Jonathon Lim is creative director and a commercial director at PUSH, a culture marketing agency and production company focused on fashion, music, sports and subculture. Campaign Brief put 15 questions to Lim to find out more about him and his approach to directing.
1. What’s your favourite part of the job?
The very, very start when the brief comes in – the endless possibilities before all the chaos.
2. What is your most productive time of day and why?
When the crunch is really on 6am-10am. PUSH HQ is in Shanghai – so I’ve got a couple hours before my wechat starts blowing up. I’ve also recently moved close to the beach, so I’m on seniors time.
3. If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
My dream would be, to be an NBA floor sweeper.
4. How early did you know this would be your path?
10 years ago, I was living in Melbourne and had my first job working on TV shows. I met a lady on a plane in New Zealand. She told me if I ever went to Shanghai I should meet her old boyfriend – I had never been there, and I had no intention of moving to China but I met this guy and he offered me a job. On my first day of work they gave me a business card saying director, and I was like “Oh shit, I guess I’m a director now”.
6. Do you put on a different hat when shooting for a specific genre?
Most of my work is in the youth or lifestyle space – my Cav Empt hat stays on for most of these shoots. It also covers my greys.
7. Have you been continuing to shoot during the COVID crisis? Can you describe that experience?
I did a project for Guinness with a Shanghai client and agency that was directed remotely from Sydney with a crew in San Francisco and a crew in Shanghai. Was a fun one, and relatively smooth.
8. Do you have a favorite piece of kit?
A nice apple box and a director’s monitor – it always amazes me how can five pieces of wood be so comfortable.
9. Are you often asked to do more than direct? If so, what are you asked to do?
For 2019 I was creative director at 88rising in LA, overseeing their artist’s (Rich Brian, Higher Brothers, Niki) brand projects, music videos and photo shoots. Working at a label, gave me a different understanding of artists’ values their needs within a project. When it’s welcomed – I like to connect with the CDs and try to share references early as they’re building out their creative.
10. What are three pieces of technology you can’t live without?
iPhone, laptop, Airpods – I’m a total sucker.
11. This is a high-stress job. What do you do to de-stress from it all?
I started meditation 7 years ago – I’d be screwed without it. When things get hectic, it becomes more and more essential to exercise – whether it’s surfing, swimming, yoga or running.
12. How do you manage producers’ expectations with the reality of what can really be done?
Hahaha. errmmmm – I feel the question should be directed to my EP… “How do you manage your director’s expectations of what can be done?”
13. How do you manage your time? Do you manage expectations or try everything they ask of you?
I’ve got great producers and a solid team. Delegation and Evernote.
14. When someone who is starting out asks what they should learn, what do you recommend?
Trying to learn how to translate your vision into reality is the thing that you’ve gotta learn at the start and I’m still trying to figure out. Ira Glass and Rick Rubin say it a lot better than me.
15. How do you take criticism? Do you find yourself defensive or accepting of others’ ideas (good and bad)?
As I’ve gone on in my career, I’m getting more and more open to different ideas and opinions. Everyone has something to bring to the table and I’m just 1 part of a whole project.
It’s also where the meditation comes in.