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A SELF-TAUGHT DAVID OLSON: Breaking Barriers And Defying Limitations

As humans, we tend to modify ourselves into what society has labeled us to be. We are sometimes told to fit the mold of someone. But for David Olson, the director of “The Dust In Your Place”, an official entry to the Cinemalaya 2021, what truly matters is doing what you feel like doing and the only limitation you'll have is your mindset that you can't do it.


"I'm a missionary kid. Being from a strict religious background, I wasn’t really encouraged to partake in a lot of secular things around me."

Curiosity is the engine of achievement and it was the start of David's discovery and inquiry about the realm of filmmaking.

"I think one time when I was at my grandma's place, Star Wars was on the TV and I wasn't supposed to be watching and I was like hiding behind her desk. After that, I don't think there was anything on my mind but like wondering how they made that."

"I'm a very artsy kid. I used to draw a lot, paint a lot. But filmmaking wasn't really a career option especially as a 15- or 16-year old (teen)."

David did graphic design for about two years. He did commissioned works for companies in the (United) States and a couple of companies here in the Philippines. He remembered seeing a job posting online looking for a video editor for a short film. There were also a bunch of filmmakers in Hawaii and they shot a short film and they were looking for editors to do it remotely.

BTS Photo during the Film Production of "The Dust In Your Place" Directed by David Olson

Without experience in editing at all and thinking he would mess up everything, he was surprised that the filmmakers approved his editing skills and even requested him to edit two or three more films.

“As someone who's self taught, I usually try to make my own studies when it comes to different departments in film. So in directing, I do case studies, I read essays. With editing, that's not something I really research too much or try to follow a template. It's more of just watching a lot of movies and kind of understanding how different cuts can affect flow. Editing, if you really are passionate about it, it's almost like a universal language across industries."

He was 20 years old when he first worked for a feature film, prior to directing his own film. David was lucky to get on his crew as a 2nd assistant director.

"That was a 30-day film shoot. It was the most gruelling film shoot I've ever been on at that time because I was fresh, I didn't really know much about what one does on a film set. When I went on the set, it was so different from what I expected. Santi (the director), after that film, became my mentor along the way. He would get me as his cinematographer or projects editor. I edited my first full-length documentary under him."

BTS Photos during the Film Production of "The Dust In Your Place" Directed by David Olson


“The Dust In Your Place” is a 20-minute drama film based on a one-act play written by eight-time Palanca winner Joem Antonio. The play won the second prize for the One-Act Play in English Category at the 2012 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. The play is also a part of the Love Cafe play cycle.

Love Cafe Project is a set of narratives that hope to spark conversation on how we, human beings, love. It is an initial cycle of four one-act plays by Filipino playwright and author Antonio (Joem) and it has now expanded into more stories and other media.

"This is one of the very few projects that I didn't write myself," said David.

"The writer of the short film is a very talented screenwriter. He is a Palanca award-winning writer. He was introduced to me early this year and he sent over a bunch of scripts. I was just blown away but then when I came across 'The Dust in Your Place' specifically, I was just drawn into it for some very weird reason and I (can) actually relate to one of the characters in the film."

Portrayed by Boo Gabunada and Chaye Mogg, the film revolves around the story of Rick and Claire, longtime friends who find themselves in a tense situation. Unresolved issues and unanswered questions have been brewing in their minds for years — hovering in the air like dust.

David shared that the whole process of doing the film is clutching in itself but they really lucked out on a really amazing script. This is his first-ever Tagalog short film as a director. It was not only very challenging for him but it was also exciting because it was a really good story no matter what language it's in.

"Honestly, it took me four times longer than it normally takes me when I go through a script. The language barrier plus the fact that it wasn't my original material which is fine. There are so many amazing directors who direct material from other amazing writers, and that's fine with me."

The two characters play friends in the film but in real life, they are actually a couple. This was not only a challenge for David, but also a challenge for them.

"This was their first time acting together and the dynamic had to change. There's one scene that I really wanted to do and it involved them reciting a huge chunk of the script. Luckily, they both come from theater backgrounds."

Official Film Poster of "The Dust In Your Place" Directed by David Olson


This 2021 marks David’s tenth year working in the industry as a director, cinematographer, editor, and producer; working on films, TV, documentaries, music videos, commercials, and advertisements.

This Peter Jackson fanatic, being a part of the Gen Y, has words of wisdom to the iGeneration or the Gen Z’s:

"The only person who's really stopping you (from) doing something in the creative space far in the arts is you, especially when you live in the 21st century and if you are Gen Z. When it comes to filmmaking, you have a camera in your pocket already."

"When I hear people talk about limitations, there's only one limitation; it's your mindset that you can't do it. When it comes to anything creative, there's always a fear of not being good enough to do something creative."

Film Stills from " The Dust In Your Place" Directed by David Olson

A flower does not think of having a competition with the flower next to it; it just blooms. Sometimes, comparison with other people has become motivating but sometimes it's destructive. In view of the foregoing circumstance, David always trusts his full potential and instincts in order to succeed without upward comparison.

"That's perfectly understandable because you always compare yourself to a big director, big painter, and big writer. It's a matter of you doing what you feel, doing what you see in your head and making it come alive on screen. There are small limitations that you will have. You'll come across those along the way. As long as you're determined to do it, you'll know that you are creating enough to get it done."

Upon sharing the story behind the blossoming of 'The Dust in Your Place' as a film, he proudly shared that he has another film coming up. They are supposed to start shooting in September but it is halted because of the current lockdown.

"We really want to finish it this year. Besides that, we do have commercial work, and advertising work."

With all the fair share of struggles and achievements of David, we can all agree that the future might really belong to the curious. David has an immense talent but the excessive pride isn't in his vocabulary. Instead, the fuel for discovery has helped him to kindle the fire of his desire to break the barriers and defy all limitations.

Book your tickets NOW and support his Film, “The Dust In Your Place” streaming at from August 6 to September 5.

COMING SOON... David Olson's DAILY DAILY video exclusive here at THE FILM DREAM website.

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