When it comes to work, there are are things to do, and then there are more difficult, detailed, or hasty tasks to do that require a special level of skill, focus, and determination to complete. The jobs we mention here are some of the most challenging and often, given the industry pace and expectation, they can tend to fall under the toxic category from time to time.
1. VFX (Visual Effects) Artists: Color Grader Aurie Anden and Motion Graphics Man Matt Uy. They're the magicians of the film and video industry and sometimes the unsung heroes. Whether they're digital effects artists for cinema or motion graphics artists who are more known in the advertising realm, they combine the magic with raw shot video footage (as you might recall from Bruno Mars' "That's How I Like it Music Video") or create scenes from scratch, like generate layers in Illustrator and bring them to life the way motion graphics artist Matt Uy does.
Motion graphics by Matt Uy when he still worked in Canada before moving to NZ
Locally, their sub-industry is known as post production, the tail of the workflow for broadcast, digital export, or online publishing. It's where the magic and icing on video happens and where the finest of digital finishing touches take place. Digital effects artists like Matt or visual effects/CGI artists for video are not video editors, but make up the second to the last panel before the editor makes the cut.
Artists like Matt, together with color grading artists like Aurie Anden, mold the scenes to perfection before passing them to be cut together with audio by the video editor.
Prior to her evolution as a Da Vinci Resolve color grading artist, UP Film graduate Aurie was a video editor and more than notable photographer as well. Aurie points out that for professional color graders like herself, the job of grading and color-adjusting lots of raw video footage can get toxic once in a while. Years since she began training, she's now turned freelance. Her life off of any corporation has been much more manageable, she says. Her now-flexible schedule now affords her the time and means to do what she loves most–traveling.
"Personally, I wouldn't consider it toxic since im freelance and get to manage my scheds. I would understand how it can be toxic for someone in-house with 2-3 projects a day though."
Matt, meanwhile, is a Filipino digital effects and motion graphics artist who, after being Aurie's officemate as well in Manila, immigrated to New Zealand. He now works for thedarkroom.tv there. We caught up with him, wide awake in New Zealand:
What is it that captivates you and keeps you on board Digital Post Production despite its difficulty? "Passion is what captivates me. Even if I hate the product, the storyboard, or the entire project, I still enjoy animating it even if Its not portfolio quality. It's the love of doing motion design. I will be honest, and for the money, we all need to hustle!"
What is the toughest part about the job in the Philippine scene and how is it still tough even abroad? "The toughest part working in this profession is problem solving for long hours. Sometimes we have to do/create stuff that we do not know how. Thinking how to get from point A to point B. And this is usually at the start of the project. Kailangan magawa mo lahat bago mag present sa editing suite. Usually di ko din alam paano ko nagagawang matapos yun pinapagawa kahit hindi ko alam gawin. I guess doon tayo binabayaran, sa problem solving. Abroad, it's still the same, but here in Auckland, we have a work life balance."
What is the most grueling experience you've had as a post production artist locally sa Manila? "My grueling experiences are mostly unlimited revision. All projects that you can't go home because you need to wait for someone or just wait for something to happen, I still do not understand this, we also need to be somewhere, I hate it.. but.. passion.. and $$$."
What are the character traits and skills one needs as a post-production artist in order to survive and thrive? "In this industry, diskarte ang kailangan. You need to think fast and work around to achieve the projects goal. It is impossible to know everything about post but still you have to do it. You need to learn how to cheat, dayain mo yung mga mata ng client, directors, ad agency and etc. Lokohin mo sila, we are magicians. Work around!"
What mantra, motto/verse, or belief gets you through your job's toughest moments? "Do not work hard, work smart! I would rather work the fastest way possible, they do not care how you do it anyway. Reward yourself each project you finish, pamper yourself with whatever you're into." And for Matt that's certainly got to be a day out on the waves.
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2. Live Concert and Events Director Paolo Valenciano. It's one thing to be the director of a film or music video, it's quite another to be the director of a live performance. Everything needs to be rehearsed, tested, and ready to happen perfectly once poured out. There's no editing, there are no magical shadows and mirrors to hide mistakes. Audiences will experience the whole concert, show, or event live and pretty much nothing is hidden in a live concert save for the artists backstage. One of the best and fresh live event directors today in the country is none other than Gary Valenciano's oldest son, Paolo Valenciano, whose young imagination and keen sense for music, pop culture, and coolness have earned him an invisible live director badge.
What is it that captivates you and keeps you on board when it comes to directing live events despite its difficulty?
"I like to believe that I help create priceless moments. Something that the audience will look back at and think 'I can't believe I experienced that'. And the artists I look up to trust that I will get them to that moment. It's an addicting feeling."
What is the toughest part about the job in the Philippine scene and how is it still tough even abroad?
"It's very competitive here. We have more foreign acts coming in than ever before and we creatives in the live scene need to level up our content with 1/4 the budget. If we can't make it happen, the client has many other agencies and/or production houses to choose from."
What is the most grueling experience you've had as a live events director, or worst troubleshooting experience where you pulled through?
"Usually, when we do shows in bigger places like coliseums or arenas, because of insufficient setup time, things go wrong. And when they do, they're massive. Then you feel like your gut is torn to shreds. Then sometimes you feel like passing out. Happens all the time."
What are the character traits and skills one needs as a live events director in order to survive and thrive?
"Good taste and a biblical level of empathy. You need to be able to put everyone (the artists, the audience, the production team, the client) on the same page. And to be able to do that, you need to be extra sensitive to the vibe in the workspace. It will crush your soul."
What mantra, motto/verse, or belief gets you through your job's toughest moments?
"I think of my family."
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3. Investigative Journalist and Martial Law: Never Again Book Author Raissa Robles. Now here is someone who is certainly the ultra real deal when it comes to a toxic job. Raissa is a true investigative journalist who doesn't back away from asking real questions even when danger has loomed in her life several times. As a result for diligently outlining as much of the truth as she can in detail for a living, she's received them all: criticism, trolls, hackers, threats of the worst kind, and still Raissa presses on, unwavering and courageous in her craft as a writer and investigative journalist. Conviction these days is a rare commodity.
What is it that excites you and keeps you on board despite your job's difficulties and dangers?
"The excitement of discovery. Maybe a new fact or a new insight on already known facts."
What is the toughest part about your job in the Philippine scene?
"The sense, especially now, of physical danger because of what I say or write. You know the biblical saying, 'you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.' There's a missing line–Before the truth sets you free, you have to grapple with fear of knowing the truth, then with the dilemma of deciding what to do with the truth which at times is dangerous, and only after deciding and finding the courage while still quaking to do something about the truth. Only then does the truth set you free."
What is the most grueling experience you've had as an investigative journalist and author?
"The most recent is writing my book Marcos Martial Law: Never Again, a short history of torture and atrocities under the New Society. I was beyond tired. Only thinking of the torture and the sacrifices of those I was writing about kept me going."
What are the character traits and skills one needs as an investigative reporter in order to survive and thrive?
"First, one must be forever curious and questioning. One needs to be able to accept the fact that some politicians are mad at you. One needs to be always humble that perhaps a fact or conclusion is wrong and one must admit mistakes and correct them. One of the most important things is to edit, edit and edit, then edit again. Writing cannot be a puwede na yan thing."
What mantra, motto/verse, or belief gets you through your job's toughest moments?
"All things pass."
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Photographs from: Instagram.com/smallwondering, Instagram.com/actionmatte, Instagram.com/paolovalenciano, Instagram.com/iamkarendavila
Banner photograph from Instagram.com/paolovalenciano