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Michael CHU

In the expanding realm of online media, many video production teams have emerged, creating videos that cater to the unique sense of humor prevalent in Hong Kong. One such channel is Pomato, a popular Hong Kong video production channel known for its down-to-earth content and positive image, has gained significant notability in its six years of development, accumulating over 560,000 subscribers on YouTube. In this feature, we spoke with Michael CHU (also known as Chu Mic), an alumnus from the class of 2021 with a degree in Business Administration. Being a prominent artist at Pomato, we delved into Michael's experiences while studying at Lingnan University, his transition from running a personal YouTube channel to joining a large-scale production team, and the hurdles and triumphs he's faced as a content creator.
Embracing Extraversion: A Fruitful Journey at Lingnan
Inspired by the foreign YouTuber "Smosh" since his primary and secondary school days, Michael began experimenting with making short films. "I participated in an event called ‘隨街也是網絡人’ organized by the local YouTube community, where uploading your own videos gave you the opportunity to be featured in a medley. However, I gradually set aside this interest after junior high school. Until after HKDSE (Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination), I filed a graduation trip vlog with my friends, which rekindled his passion for filmmaking." Despite his passion, Michael chose not to pursue a creative media program and instead enrolled in a Business Administration degree at Lingnan University, after considering the family member’s study experience and the applicability of BBA.
It is commonly said that there are several must-do items for university students in Hong Kong, including studying, internships, exchange programmes, hostel life, and participation in student associations. Michael seized every opportunity to enrich his university life. He also served as the Chairperson of the 21st Cabinet of Jockey Club Hall F Student Hostel Association, immersing himself in the bustling university environment. "The most unforgettable memory should be the consultation day. Hall F’s consultation day was particularly long, lasting for over 30 hours… I believe most students had no idea about it before joining any associations. It was hard yet satisfying." He remains grateful for the experience, which allowed him to grow, develop interpersonal skills, and engage in various event planning. Michael maintains friendly relationships with his fellow committee members, and one of them is even pursuing in the same career industry. “She played a student role with solo shots and monologues in the film Time Still Turns the Pages. I hope both of us achieve success and have the opportunity to collaborate in our work soon.”
Drawing Inspiration from the Classroom
Michael appreciated the interesting elective courses offered by Lingnan. "I'm so glad that Lingnan University offers a variety of unique free elective courses for students. I took a course ‘Sexual Cultures in Asia’ taught by Prof Yvonne YAU”, which expanded his knowledge beyond his main discipline and inspired him to incorporate these new insights into his creative works. He also took cinematography related courses to improve his Photoshop and video editing skills.
Michael’s passion for creativity never faded. He continuously immersed himself in learning about filming, editing, personal branding, and brainstorming. In Year 1, he collaborated with his secondary school friends to establish a YouTube channel. Later, he decided to create his own personal YouTube channel and develop it as a career, hoping for success. He filmed travelling videos during his exchange programme in the UK. "I considered myself as trying out the industry. The cost was relatively low at that time. I didn't worry about running out of ideas but the low view counts and how to improve them. The most challenging part was finding a breakthrough." Later, he started filming content based on his interests, such as music and mobile games. He filmed a drama version of the mobile game Among Us and performed a drum cover while cosplaying as the protagonist from the movie Joker.
Embrace Unconventional Paths and Blossom as an Artiste of Pomato
Before his graduation, Pomato held open auditions for actors, which became the starting point of Michael’s career path as a content creator. “I initially thought I had been eliminated since I didn’t hear back from them. However, two months later, I received a call from Kiko (the artiste manager at that time), informing me that they were busy preparing for an event and would soon invite me for an interview. The chance is low though, considered the stiff competition.” Michael successfully progressed through three rounds of interviews. The first round involved showcasing his individual abilities, performing a monologue, and discussing his perspectives on YouTube. The second round included acting with Ah J (a Pomato artiste), and sharing his aspirations for joining the company. The final round left the deepest impression on him. He explained, "When I arrived, I noticed Ko Ling (Boss of Pomato) was having his meal and asking me if I had eaten. After some casual conversation, he ambiguously stated, ‘Well, generally it's ok.' When I left the studio, I couldn’t help but wonder, 'Was I selected?' There was even a moment when I questioned whether it was a prank."
Even if Michael hadn’t been selected by Pomato, he made a plan. "At that time, I worked as a part-time drum teacher to maintain my basic income. My family was supportive and open-minded, but they also expressed little concern about my future after the graduation. So I gave myself 2 years to try, if no achievement had been accomplished by then I would look for a marketing job.” Fortunately, Michael didn't have to activate his "Plan B", now his family is proud of his achievements.
A Fairytale Collaboration with Idol and Staying True to YouTube
After joining Pomato for over two years, Michael has participated in numerous series and his favourite one is “搵啲嘢玩”, which allows him to show the creativity and with higher degree of decision making. The series featured challenges such as football, yoga, Jenga, and even invited famous actor Mr CHOW Yun Fat to play Slapjack. Another memorable collaboration is the interview of YOASOBI. “They are my idols, and their inspiring journey of chasing their dreams has had a profound impact on me. I had recorded a drum cover of their debut song before and was completely captivated by their song Gunjō. When I found out that I had the opportunity to interview them, I felt incredibly honored and overjoyed.” He shared that after entering this industry, he realized that nothing is impossible and expressed his hope to collaborate with Smosh in the future.
From being a YouTuber to making his debut as a member of the boy band “FINALLY” and acting in plays and the movie Band Four, Michael described himself as being addicted to trying new things. “My lifelong goal is to be on Netflix. Two years ago, I wanted to explore different possibilities, but now, I want to challenge myself on even larger platforms. I aspire to be a multi-platform performer. I yearn for opportunities to showcase my talents in various areas and provide positive entertainment to audiences.” Despite his continuous experimentation, he remains committed to YouTube, cherishing the freedom it brings. The motto of Pomato has also greatly influenced him, “Let Internet Become Mainstream”. “Online platforms are no longer inferior to traditional platforms. People who come from the internet can be professionals, not just attention seekers. Although there may be some stereotypes about internet culture being fast-paced, it undeniably holds its own value.
Sharing His Bittersweetness and Encouraging Aspiring Juniors
While the spotlight often highlights the joys of being a performer, it can overshadow the challenges. Michael explained that creators face difficulties in protecting their principles and striking a balance between commercial and artistic elements. The ideal outcome is to create works that align with their own style while not compromising their core values. As a performer, the ability of mental management and facing criticism is crucial. “Don’t let someone’s words destroy your life.” This is a quote from Mr CHAN Siu Tung, the director of Pomato and FINALLY’s plays, which inspired Michael a lot. He believes that the path to success requires a strong mental fortitude. He is grateful for everything that Pomato has brought him, including resources and exposure. With an increasing number of supporters, he also emphasized the importance of managing his attitude. “I felt a bit triumphant at the beginning, but after getting used to it, I became humble as I understand that complacency hinders growth.”
He encourages juniors to use their university years wisely, developing their style and learning from 2-3 creators they admire. He also advises them not to get too attached to their creations and to adopt an objective perspective for self-evaluation. "In this content-driven era, data is objective. With algorithms, outstanding content can reach a wide audience even with a smaller subscriber base.”