Medical residency is a difficult time. For anybody, really. There you are, fresh out of med school with the pride and glory of Academia at your back, and suddenly you're bedside at some county hospital with overworked residents and sick patients grasping at your stained hospital scrubs. I started my medicine residency in 2008 at the Harbor-UCLA medical center and for the next few years all my dreams of filmmaking and Hollywood were pushed to the back of mind. Medicine was all I knew. Or was it? I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of my colleagues in the hospital, aside from having brilliant medical minds, were also very talented artists. I went to residency in Los Angeles- half my class had dreams of show business at one point in their lives. In my time at Harbor I learned a great deal about photography, videography, and performance art from my colorful co-residents, and in-between rounds we would have great conversations about the world outside of the hospital. As the years passed and I rose in seniority, I was given more elective time to explore my creativity-related interests. Slowly but surely, that little flame that had once burned for filmmaking started to burn anew.
The end of my residency presented an opportunity to get back into filmmaking. This came in form of 'Harbor Bowl'- the annual senior resident class presentation where the senior class gently "roasted" some of the more 'interesting' parts of their residency experience, ( a true time honored tradition in many residency programs across the nation!). Our presentation was to be a combination of live action skits and video segments. Being the only one with a video camera, I became the de facto director.
So at the end of my medical residency, as my friends were applying to fellowships and setting up hospital job interviews, I directed and produced a few video skits based on residency life. It took some creativity and many dedicated hours of lugging my video camera under my white coat, but I got the footage I needed and created several videos featuring favorite members of our medical staff. One skit dealt with a salsa-dancing pulmonologist and his troubled residents. Another consisted of repetitive social work rounds that never end. And yet another dealt with a Indiana Jones-esque intro sequence parodying a typical day arriving in our beloved hospital. Ah, but my greatest achievement was the music video:
Here we are, the Harbor UCLA Internal Medicine Class of 2011, dancing to 'Dynomite' by Taio Cruz, (truly, this catchy song has outlived its flamboyant pop performer!). Sketched together from a series of sequences performed by my beloved co-residents, the video took several weeks to produce and was the finale of our Harbor Bowl presentation. This video quickly went viral in the medical resident community and received a standing ovation at our lunchtime showing in 2011.
My classmates suggested that there should be a name for this filmmaking hobby of mine. Since I had produced the all this video work for my hospital residency program, I decided to name it after a house officer position that we all had occupied at one time or another. Thus, '3rd Call Productions' was born.
And then... I graduated. Bam! Residency ended July 2011 and suddenly i was a full-fledged doctor, fully licensed to practice medicine in the state of California. However, unlike the rest of my classmates, I did not go straight into the working world. Really, I had such a blast filming my co-residents, planning the skits and shooting schedules, and being a "filmmaker' that i wanted to spend some time exploring and developing this skill. Fortunately, my previous social circles had provided me with a wealth of new opportunities for my multimedia endeavors. And I was in the perfect spot in my life to chase anything promising that came my way.
And that's how I ended up in Shenzhen, China in the summer of 2011 with a crazy assignment: to produce and direct a series of clothing commercials in the course of 3 weeks. 3rd Call Productions, fresh out of residency, had its first real assignment outside of the hospital and I was about to get thrown into the deep end. ** (BELOW): The 'other' Harbor Bowl skit dealing with the dangers of entering our hospital....