November 27, 2022
People

Homage to Dean, Video Mage and Dreamer

This is the first post in our series introducing some of the amazing humans we meet in Cebu. They may live here or just be visiting. They may be Filipino or foreigners. Locals or from the province, tourists or expats. One thing they have in common: They radiate energy, they offer a fascinating perspective on the world, they have that spark. Each in their own way, they shine. And you’re glad you had the chance to meet them.


Plates of Hummus, Babaganoush and Falafel covered the table, beer glasses in between, and Dean and I were pondering big questions: Do we humans need leaders telling us what to do? Could governments, instead of piling up laws, merely advise us? And what if they did? Who would collect taxes? And for what? Dean argued: Don’t worry, we would be fine, it’d be awesome! I, of course, was playing the devil’s advocate and … wait, hold on:

Who is Dean?

Right. Let’s step back a bit.

If you had roamed around Ramos the last few weeks, you might have run into him. Average height and on the slender side, his hair would have caught your eye. Pitch black and growing raw, it is almost a personality on its own right, and you might have admired how those strains of anthracite run through it. My one regret is that my picture didn’t quite capture it!

But aside from appearances, you would have noticed his spark, that energy he radiates: Dean bristles with life, with friendliness, with contentment. Aliveness, friendliness, contentment … do these sound like good things to surround yourself with? Yeah, I think so, too. So let me tell you more about the person, starting with the evergreen icebreaker: what do you do?

Crafting Stories

I noticed Dean sitting behind me in Altspace because he was so super focused on his screen. Many people in coworking spaces are half-asleep, liking random posts on Facebook, or studying with waning interest in way too large tomes. The ones that are focused are usually coders or designers, and so I figured Dean was one of those and didn’t think more about it. But when I later glanced at his screen … what the heck?

Colorful bars all over his screen, dancing up and down, in multiple horizontal rows. That was neither a code editor nor was it Photoshop—and not Facebook either for that matter. I couldn’t help but ask, and his answer was: Video editor.

Video editor?

What do they do again? They stitch scenes of a movie together … something. Right? Or that’s what I thought and I confessed my ignorance. Dean listened and then told me (and you gotta hear him talk with his eyes gleaming):

Editing is fun, man. I’m the last person to touch the material before it goes public. I take the raw pieces and make a story out of them.

Dean

Wow. That sounds so different than “I stitch scenes together”. Taking fragments of something that might be, seeing the story within, and then telling it so that it looks … obvious—if that isn’t magic, nothing is.

Invisible magic, as it is. Unlike actors, editors work behind the scenes (or from Altspace in Ramos). Dean puts it in a positive light:

A good editor is an invisible one.

And if you think about it, it’s so true: In a movie you notice cuts mostly when they are horrible. (The opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey proves the rule with an awesome exception.) And the mistakes that editors scratch their heads over—well, you never see them, because they get fixed.

So, how does an editor work? I asked. Here are things Dean does:

  • Someone dumps a crapton of material at him, let’s say an hour’s worth of mangled takes and retakes of an online course.
  • Dean downloads the whole shebang and looks it through. (Probably not as fun as it sounds.)
  • He then kicks out all the crappy scenes he thinks are worthless and assembles something half-coherent.
  • Then he fixes things, and that’s another magic. If you’ve attended Toastmasters, you know how much people “ehm”, “uhm” and “ahm” whenever they talk publicly. No different in video! After Dean is done, no more uhms. And it still looks good.
  • He adds animations, graphics and effects to illustrate the point—or when he needs to cut out mistakes, to make a smooth transition, which I find quite ingenious. He also adds opening texts, credits and all other pre- and post scenes.

That’s what he does. But why does he do it?

If good editing doesn’t exactly make you famous—no one will notice!—then what do people like Dean get out of it? Money, for sure—but anyone as capable as him could do something more fun any time. As with many creative people, it boils down to: make good stuff, something you’re proud of. The satisfaction of finishing a solid piece of work.

And sure enough, after an hour or so where I didn’t hear a thing from him, he rose, more happy than usual, and declared:

Exporting is the best thing in the world.

(Exporting is when you load the finished video into a file so you can for example upload it to Youtube. It means the work is done.)

So, what kind of videos is he creating? Basically, everything. Okay, fine, not everything, but the range is huge. Dean has been editing videos for many customers over the years, so here is a selection.

Music videos!

This video Dean recently made to promote The Farmer, a Filipino band from Davao. Enjoy!

Band tour promotions

I guess you figured by now that Dean loves music, and editing all things music. Find the promotion for Yossi Fine & Ben Aylon’ China tour on Facebook.

Online courses!

If you’re looking for a contrast to music videos, you can do worse than mention online courses! Here is one:

Real estate commercials!

Didn’t expect that, did you. (Link to Facebook)

And then there are Video-Haikus

Or that’s how I call them. If you like creating things, you’ll know what I mean. Sometimes you’ve this urgent idea for something. There is no particular reason, but you gotta do it anyway. It just feels right. And when you do, it’s fun. It’s a single moment of inspiration, of raw self. Here is one from Dean:

Afro Beat in 30 seconds!

If you enjoy this video and would like to have more of those about African music, like it and share it, so Dean is obliged to make more of them. 🙂

Here is another. You know this speech, you’ll know this music:

I’m a HUMAN BEING!

If you want to get dugong ilong (nose bleed), ask him for the complete list or look at his portfolio.

So … Dean does it all. But what’s the guy doing in Cebu?

Traveling the world

His journey began when he left a nicely paying job in Tel Aviv to travel. The first stop was Greece, which like Israel lies at the Mediterranean, and therefore offered both the strange and the familiar. Time flew, with work, enjoying beaches, relishing the food of Greece and meeting its warm people.

Dean sitting in a window, a coffee and a cigar at his side
Dean in Greece

When work became dull or the walls felt like closing in, Dean crossed the street in front of his building and headed straight to the port. He picked up a ticket for the next boat and left to another island he’d never heard of before. See you in two days! (Islands, beaches, boats leaving to tiny islands… it does sound like the Philippines, doesn’t it?)

Two years passed. When it was time to leave Greece, Dean went nomad, going where cheap flights go, staying as long as a visa would allow him, traveling slowly. Along the way, he was happy to discover that people can be a whole lot more open and friendly than their governments, making friends from Kuwait or Indonesia, which are places where he is not allowed to travel to. I’m not surprised that he believes more in people than in governments.

Africa & Music

The big part of his first nomadic year he spent in Africa. Touching down in Kenya, he worked and took some time volunteering at an Organic farm doing mostly photography/videography for their website. From there to Ethiopia.

Africa will always have a special space in my heart, it’s where all my dreams came true

Later, he accompanied a Senegalese band for weeks, shooting and editing their videos.

It was more fun than it looks like … oh, wait. 😉

Here is one of the videos he did for them:

Having witnessed the end of a dictatorship in The Gambia, he says:

Africa is different, man. When you travel there, you really need to follow what’s going on.

Point taken. After Africa, he continued traveling in Asia and eventually the Philippines. Talking to him about his travels, I noticed that he seemed to like every single place he ever visited. So I asked him: Was there ever one you didn’t like? Without thinking much he said: Dublin. It was cold. You sit on a bench, and within 15 minutes you start freezing. Welcome to the Philippines.

Vipassana

One of the weirder things he did on his travels is a 10-day Vipassana retreat—10 days spent meditating, without phones, books and even talking.

Can you just be with yourself for 10 minutes, no phone, no computer, no book … no talking? Now let’s try 10 hours for size. (Sleeping doesn’t count!) Still there? Okay, good. This guy was doing it for 10 days. I find that a bit … challenging. 🙂

It’s very challenging and rewarding at the same time. In those 10 days I learned so much about myself and the world.

I still thought I would go crazy at about day three. So I asked him about that, and even Dean admits:

If you’re doing it for the first time, 10 days just with yourself is enough.

Still, I got curious, so I googled about Vipassana and found out that there is a Vipassana center in Luzon. Read this detailed review by Nathan Allen if you want to get a better idea on how that looks like (and that it’s both harder and less “spiritual-ly” than it sounds).

Some people travel to see impressive sights (did you visit the pyramids??), others want to explore new cultures (ever talked to a Sherap about life in the Himalayas?). Hearing Dean talk about his travels, you’ll hear someone who simply draws amazement from what is there: people, things, nature, food, all of it. Listening to him, you become amazed, too.

Working (Hard)

Now, if all this makes it sound as if Dean isn’t working all that much between beaches, airports and meditation retreats, I have to be fair and correct that image.

When he’s in work mode—and he was when I met him in Cebu—he works long hours. Bills gotta be paid after all! With clients all over the world, he’s also got to adapt to their timezone, so that work gets done fast.

For example, after the Hummus and the beer from above he went right back to work at Nomad’s Hub and finished an online course episode until 3am. And it’s not just for the clients—but also for this good feeling of finishing a piece of work. The guy is in love with editing.

Speaking of food, you might have noticed the absence of meat in our food list on top. I myself prefer vegetarian food mostly because I feel lighter, and other reasons add to it. Usually when I ask someone about their food preferences, it’s usually a mix of love for animals, health and the insane ecologic cost of producing meat. Dean doesn’t eat meat because … he never liked the taste of it. That’s why I love meeting new people: they share their way of thinking, their perspective, and it’s often so different to what I am used to. 🙂

Appreciating, Dreaming, Believing

Now, I’ve only met Dean for a few days, and what I told you so far is the little I’ve learnt in this short amount of time. I think, you and I, we both agree that this is such an incomplete impression. We got a few facts: Dean’s a passionate video editor with a love for music. He’s a nomad with a passion for slow-travel. But that is not what he is about, that’s not where the joy comes from, or why I wrote this piece.

What really distinguished Dean for me is what I perceive as a deep sense of appreciation. Whatever he sees, eats or encounters seems to make him happier. He reminds me of the story of the ferry man, which I recently read in a book by Michael Neill who

The ferry man carries two passengers over to a new country, and both passengers ask him how the people were on the other side. Each time, the ferry man replies with a question—how were the people like where you come from?—to which the first traveler replies: terrible people, so glad I’m out of there! Hearing that, the ferry man sighs and says: I’m afraid, they’re no different on the other side. The other passenger however answers the same question differently: wonderful people, and I’m sad to leave them. Here the ferry man smiles and says: I would not worry too much; you’ll find the people on the other side are just like that.

Dean reminds me of the second passenger. Wherever he goes, he finds more people that confirms his positive view of people, eats more delicious meals that make it obvious that food everywhere is awesome, and more nature that blows his mind. Spending time with someone like that is a gift.

Over Hummus and beer, I realized that he’s not just appreciating what is, but also dreams about what might be. Think of the Senegalese band—they might make it big. Or governments—why can’t they try to advise only? For sure, you don’t do 10 days silent retreat because you’re convinced nothing will change. Even how he earns his living: video editing is the ultimate dream(er) job, if you think about it. You get a crate of visual building blocks—and they could be anything and nothing!—but the editor sees a beautiful house waiting to be built from the blocks, and he builds it.

So what happens, when you meet an appreciative dreamer like Dean? It’s simple: You yourself start feeling good. It’s an awesome quality in any person and my days were better for meeting him. So, if you’ve the chance (for example, if you’re in Taiwan right now), invite him for a beer. If you just need a passionate video editor, find him online:

Visit Dean’s Portfolio!

As is fitting for Dean, who loves music videos very much, let me end this article with a music video of his:

Edited: We switched the order of videos to be more digestible.