The CBMP cohort welcomed Lenny Fung to give insight into what production is like in the entertainment world and a behind-the-scenes look at what working on a giant feature film and the media industry is like.
WHO IS LENNY FUNG?
Lenny Fung is a former child actor who is now working in the Australian Tv/Film industry. He has worked on multiple tv shows produced in Australia as the First Assistant director. He has spun off for 6 years founding and directing a dance studio named Dance Generation Studios. His portfolio is extensive such as working on films and tv shows such as Pacific Rim 2, Doctor Doctor, Spellbinder Land of the Dragon Lord, Total Control and more. He has also worked at Studio 10 as an Art Director and at Channel 10 as Props master and audience co-ordinator.
A career like this with so many hurdles before you finally see results would put a lot of stress and concern on people around you, especially your loved ones. Lenny comes from an Asian family. His parents were tiger parents they didn’t initially support him as he worked for a very long time for free in the industry. His parents of course were concerned until they started seeing Lenny finally get some results.
FINDING CALMNESS ON A FILM SET
I personally have worked with Lenny before on a TV pilot, Enter the Bagrat, and I will never forget how calm he was on set. I attribute film/tv sets to very chaotic environments and anything can go wrong at any time meanwhile Lenny was just standing there conducting everybody like he is some magician. Somebody also stated during the production that it was the 'calmest set they've been on.'
The entire production was very smooth sailing, and everything went to plan with high morale.
Working on a Film Set is a very Chaotic environment with so many problems stemming from logistics, weather, budget, time, etc can sprout from nowhere. It's demoralizing for everyone to exhibit a stressful tone, especially with facial expressions and sounds.
Lenny believes that our previous generation is taught that being loud and shouty will manifest in results but for our generation it's counterproductive. When something goes wrong Lenny internalizes, pauses, listens and meditates. Holding your breath for 10 seconds, especially in a hyper situation is usually what helps Lenny.
To prevent all this chaos is to deal with problems before they even arise and be bigger ones. For Example: Coordinate your shot list and prioritize what is the most important shot to save a lot of time (instead of shooting chronologically) and create a timetable on what shot(s) to do throughout the shoot.
WORKING ON PACIFIC RIM 2
Working on something as massive as Pacific Rim 2 is fun, but you are committing up to 90 hours a week on set. Pacific Rim 2 being a $170 million production and a sequel to one of the biggest films of 2013 is a different form of production with a budget compared to an Indie film or a film made by A24.
There are benefits to working on a big production such as increased flexibility.
One day of filming required the crew to book Circular Quay for the day which cost half a million dollars. Due to the unpredictability of the weather and the planning of this probably took months beforehand, the rain cost the production half a million. And it was much more expensive to pay the VFX team to change the weather in postproduction, so the production just paid half a million again for another day. This increased flexibility cannot happen in an indie film because of the limited budget and time. In a smaller film with a crew of 5 everyone has a lot of creative input and power compared to a multi-million-dollar project.
WHAT LENNY DID TO BREAK INTO THE INDUSTRY
Working in the entertainment industry can take a very long time to get results. Lenny started by working 6 months for free on set to get as much experience as he could. After 50 productions (his magic number) a lot of them with no pay and only just to expand his portfolio, Lenny finally started seeing dividends.
After grinding for that long he recently managed to land huge opportunities with introductions to Taika Waititi (Oscar-Winning Director of Jojo Rabbit and Thor Love and Thunder) and the opportunity to work with another Oscar Winner, Nicole Kidman.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD CREW MEMBER
This grind has shaped Lenny's idea of what crewmate he would want on his productions. Grit is what he wants in his crewmates, after grinding for 50 productions Lenny knows what it is like to go through something for so long and not see anything come back in return. That grit (regardless of the quality of their previous work) of someone going through all of that just like Lenny without giving up is the ideal crewmate. Most people starting in the film industry will usually give up upon facing their first brick wall so that grit capsulises on what Lenny wants to see.
Showing initiative and a can-do attitude is also a must for working with Lenny or just the industry in general. A story Lenny told us was when he was starting, he was asked to go pick up an item he has never heard of and outside of his department. But the simple 'yes, I'll get it' can change people's perspective of you. Lenny asked another crew member what the item was, then googled it and brought back the right equipment.
On behalf of the 2022 CBMP interns, I thank Lenny Fung for his time and for sharing stories with us and for giving us a lot of valuable information and advice for breaking into the media industry. I wish him the best in his future endeavours.
Jason Lin is an Australian student with Chinese-Vietnamese heritage currently studying his 4th year at the University of Technology Sydney with a double degree of a Bachelor of Communications in Media arts and productions and A Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (Japanese). He spends his free time watching movies, hanging out with friends, and playing video games. He also speaks three languages English, Japanese and Chinese (and a tiny bit of Vietnamese).