Science Teacher’s Filmmaking Passion in Action


Tang first opened up about his interest in filmmaking to students as a 2019 Passion Day presenter, explaining his process for learning to balance his multiple hobbies and choosing which passion to pursue in the future.

Junhee Ryu and Tiffany Wu

With his trusty Lumix camera, science teacher Michael Tang captures beautiful snapshots of golden moments in life through the art of filmmaking, illustrating fine details in film that can be easily missed by the human eye.

“I’ve loved movies ever since I was a kid; it’s just something that my family did together, and I think it really deepened when my family moved to Taiwan when I was 10,” Tang said. “I was really homesick, and one way that I coped with homesickness was when we went to the movies every weekend. We would watch every release that came out, and that was my way of reconnecting with the U.S.”

Tang’s desire to actually capture film overcame the pleasures of simply appreciating movies. With his active imagination, Tang began writing scripts modeled off his own inspirations in high school.

The Genius Project trailer, a group project in sophomore science classes, allowed for Tang’s students and coworkers to recognize his talent for filmmaking and experience his passion in action.

“[Making the genius project video] was fun because you could really tell that we were putting together two things that he really enjoys: teaching and film,” science teacher Brittney Kang said. “He also did a Passion Day presentation on his hobby of filming, and I was able to catch his promo video of it, and it was really good. It was very professionally done.”

The mock trailer incorporated several chemistry demonstrations, starring science teachers Jeralyn Jelnick, Kang and Tang.

“I loved his Genius Project video,” junior Aubrey Johnston said. “Even though [the teachers] only did it in a short amount of time, it looked like they spent hours on it. It was so funny, and it was awesome to see that [Mr. Tang] has other passions besides teaching.”

Tang began filming only after he became a teacher and was able to save up for the costly equipment such as a camera, lenses, a personal computer and editing software. Through time, he learned to find a healthy and enjoyable balance between teaching and filmmaking.

“I see it this way: I go to work, I put my effort into my job, and then after work (this didn’t happen until after my first and second year of teaching, after I felt more comfortable with teaching), I was able to go home and just dedicate time outside of work to shooting videos on the weekends and making films with my friends,” Tang said.

Tang’s passions further intertwined when he began wedding videography in 2012 by starting a side business with his friend. He has shot for around 30 weddings, which allowed for him to meet new people involved in film.

“[My passion] has definitely evolved, so I think the more you make videos and the more you put yourself out there, you start meeting people in the industry,” Tang said. “I’ve also met people who were in film school and worked on projects with them, and I’ve met people who were already making YouTube videos and whatnot.”

Tang’s passion for video production allowed him to make fast friends with Literary and Language Arts teacher Kate Avery, a fellow film connoisseur. Avery, who is teaching the Film and Dystopian Literature class, was able to discuss her differing and more literary perspectives of film with Tang.

“I remember one of the first people that I talked to in terms of brainstorming about [creating a Film & Dystopian Literature class] was Mr. Tang,” Avery said. “He was just rattling off movies that cinematically were really important for their times… In a dream world, I think we would love to co-teach the class together.”