Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday: On Achieving Dreams

Just a little over a month ago, I wrote about someone who told me "dreams are not thought out, they are found," but I neglected to include: "then you'll work so hard to achieve it and still never know if it'll ever come true."

That someone is my boyfriend, Joel Soh, an aspiring film director with humble beginnings but some of the biggest dreams you'll ever hear about. That neglected saying reflects the fear I think everyone has, about the future, about dreams, about not achieving it. Like me, Joel came to the US to study three years ago. He is now in his final semester at Emerson College, working on his thesis film Twice Two Makes Four. While this should be the center focus of this post, allow me a digression to tell you a little about him.

I never admitted this (out of embarrassment, I suppose), but after styling/modeling for a post in a Malaysian style blog, I had the fleeting thought of pursuing modeling as a career. I knew I wasn't tall enough for runway, but optimistically thought, why not beauty? Around the same time, or perhaps partly because of me, Joel became interested in editorial photography. We decided to muck about with some lighting at the school studio and see how it would turn out.

This is the first of our "editorial shoots"

Just from this picture you can see that my eye makeup is uneven, and that was the only part I was responsible for. Joel set up the lighting equipment, adjusted each lamp, brought his camera, and started shooting. When we were done, both of us cringed at the pictures. Me for my absolute lack of knowledge in how to pose and adjust my face, him for his lack of "attention to detail."

For our second shoot we wanted something drastic. He told me to channel Helena Bonham Carter and I happily pulled out my feathery Shu Uemura lashes. I really didn't know what I was doing with my makeup but to slather as much as possible on. He, on the other hand, already figured out which parts of me needed to be lit and how. 

He went on to work on a few other projects, experimenting with different lighting techniques at every turn. 

And he gets better with each subject. As for me, I decided I'm not cut out for modeling, and turned to another aspect of beauty I much prefer. I won't lie. It gets a little stressful being around him. But photography was never anything but a hobby, his true passion lies in film.

Joel always works in extremes. I've never met another person who consistently tests the limits of his capabilities like he does. Last summer, a friend approached him for help to shoot an avant-garde fashion video, thinking it could be done with $200 (uh, no). Instead of dismissing his friend, Joel enlisted me and another friend and we spent an entire month writing to and meeting anyone who might have the slightest chance of sponsoring us. That month of anxiety and no sleep paid off, and we managed to secure the $10,000 needed to get a professional studio, lighting, model, and postproduction equipment to complete the video.

But now he's gearing up for his biggest project yet, and the great thing about Joel is while he dreams big, he also does big things to get him closer to it. Photoshoot after photoshoot becomes more ambitious. Films grow bigger. For his second year film project, his crew consisted of six students. For his thesis, the last count was twenty-five, not including the professors and industry experts who signed on as advisors.

This post is getting long, and I feel like I haven't even begun to say anything. Since I can write everything about him, I don't really know how to narrow it down. I guess I'm trying to say that this is a man who has worked very hard to get to where he is, and will continue to work very hard to go to where he wants to be. But to get there he needs help from other people, and that's where you come in.

Twice Two Makes Four is a 15-20 minute short film that explores a couple's approach to facing the impending death of their cancer-stricken daughter. Joel and his crew aims to make the film look as professional as it can be, and for that their budget is higher than the typical student project's. Out of the projected $35,000, they've already secured $15,000, but the rest they can only hope to rely on the kindness of family, friends, acquaintances, strangers. Anyone who believes a dream is worthy of investment.

Please take a look at their Kickstarter page to find out more about the project. You can also follow their Facebook page for regular updates on the progress of the production. I hope you will consider pledging to the Twice Two Makes Four team. Whether $1 or $10 or $100, any contribution at all means a lot to bringing them one step closer to their goal. Thank you in advance for your kindness!

*Regular Messy Wands posting will resume tomorrow and I hope you're excited. This week I have super cute things to show you. Hint: there are cats involved. Have a happy Sunday, all!


  1. I have always been thinking you have a high-fashion model face! Really love both photos. They're magnificent (and you rock as a beauty blogger so what more can you ask for?)!

    I admire Joel for dreaming big, and this project in particular is promising from a filmmaker's perspective (though frankly speaking it's heartbreaking). I will take a look at it later.

    Can't wait to see your cats! I have two, so if you're ever interested check my Twitpic out (I have some on my blog but they're not so easy to find)!

    Happy Sunday Xiao!

  2. That second shot is totally cool! The first one reminds me of NARS!!
    You totally have high fashion cheekbones

  3. I must tell you your editorial pics are wonderful... I think you should consider MU modelling. As for Joel, I really admire that's he's following his dreams, I'll check out his projects. :)

  4. Your boyfriend sounds like a very ambitious person. He also sounds totally talented. Good luck to him.

  5. oh wow, the film they are making looks amazing and so emotional!

    Your (his) photos are beautiful too.

  6. You should really reconsider beauty/makeup modeling because you have such a beautiful expressive face. Your boyfriend seems to be very talented and I hope that he only finds success in the future. I enjoy reading your blog and also hope that you find what truly makes you happy to do. Good Luck to both of you! KatherynR from McRae, GA

  7. Your post - that's real love. He's lucky to have you.


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