I always liked watching cartoons as a kid and I unashamedly still do with my 11 year old son Jim. I have my favorites on Cartoon Network, Gumball, Teen Titans Go! Uncle Grandpa and Steven Universe. A lot quirkier than when I was a kid! Animation. I love animation! I love the process, the creativity and the complete freedom that animation gives when expressing thoughts, telling stories and sparking imagination. I believe that it is one of the most powerful forms of expressing an idea without limitations.
Now we just have to get those series animated in Cambodia by Cambodians, then I’ll be happy!
My background is in Network Television and Post Production and I love that we have been given the opportunity to branch into animation as one of our company’s core services. Having the right mix of talented expats, collaborations with overseas studios and an extremely talented Cambodian team has enabled us to offer these services. Not only animated motion graphics and Television Commercials but actual animated children’s series for worldwide distribution, animated by Cambodians!
Bit of a shout out there but I can’t hide the pride I feel in seeing my team’s names on international credit rolls. I love watching ABC kids in Australia and seeing Sok Chan Veasna and Honglee Leang, and the rest of the team, rolling down the screen during the credits, awesome!
I’m sure that most of my Australian friends, colleagues and family would like to know why I’m still here and for how long! I’ll try to answer those questions here in my first blog as I try to embrace this social media machine!
Well I’m pretty sure at this point that I’ll be here in Cambodia indefinitely. Situations can always change of course but I’m still just as passionate and driven towards my reasons for being here. The why.
Before leaving Australia for Cambodia I had run my own small production and Post- Production business for eight years, prior to that I worked in Network TV and various Post–Production houses. I’m coming up to 25 years in the industry which I’m a bit shocked by, time has flown by! I’ll put that down to loving what I do and starting very young!
Despite having a great job that I enjoyed, I did feel dissatisfied with the reasons behind what I was doing, I definitely started to feel quite materialistic. I was given an opportunity to move my family to Cambodia with an NGO, I took it. I won’t go into the details of that experience other than saying it changed my outlook on why I do what I do and the reasons behind it. My experiences in some of the poorest areas in this city certainly changed my perspective on what I thought was important to me. When I finished with the NGO I started ithinkasia with a new vision and a new direction.
We’re a commercial enterprise, a start-up, but we are also a social enterprise. I don’t want to train people or run a business for solely commercial purposes. I firmly believe in the power of the arts to generate social change and I want to empower young Cambodian’s to carry that work out. I’m still figuring out the methods but we’ve started and that’s the most important thing. We recently helped a young female film-maker with her editing and grading of her short film for Tropfest Asia, she was shortlisted, fantastic! She might win and make a feature film that instigates change for her country, that’s what I’m passionate about. I’m here in Cambodia to pass on skills and knowledge that I learned working with the best in Australia. Equipping Cambodians to be able to work at that international level, equipping Cambodians to give them the tools to tell Cambodian stories, to right injustice and create social change in their country, that’s a big part of what we are about at ithinkasia.
We’re aiming to be the best at what we do, I won’t compromise on broadcast quality, I tell my team that if we can’t show what we do to millions of people on television then I don’t want to see it, it’s not good enough. We set high standards because I want my team to have international experience and opportunities. I also want them to benefit from better salaries and conditions and we need international work to do that. That’s why we focus on our skill sets being on par with international standards, we will continue to source international work into Cambodia. My senior editors and compositors are on par with any professionals that I have worked with. They have achieved this through their own hard work and perseverance, I’m proud of their skills, their character and their ambition to keep getting better and to keep adding skills, they are a pretty amazing bunch.
We have had some great opportunities during the startup phase of the company. Feature film work, animation for an internationally distributed children’s series, Post- Production for Australian TV programs, TV commercials for Australian advertising agencies, work for Hong Kong agencies and a lot of local TV commercial Production and Post. One of my staff spent a month in a Burmese jungle teaching an animation program to Karen refugees, that was an experience for him! I stayed in Phnom Penh, close to the coffee I can’t do without!
As a company we will continue to train Cambodians into employment via our trainee program. I won’t run a school and graduate students into unemployment, that doesn’t work and it happens too often. I want more animation for Cambodia, more locally produced and directed feature films and more high-end Post-Production services. I want to see multiple thriving industries that employ Cambodian creatives and I want our company to be at the forefront of pushing those industries forward and providing those opportunities. That’s the why.