The film editor and visual essayist — who has composed thoughtful, instructive videos on a variety of subjects, from Michael Bay’s brand of “Bayhem” (see above) to a recap of how texting has evolved onscreen—generally declines interviews about his working methods and background, preferring to let his short films do the talking. On January 5, though, Zhou emerged from his cone of silence for a four-hour Reddit AMA.
Here are some of the highlights from that epic conversation.
He’s a self-made cinema essayist
Contrary to what you might expect, Zhou isn’t a product of the film school system, choosing to major in English at UCLA, though he did register for several film classes and, years later, spent a year at Kevin Smith’s alma mater, the Vancouver Film School.
“One of my teachers there, John Pozer, was actually the source of the quote ‘Every Frame a Painting,’” he revealed. “[But] I’d wager most of my knowledge was self-taught. DVD commentaries, reading scripts, and then constantly editing stuff were probably my biggest teachers.”]]>
So I am Tony Zhou. I’m a filmmaker and freelance editor based in San Francisco but in my spare time, I make video essays about film form. The most recent one was Jackie Chan – How to Do Action Comedy
You can ask me anything. My wheelhouse is filmmaking and editing, but I also tell goofy stories about growing up Asian in America and my past life as an expat in China.
Though keeping “Every Frame a Painting” on a semi-regular schedule demands a lot of his time, Zhou says that he keeps up with the competition, citing vloggers like Ami Yamato, Luke Ritson, Kevin B. Lee and Kogonada as inspirations.
While those latter two have worked with outlets like Fandor and Criterion, Zhou plans to keep “Every Frame a Painting” independent. “This sounds silly, but one of the reasons I like doing the channel is that it’s all manageable by one person.
If I worked for a larger company, that would change. I’d definitely have to take copyright issues into account a lot more.”]]>