Davin Tjen — Journey from Indonesia to Hollywood Producer
Courtesy of Davin Tjen
Growing up, Davin Davin did what a lot of kids do. He watched Friends and game shows and dreamed of being on television. He just happened to be doing it in what he calls the “more packed and congested Los Angeles” of Jakarta, Indonesia.
During a recent interview, Davin recounted, “I grew up watching the Indonesian version of Family Feud. That got me interested in game shows, more specifically being a game show host — someone who knows all the answers and game mechanics. As I grew up, I realized that you could also know everything by being a producer on a game show.”
In 2011, Davin moved to Pasadena, California, and enrolled at Pasadena City College. The one-time fan of Ross, Rachel and the rest of the Central Perk gang said relocation to the U.S. was a dream come true.
Wanting to be more than just a TV viewer, Davin took TV and film classes at PCC before transferring to New York Film Academy (Los Angeles). Unlike many of his fellow students who focused on acting and directing, Davin found himself drawn to the discipline of producing.
He explained his decision, saying, “I am not a fan of directing actors, mainly because I find it really hard to ‘manipulate’ an actor’s emotion. I enjoyed writing — creating a world on your own is super fun. I enjoyed editing, too, as there’s so much creative stuff you can do with editing. However, I just can’t sit in front of a computer for hours and hours. It’s just not for me. I prefer working with real world tangible stuff, i.e. physical production.”
Plus, he admitted one other big motivation for becoming a producer — the person who is responsible for pulling all of the details of a production together. “I am a little bit of a control freak,” Davin conceded, “and I kinda love how much control a producer has on a project.”
Like all good producers, Davin knows he can’t do it all alone. “I actually have a Google Doc listing the contact details of the people that I really enjoy working with,” he noted. “These people are really good at what they do and also really fun to be with on set. (I really think that crew compatibility is really important on a shoot.) I don’t really have a team per se, but one of the people I regularly collaborate with is Mariana Thome. She’s very creative director who's able to work around the budget and dedicated to whatever project that she’s working on.”
While at New York Film Academy (Los Angeles), Davin started to gain real world experience producing two shows that highlighted one of the school’s disciplines of study. He detailed the two shows, “New York Film Academy’s Schooled and NYFA Plays are both branded content shows that were produced for my alma-mater New York Film Academy. They were made with the sole purpose of marketing the game design department that the school offers. Because it was all gaming-oriented, we decided to do the shows live on the gaming-oriented platform Twitch. That was also fun to do, especially with the fact that everyone’s working on it are passionate about video games. We also did a couple of specials where we had a professional motion capture panel and a live 8-week long Dungeons & Dragons campaign.”
Davin also created his own YouTube channel which features larger-scale projects he’s worked on and the original movie podcast Square Table Show, which he started with a few friends. “We were watching new movies almost religiously every week,” he remarked, “so I came up with the idea of putting our thoughts into a podcast — what we like, what we don’t like and our arguments among each other. It was super fun.”
It also helped Davin create a strategy for releasing content on the online distribution platform. “You gotta have the right thumbnail, title and keywords; essentially discoverability,” acknowledged Davin. “Those three factors are the key to have your content pop-out from the billions of content that’s available on YouTube. Afterwards, it’s all about sharing, sharing and sharing.”
These days, Davin is working on one of YouTube’s biggest success stories. As he explained, “I’m currently working full-time with Mythical Entertainment. The company is created by best-friends Rhett & Link and we produce the most watched daily show on YouTube: Good Mythical Morning (13 million subscribers), its after-show: Good Mythical More, a musical-comedy scripted series for YouTube Red: Rhett & Link's Buddy System and various short-form content for our social pages: Rhett & Link. We do the most fun and craziest things on the show and it’s so much fun to work with them. Working at Mythical is a blast.”
Davin also has a new short that is on the festival circuit. He described the project, saying, “Prodigal Son (Hijo Prodigo) is a true story based on the experiences of Juan Felipe Restrepo (the lead actor). It is a Spanish short film that follows the journey of a closeted teenager and his coming out process to a conservative Latino family. It has been accepted to Los Angeles Film Awards, LA Shorts Awards and won the Best LGBTQ film for the January 2018 Los Angeles Film Awards.”
Given all that Davin has on his plate, it’s not surprising that he admires another pop culture icon of the modern era — Chris Hardwick. “I really admire his work attitude — being one of the busiest man in Hollywood, from producing to hosting; and creating his own empire (Nerdist, which he later sold to Legendary). I want to be as busy as him one day.” We have no doubt that Davin will make that happen.
To learn more about Davin Tjen visit his official website.