievable variety of the latest in animation, but you are surrounded by like-minded people all week; directors, animators, students, lovers of film and animation. It's like when Neo plugged into the training program in The Matrix. We hit the theater seats, connect, and fill our brains all day long. I leave that festival ready to save the world, and usually with a pretty severe hangover.
What would be your DREAM ASSIGNMENT?
So far, I have only been able to produce animated short films and projects. I would love to have the support and resources to be able to direct and produce a feature length film. The screenplay is sitting on my shelf, waiting for the lottery ticket to hit!
Who are the people that have been instrumental in your success as a creative professional?
While I couldn't have done anything without the support and guidance of my wife, parents, and professors, I have to give the credit to everyone who has ever worked on my films. With the exception of sponsored projects, the majority of my films are self-financed, and the crews are mostly volunteers. These folks have trusted my projects enough to invest weeks working on them, selflessly and passionately. I'd still be working on the first one if it wasn't for them!
What would be your last supper?
This might not work, but it's my last damn supper for Christ's sake. I would take a broccoli & spinach Chicago style deep dish pizza, smother it with macaroni & cheese, cover that with coleslaw, and top it off with a bean & rice burrito. I'd wash it down with a growler of Mac and Jack's African Amber from Redmond, WA, and probably be dead a quarter of the way through!
Full Name: David Chai
Profession: Animation Educator / Independent Animation Director
Industry: Education / Animation
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