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Interview with Zach Sycip

Zach SyCip is a Cinematographer by profession. He is married to partner-in-crime Rinka and they have a two year-old daughter named Malaya.  Like many of us, finding his passion was a product of countless detours and setbacks.

Here is my interview with world class cinematographer Zach Sycip on work, productivity and manhood. Hope you learn some valuable lessons that would help you find your passion and purpose in life:
1. What motivates you to do your work knowing it is such a tedious/ hard work to do what you do?

When I was a kid, I used to watch movies but couldn’t pinpoint what it was that I liked about it, but I knew it had something to do with the way it looked. There are still a lot of people that don’t know what a cinematographer does or what his place is in a film (or that such a job exists) but I’m motivated to play a part in making something look good.

 zach sycip2. What are your sources of inspiration for your work?

You just have to keep your eyes open because you can find it anywhere. I think you have to like what you’re doing and if you don’t, keep looking. Otherwise, it’s hard to be inspired. Mawawalan ka talaga ng gana.

3.  How did you find what you want to do?

It’s not just about finding what you’re good at, but what it is you really feel passionate about. I think that’s the most important thing. It’s not easy, it took awhile before I made money but you put in the hard work when you love what you’re doing.

Legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle said in one of his interviews,”Life is too short to waste your time on engagements that are totally ‘career-oriented’. You’re not even in control of your career actually.” This was so true for me.

I wasted five years on a course that I didn’t like, and hit rock bottom. My family got swindled, so switching courses was out of the question. I’d flunked my majors and I was at the end of my rope.

That was when I sought God when I had nowhere left to go, no other option. But looking back, I’m glad it happened. Aligning to God gave me peace that He was in control of my career.

It’s not like it was a magical thing, na bigla nalang okay na lahat. I went through sound engineering, editing, selling coffee, printing PVC IDs, whatever it took, but knowing that there was a big plan for me kept me on course still.

Then my wife saw an ad in the papers for a Cinematography Specialization COurse in Mowelfund in 2009 and I wanted to enroll badly. But we were newly married and it was an expense we couldn’t afford. Out of the blue, someone offered to pay for my tuition (who asked to remain anonymous) so there.

So five years later, I’m doing what I love. It didn’t happen overnight and I am sure this had very little to do with me. I landed jobs I couldn’t have gotten by myself, and it’s hard to NOT see God’s hand there.

I’m grateful for my wife, who never doubted me, even when it was scary most of the time. She believed in me and she believed WITH me that something good was going to happen. I didn’t get into cinematography right away, I tried my hand at other things, realized it wasn’t it, shifted direction– it’s okay. Men need to make these mistakes. Tao lang.

4. Message for men reading this blog

When you realize it’s not about you, that you’re not in control of your life, (which usually means rock bottom or a life crisis) that’s when things start to get better if you don’t fight it. When you accept that you can’t do it alone, and that there’s nothing you can do to make things happen for yourself, that’s when God shows up.

Here is a sample of Zach’s work of art

Cinematography Reel 2014 from Zach SyCip on Vimeo.

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