You may not have heard of Kelly Son Hing before, but she is an inspiration to girls everywhere. Kelly (24) is the Executive Assistant for The Steve Jaggi Company – a Sydney feature film production company that has produced both Australian and International films. Kelly has most recently worked alongside our very own Extraordinary Woman, Rhiannon Bannenberg on their most recent film, ‘Rip Tide’, starring Debbi Ryan.
Image: Kelly Son Hing (Executive Producer), Rhiannon Bannenberg (Director) & Rip Tide Film.
What are you currently working towards, is there a goal/position you’re after?
I’m extremely interested in a few different areas in the film industry, however my current focus is to produce films. I am very fortunate to currently be working closely with the wonderful Steve Jaggi who has over a decade of experience producing films internationally.
How did you go cracking into your industry and starting your career?
For me, once I knew where I wanted to go, I did my research and worked towards my goal. It wasn’t easy and at one stage I was working two different industry jobs (one part time and one pretty much 24/7) all whilst also studying full time.
Something that really helped was not only working extremely hard and dedicating myself 200%, but that I was also very fortunate to have been able to find jobs in the industry, which gave me the opportunity to learn on the job and gain an insight into different areas. It also allowed me to network, which is extremely important. And as doors opened, I saw it as a way to learn more. I’ve always aimed to learn about the different areas in the industry rather than just the one so that I had a better understanding of how the industry operated and how everyone would work together.
I have also been fortunate to have one or two colleagues/bosses within each workplace who have and continue to mentor and nurture my career and me.
What are some of the challenges you had to overcome so far in your career?
A challenge that I’ve struggled with, which may seem silly, is overcoming the doubt I have in myself. I can be extremely shy and insecure and often fall into the trap of either thinking that I’m never good enough and/or too scared of being judged. Cliché I know, but it’s made me second guess myself and held me back on numerous occasions. As I learn more and continue to grow as a person and in the industry, I can still find myself comparing myself to others in the industry and being embarrassed by how little I know compared to them, forgetting that everyone started somewhere. Though it’s still something that challenges me, I’ve found that perseverance and hard work pays off, and I’ve been able to see how far I’ve come and grown as an individual and in my producing journey.
I can also be very stubborn and if I’m stuck, I’ll prefer to figure it out myself in both my personal and professional life, but I’ve learnt that it’s ok and sometimes best to ask for help. It’s how we can learn and grow as an individual and in relationships – personal and professional.
Another challenge that may not come as a surprise is the work-life balance in an industry that can be so unpredictable. It’s been challenging because I love what I do and am dedicated to my job, and am often told off for being on my phone checking emails while with friends/family. But I’ve been fortunate as everyone’s been and continues to be extremely supportive and patient with me even after I’ve had to pull out of commitments. It’s difficult to draw the line between how much work I allow into my personal life and I’m very surprised that I still have friends. However, something that I have learnt is that it’s not about a perfect balance, but making sure you’re still able to do the things, no matter how small, that make up life.
Do you have any major accomplishments that you are proud of so far?
I was 19 when I produced, directed and wrote my first feature film. After roughly 4 months of theory and practical study, we received a script, which I then worked on with the original writer and 2 others from the academy. We were then all interviewed for key roles on the feature film we were responsible for producing. I auditioned for the Director role and was selected to direct with one of the other students, and as we went along, I fell into producing as well. Roughly 10 months later, after a lot of sleepless nights, we were premiering at Event Cinemas Bondi Junction.
What do you think are the most important skills and attitudes to have when pursuing a professional pathway?
1. Use your initiative and be proactive!
2. Discipline is key. You might pull an all-nighter here and there but sometimes you need to do what you need to do.
3. Commitment and loyalty is also important. Put yourself in your employer’s shoes and think “Why you? Can you be trusted with tasks?”
4. ALWAYS put your best foot forward, even for unpaid jobs or internships. I’ve encountered a few people who put less effort into unpaid positions, but the company you’re working for could offer you a paid position or recommend you to another company. It’s not just all about who you know but also who knows you, and you wouldn’t want them to remember you for slacking on a job because it’s unpaid, you’ll want to leave them with positive memories and you never know, as previously mentioned, they may think of you for future positions or recommend you to another company and off you go. You may also find that you’ll be asked to do mundane tasks – don’t let this throw you off, you’ll be surprised at what you can learn!
5. Be confident and brainstorm: Something I’ve been guilty of and am learning to overcome is not to shy away from contributing to brainstorming sessions or when asked for my opinion. I’ve found it easy to be silent in fear that my input isn’t good enough. (1) They wouldn’t ask you if they didn’t value your opinion (2) You could have a genius idea and wouldn’t know it (3) One idea can lead to another and another and another which could be THE one.
6. Be prepared: Practice if it’s something you can practice for, if it’s something new and you can research it, do it. Also chat to someone who has experience in the area or even sometimes someone outside the bubble can give a different perspective. Being prepared can also really help calm any nerves!