JENICA ROSE GARCIA WRITES — Every December, the internet excitedly awaits the acclaimed “Moving Pictures” mashup, which strings multiple pieces of footage from disparate movie trailers into a whole new trailer. The creative genius behind “Moving Pictures” is Clark Zhu, who has accumulated millions of fans and has been featured in major online publications including TIME, CNN, and Entertainment Weekly.
Originally from China, Clark currently attends Loyola Marymount University, where he studies Film and Television Production. During the summer of 2018, Clark worked for the motion picture advertising company Wild Card AV. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Clark about how he came to pursue this line of work in film.
What attracted you to work in film?
I loved watching movies when I was a kid. I remember my first theatrical experience was “Spiderman 2” (2004) when I was about four or five years old. Then I saw King Kong (2005) in theaters, and I was left stunned. It was a brilliant film.
Watching films throughout my childhood had an impact on me. When I was around 14 years old, I thought about what I should do for college. I didn’t want to be in academia for sure, so I figured, “I like film. Maybe film works.” I left China when I was 16 and came to California so I could be closer to Los Angeles – to get a taste of what it’s like to live here and work here and see what film life in America was like. Then I applied to college. All the colleges I applied to had film programs. I didn’t consider any other option.
Why did you decide to study film in America?
I visited California and Nevada with my dad back in 2013, the summer I graduated from middle school in China. I liked it here – how people lived, how the culture worked. My dad liked it too. He asked if I wanted to come here for higher studies, and I jubilantly said, “Yeah, dude!” I didn’t know if I was ready because my English was not as proficient back then–like how Spanish is for a lot of American students. I could write it, read it, but not speak it.
I went to Fresno the next summer, and that time I stayed in one place. I went to a local church to meet people even though I’m not religious, but Fresno had a lot of churches. There was this Chinese gospel church, and I spent time there and met some friends. I lived in the area for two months and said, “Yes. I’m ready. I can do this.” So I moved to California, and my father supported that.
Your trailer mashups have become super popular. Can you talk about why you started making these mashups and the creative process behind them?
I started to put together clips from random films just for fun when I was a kid. I didn’t even have linear video editing software. I was literally putting clips together and converting them into one music track. Like, the really ancient way to do it. In 2013, I started using trailers from movies to put stuff together. I had so much fun with it after that I decided to turn this into an annual thing.
What was your initial response to the huge internet reaction to your mashups?
I was numb! I didn’t even know how to behave. My friend sent me the link. I saw my name on there and I was like, “Is this the TIME? Is this fake?” I expected smaller publications first. That was kind of shocking, but also really exciting. I just kept going, and this is my fourth year making it.
How has your life changed since becoming a film student and following your passions?
Before starting as a film student, I was struggling to connect with people who had the same passion. I was one of the only film nerds in high school. I think that applies to a lot of people. Going to film school now and being surrounded by people who like the same thing, it feels like my natural habitat. Everyone here loves the same thing as I do. I fit in here, and I like it here.
I’ve started working on film sets a lot. Basically, there are no weekends. I’ve been busier than ever, which I like. Working on sets isn’t in my future, but I love the social part of it. You’ll be with a group of people for 12 hours or 3 full days, and you make lasting friendships
What advice would you give to other aspiring Asian filmmakers?
Try everything you want. You never know until you put your hands on it. Especially for the kids from other countries coming here… Don’t be afraid. Don’t be shy. Reach out to people. Work with people. That’s how you can become part of the bigger machine. If you’re excluding yourself because you think you’re a foreigner, that’s not gonna work. Be brave.