Will Kyaw’s Journey from Backpacking Adventures to Global Recognition

Dive into Will Kyaw's inspiring journey, from commercial shoots to social media fame, as he shares his creative process and use of Musicbed.

Will Kyaw Filmmaker

From shooting commercials for brands like Airbnb and Sony to amassing a following of over 700K on Instagram and TikTok, NYC-and-Tokyo-based filmmaker Will Kyaw has done it all. Read his interview to learn more about what keeps him inspired and how he utilizes Musicbed in his captivating work.

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Will Kyaw: My filmmaking journey began unexpectedly during a pivotal moment in my life. After being waitlisted from my top university choice, I found myself with an unplanned gap of eight months. Seizing this opportunity, I embarked on a backpacking adventure across Southeast Asia. It was during this time, armed only with a pocket camera and GoPros, that I discovered the joy of capturing the world’s beauty and the fascinating stories of the people I met. The process of documenting these experiences and later reliving them through editing ignited a passion for storytelling that I hadn’t realized existed within me.

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired?

My creative fuel comes from constantly changing my environment and exploring the unknown. I thrive on the novelty and challenges that come with being in new places. For instance, during the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown, when the world seemed to stand still, I found solace in the adventure of traveling to Kyrgyzstan. It was one of the few places open to tourists, and there, I embarked on a solo motorcycle journey across the country. From riding horses and sleeping in yurts to calculating if a tank of fuel will allow me to make it to the new village, these experiences rejuvenate my creativity and motivation.

What makes a story visually appealing? What role does music play in storytelling?

A visually appealing story resonates emotionally with its audience, and music plays a pivotal role in this connection. For me, selecting the perfect track is a meticulous process that can take a whole day, but it’s crucial. The right music enhances the emotional depth and rhythm of the narrative, ensuring that every visual element aligns harmoniously with the story’s beats.

What elements do you think are essential for crafting a compelling story?

Crafting a compelling story, in my view, involves weaving a narrative that leaves the audience with a lasting moral. I love incorporating a hero’s journey into my storytelling, complete with calls to adventure, trials, crises, and ultimately, a resolution that brings about a new beginning. These elements, when combined, create a powerful narrative arc that captivates the viewer.

Will Kyaw with camera

How important is music in your work?

Music is not just an element in my work; it’s the heartbeat of my storytelling. Especially in short-form content, where every second counts. It’s a tool just as potent, if not more so, than the visuals themselves. This was what my first boss in the industry used to say. I still remember those words and take them into every project. 

What advice would you give other filmmakers/creators who are just starting their careers?

To those embarking on their creative journey, my advice is to embrace the full spectrum of filmmaking. Experiment with different formats—from documentaries to vlogs, music videos to short films. This exploration not only helps you discover your true passion but also allows you to refine your craft in a niche that resonates with you. My own journey from directing commercials to mastering short-form content is a testament to the power of experimentation and adaptation.

How do you find the balance between pushing boundaries creatively and delivering what your client wants or audience wants to see?

Finding the sweet spot between innovation and client expectations is an art in itself. I approach this by initially acknowledging the client’s vision, then gently guiding them towards alternative ideas that also resonate with the audience. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of shared discovery and ultimately leads to more impactful and satisfying outcomes.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a filmmaker/creative?

Navigating the dual roles of artist and business owner is perhaps the greatest challenge in this field. Striking a balance between creative fulfillment and financial stability is a delicate dance. However, once you find this balance, your life becomes a whole lot easier. 

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

Choosing a favorite project is like picking a favorite country—each has its unique charm. However, directing a traditional commercial for Japan Airlines recently stands out. It was for their new flagship jet which was something that got me excited as the footage is probably going to be shown at airports and on the plane itself. Working with 40 other crew members and a video village full of 8 clients keeps things interesting from my usual solo mobile-first format projects. On the social side, last year I completed a campaign for the new flagship Genesis G90 car which allowed me to go back to New York and adventure with the car for a couple of weeks creating fun social content along the way. I definitely find my joy in filmmaking through the blend of traditional and social media content creation.

How do you search for music on Musicbed? What are some tips that you’d give other filmmakers to search on Musicbed?

My approach to finding music on Musicbed involves me diving into their curated playlists, which are tailored to various moods and creators. Initially, I would get lost in the search for the perfect track, but I’ve learned to refine my process. Now, after identifying three potential tracks, I revisit my edit to see which one fits best, preventing the endless search loop. 

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work?

I choose Musicbed for my projects because it offers a selection of tracks that feel authentic and meticulously curated, standing out from the generic options many creators resort to. Over time, I’ve found that for my work, Musicbed consistently delivers the best quality and uniqueness. 

Explore a curated playlist of Will’s favorite music to use in his films—all available to license only on Musicbed.