Filmmaking Grad Jerry Sun Looking to a Bright Future

A couple of years ago, we featured filmmaking student Jerry Sun in an article after completing his sophomore year. Recently graduating from the Filmmaking Program (’20), Jerry’s exceptional experiences as an intern at Marvel Studios and Paramount for Di Bonaventura Pictures, and a camera assistant on indie film, ‘Monster Party,’ have paved the path for his budding career in the industry. He has been asked to return to campus as a guest alumnus speaker to share insights on his career path and the importance of gaining hands-on work experience through internships, which are a graduation requirement at Woodbury.

Jerry agreed to participate in a follow-up interview to share what he’s been up to since our last chat.

When last we visited with you in 2018, you were working as an intern at Marvel Studios on a new release, but it was hush-hush at the time. Was that “Antman and The Wasp” by chance?  If so (and even if not), what can you tell us about the film and the experience?

Yes, the movie was “Antman and The Wasp.” The experience was very cool, especially for being a sophomore at the time. A mind-blowing thing for me was that they trusted me to do the job as part of the visual effects camera team. This stuns me to this day. It was amazing to see how the ‘big dogs’ work, and then trying to emulate the production standards at school. Working on student films versus professional ones are obviously very different, but the same core principles still exist.

What should filmgoers know about a franchise like Antman and, more broadly, about an organization like Marvel?

I think that people should know that a simple sequence that lasts probably two seconds in the film took over 4 hours to create. That may seem very over the top, but it’s true. There’s also a lot of moving parts.  As part of the stunt VFX camera team, I saw first-hand how much thought goes into the production and the number of people that have to give the green light to make sure it will 100% work in the film.

For you, what does it say that so much of what studios release is derived from comic strip characters/stories – and that so many of the releases turn out to be blockbusters?

People love to be entertained and when the filmmakers do it right, it resonates with a larger audience and in turn more come to watch. Marvel has also created a world of different characters and has been evolving their storyline and interweaving other franchise characters that appeal to a large audience.

How has the pandemic affected your career thus far — and your career arc, as far as you can tell at this point?

The pandemic came out of nowhere, and it seems like overnight the whole industry shut down. I had a few projects cancel that I was planning on working on during the 2020 spring break and the weeks after. I reflected very hard during this period and questioned whether this was the right path for me. Many friends and professors reassured me that we were all in this together and that this too shall pass. To their optimism, I did end up working again as on the first approved shoot in Los Angeles. The film stars Kristy Swanson, Scott Biao, and John Farley, and hopefully will be released soon.

You recently won the best student/ first time director for Asian films/films made and about Asians Award. Tell us a bit about it.  

I was really excited to win this award for my senior thesis film, which is a rap musical about a kid who wants to live his dream of becoming a rapper. I think this award and these festivals in general really reflect where the industry is heading and how the representation of minorities in media is starting to flourish. I’ve applied my film to a few more industry awards, so fingers crossed I get more!

Understanding that the pandemic has turned a number of things upside down, what were you working on when it hit, and what’s in the pipeline now? 

During the pandemic, I was set to work on a Disney project and an AwesomenessTV (ViacomCBS Digital Studios) series. I hope that these projects will continue once it is safe to get back to work. Fortunately, I’m currently working on another project shooting in the woods and have a commercial project at the end of the month. I’ve noticed that more and more projects are getting off the ground, so hopefully sooner rather than later, I will be back on set full-time and continue living the dream.

Since platforms like Netflix and Amazon may continue to shape the “theatrical release” market in the near-term, might the direct-to-streaming model have a silver lining for the industry? 

I strongly believe that streaming is going to be very prominent in the near future. More and more people have subscribed, including myself, to more streaming platforms. The future is very bright and I think that there is hope for all of us newly graduated students to find work in the film industry.

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