Inspiration can come in so many different ways for me and I’ve noticed lately that my curiosity usually opens myself up to be inspired. I love storytelling and the direction of where my stories are heading is usually driven by who the characters are. My characters are usually inspired by the people I see and/or already know, so during the day as I’m driving around… I people watch. Once in a while during these “drive by people watching sessions,” someone I see will really stand out and I will let my judgmental ways of thinking run with it. I’m not trying to be a judgmental pr**k but this practice works to form these fictional stories and eventually I’ll get an idea for a possible script. If it’s good, I usually write it down in my iphone notes. If not, I continue being a judgmental pr**k…

My latest project was a music video that I directed for a talented acapella artist, Paul J. Kim. When we decided we were going to collaborate, I began listening to his track Run Fly Fall and immediately saw a male and female character in my mind. I wasn’t sure who they were or where their stories were going but this was just the beginning. My first inspiration was the song itself but this is where I began to brainstorm on who these characters were. Do they know each other? Are they a couple? Is the female character REALLY A MAN!?!!? There are so many directions I can take this story. As I began to people watch while driving through downtown San Jose, a homeless man stood out because under his dark hooded jacket and long beard, he looked like he was my age. He was also a little tipsy and held a very cliche bottle wrapped in a dirty brown paper bag. Because he was so young and resembled such a typical cliche homeless person, I was fascinated to think outside the box a bit and started to wonder where this guy came from and what life events lead him to this moment where we crossed paths. The entire concept of the Run Fly Fall music video formed around this man and the possibilities of him being someone beyond my judgmental ways of thinking.

From there, the only thing I felt was missing in this story was conflict. The greater the main character has to struggle in a story, the greater the triumph. Soon after this I heard the big news of Steve Jobs passing away and his struggle with cancer was the final element that I needed to complete this story for my music video.

 

When I first started writing screenplays, I would lock myself up in my apartment and force myself to sit down in front of my computer to write. It was almost as if I was expecting great ideas to come when I would only make time for them. But as I am developing as a filmmaker, I’m learning that great ideas and great stories doesn’t come with time but rather from a child like curiosity on the way I look at my life. As my perspectives change, the things that inspire me seem to change and I feel like there’s so much more that inspires me when I look at life this way.

 

Inspiration is everywhere and can come in so many different forms. Sometimes the greatest stories are inspired by the ones we already know and some of these stories might still be unfolding before us today. I don’t expect my storytelling process to work for every filmmaker out there and something that inspires me might not necessarily inspire someone else. But this is why the art of filmmaking is so extraordinary to me. We all come from different walks of life carrying different experiences and telling stories in our own unique ways and that… is inspiring.

Alex Vo is a producer and director based in San Jose, California. He is currently managing his own production company specializing in television, documentaries, weddings, music videos and everything in between. With a film degree at Full Sail University, his goal is to further his education by creating content for HRTV and film festivals around the world.

This is an interview I conducted for Zacto. Direct link here: http://www.zacuto.com/how-to-get-inspired-alex-vo

Comment