These days, vlogging ("video blogging") is so popular, it seems that everyone and their mother has turned to vlogging for self-expression (and in most cases — a legit profession). From makeup tutorials to product reviews, room tours to reaction videos and everything in between, you name it — and you can bet that there's a channel dedicated to it. In the Philippines where social media is dominant, content creator and filmmaking student AC Soriano and his channel, "It's AC's Life", has earned him huge following not only on YouTube but across his other social media platforms. Meticulously produced, shot, and edited all by himself, you could tell a lot of love goes into his channel, which covers day-in-the-life montages, travel adventures, random musings, and reflections. But what sets AC apart from others is his relatable honesty and sense of humor, not to mention his impressive aesthetic, which is clearly influenced by his love for film, analogue photography, and Hallyu Wave. The aspiring filmmaker finds vlogging a medium where he can practice his craft and storytelling, and very recently, he has returned to documenting his life in analogue. Get to know more about AC in this quick chat!
Hi, AC. Tell us about the first time you picked up a camera.
I was around 5 years old when we had a "family videocam/camera". However, as a kid, I was tagged as "SiraNiko" (someone who breaks things as they touch it), whenever I attempted to touch it. Eventually, I got a toy camera as a gift when I was 7 or 8. I took one shot after another, but when the film was developed, it was all black. Hahahaha! I knew nothing! Nobody warned me about toy cameras! Then came the digital age. I was 10 when I received a Victor handheld video camera. I took lots of photos and videos with it, so I guess that's the early age of vlogging? Haha! Overall, I think it's all magical. The fact that you can freeze a moment in a frame, it's just magical.
What made you decide to pursue filmmaking?
It was a hidden passion, I guess. Before, I could not figure out what to take in college, but eventually, I chose film. Looking back, I was amazed as I realized I actually had it in me ever since I was a kid. I used to always gather my cousins in a room and convince them to act in front of the camera. Playtime, yes, but it was the first few manifestations of what I am about to do in the future.
How long have you been shooting with film?
I am a '90s kid so I witnessed the transition from analogue to digital. I used to shoot analogue, but because it was the only medium. But now, even with the analogue wave hitting us all over again, everything still feels fresh to me. I mean, I still get blank exposures! My friend Selene encouraged me. I even remember saying "Analogue is just a waste of money!", but come early 2019, here I am, shooting with film. Haha!
Among your film photos, which one is your favorite?
For some reason, I really love this photo. It’s something that surprised me when I saw the scan. Actually, when I took this photo, I just thought that the backdrop was nice (it was the Han River in Seoul). I thought that if I was the one in that seat, I’d also love to have a photo at that moment. So immediately, I grabbed my Yashica, unlocked the shutter, and clicked it!
What is it about film photography that you like?
The magical feeling of pressing the shutter button and waiting for a few weeks to know if you got the shot you wanted. I don’t know! You really cannot explain magic! It just happens, and that’s how I feel whenever I click the shutter of my film camera.
Who or what inspires you visually?
I don't really have visual pegs. What I have in mind is to just freeze the moment for me to see in the future, follow the rule of thirds, check if the scene needs flash, and then shoot! That's it.
In your videos and travel photos, your followers have always marveled at your effortless self-portraiture — you have mastered it. Any tips you’re willing to share?
Wow! Thank you. Digitally, I just use a Joby Tripod, a trusty 50 or 35mm lens, my phone as the remote for the camera, and that's it! I just pose and pose and pose. Haha! Also, it really helps that you know your angles so that it would be easier for you to move around the frame. It would also help if you instinctively know how the framing looks like with the lens you are using, even without looking at the viewfinder. So ... I don't know, I just guess! In analogue, however, thank god for self-timers. Knowing the lens that you are using really helps a lot.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
Hawkeye and Juno Huey. I’m not sure if everyone knows them, but they are kids who were taught by their dad to shoot using film cameras. Hawkeye is 9, Juno is 3. I started following Hawkeye around 2015? I’d love to babysit them for a day and play with film cameras!
How do you deal with creative block?
I just rest. Consume content, and then I go back to what I need to do. I like comparing my creativity with a car. It needs to be refilled with gas from time to time, and sometimes, you cannot find a gas station. So what do you do? Stop. That's it. But I admit that it can be very hard when it comes to deadlines, because the pressure requires the creative juices to come in rather than just letting it flow!
What advice would you give young/aspiring visual storytellers like you?
Nothing is original. Every single thing is always inspired by something else. Do not be afraid to have pegs, because at the end of the day, you'll always have your own flavor to it, and eventually, you'll be surprised as to how you have managed to create your own style. But of course, being a copycat is far different from having pegs! Take note of that! Always have a bit of "you" in whatever you do. Every single person is unique, and that will set everything you do apart from what the others are doing.
While AC prefers not to box himself into making decisions, he hopes to pursue his passion for making films (and anything that has to do with that) after graduation. " I just make sure that I have multiple plans or no plans at all ... I just love how life surprises me. I have long term plans, of course, but I know that as long as it’s intangible, a lot can happen."
Follow AC's life in film on Instagram: itsacslife35mm.