.::SHIFT | a short film::.
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During the summer of 2003, I returned to San Francisco and attempted to find work for the few months I was home. The economy was in decline, especially in the Silicon Valley, so the only place I could find temp work was the graveyard shift in the mailroom of Charles Schwab, a trading/investing financial institution.

Despite how much we have all heard about the struggles of the working class, it took working side by side with these first generation Americans to realize just how much I had to learn about the incredible strength of their lives. This seemingly simple and monotonous job was incredibly hard work and, at the same time, my friends found me, a fairly successful college student, doing something that they saw as inconsequential and worthless. But while my friends slept, I worked with people who all held two or three full-time jobs and never got a chance to sleep. And to add insult to injury, our job was to send financial statements to millionaires.

These first generation Americans had come to America, like most people, for a new opportunity for themselves and their family. But times were tough while the job market was fierce, and it was difficult to find jobs that paid well enough to make ends meet. But they willingly chose this life for themselves, and they knew it was going to be tough; what is respectable is their reasons for doing so and their tenacity each day at work. Their selflessness and strong will, despite all of life’s misfortunes, is something worthy of respect (not pity). They never gave up.

Though I can never even come close to claiming that I can now understand what it’s like to live like my coworkers did on a day to day basis, this summer job offered me the opportunity to approach a sort of understanding for these people who worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known. And by the end of the summer, the office was closed and transferred to Texas. All my coworkers got laid off.

To my friends’ surprise, I learned to deeply respect my coworkers who my friends and I initially wrote off, and instead became disillusioned with my “successful” affluent friends who dominated my social life. The characters I met every night from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. were the most hardworking and interesting I have ever come across in my life. Their lives are an untold story that I believe deserves to be told.

In this website, you will find information about my final thesis film, which was inspired by this very real and personal experience. It’s hard to say if it’s a drama or a comedy because, much like life itself, it is both funny and sad at the same time. It’s the most personal film I’ll probably ever make, and since it’s my final year at NYU film school, this is perhaps the only opportunity for me to make a movie like this in its true unadulterated form. Though I am always hesitant to promote my own projects to others, I believe this story belongs to those hardworking people that helped me grow that one summer. It goes far beyond me, and I hope their story can move others too.

-Jonathan Yi, writer/director