Nomad: Brandon Li

Hong Kong, June 2016

Brandon Li is a young filmmaker (34 years old) from the US and currently staying in Hong Kong. Three years ago he decided to quit his job in the US and begin to work as a freelance filmmaker for a big airline in the Middle East. “For me, this was an opportunity to travel more and do independent work”. After moving to the Middle East, Brandon developed and started working on his own projects along the way. “When I was busy filming for the client in a certain country, I made sure I could stay there longer so I could work on my own projects as well. Nowadays, I work 50% of my time for clients and 50% of my time for myself. For now this is great because it helps me to maintain myself, but my goal is to eventually work fulltime on my own projects”.

Hong Kong Strong
It seems like his goal to focus fully on his own projects is working out quite well. His work in the Middle East was a great jumping-off point to travel to other countries. After visiting a lot of countries like Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Spain, Mongolia, Australia and Tokyo, he ended up in Hong Kong, where he explored the country where his father was born. His short film ‘Hong Kong Strong’ went viral pretty quickly after he shared it on social media and he has been featured in international media (BBC World News) and Hong Kong publications (South China Morning Post, Timeout, HK Magazine).

Brandon likes to see his work as unique and authentic. “I always search for native things when I am traveling. If I do not get inspired by a place or by the people at that place, I don’t find it interesting to stay there. I want to capture things that are not documented yet so for me it is important to stay out of the mainstream culture and dig in the things that really identify a certain population or country”.


Nomadic lifestyle
“I am still very happy with the nomadic life I have at this moment. I can’t imagine myself working at an office every single day the rest of my life. To have the freedom to do what I love and at the same time be able to travel the world is really something I wouldn’t give up”. Although Brandon loves his life he also says that living a nomadic lifestyle isn’t always about sunshine and roses. “The psychological part is the hardest thing for me. Sometimes when I am shooting alone I think ‘what the hell am I doing?’ and ‘why don’t I find real work and just go home?’ I can’t set down roots because I am moving and searching for inspiration all the time. That can be draining sometimes”.

In the future Brandon wants to visit a lot more countries in Asia like Bhutan and Myanmar. Where he is tomorrow, he doesn’t know. “I don’t like to plan things, but what I do know is that I get restless when I am at the same place for more than three weeks in a row”. In the last three years he has inspired people to also pack their bags and live as a digital nomad, although he doesn’t like to talk about himself like that. For the ones who want to do the same he wants to point out that taking this step without a plan can be really difficult. His advice: ”To be able to travel and work in your field of passion you have to build a name for yourself in that field before you go. Otherwise you will see yourself ending up in a survival mode struggling to make a living, not doing the work you intended to do and not finding the inspiration you wanted to find when you decided to take this step”.

Check out the work of Brandon on his website.