Olivia aka ‘Liv’ Cheung is a 2nd generation Australian-Chinese creative producer and part-time facilitator and events organiser, with over 12 years experience in film, TV and multi-platform content, currently based in Naarm (Melbourne).
~ I’m now going to write in first person because it’s strange to write in third person when it’s obviously me who’s writing this. NOTE: Longer origin story below – feel free to skip to bottom section if you just want to get the Linked In profile ~
Born into a typical big Hong Kong family with hundreds of cousins, aunts & uncles, SOMEONE had to organise all those big family celebrations – and somehow that ended up being my job. A born entertainer with a natural flair for organising parties and events , I started off ‘producing’ big family social gatherings including the annual Christmas Cheung Olympics, along with my 6 part-time jobs (which included working as a speed-dating host and wedding planner), whilst studying at university and volunteering in Australia’s first youth-run NGO The Oaktree Foundation.
As a young teen I initially had sights set for schmoozing with the A-listers in Hollywood, but reality checked in after watching a documentary on child soldiers in Uganda, and I realised there was more to life than having a family with Hollywood actor/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Dreams changed from global party-socialite to humanitarian work, thanks to my education around inequality, privilege, injustice and human rights during my formative years at Oaktree. One of the most empowering moments in my youth were organising the The Make Poverty History concert, held in November 2006 at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl with over 20,000 in attendance, in which Australia’s biggest music stars united on stage – including a special guest visit from Bono & Pearl Jam – with efforts to educate and advocate for an end to extreme poverty.
In 2009 I moved to South Africa and volunteered for 10 months at World Changers Academy, an organisation that teaches life skills & leadership skills to marginalised and underprivileged black communities in rural KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. Post-SA, I travelled around Europe and South America for 9 months before coming home absolutely broke – $20,000 in fact and in the middle of a financial crisis.
After several failed job applications, it was starting to get a little depressing – and my Robert-DeNiro-Mr-Focker-Chinese-father suggested I should give Hong Kong a go, as “my English would be better than locals” “You should connect with your Chinese heritage” and “How many Asian faces do you see in Australian television?” (Even though I wasn’t trying to get in front of the camera, but it was similar statistics behind-the-scenes). Following that I moved to Hong Kong in 2011 – to my father’s horror I moved not for a job but for love! – however he was right, there were more opportunities in Asia and I ended up starting my producing career in APV in Hong Kong, building up my production skills and knowledge in the APAC region.
My love for travel, talking to strangers and finding new locations ended up being very useful in production, and I would go out as a ‘film fixer’ for international crews visiting Hong Kong. It was pretty awesome actually – I remember working for a global Starbucks ad and the New York crew from Rabbit had asked if knew where I could find 15 monks who would be willing to drink Starbucks coffee on a junk boat, and I would say: “Well ACTUALLY, I was just chatting to this monk the other day……..” And so that’s how I got into production. After 4 years in hong Kong, I tried to come home before I got sent to Singapore to start up the production office for global-Swedish prod company Chimney Group, where I eventually moved into advertising, producing large-scale ads for global brands such as Marvel, Netflix, Disney, Nike, Starbucks for the SEA region.
~ Ok back to writing in third person, as this is the less interesting part where I drop in companies I’ve worked for and what kinds of productions I produce etc. ~
Since returning home in 2016, Olivia has worked for a number of production companies and advertising agencies including Vice, The Sweet Shop, Prodigious, Leo Burnett and The Royals. She has produced music videos for top Australian music artists such as Vera Blue and Jessica Mauboy, and worked on independent films such as indie feature film ‘What If It Works?’ and bilingual web series ‘Girl Interpreted’. Her short film, directed by Lydia Rui ‘This Perfect Day’ premiered in 2019 at Tribeca Film Festival, played at a number of film festivals including Flickerfest, and selected on Close Up Culture’s ‘Top 30 Short Films of 2019’, Omeleto and staff-picked on Vimeo.
Aside from commercial work, she works with a number of freelance creatives, in particular supporting artistic projects and stories told by female creatives and people of colour. Her proudest achievements include working on social films advocating for gender equality, including ‘‘Beside Not Behind’, ‘Jumpwoman’ and ‘Team Girls’.
In Olivia’s spare-time she also likes to facilitate and run community social events such as The Life Exchange, a monthly curated conversation & workshop series that connect and bring people together through deeper conversations, as well as the annual Film & TV Freelancers Christmas Party for freelance crew in Melbourne. One can take the host out of the party, but not the party out of the host.