One of my favorite things in life is meeting creative young people, getting to know their passions and hearts' desires, and then watching over the years as their talents grow and develop with maturity. I find great joy in seeing their lives unfold, and learning from the work they create.
Tonight, within the course of one hour, I came across three fascinating examples of this phenomenon:
First, meet my friend, Ely. Also known as Razaisyam Rashid. Also known as the Malaysian hipster. When I first met Ely several years ago, he seemed to be an intellectually starving and lonely artist, slaving away at a day job that offered him little creative freedom, and dreaming rather hopelessly of building his career as an indie filmmaker.
Things in Ely's life have changed. I don't know all the details, but he's got a new job in Singapore which is more rewarding and more closely aligned to his creative goals. Last winter, I explained that he was putting together an indie short film called Tikam, which translates from the Malay as Stab. Tonight he posted the final cut of the video and I share it with you here.
Oh, and I should also mention that Ely recently met the girl of his dreams, and married her last summer. Sigh. I love happy endings.
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Next up, meet David Faddis. Although I consider David a friend of my own, he is more properly described as a college friend of my daughter. He's come around to our home a few times, and I've seen him here and there on campus, so we're had a few opportunities to talk. But mostly I know David through his work - he's an avid photograper and videograper.
Over the few years that I've been acquainted with him, I have watched David's work naturally evolve from road-trip films and spoofy bits with his friends to more introspective pieces. Recently he took some time off from college to wander through Europe and then created this piece which reflects both his beautiful images and his point of view as a traveler. I see a growing interest in the world beyond his familiar boundaries, and I'm impressed with his thoughtful contemplation of people and places, accessible to viewers from all walks of life.
Brilliant work, David. I'm so looking forward to seeing what you do next.
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And thirdly, let me tell you about a shy, soft-spoken 18-year-old who started showing up at my house for post-youth group gatherings back in 2007. He tagged along as friend of a friend, and at first, sat quietly in the shadows, allowing his zany and extroverted buddy to monopolize every conversation.
But over time, Chris found his voice and shared his own remarkable story. He and some high school buddies had a band. Well, that's not remarkable at all, is it. High school garage bands are a dime a dozen, and rarely last more than a year or two. But Chris and his band, New Heights, turned out to be much more than that.
Surviving personnel changes, breaks for college work, tempting distractions from record companies, and financial struggles, the band is thriving today. They have toured nationally, established a kickin' presence on YouTube, and I daresay, made all their high school dreams come true.
Tonight, I came across this just-posted cover of a One Direction tune, with a fresh piano arrangement and simply beautiful vocals by my friend, the one and only Chris Kwak. As I take in his calming, confident performance, and think of how far he and his bandmates have come in these past few years, I am impressed and proud beyond words.
I celebrate your work, Ely, David and Chris. Thank you for reminding me that dreams can come true, and that with some artistic vision and lots of hard work, anything is possible.
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I've written other stories about my friend, Chris. Check 'em out: