About roughly two years ago, I made an announcement that would most undoubtedly change my life forever:lesean.deviantart.com/journal/…
Actually, It was exactly 2 years ago on this date of the 22nd of September that i first arrived in my tiny, empty apartment in Geum Cheon-gu-Gasan Dong, in Seoul, South Korea. Aside from Hyeong-Seung Kim ( who was working as a producer on Season 3 of The Boondocks there) and my patient and amazing, JM studio producer at the time, Erin Kim (who helped set everything up, from me getting my paper work for 7, arduous months of Korean beaurocracy, to apartment set-up, location and arrival at Daerim Station to pick me up), I knew virtually no one. Not a one. And since it was my first time seeing South Korea, I didn't know my surroundings. Didn't know a lick of Korean. And secretly, as excited and full of adrenaline i was to be there that day, behind it all...
I was terrified.
I had no clue how i'd start, how i'd be embraced and moreso, how i'd fit in. It was a ballsy career move, Not only for me, in deciding to QUIT my comfy job at Warner Bros animation studio & carve out my own lane, but a ballsy business move by JM President Mee Joung, who saw value in hiring a foreign talent individually without the support of a major studio or network funding it. It all made no sense, technically...
That's why it worked.
I started at JM ANIMATION STUDIOS here in Seoul, who were responsible for work on some of my favorite American and Japanese animated projects like: Avatar: The Last Air Bender, Wonderful Days, Fist of the North Star, Noein, Macross Zero, Hellsing, Count of Monte Cristo, and produced Season 3 of the Peabody Award-winning series "The Boondocks." I worked on several projects, including devlopment of an original animated series idea. As time went on, things changed and many of the staff formed a new studio , STUDIO MIR, who is currently producing the mind-bending ( no pun intended), much-anticipated animated series, THE LAST AIRBENDER: THE LEGEND OF KORRA, in which I was MIR staff as part of the story team as well as assisting in animation production. It was an honor, to say the least. A year later, I eventually moved on as producer for a couple more projects with MOI animation.
"You must be willing to do what others won't, to achieve what others don't." I believe that. I truly do.
My quest to move to Korea just to make the transition from resident unknown, to becoming a known name amongst the top Korean animation greats and bosses while simultaneously learning the ins and outs of outsourced animation production process was nothing short of unreasonable logic to many back home. I've always had that problem, however...being unreasonable. Reasonable logic might have swayed my hand and convince me to stay comfy and secure back home i believe, and dammit if during the snags and cultural shocks i encountered here didn't make me want to reconsider, pack it up and turn tail back to Hollywood!! But as my final month here creeps around the corner, I realize now more than ever that sticking it out and staying focused was the right thing to do. Going from the feeling of outside doubt, uncertainty and obscure fear, to owning the moment, creating your own luck and making your ideas realities that others can touch provides a sense of accomplishment i wouldnt trade for anything and i wish the feeling on all of you out there who have a dream.
I've got several exciting things that i've been involved with over the last 2 years coming down the pipe at the moment and cannot wait until you all get to see what's been cooking. Many of you already have already seen trailers for some of them and will fully see as soon as next year. I can say that I'm glad i took the risk and that it's paid off in so many ways. I'd like to thank everyone I've met here in Seoul during my short stay here. All the great, new buddies i've encountered, my "Hyeongs" at MIR, MOI and DONG WOO, through whom i've grown exponentially with their guidance and patience, teaching me tricks and skills i would have never learned otherwise had i stayed in the states.
I'd like to also thank, again, those who have supported me abroad and stateside. Those who've forced me to better myself, force me to think more, challenge & attempt to exceed my expectations, being prolific, step outside my comfort zones and told me when my shit stunk. I deeply thank you. Also, a big thanks to you folks here on DA for the interest in my wacky musings and to my family and friends so far away back home, I love ya!
In closing, I truly hope this shows--however big or small a scale--that it's possible, regardless of your ethnic or cultural background, that hard work, drive, focus and unwavered resolve shows through your craft enough to be given a chance. I've done it here so there are no excuses.
I'll be returning to Cali next month, revived, refreshed and seasoned ( kimchi style, baby!) with some awesome news.
Stay up and make room for your dreams.