FRONTIER: Victor Lee

FRONTIER: Victor Lee

“One of the biggest blessings in doing what I do is that it opens doors for me to meet so many amazing people all over the Tri-state region. Victor is definitely one of them. I first met him a couple years ago when Pursuit had its first ever missions team go out and love the city of New Brunswick for a week. Victor was part of that team, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know him since. He is one of the most talented, creative, and humble young men I’ve met, and it’s an honor to share his story through FRONTIER.” — Sam Won

1) Tell us about yourself.

My name is Victor – 22, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and currently living in Central New Jersey. I’m the Art Director of NoLedge Productions, an amazing and young team that I joined earlier this year.

I’ve been serving and doing life with my family at Praise English Ministry (PEM) for the past four years while I was attending Rutgers University.

I’ve also been investing in the craft of barbering for about 5 years now and have been able build amazing relationships with many of the clients that have been in my chair. When I’m not filming, this is actually my main source of bread and I’m honestly still humbled by how supportive my clientele base has been over the years.

You also must know that I’m a die-hard Kobe Bryant fan. It’s basically Jesus then Kobe.

2) When did faith become such an important part of your life?

I first heard about Christ at a youth conference. Can’t really remember the details, just that it was a very crowded event. But from there, I developed a slight interest towards Him. This mild feeling sort of lingered, and slowly progressed, until He finally stole my heart in a prayer room two and a half years into my college career. He tore apart the covers on my eyes to see that He was light years deeper than an idea to nod to and his Church a Sunday routine to be contracted to. This was someone who deeply wanted to love me.

I was finishing chapter 7 of David Platt’s “Radical” when I remember Him meeting me in that prayer room. It was within the context of what I was reading, and this is going to be visual, but He started speaking and placed me in front of a fork-in-the-road and asked for my life. Boom, just like that. The room was quite still, but mountains began shaking inside of me. When I finally gave into the weight of God’s resolute truth and love, I was literally brought to my knees to declare that I would follow Christ. I was sure that He was physically in front of me waiting for me to come to my senses. From that point forward, despite my constant shortcomings, there has not been an ounce of desire to turn back. That was the day I stopped playing it safe with westernized religion and said, “This is real. God is real. Dude just asked for my life. Who am I to say no?” Religion would be an important aspect of a religious person’s life, but that was the day Christ came to me and became my life.

3) How did you get started in videography and film?

So, during my senior year of high school, a good friend introduced me to a guy named Levi Maestro. He had a show called “Maestro Knows,” that essentially celebrates life and the people around him, and it inspired the hell out of me. I would always wait for new episodes to come out and if nothing came out I would just re-watch the old ones. This urge to make something dope like him eventually surfaced, but I was 18 and had no direction so it didn’t really go far.

My interest for videography reignited late 2012 when I visited GCC, a local church, and they screened a short missions documentary. I thought: Good message and decent visuals, but I think I could make something better. So I decided to take a few cinematography classes towards the end of that directionless freshman year to sophomore year (to find direction) and disappointingly ended up learning nothing / becoming bored of the technical aspects of film. I dropped the curriculum but I still wanted to make videos like the ones I saw, so I went ahead and bought my very first full-frame DSLR.

Fast-forward to 2015 and a blessing-filled summer (a testimony in itself for another time), I realized how much people were influenced by videos and film. I convinced myself that I was definitely going to make this my platform. I was going to be a master storyteller and change the world. My plan was set, so I started investing my time in perfecting this craft for a Gospel-centered cause. At this point, I no longer had any desire to be crowned a great creative, though I was naturally headed in that direction. I simply wanted to be a great messenger, and film was my vehicle to deliver the even greater message.

2015 was the year I actually started creating content and the rest is history.

4) What connection does creativity and faith have in your opinion?

I mean, take a look at what God hand-crafted, which is literally everything. Just go out and explore nature or dive into the mind of and stare into the eyes of someone whom you greatly love and you’ll realize how beautifully vast and ludicrously intricate Creation is. If we’re really made in His image, then we ought to have even an ounce of his creativity in our DNA, no? When we settle for mediocrity and lackluster lives, we’re forgetting, and maybe even rejecting, our identity.

In my field, creativity is in the obvious form of film. For another soul, creativity may be lyrical. I don’t think creativity is limited to the arts, though; creativity evidently thrives in the way you approach a mundane, 9-5, white-collar job, in how you make someone smile, in how you solve a problem, in how you maximize God’s glory in even the most seemingly insignificant things throughout your days. Creativity can honestly look like anything. I believe when you start to fall in love with Jesus, you’ll naturally and creatively look for ways to maximize your days and turn them into faith driven adventures. Our God is really, really big, so don’t limit your imagination. Stay gold!

5) Where do you find inspiration?

From the stuff that’s already out there. For starters, the Internet is flooded with amazing artists and creative work and, often times, I end up being in awe by myself like, “Damn, how did he do that?” while trying to deconstruct the creative process. I have so much to learn and the Internet has so much to offer. Right now, I’m studying the work of the directing duo, BRTHR (their style is incredibly fast-paced, euphoric, and trippy; kind of like a fever dream) and taking a ton of notes. The Madbury Club is another creative group I draw a lot of inspiration from. I just love digging online and studying these things (not sure why this didn’t translate to my academic habits lol). Seeing all these really dope things and people around the world makes me want to expand my horizons.

My second, and also greatest, source of inspiration comes from seeing missionaries and forerunners selflessly and joyfully at work. Like, man, they’re really living it out. Living like they really believe their home isn’t here. They’re hustling, but also eternally at peace. I want to be like that. I want to take this whole filmmaking thing to the ends of the world and risk it all for Jesus. Forget “making it,” this is what I want. You’re one of those guys who come to mind, Pastor Sam Won.

Oh, I’m also planning to transition to screenplay writing soon, so I’m reading more literature these days for inspiration. Currently reading Sputnik Sweetheart and finishing The Great Divorce. Open to recommendations!

6) What has been most difficult in this field for you? What has been the most rewarding?

One of the biggest deals is when I start going through the motions. It’s so hard to get out of it because my motivation comes and goes in surges and knowing myself, I’d need another person to be a constant push. In these times, I become very lazy and everything is reduced to a routine. If I’m not busy, I hang around. If I do have work or I’m working, the idea becomes “just get it over with.” Being a light in those situations is almost impossible and it’s honestly the worst feeling when I look back at it. It’s something I’m trying to figure out, all the while praying.

On the other side, the most rewarding thing about being in this field is when someone goes out of their way to tell me they were inspired by me or my work. Hearing this stuff is crazy to me. Especially when I’m barely 2 years into doing this stuff, you know? It’s like, “Wow, I’m actually being a light! I’m causing impact.” And the even more awesome thing is, I’ve been able to share the Gospel and my testimony through having dialogues with some of these people. When they have this kind of respect for you, your words hold that much more weight and you see them really leaning in to listen when you speak. Gets me hyped every time.

7) What is your vision?

My vision is to create change. To save souls. I think it’s really dope that people can just sit down and appreciate my work, but that’s not really the point of why I wake up every morning to pursue this. I want to create visual narratives that push boundaries and cause people to reconsider what they thought was true about life and get them excited to go out and live with a new perspective, one that I honestly think is the Truth. I mean, I believe film has a special way of grabbing people’s attention, so when I finally get that attention I want to give them the Gospel in something that speaks intimately to them.

I know that the content that I’ve recently been publishing with my team is mostly secular because we’re focused on branding and producing visuals for clients, but the vision behind doing many of these projects, at least from a personal standpoint, is to show Light to the people I’m closely working with and to build genuine relationships that give me opportunities to plant seeds and bear fruit from. But also so I can eat, of course.

8) How can people partner with you? How can people find out more information about you and your work?

Word of mouth. Let people know I’m out here doing what I do. Introduce me to people who are knowledgable in film and motion graphics, I’m always learning! Connect me with other passionate souls so we can build the Kingdom.

I would love to be covered in your prayers and encouragements, but shoot me a message and get to know me a little more personally so I can share details and so you know who you’re praying for! I’d also be down to meet,  grab a meal, and talk. Apologies in advance for any case of slow replies… I’ve built an even greater reputation for committing this sin. Thanks for giving me your time, love y’all.

IG: @victorvango

Some work:

First MV in 2015:

Filmed for Brian Li 2016:

Most recent “Noledge Productions” collaboration with the Cali homies “Proper Form”: