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Conversations with Jane Kim

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jane Kim.

Hi Jane, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I was born in South Korea and came to Los Angeles when I was two years old. Growing up, I had a natural affinity towards music and I was trained in classical piano beginning at the age of five. I also began learning the cello in 5th grade as a second instrument. Although I had a love-hate relationship with music, it was something that came naturally to me, so I pursued it into adulthood. I studied at the Colburn School of Music and graduated from UCLA with a degree in music. I was a working musician for 20 years.

When COVID-19 hit and I lost all work for months on end, something changed. As a musician, you are constantly working, and if not working, you are thinking of the next job or hustling to find other work. The COVID-19 lockdown gave me some much-needed time to truly reflect on my life. I realized that I felt I had come to the end of my musical journey and that I wanted to pivot. I wanted to pursue other passions and unfulfilled dreams that were latent.

My musical world had intersected with television and film in many ways. I met so many writers, directors, actors but rarely those who wanted to be producers. Yet, I felt my true gifts were in producing – seeing a project from inception to completion.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Everyone’s journey is full of detours, stop signs and U-turns. Mine is no different. One of the biggest struggles is staying true to yourself and not listening to the timeline or journey of others. There have been many times that I struggled with deep depression due to the lack of support from those closest to me. Many times, those who are not artists do not understand our choices in life. The fulfillment and joy we feel from doing that which we are most passionate about is not something we can convey easily.

I also struggled deeply with feeling like my identity was my ability to play my instrument. I felt that I was known as “jane the cellist.” It is easy for artists to feel that their worth and value is bound up in their art form. I felt a lot of resentment at this towards the end of my musical career, and I drew close to those who knew and loved me for me, not for what I did.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am currently an independent film producer and a librarian as well (which is another time for another story). My most recent project to date is a feature film, Purple. I spearheaded this project and with my producer partner, found investors to support this story about the power of momentary human connection. We just finished principal photography and are now in the post-production process.

Being a producer is not an easy feat. Tenacity and endurance has given me the strength to press on, despite so many challenges. The answer, no, never takes me off the path. It simply gets the creative juices flowing to figure out a different path forward.

We are all a work in process. Our process can take us to different jobs, careers, friendships, and locations. Although I was a musician for many decades and I am now in film producing, who knows where I will end up in another ten years. The important part is to remember that your work does not define your worth. Your work is something you do and may be an expression of your present human self. However, just as you may evolve, so does the expression of that self.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Keep evolving. Don’t let failures or lack of knowledge get you down.

There was another feature film that I was attempting to produce in 2017. My experience in producing a feature was minimal, and I was fortunate to have a producing mentor. We met with many investors and raised a lot of money, but in the end, we couldn’t raise our final budget goal. Was it a failure? In a sense, sure. However, the knowledge I learned through that mentor was what gave me the ability to complete Purple. Every experience, even defeat and failure, are learning ones.

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