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Everything Is Storytelling: Terry Jun

September 7, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

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Terry Jun in his studio

Terry Jun has worked in all aspects of filmmaking – he’s been an actor, writer, cinematographer, sound man, editor, producer, director and production manager. He wanted to taste a part of each, but prefers to be behind the camera. “To be an effective filmmaker,” he says, “You have to understand what tools are available, so your vision of the film isn’t hindered by what you think you can’t do.”

His undergraduate work was in industrial design at the University of Illinois, and he found that concept artists for movies tended to be industrial designers. Terry’s goal was always to tell stories, effectively and visually. He did comic books at one point, and it was natural to go into story boarding. He started out as a visual effects artist; it was one step further to edit what the effects were for. “Then you need sound – I went out and bought audio equipment.”

“You’re only as good as the story and whether you convey that story,” he says. Theory is more important to him than technology. He taught computer design at UIC, and found that students were obsessing over software the school didn’t have. “Tools change, ideas don’t,” he says. “The best camera is the one in your hands at that moment.” Terry himself often brings out his ‘trusty Nikon F2.’ The paradigm is constantly changing, that’s a problem as well as an asset, he feels.

Visual effects technology now is attainable for anyone – on the day I interviewed him, a new I-Mac was released for $2000 and software. “You can now do what Hollywood and big productions do. It used to be impossible for an individual to do a film that visually looked big studio, but if you get a DSLR or any large-sensor video camera, such as the Panasonic AG-AF100/101 computer and software for under $20,000 you have a working studio.” The only reason to go to Hollywood would be for the contacts and networking.

His own studio is compact; monitors set up before him like the control panel of Star Wars. He’s been on this plateau for about two years, since he embarked upon his own endeavors as a filmmaker. He can do all the tasks himself, or delegate. His advice is: “Always get people who are better than you.”

Terry also does educational, informational films for the pharmaceutical industry, prior to a drug being approved by the FDA, aimed at doctors. This is very sensitive information; he gets the work due to his discretion.

Terry Jun on set

He’s worked on films for which he helped conceptualize, wrangled the people to make it happen, and provided video equipment. He was associate producer of The Ghosts, and donated equipment and skills to do the job. Currently he’s working on Melody and the Old Sock, described as a ‘dark fantasy,’ now in editing. Terry is skilled at web marketing and programming, which helps in promoting the films he makes. His first step is to go to the site and to submit to festivals.

Terry feels that film will die and be taken over by digital, though many are opposed to this idea. “People try to objectify art when it’s a subjective matter,” he says. Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) was shooting digital at 48 frames per second – film movies are 24 frames per second. A video is shot at 60 fps; it’s much more fluid.

Film is a tangible product, more frames = more cost. Terry likens the 48 fps of digital to going 55 mph: “Every mile above is wasting gas, it’s purely an economic decision.” He notes that viewers may say, “This looks like a movie, this like home video,” but the younger generation, used to watching digital movies within video games, asks when viewing a film movie, “Why does it flicker so much?”

“We’re not limited to cost per feet any longer, but by hard drive storage space and sensor sensitivity. The human eye can handle over 200 fps. If you can capture as much of a moment as possible, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Visit Terry Jun’s website at; also check out He can be reached at

The GHOSTS from Eddie O’KEEFE on Vimeo.


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