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Meet DJ Jiang of Candid8 Media in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to DJ Jiang.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I always had a love for film and visual story telling. It might have been influenced by all the art and music classes my mom put me through when I was little. I was fortunate to go to a high school with a film & television program, that’s when I started to really get involved in producing contents. I remember I would try out every position on a set. I was living in Toronto at this point in time. Along with friends and classmates, we made a feature film during my junior year and it got accepted under the teen section of the Toronto International Film Festival. I knew I was onto something here. I went to college at UC Santa Barbara, and met a group of liked minded filmmakers. Together I produced 6 shorts and 1 features and was part of Santa Barbara International Film Festivals’ selections 7 years in a roll. The years after college I have worked in both entertainment and tech industries (LA & SF). I have had my own start-ups, taken on C-level positions, co-produced a season of shows for network TV, consulted on Chinese TV & film sets amount other things. Then, I was able to re-unite with one of the filmmakers from college and started CANDID8.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As with most entrepreneurs, there is always ups and downs. The important thing is to learn how to pick one’s self up when they are down on the ground and not giving up. I never viewed failures as absolute, in fact, I was able to learn so much from all my failures prior to CANDID8. Those valuable experience was able to help me navigate the waves a little better. However, even with CANDID8, we definitely had our fair shares of challenges. One of which was the transition between just a team of hired guns to producing our ideas and vision. Initially, it was very hard to approach brands and pitch ourselves. Most bigger brands worked with ad agencies, and since we never executed our own ideas/concepts before, we were easily dismissed by brands. So, we had to work with small companies/start-ups and really trying to craft something unique and interesting with very little budget. One good aspects of this is that these start-ups usually had amazing products/services which made our end product more interesting. And they were easier to work with in terms of approving ideas and cuts. All this allowed us to be very creative. I’m a firm believer that budget size and creativity are inversely proportional. We were really able to grow through this period of time

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about CANDID8 MEDIA – what should we know?
We started in the early days of digital cinema. With the introduction of the RED One digital cinema camera and the affordable full frame HD Canon 5D Mark II in 2008, we saw the film/video production industry was about to change forever; the barriers to entry was taken down. Fortunately, we were able to acquire both camera systems and quickly became experts in operating them. After moving from set to set, gigs to gigs, we decided to formalize the business and start to taking on & producing projects at the conceptual stage. Since most of the partners had indie film backgrounds, stories have always been important to us. We decided to focus on two aspects in the business, narrative contents (film/series) and commercial contents (Ads/Branded content). CANDID8 eventual became the commercial brand of the business, and we separated narrative contents under a different brand. (Giant Leap Media) Today, CANDID8 works with small to large companies (across multiple industries) to effectively showcase their brand, products and/or services to their perspective audiences. These highly engaging story driven videos can be crafted to speak to their customers, investors, or internal teams. Giant Leap Media is something we started early 2017 with the focus to develop feature films that can be friendly to both English and Chinese speaking audiences. We started this out of the frustration from how poorly Hollywood has handled this so far. Since I have a great understanding of both Chinese & US culture and language, it made sense to do something about it. (To editor: maybe this can be a different article for you; Chinese/Asian American in the film industry.)

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?

There are so many things to like about this city. The diversity of the people created such an amazing selection of food, fashion, arts and ideas. Most of all, I love the energy of the city. It’s a city of dreamers and hustler. Everyone is trying to do something, moving forward in some ways and having fun while doing it. I have to say, the thing I like least about the city is the transportation system. The lack of efficient public transportation system is slowing the city down. This is the only major city without a subway to the airport. I know a lot of things will get build before the Olympics, and I hope it will get done properly.

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