“I feel great when I see these guys jump to a new level, when they first start they don’t know anything and now they can do this and that and when I give the jobs we have back and forth and at the end, they can make it. It makes me feel great! I love helping others who have the same vision. If they love something, I will try and share all my skills with them.” Lee
Honglee, then Lee as I got to know him better, has been an integral part of ithinkasia since he first joined in 2011. Lee seems to be the go-to guy for questions, for advice, for a laugh. Almost like a big brother to the team, it seems that ithinkasia has become like a second home for him, to the pleasure of those who surround him. After meeting Justin initially through a mutual friend, Lee moved to the United States for one year to learn English before returning to run his own small graphic design business.
After liaising with Justin over the few years since they had first met, he came on board part time to assist in the Joe + Jack animation, assisting with translation. Once he got his foot in the door at ithinkasia, he began self teaching animation by watching tutorials, tested the programs to see how they worked, and learned enough to join ithinkasia full time. It was incredible to speak with Lee about his journey moving into the company; the time he took finding his bearings, learning about how he needed to apply himself, and then actually going forth and doing it.
Lee’s background is in media and he had been in the business for roughly eight years before beginning a career with ithinkasia. He worked closely in television with previous jobs for shows on the editing side, some being the Khmer soap operas you’ll see when flipping through the television and others music videos full of passion, heartache, and lost loves. Editing these things were something that brought Lee life, that sparked his interest in editing, and introduced him to the thing in which he is still most enthusiastic about. When the topic came up, it was apparent that Lee finds editing and color grading to be the most gripping aspect of production when he shared vibrantly, “I love editing, especially for films and movies and color grading, I really love it. This kind of job is part of my life; it’s the thing that I love to do.” He would eventually like to become a fulltime video editor with a focus on color grading, but I can see the pleasure he takes in doing things with the team from drawing classes to web based tutorials. Even with these rewarding experiences Lee experiences now, I can sense a force driving Lee forward: an understated fierceness that only those with an eye on the prize possess.
He hopes to eventually jump into Hollywood-grade projects and work on large scale productions and during his time at ithinkasia, he’s seen a huge change in the growth of the company and the excitement of an exponentially increased workflow.
Lee has been the backbone in much of the training courses and heads up the classes for the trainees and explains that even though training five or more people from scratch can be difficult while doing his full time work in tandem, it’s well worth the effort. He mentors the new trainees with patience but with firm expectations as they come in to learn about the industry and the skills needed to grow and succeed and finds the results to be extremely rewarding.
His favorite project has been the film, 3.50, which was screened in theaters in Singapore and submitted for nomination at the Cannes Film Festival. An incredible, gritty thriller that exposes the seedy and often ignored side of the troubles that Cambodia faces, Lee feels extremely proud of his part in the film where he partook in some of the editing and even starred as an actor. Not only was it eye opening for him to see what happens within the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia, he also thinks it’s seriously important that the word is spread throughout the world and that eyes are opened utilizing the skills he can offer through film.
Lee gives some insight into what drives him and keeps the fire under him going, “I always ask myself and I tell this to the trainees also, ‘how big do I want to be?’ The bigger the dream, then you have to face a big storm. If you never have to face a big storm then you won’t have a story to tell. Over there is a big storm- but you have to get through it, you have to pass the storm.”
And pass the storms, Lee will. There’s no doubt about that in my mind.
Twitter - @annamischke
Website - www.mischkebusiness.com