Humans of Harker: Creativity through cinematography

Amar Karoshi displays lightheartedness and imitates professional media in videography

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Sara Yen

“[In videography,] you can be as creative as you want. I’m not a very outward person, and filmmaking is one way to express what crazy thoughts [I have]. I thought it was really cool to just [use what] I took from watching TV shows and put that into reality,” Amar Karoshi (12) said.

If you watched this year’s matriculation, the upperclassman fall play or the most recent school meeting, you’ve probably heard this name credited again and again: Amar Karoshi (12). For the past couple years, Amar has helped create and edit videos for student council, eventually joining ASB’s Publicity Task Force, previously called Music Advertising Video — but his interest in videography goes far back. 

“Movies — I’m always curious how they’re made and the visual effects behind them,” Amar said. “For so long I thought that they were real, like if a guy got stabbed, I thought he actually got stabbed. And then I was curious how that was made, so I started watching breakdowns of visual effects and how to do it yourself.”

In the summer after eighth grade, Amar volunteered to help with visual effects on his friend Ethan Choi’s (12) movies. Through online tutorial videos, Amar has taught himself all of his cinematography skills. 

Amar’s interest in editing dovetails with his broader fascination with technology. Using a separate software, he can blur and auto-frame his video on Zoom. Just a few weeks ago, he helped a friend build a PC. Amar’s friends deem him their “residential tech support guy.”

“[Technology] is the future,” Amar said. “You get to see all the improvements, like the current generation, and then what’s happening next generation, [and see] that bar of whatever is normal being raised higher and higher. I’m curious why stuff works, why it [works] the way it does, and Googling and YouTube videos answer that problem.”

Eager and ambitious, Amar resolves for his work to imitate professional visual effects and works in media. Inspired by “The Flash,” Amar added speed effects and lightning trails to enhance his class council’s Dippin’ Dots fundraiser last year. In making last year’s “Star Wars” themed Hoscars video, he even experimented with 3D effects. 

“It’s difficult to restrain my excitement,” Amar said. “[For Hoscars], I was going to add TIE [Twin Ion Engine] fighters, and I wanted to make it look real and shake everything up with lasers, but at the same time I had to write a history paper. Prioritizing [school is difficult because of] my excitement.”

Despite years of devotion to cinematography and editing, Amar always wishes to hone and further his skills, setting rigorous expectations on the professional level.   

“I look at everything from a realistic lens,” Amar said. “Nobody [I know] really does what I do, so I compare [my work] to what movies look like. It’s hard — I feel I can’t be satisfied like, ‘Oh, it looks fine enough for me,’ [since I] look from a movie standard, [but that] elevates [what I do].”

Whether making videos for student council or a friend’s birthday gift, Amar often combines action with comical elements, a synthesis that close friend Jason Lin (12) summarized.

“‘Transformers’ and ‘Monty Python and The Holy Grail’ — [if] you blended them together under the max setting, you would get Amar Karoshi Films,” Jason said.

Working alongside Amar for student council productions, Jason knows firsthand Amar’s dedication to videography as well as his humility. 

“[Amar] would put in dozens of hours of work [on student council videos], and then he’d be surprised when his name is in the credits,” Jason said. “Over the years, he’s gotten more used to being in the spotlight, [but] I think he should be more willing to advocate for himself because he’s just such a humble person.”

With the whole school often as his audience, Amar tends to shrink away from attention, but he sometimes enjoys the adrenaline rush.  

“Before, I didn’t really do anything: go to school, come home, no clubs,” Amar said. “But, videos, [it’s] something that everyone sees. I barely know someone, but they fully know who I am. I always wonder if I could be known for something else, or just be not known at all. I hate attention, to be honest, but it’s nice to indulge once in a while.” 

Friend and fellow film enthusiast Ajay Madala (12) noted how Amar’s kindness emerges once his initial shyness goes away. Even in quarantine, Amar makes sure to celebrate each of his friend’s birthdays. 

“[Amar]’s not the person to start a random conversation with someone, but when he does, he’s great to talk to, and he’s one of the nicest friends I’ve ever had,” Ajay said. “If it’s someone’s birthday, [he’ll say], ‘Come on guys, let’s come up with a gift.’ [We’re like], ‘We’re in quarantine, how are we going to do that?’ And he’s like, ‘I’ll figure out a way. We just got to get them a gift somehow.’”

Close friend Elvin Chen (12) elaborated on Amar’s considerateness for tech-related inquiries as well. Whether curious about buying new equipment or frustrated with an issue with their devices, Amar’s friends often turn to him for help.  

“[Amar] always tries to help others above and beyond,” Elvin said. “I was looking [to buy] my laptop, but Amar knows so much [so] I would ask him questions. I didn’t expect him to answer that much, I thought he would give a few links maybe to read, but he ended up finding the laptop for me. Anytime he has the opportunity to help he just takes it.”

Despite his introversion, Amar’s warmth and humor shine through as you interact with him more, especially in his filmmaking. A career in visual effects or video production interests Amar.

“[In videography,] you can be as creative as you want. I’m not a very outward person, and filmmaking is one way to express what crazy thoughts [I have],” he said. “I thought it was really cool to just [use what] I took from watching TV shows and put that into reality.”