Hi, I'm David Kong.
Depending on when you ask me, I'm a filmmaker, storyteller, coder, serial autodidact.
As a child, I became obbsessed with sleight-of-hand magic, spent countless hours on top secret magician forums, and began to create some of my own tricks.
To my surprise, a large magic company offered me a producing deal, and my first DVD went on to sell over 20,000 copies. The proceeds funded a much fancier video camera and summer school at UCLA's film school. I then decided to take things into my own hands and self-produced and published another DVD aimed at the professional market. That ended up being about a hundred times as much work as I expected, but the thrill of creating my own company kept me going through the setbacks.
So there I was with some video skills and a video camera, so I thought, "Why not try shooting a film?" As it turned out, I loved filmmaking even more than magic, and my second obssession was born. I've made dozens of films over the years, but my favorite is a fine art piece, Portrait of Macerata.
On the documentary side, I've filmed interviews with Grammy and Oscar-winning singer John Legend, film director M. Night Shyamalan, Ariana Huffington of the Huffington Post, Sal Khan of Khan Academy, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and many more.
As I explored the world of cinema, I discovered that many of the skills of the photographer overlap with those of the filmmaker. In doing so I also discovered the virtue of rapid prototyping, since the amount of time it takes to capture a photograph is roughly one gazillionth the amount of time it takes to create a film. Most of my favorite photographs are portraits.
Having learned the crafts of the magician, the filmmaker, and the photographer almost entirely through the internet (and, for the most part, for free), I decided I wanted to give back a bit to the resources that I had benefited so much from. I produced a series of video tutorials on how to make professional films with the ever-cheaper tools of digital cinematography. At the time of going to press, they have been viewed more than three hundred thousand times.
My love of online learning eventually led me to my present day-job at Khan Academy, a non-profit with the mission to provide a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Among other tasks, I am blessed with the creative challenge of designing marketing campaigns on the meagre budget of a non-profit. Crazy ideas abound.
One of my first projects at Khan Academy was a complete guide to college admissions (free, like all Khan Academy content) which supports and encourages students who come from low-income backgrounds as they apply to college. This tutorial series contains 100+ videos and dozens of articles which cover every aspect of the college admissions and financial aid process.
Current projects include an experimental tool for teaching history online and a speed-reading app.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a little. I'd love to get to know you.