Hey JC, A/S/L?
My name is JC Gellidon, 35 years old, and I live in Makati, Philippines. I am a Filmmaker and Musician. A fair amount of my life has been spent towards creating.
I started drawing when I was 6 — I do this as a hobby and don’t market myself as such. I started playing in bands since 2003 and have been involved in creating music ever since, whether it be in a band setting or working as a sound engineer. Currently, I play the drums for a band called Effinboiche. Aside from this, my main work and passion lie in filmmaking and photography. I usually shoot music videos, ads, lifestyle shoots, and events.
On confinement 😷
How’s confinement been for you?
I try to make the most of my time (and I have plenty of it now since all of my client projects have been postponed or canceled.)
I’m currently exploring other aspects of my creative side. I’m able to work on my music projects with my band, which is a nice change from experiencing burnout when editing videos.
I also play my drums as loud as I can (nobody else lives on my floor since the lockdown, so that’s been fun!)
What’s Manila like during the lockdown?
It’s been eerie. It looks precisely like scenes from “I am Legend” if you’ve ever seen it!
What do you miss most about life (before confinement?)
I miss working and being able to breathe and walk without a mask.
I really miss my friends.
How do you think post-confinement will change you or your habits?
I think I’ll be a little bit more flexible on the business side of things with clients. I understand that people might not have lots of money to spend on projects coming out of the pandemic.
On the Philippines 🇵🇭
What do you think it takes to “make it” as an artist in the Philippines?
I think the first thing that you need to do in this order is research, create, explore, and take risks. You won’t know if it would work or not. Again, from my experience, I had no prior experience in photography and videography but what I mentioned above is exactly what I did, and luckily, it worked out for me so far.
What’s the art scene like in Manila? What would you say is distinctively Filipino?
I would say the art scene in Manila is very active, whether it be music, photography, videography, and physical art. Filipino art is, in my opinion, heavily influenced by Western art and media. However, there still are elements that give it a Filipino flavor.
I think that a lot of Filipino art tends to be political due to the unending corruption that keeps happening within our government. A lot of Filipinos are tired of that, and it shows through the different mediums they choose to express in. Living in an impoverished country, a lot of us have developed resiliency, which I consider part of our character. This seeps through our art in many ways.
Are Filipino artists supportive of each other, or are you generally left on your own?
I’m gonna catch a lot of flack for this but, I think it is both. The art crowd is supportive at times but if they feel like you are doing too good, there are others that tend to talk bad about you and your work because they want to pull you down.
This attitude doesn’t only happen within the art community, you will see this happen within corporate or any other job setting. I think it might be partly because we all need to make money. Like I mentioned, we live in a poor country — work isn’t as easy to come by. People out of desperateness need to find ways to get a leg up even if it means bringing others down.
How did you get into art?
Studying art is not common and is actually socially frowned upon here. I graduated with a degree in IT and then started working as a graphic designer in a corporate setting. Then, I got into photography because I was playing around on my iPhone 5s and taking a lot of random shots. A photo of mine got reposted by highsnobiety, which was crazy at the time! I really felt that I needed to take advantage of the social media traction I got from that reposted picture, so I just kept taking photos.
What’s the hardest thing about being an artist in the Philippines?
I think it would be that creatives are undervalued here. A lot of my talented friends end up leaving the country because they pay isn’t great. We’re often asked to work for free, which is not only discouraging, it also makes it difficult to make a living out of it.
Unfortunately, the photographers I do know that remain in the Philippines have needed to take other jobs, which takes time away from their true passion. In other countries, it seems like they understand the real value of a photograph. I wish clients paid more for our work so we could live off of our passion.
I dream about retiring in the Philippines one day. Can I?
It depends on the type of life you want to live. If you want a simple life, I would recommend staying in the province where there is less traffic and less pollution. You could probably live off 2 dollars a day more or less, no joke.
On photography 📸
Following you on Unsplash and on social media, I can’t help but notice all of the high-end gear you own. How do you think that gear helps you in your career?
I tend to charge my clients a rate that is more affordable than what they would pay other professional videographers. With these contracts, I’m able to acquire the high-end gear to provide my clients with the high-end production my competitors offer at a fraction of the cost.
It’s really is a win-win situation for my clients and me.
You have shared almost 200 photos on Unsplash. Can you tell me about your first photo?
I am a fan of geometry in photographs. I am also a fan of the architect that designed the building: Zaha Hadid. When I had seen her work for the Jockey Club Innovation Tower in Hong Kong, I knew I had to go there one day to experience it. I highly recommend visiting it if you can!
How would you describe your photography style?
I really like to take pictures of different architecture: streets, high rise buildings, and trying to create geometric and symmetrical compositions.
What are things you’d like to shoot that we’d never find on Unsplash?
It would be amazing if I were able to take pictures around North Korea or Antarctica — I know it’s impossible. But why not?
Do you see yourself taking pictures forever?
I hope. I would love that.
Fav TV show to binge:
Mindhunter, Daredevil, Punisher, One Punch
Top 3 movies:
Law Abiding Citizen, The Joker, Ford Vs. Ferrari
Top 2 musical artists:
Deftones, Animals as Leaders
Filipino artists we should discover?
I know a band, they’re pretty good. The band’s called Effinboiche, and they’re on Spotify.
Fav thing to wear at home:
Shorts and Jersey
Last book you read?
The Magic of Mental Diagrams
Last thing you ordered on Amazon?
We actually don’t have Amazon here, but we have something similar called Lazada LOL. I ordered a kitchen towel holder.
Have you learned anything about yourself during confinement?
I learned that I could actually be really frugal with my money.
Maraming salamat, JC. Ignat!
This interview is part of a “working from home” series where we ask a few Unsplash contributors how their lives have changed in recent months, and how they’ve been adjusting to life indoors.