Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Goh Iromoto, Director, Filmmaker & Cinematographer

August 14, 2019

Goh Iromoto is a Director & Cinematographer based out of Toronto, Canada. After receiving his B.A. in Human Geography, Goh’s curiosity of the human spirit led him to a career in documentary photography and film making.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?

I work as a filmmaker – both in the advertising industry as well as independently on films that we (my wife and I) produce ourselves.

In the commercial side of things, I work alongside advertising agencies to create various content – TV broadcast spots, web content, mini documentaries etc. It’s the main part of my career as a filmmaker in the sense that it’s what helps me grow creatively and financially.

I began making videos and films as a child. My parents both worked together as owners of a Japanese community newspaper company in Toronto.

I grew up watching them try and balance a work and home life (which was often intertwined). Part of this was having cameras around all the time. And as an only child who was often taken to various towns, cities, and countries for work with them, I ended up playing with cameras as a way to pass the time. Years later, it’s interesting how this ended up being a big part of my career.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

My main role as a filmmaker is labelled as a Director when on projects. However, I often also take on the role of Cinematographer as well (one who focuses on camera work and lighting for the film).

When on a commercial or film project, day-to-day for both means long hours and days for an intensive period of time. Projects for me often range from 2 to 4 week cycles. We’re up early and stay up late.

Either preparing and researching (i.e. scouting locations, casting, finding wardrobe, production design, etc.) or having meetings with advertising agency teams and clients to make sure that all our ideas are approved. Once everything comes together, we then go into the actual filming days. Once this cycle ends, we wait for the next project to pitch on.

3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

As you can see above, there’s really no routine or sense of a typical day in our line of work. One day you’re waiting for a project to arrive, then the next you’re deep into a production cycle that has you tied up to the computer, searching for the perfect location to film, and then filming.

When I’m out working on a more independent film project, it’s often a smaller team (of just myself and my wife). Our last project had us in Africa which meant waking up before sunrise everyday to go search for wildlife just as they began their morning activities.

We’d spend the majority of the day either tracking wildlife or following them – watching them interact, hunt, feed, sleep. This would continue until sundown, and then repeated for the following day.

I suppose what makes the life of a filmmaker exciting is that, everyday brings something different – which for someone like me is perfect and something I feel very lucky to have.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

The number one thing that helps me is creating lists. I use a simple notepad app on my phone and create a list of what I want to accomplish in a day.

It started off rather simple but now I even list out the times I need to spend on each, and even start to list out tasks for the upcoming week. It helps me know what I can do in a day, what to prioritize, and what is a reasonable amount to accomplish in one day.

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5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

Balance is a bit of an interesting concept in my life. For one that alludes to the idea that work and life our separate entities – which yes, in some cases they are. We don’t have children, so this does take away a big part of an individual’s personal responsibilities.

But work and life are quite intertwined for me. Filmmaking is a passion of mine that I pretty much live and breath 24/7. So to some it’s definitely a bit intense how much I focus on the craft on a daily basis.

Still though, there are times that I notice when things are getting too intense, so I do try and make sure to take time to sit on the couch, take time to go outdoors (without a camera), and take vacations too.

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

I think in the end, work life balance is something that is different for everyone. For me, it’s when I feel that things are getting too intense. That feeling of burnout. And it’s something that I luckily have always had a good measure of.

So while I may work 18-20 hour days consistently when on a production cycle, I also know when to say no to projects and give myself time to recover. So far it’s been working and something that I hope can continue into the long term.

7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

I think what I mentioned above: making lists and saying no when I need to. Knowing my own limits, both physically and mentally.

8) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Wired For Story by Lisa Cron was a recent book I read that really helped me hone in on the craft of storytelling – and more importantly give relevance and significance to why stories are something valuable to us humans.

It definitely helped justify all the energy and efforts spent on the craft in my own life as well.

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