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Charla Huber: Victoria filmmaker gets shot at first-ever feature film

The term “side-hustle” is popping up all over the place. I’ve seen websites, blogs and best-selling books motivating people to either start a side-hustle or get better at the one they’re working on.
All-in Madonna's key crew include writer Susie Winters (L), director Arnold Lim (C), and producer Ana de Lara (R).

The term “side-hustle” is popping up all over the place. I’ve seen websites, blogs and best-selling books motivating people to either start a side-hustle or get better at the one they’re working on.

I work full-time, volunteer for a variety of causes, write this column weekly and raise my daughter. A lot of people I know are constantly juggling a variety of commitments, trying to make a name for themselves.

Recently, I was speaking with my longtime friend Arnold Lim, who also is always on the go, juggling career, side-hustle, kids and family. I found myself asking him where he finds the time. He credited his wife for helping with their two children and the sacrifices his entire family has made for him to be where he is.

In my situation, I have some stellar friends who mark their calendars for any days I have to travel for work. They care for my daughter free-of-charge so I can take opportunities as they arise. Even with the best time-management plan, without my supporting friends, there is no way I could accomplish what I do.

I really believe that people can’t get ahead in life if they just do their job and go home. All my career advancements have been made through connections I’ve built volunteering or through side-jobs I’ve taken along the way.

Lim is one of the most talented people I know; he’s also the humblest person I’ve ever met.

Over the years, we’ve been to the same events and taken photos of the same people.

Once, I needed to take a photo of a football player. I laid on the ground as I shot the photo, trying to capture it from an interesting angle. A week later, Lim shot the same player, but put his camera inside a helmet before clicking the shutter. The viewer had the perspective of being a player looking through the helmet cage. Lim is always taking things to the next level, and I admire him for it.

Recently, Lim was awarded a $125,000 grant from Telefilm to make his first feature-length film. Filmmaking has been his side-hustle for a while, making music videos and short films. Now he’s preparing to make the feature-length film All-in Madonna, on Vancouver Island with a local cast and crew.

Lim started from humble beginnings, and he has worked so hard to get where he is today. Before he was born, his parents arrived in Canada from Korea with $5, and still owed a relative for the cost of their airfare.

“I watched my parents work very hard, I saw the effort they made,” Lim said.

About 10 years ago, Lim gambled everything he had to become a photographer. At that point in his life, photography wasn’t even a side-hustle, just a dream. He owned the Korean Gardens restaurant with his wife and mother. An offer to purchase the business came, and Lim thought it was his shot to follow his life’s goal.

“I was rolling the dice on my life and my family’s life. I sold my wife’s job, my mom’s job and my job to take a chance,” said Lim who had carried a camera with him every day since his teens.

He used the restaurant money to pay for college and purchase equipment. His father was working as a welder, sending money to help Lim and his family.

“My wife held up three fingers and said: ‘You have three years to make it as a photojournalist. After three years, you’ll be washing dishes or doing whatever it takes to support this family,’ ” Lim said

It wasn’t an easy path for Lim, and his photography skills didn’t come easy. In his first year, Lim spent 300 days taking photos for whoever would have him. Many of the gigs were volunteer, and when he did land paid jobs, he’d get $20 for a photo, not enough to support his wife and two kids. Sometimes, the gas cost more than the photo paid.

Lim did make a name for himself and made good on his promise to his wife. He worked as the photo manager for both the 2010 Vancouver and the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games. He has worked at the Pan-Am Games in Vancouver, Toronto and Pyeongchang, and travelled around North America, South America and Korea with the International Triathlon Union.

“All the successes I’ve had have been built on my family’s sacrifices along the way,” Lim said. “Every step I take forward in my career, isn’t just one step, it’s four, because my wife and kids are walking with me.”

Charla Huber works in communications and Indigenous relations for M’akola Group of Societies.