As a result of watching movies like Indiana Jones, Osler Go knew he wanted to pursue a career in film from age 12. But growing up in Oʻahu’s Kalihi neighborhood with parents who emigrated from the Philippines, Go did not know if it would be possible.
“My mom was a maid and my dad always had two full-time jobs, sometimes three,” he recalls. “For practical purposes, we needed to get real jobs to help the family. It’s not like I could go around filming when my dad was putting in 80-hour work weeks.”
His family’s move to Hawaiʻi Kai was a pivotal event. “My parents wanted to provide for us better,” Go says. “Being shown the opportunities of what was available was a big deal.” He graduated from Kaiser High School and enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, pursuing a major in anthropology and a minor in history. The first member of his family to attend college, Go worked full-time to pay for tuition.
After graduating in 2006 and working as a computer analyst, he decided to get serious about a career in film. His background in anthropology provided a basis for writing scripts. “I majored in anthropology because I love culture and cultural activity,” he says. “I still retain a lot of concepts from my anthropology classes when I write scripts today.”
Mutual friends introduced Go to Johnathan Walk, a student in UH’s Academy for Creative Media. Like Go, Walk had wanted to pursue a career in film from an earlier age.
“ACM puts you into contact with other like-minded individuals. We realized we had a similar tone and style, certain qualities that we respect and admire about films. We got along well so we started working together,” recalls Walk, who is majoring in film and TV production and plans to graduate this Spring.
In 2007, Go, Walk and a few other partners entered the UH Mānoa Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Shidler College of Business.
Winning in the Best Business Plan, Undergraduate Category convinced them that they could form their own company, and 1001 Stories was born two years later. Go is the writer/director/producer; Walk is director of photography and primary editor.
“There’s the idea that there can be many stories behind anything and everything,” Go says of their business name. “We love the idea that there’s so many available perspectives and viewpoints. The ‘1000’ is a reference to the possibilities and opportunities; the ‘1’ is the singularity, the uniqueness of all those possibilities.”
“Culturally, the number ‘1000’ is an infinite,” Walk adds. “It’s that infinite portion that attracted us. Also, the idea of ‘1’—the power of the masses and the power of the individual.”
An individual’s experiences contribute to the heart of a film’s story, according to Go. He often pulls lessons from his own childhood when writing scripts. “One of the problems of aspiring filmmakers is they pull from movies rather than real life. The heart of a story should come from something that you bring yourself.”
Walk, whose mother is a Vietnamese immigrant, agrees that their upbringing contributes to their work. “The common thing about first generations is that our parents provided us with work ethic and discipline,” he says.
“Our parents had to work doubly hard; we saw that,” says Go. “We can’t help but pick up on their ‘don’t take things for granted’ viewpoint. We’re aspiring filmmakers who will do whatever it takes to do our stories.”
The duo has also created TV commercials for clients such as Hawaiian Telcom and tribute documentaries, including one filmed for Japan’s Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation.
Five student recruitment commercials they made for UH Mānoa won the American Advertising Federation Hawaiʻi 2011 Pele Award for Best Television Campaign.
The partners also participate in charitable efforts, from the Hawaiʻi Children’s Cancer Foundation to Films by Youth Inside, a two-week program conducted at the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility in Kailua. After a crash-course in film, the youths create a short film with the 1001 guys’ help.
But Go and Walk focus on more than the film techniques. “More important than showing them about film is providing that opportunity or letting them recognize that there is an opportunity,” Go says. “Empowering them this way, letting them film their own films, shows them they can do things other than what they were previously doing. That’s the biggest lesson they take away from this.”
This article originally ran in the Fall 2011 issue Mālamalama. See http://www.hawaii.edu/malamalama/2011/10/1001-stories/.
Top photo: Osler Go and Johnathan Walk met through the UH Academy for Creative Media.