Zikun “Tim” Teng: filmmaker in progress
Zikun “Tim” Teng (M.F.A., film and television) defines himself with one word: “filmmaker.” Then he pushes that definition in every available direction.
Motion picture editing, production management, post-production workflow, cinematography, sound recording, photography, and screenwriting are all part of Teng’s integrated skill set. His software expertise includes an official Avid certification, alongside aptitude in Adobe Suite, DaVinci Resolve, and Nuke. Impressively industrious, the graduate student can also routinely be found enjoying an artisanal grilled cheese during lunch at the Hive.
“Working in film, my concentration is post-production,” Teng says between bites of gooey fontina. “I’m primarily an editor. I’m also responsible for transcoding files. I send the timeline to the departments who are doing sound, color, and visual effects. It’s important to know something of all those disciplines as well, otherwise I won’t be able to communicate effectively.”
Insight into Teng’s process comes from professor Lubomir Kocka, who taught Tim in Directing for Film and Television (FILM 729). “Tim is diligent, always prepared, always paying attention during lectures,” Kocka says via email. “His dedication is evident in his academic accomplishments. He grasps the tools and techniques of the craft of directing, and continually upgrades his skills.”
In winter quarter 2021, Teng edited the short film “Evergreen,” directed by Yiwei Yao (M.F.A., film and television). His editing is indivisible from the narrative itself, about two childhood friends in love with the same person. Teng’s rhythmic decisions chart the story’s stormy emotions.
“Professor Kocka taught us how to design a shot, which is what makes a film a film,” Teng says. “He taught us how to get the audience to be empathetic with the character. He also taught us the concept of laterality, how to use the left and right sides of the screen, and why where you position characters on the screen affects how the audience thinks about them.”
This is where Tim thrives: using the technical to achieve the emotional. As he says: “The core of art is to provoke emotion.”
Originally from Tianjin, China (“Not as humid as Savannah,” he says), Teng came to the United States for the first time in 2017 for a business management summer program at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. When he returned to China to complete his B.A. in Business English at Tianjin Foreign Studies University, he knew he wanted to return to the U.S., and began researching top film schools.
Since arriving at SCAD in 2019, Tim has left Savannah only during his for-credit internship with the iHeartRadio podcast CT101 in summer, 2021 in Stanton, California. “As an intern, I worked on set, and in live event settings, and in post-production. I gained a deeper understand of the entertainment industry, and improved my verbal communication skills. It was a fulfilling eight weeks.”
Now beginning his final year at SCAD, Teng continues to take classes that expand his prowess. He was the only non-visual effects major in professor Gray Marshall’s course Cinematography for Visual Effects (VSFX). This quarter he is taking Thesis Production, where he and fellow student Yiwei Yao (M.F.A., film and television) are working on “Daughter,” the film that will complete their graduate studies. Meanwhile, another short Teng worked on, “Denial,” directed by Morgan Davies (M.F.A., film production, 2021), is heading for the festival circuit.
As he wraps up lunch, Tim’s phone begins buzzing. It’s an alert from SCAD Editors Club, a group that connects students specializing in post-production with producers and directors. Tim makes note of the possibility, then looks up with a grin: “I find opportunities everywhere.”
Written by Peter Relic.