Lewis Gets Inked: Q&A with Rina Yang

Meet the creatives: Rina Yang

Lewis Gets Inked: Q&A with Rina Yang

A unique pool of talent has been brought together to create Epson’s new ambitious film, Lewis Gets Inked. Over forty people shared their expertise on the day including a special effects team, stunt supervisors, a movement specialist, lighting technicians, photographers, and more. We caught up with the people working behind the scenes to discover what they loved about the shoot, how they got started in their dream career and what other interesting projects they’ve been involved with.

Rina Yang, director of photography, freelance

This award-winning director of photography gives credit where credit is due, and is a champion for working with a collaborative spirit. She originally grew up in Japan, but now resides in London. 

What role did you play in making this film?

I’m the director of photography, so I’m basically in charge of the look of the film; the lighting, colours, the camera angle and movements. In pre-production I selected the key crew. I know that this crew are excellent at executing what we are trying to doing here.  That trust gives me more headroom to think creatively, rather than concentrating on the technical side too much.

What have you most enjoyed about making this film?

I enjoy working with my team because it’s a big, collaborative piece. And solving problems; it’s tiring but it’s fun coming up with the solutions. It’s rewarding when you wrap, and somehow you’ve pulled it off. It’s very satisfying. It’s a kind of satisfaction that you can’t get from anything else because it’s so stressful and there’s a lot of pressure, and obviously, with the money involved, you have to pull it off.

What’s the best moment on set?

When I do commercials like this - and you include a famous person - the moment when they step into the shot and it completes the frame. You test the light on the stand-in, but you’re never quite sure if it’s going to work. But when the star steps in, the lighting looks so much better and all of a sudden the shot looks really special. 

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

I hardly ever know what I’m going to be doing week-to-week. My schedule tends to change every day. For example, I might be flying to Jamaica on Thursday. My life is very unpredictable, so it’s fun in a way. You get to travel and work with lots of different people - every day is different. The downside to that is that you can never make it to your friends’ birthdays! You are always saying ‘I’m sorry, I can’t come’. I can’t commit to anything until the last minute. I try to book holidays maybe two weeks in advance. And then when I do go away, I get called back for a job and I have to come back early. It’s alright though, because I’m still young and I’m building my portfolio and doing as much as I can. You can be a lot more selective and chilled when you’re older.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

This year has been interesting and I’m surprised and happy with where I am now. Last year I shot in Japan; I’m from Japan but I’ve actually never shot there before. I’ve been asked to shoot a few projects there, but I wasn’t keen on taking those projects on. But this one came along [short film, Lost Youth, directed by Taichi Kimura], and it felt really special so we went and did it. The director’s happy and it’s doing great, thankfully, for him and for me! I also shoot a lot of music videos. 

How did you start working in the industry?

I moved here about nine years ago to study English because my best friend lived here. I initially came for six months to study English, but I really liked London so I decided to stay. I had to study something for a visa to stay, so I randomly went to film school because I saw an ad on the bus saying ‘BA Film Making’, and I thought, ‘that would be good because I’m always playing with a camera’. I went to film school and decided I’d become an editor. I ended up camera assisting on a film set and I saw the DOP (director of photography) walking on set and it looked like a really cool job. I camera assisted on a lot of jobs and as a lighting technician for a little while, then I fell into DOP-ing and carried on doing it. It’s weird that I fell into it, but I really like this job.

How did you get started initially?

It was really difficult. I think I was really lucky with my friends because we would help each other out. I could do the camera and lighting work and they could direct. We helped each other to become more established and experienced and I’m still working with lots of them. It’s really important to have a long-term relationship with your crew and collaborators, as it saves so much time in production. It saves so much money for producers too, if your crew know how you. We can say: ‘we’ll do it like that, like the project we did last month’, but do it better and cut costs doing it this way. You learn things that you can collectively take to the next shoot. 

What advice would you give to people starting out in the creative industries?

I think you really have to work hard - it sounds like a cliché. When I was at film school, I was working on film sets on weekends and holidays while some people were partying. I preferred working on set. I worked hard on tiny little jobs for two years. I didn’t get paid much, but that’s how you meet people and network. That’s how I got started and those relationships have continued until now.  When you’re starting out in the industry, you need to find people that are talented, who make the work that you like, and hassle them to work with you. Obviously, you have to be good at what you do so that they will come back to you. And be nice to everyone, not just because they could become your director one day, but because it’s just such a hard job, and it’s not right to treat anyone any differently. Respect everyone and surround yourself with good people. And follow your heart rather than money, because it’s really important to select the projects that resonate, so that you will care and do your best to deliver. I tend to do projects I like in terms of the creative. For example, this project – I really liked the creative because I think that visually, it’s going to be very striking and it’s great because Lewis Hamilton is normally portrayed as such a seriously cool guy, and this is more tongue-in-cheek. 

Follow the link to watch the full video: http://www.epson.co.uk/lewisgetsinked