Austin Tong works towards promising film career

Diana Kohr

Since middle school, junior Austin Tong’s passion for film and photography has led him to produce a diverse range of projects, eventually allowing him to intern with the newly established makeup company Laruce. 

Tong first developed an interest for film in sixth grade, when he began recording his own music with help from his friends and family. In seventh grade, one of Tong’s friends inspired him to learn more about the recording aspect of his music videos, rather than focusing solely on the music itself. After being introduced to the world of film, Tong learned quickly and expanded the scope of his projects. 

“Coming into high school, I started taking it more seriously, starting with making short films for school, and then creating crews and actually building bigger productions,” Tong said.

As part of ASB Tech, Tong took on various opportunities to showcase his talent while serving the school community. He produced monthly ASB videos, as well as the 2018 Homecoming promotional video. 

Although filming for the Lynbrook community was extremely rewarding for Tong, he eventually made the difficult decision to participate in the Middle College program in order to further his film experience.

Middle College students often seek alternate learning experiences, rather than continuing traditionally through high school. Still, Tong often visits Lynbrook to spend time with his friends. 

“My experience at De Anza has been great because it has a really good film program, and that’s something that Lynbrook does not offer,” Tong said. “I was in Film Club, Photography Club, a ton of art clubs and I was an officer for Indesign, but I wanted to learn more and focus on filming.”

Middle College has also given Tong more time to work toward his goals, including setting up a website to showcase his work in film and photography. 

Despite attending Middle College, Tong has found ways to remain involved in the Lynbrook community, such as producing this year’s Junior Prom promotional video.

Initially, the 2021 class officers reached out to both Tong and junior Pranav Chittharanjan, who immediately agreed to film the video. They filmed in a documentary style, featuring a flash mob asking. After shooting at practices, the asking and the Glass House, Tong spent two weeks editing the video. Despite some setbacks, the two successfully produced a well-received video.

In the summer between his sophomore and junior year, Tong had the opportunity to work with Disney Studios at the University of Southern California to gain more experience, as well as form valuable connections with established directors. Notably, one of the directors, Arrad Rahgoshay, has filmed for Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown. 

Tong has also caught the eye of a recently established makeup company, Laruce, and is currently working with them as an intern. One of the videos on his website features Laruce behind the scenes, including shots of their sets, models and photographers.

Yet another example of his diverse range of work is a dance video that he shot with juniors Stephanie Feng and Michael Yang. Feng and Yang collaborated on the choreography, which was created for Ledisi’s “Lose Control,” and Tong was responsible for filming and editing. Although the group initially wanted to film at Main Street, they realized that they were not permitted to do so and moved to a location in the hills. 

“Whenever there was a small issue, Austin would always suggest some kind of solution to fix it,” Feng said. “I feel relaxed and comfortable when I’m working with him.”

Recently, Tong’s films have mainly been for assignments for his De Anza film classes, but he still finds time to screenwrite on his own, although he is saving this for long-term projects.

“He’s extremely hardworking and dedicates a lot of his time to his passion,” Chittharanjan said. “That’s why he goes to Middle College, to pursue his passion. He’s also very sociable and a well-rounded, awesome person to be around.”

When Tong first began filming, he was not expecting it to become such a substantial part of his life. However, this art form quickly became his passion, and he hopes to one day make it his career as well. With his hard work, talent and dedication, he will surely be propelled into a promising film career.