Solidarity through a student’s lens

26 February 2020
How a little creativity and kindness can make a big impact
Film-making extraordinaire and Bachelor of Commerce graduate Martin S Phabmixay shares the inspiration for his Solidarity Tree video, created for our affected students in China, and takes us behind the scenes of his creative journey.

USYD Solidarity Tree: by Martin S Phabmixay

Martin and his teammate Sota Maehara won first place in the Who Is Sydney? Competition in Semester 2, 2019. We asked if he'd like to create a video of support for students affected by the travel restrictions. From the seed of an idea, Martin filmed and edited the USYD Solidarity Tree video in just a few short hours. 

"The Solidarity Tree is a way for the students, academic staff, alumni, friends and family of the University of Sydney community to show their support for those affected by the travel ban and as a consequence have had their studies impacted. To visually convey this message of solidarity I wanted to emphasise through film that everyone needs to lead by example and understand that small acts of compassion and kindness go very far."

Martin's filmmaking journey

"If you would have told me in just five months, I would learn enough about filmmaking to enter and take the winning entry into a short film competition from being a complete beginner… I’d say thank you!

But that’s the truth – I started filmmaking in June 2019. In October, I became the Leader for University of Sydney’s SLCSIS Film-making Society Cultural-Tube and in November 2019, Sota Maehara and I won first place for the Who is Sydney? Competition. In these five months, I learnt the joys of being creative and being confident enough to share my personal message with the world.

Challenge yourself to be creative and do what it takes to nurture it. Even though the first video I ever created on my YouTube channel nevertoolate still haunts me today, my biggest win was deciding to make the second, then the third video and so on… Be brave and love yourself as that’s the key to being a winner."

From shooting to the editing room

"In retrospect, filming a tree for 3 hours sounds a bit unusual, but I believe it was just enough time to capture the outpouring of love and support so many students at the University of Sydney wanted to show their friends and soon-to-be classmates still in China. The storyboard was planned on Sunday, finalised on Monday, and filmed, edited and produced by Wednesday.

If there’s something that never changes with filmmaking, it’s that fear you have when you leave your set and you wonder whether you got the right shots and whether or not you can edit them all together. In just five hours from leaving set, the film was being watched by what looked like the whole marketing office.

There’s no doubt in my mind that spending one day in that office and working alongside such talented editors and staff members accelerated my understanding of what it means to be a creative. While creativity was my way of being myself, it was the support and validation from others that continues to motivate and encourage me to share my work with you all."

Creativity = Happiness

"Creativity is a means to do things your way or influence how something is done. It’s a sensitive skill to train as the more you show the world your creativity the more you are showing your true self… and no one really likes doing that.

Yet, creativity truly is the key to happiness. A happiness that relies on you loving who you are and being proud for thinking the way you do. This is a principle that I feel underpins my personal journey as a filmmaker."

Related articles