Poly Profile: Meet Cinematographer Peter Hou

Major: Business Administration, Marketing Concentration

Year:  2nd

Tell us how you got started in film and photography.

I started out just taking pictures for fun and didn’t really think much of it as a career or even as a hobby. I took a film photography class my senior year of high school, where I learned the ins and outs of photography such as how to properly use a camera in manual mode. When I left for college, my father handed me his old DSLR knowing I would get more use out of it than he would. So I started taking pictures throughout my first year at Cal Poly, and it just started to grow on me. People were telling me that my photos were amazing and that they wanted to shoot with me. But it wasn’t until last summer when I was interning at my uncle’s company, stuck in a tiny cubicle all day that I decided I wanted to do something else with my life. I spent every day of my job this summer sitting at my desk, watching movies and learning as much as I possibly could about film and how to become a cinematographer. And that pinpoints the beginning of my pursuit to work in the film industry. I came back that summer with all the footage I had from traveling in Taiwan, and made my first video. And ever since, I’ve been trying to make videos of all the adventures my friends and I go on, just slowly building up my portfolio and learning from mistakes. More recently, I’ve begun working on projects that have more of a storyline behind them, trying to steer my way into full-length film productions.

What are your favorite things to film and photograph?

One of my favorite things about film and photography is the image I create and the effects if has on others. I love the feeling when you produce something great and everyone praises you for your talent. It’s kind of a cocky feeling, but honestly it’s a great feeling knowing that you are doing something that is worthwhile. Film and photography is a difficult field to succeed in, and honestly without all the support I’ve been getting and the affirmation that my work is actually being seen, I probably would’ve stopped a long time ago knowing I could probably put my efforts towards something more important.

Dream Job?

I don’t really know where film will take me or if it will even take me anywhere, but my dream job would be to direct a huge feature film or independent film. Not some silly movie like “Anchorman”, but a movie that has a developed storyline and will affect those who watch it --affect them in the way they live their daily lives or the way the view things in life, in a more positive way and/or affect them in a way so that they want to learn more. Two movies that come to mind when I say this are “The Big Short” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. These movies have encouraged me to want to learn more about the stock market and the economic crisis of 2008, as well as explore the world.

What inspires you?

Movies inspire me, people inspire me, I can’t really pinpoint something in particular that inspires me the most, but whenever I hear a good story, my gears start turning and I’m just thinking about the best way to make their story into a film. Anyone can say they are a photographer or filmmaker but it about the work that you’ve created to hold you accountable to your actual talent and that’s why I’m trying to build up and perfect my portfolio everyday.