Come to any major TU football game, and it’s likely you’ve seen sophomore JP Susantio.
Though he’s not a journalist or an athlete, he’s found himself on Trojan sidelines all the same. With his camera in his hand, Susantio has embraced his own form of storytelling — and he’s fully dedicated to making the most of his major in film.
“A lot of textbooks say you can’t have a backup plan,” Susantio said. “It’s either all in or nothing. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t — it’s probably responsible — but for me personally, I’m going all in.”
In film, this means truly embracing whatever opportunities have come Susantio’s way, including helping create a feature documentary on Taylor’s Trojan football team with partner and staff writer at The Echo, sophomore Enoch Eicher.
“Now’s like the perfect time because they’re in this season of change with a new coach,” Susantio said. “So, we’re just covering them right now and we’re showing up to their major games and getting as much b-roll and trying to interview them afterwards as much as possible.”
It’s not so different from more traditional methods of storytelling.
And Susantio does choose to see himself as an artist when it comes to filming documentaries.
“I really liked focusing on just like people and their stories,” Susantio said. “I get like a bigger picture of it.”
Practically speaking, this means taking into account the little things that make us who we are, emphasizing the smaller tells and trinkets that have a greater meaning in our lives.
Susantio will often try to interview people in their own environment — not just to make them comfortable, but to showcase who they are as humans.
It’s all part of Susantio’s dedication to seeing stories and, once again, going all in to bring them to life.
Yet it’s not just the film industry where Susantio practices this level of commitment.
A Discipleship Assistant (DA) in Samuel Morris Hall, Susantio has gotten to be a part of many Sammy students’ spiritual narratives as well.
“Before taking up the job, I didn’t consider myself to be like — to be super strong in my faith,” Susantio said. “Since then, I think the experience and like, privilege of being able to do that really like, it helps me see God.”
Susantio’s all-in attitude has certainly been rewarded as he’s lived out his faith. But the position wasn’t one he initially wanted.
Brought into the role by one of his friends, Susantio became a DA solely because someone needed to step up. But since then, his spiritual life has become an open book to the men on Penthouse.
“Now, I’m talking to a bunch of guys. They know Jesus, but maybe not as well as they think they do,” Susantio said.
And he’s living out the example he hopes to set for them, tying right back into his major.
Christian filmography has long been looked down upon by the general public, but in addition to telling stories with truth and transparency, Susantio tries to bring in Christian values to his work.
“I think I kind of tend to lean towards like more artistic things,” Susantio said. “But through that, you can see it in a Christian lens.”
Redemption is one such theme Susantio likes to cover in his work. Another is peace, though he shows it in a slightly more humorous way.
Co-hosting the WTUR podcast The Alliance, Susantio is breaking dorm stereotypes to form a friendship between residents of Samuel Morris and Wengatz Halls, famously known for their rivalry on campus.
“We just like hang out and like interview people,” Susantio said.
But the community is clearly creating an impact. With seventy-some Instagram followers and a broad collection of guest voices, The Alliance is available through both the WTUR radio station and through Spotify, broadcasting Wednesday nights at 7 pm.
It’s just one more way Susantio has found himself going all-in on campus.
And as for the future?
Susantio has decided he isn’t looking for an office job. Instead, he’s hoping to get involved with a production company, with his post-graduation plans involving a move to Atlanta.
“I would love to do something creative,” Susantio said. “And the plan right now is to go.”
Without a back-up plan, JP Susantio is fully dedicated to his craft, living as honestly as the stories he tells. And behind the lens, he’s exemplifying — not just to the men of Sammy but to the world at large — what it means to live a life that’s all-in.