Saturday, December 20, 2014

Asian auditions

I went into an audition not too long ago where I was supposed to be playing a Korean kid. The breakdown said I needed to know conversational Korean. Me being Chinese without even knowing any Chinese language conversationally, I asked my manager if it was a good idea if I should go. He told me I should just learn a couple of phrases and just go in. I got my friend to translate three phrases that fit into the script and I made my best attempt at emulating the accent and such. 

I went to the audition and signed in and sat across from another Asian guy. As I was sitting there going over my "Korean" lines I noticed the guy across from me was also doing it, but out loud. Eventually he asked me "hey, so do you actually know Korean?" And I told no, I just got a friend to translate it for me. He then tells me he basically did the same thing and that even though he's Korean he didn't really know the language.

I go in the audition and do pretty ok at it. Afterward he asks me if I'm actually Korean and I say I'm ethnically Chinese, but I have Korean friends and have picked up a few phrases here and there. Overall I got the sense that he wasn't super convinced though. As I leave I take one look at the sign in sheet and realize that most of the people called in aren't teallynkorean so they probably all faked it.

I've gotten a few auditions now asking to either speak mandarin or have a native Vietnamese accent and such and it's kinda frustrating. I grew up as an Asian guy in America, but more than anything I feel like I identify as just American more than anything. I guess more often than not I do get called in for "non Asian specific" roles, but it also seems weird that I'm expected to fill in as everything else that my skin color denotes as well. I guess it's better than nothing though.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

First screening of short and updates

It's been a while since I posted. I guess because I realized there wasn't anything too important to write about and maybe because I just got lazy.

Mostly what I have been working on is the short film about the end of the world. I recently screened it to an audience for the first time last night. This was an interesting movie because once I was done with a fine cut of the movie I realized I still didn't know what the movie would be like since music and vfx would change the feel of the movie significantly. I had only just gotten all the elements together a few hours before the screening and suddenly the short became a different movie before my eyes. I didn't know if it was for better or worse but I decided to just screen it and see what happens.

As expected, the first few moments that were meant to be funny hit the right beats and I think people understood the premise right away. It was the ending that the audience did not laugh at all at. I think we did really professional special effects so the kind of ironic comedic ending I was going for was not appearing somber and depressing. As the movie ended, silence filled the theater and I almost wanted to say "come on guys! It's funny!"

Afterward people did congratulate me and say that they liked it, but I couldn't help but feel that I had failed somewhere. My co director for the movie stated that maybe this new reaction is just a new direction that we need to take the film in, but I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with that. I showed it to a few more people and I think I came up with a solution to "enhance" the ending in a way that more clearly shows what I was initially going for. We'll see how that turns out.

On a side note I'm auditioning more which is nice. Hopefully this is a good sign for the new year.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Update on Projects

Haven't been posting much, so I figured I'd just give an update on what's going on in general....

Finished the first cut of the end of the world short. It's coming along really well. I got the composer who did the music for the Pac-Man short and the Steve Chong movie to agree to do the music for this and it looks like it is on track to be showcased for that thing on Dec 8th. I'm pretty happy with it, but it has a long way to go from here.

The music video thing that I had planned is kind of falling through. At least my involvement with it. I hadn't done a music video before, so I was excited about the prospect of doing something really cool. As the weeks went by, it was becoming clear that it was a bigger ordeal than everyone was making it out to be. As it stands, we were supposed to shoot last week and the song hasn't even gotten finished yet. I met up with a friend on what could conceivably get done by this weekend before I had to leave to Louisiana for Thanksgiving and he said.... not much. So I told the group good luck and went off on my way. Oh well.

The voiceover project is still in development, but needs another script pass. We probably won't be able to get it done for the 8th, but it will definitely at least be shot before the end of the year.

I got my rejection notice from the Armed with a Camera fellowship. I was kind of disappointed, but having talked to other people about my idea I think it was very unlikely that they would accept it. Having said that though, I still might want to make it down the line. It was basically a commentary on the nature of race in films and how more often than not it is more convenient to just take it out of the equation by just making everyone white.

Haven't gotten very far on the feature script lately. I have been kinda backtracking and wondering if the idea we have is even the one that will make us break through. I believe it still is.... but in the meantime I still feel like it is important to get short projects off of the ground to build a base of sorts.

Anyways, lately I've been kind of inspired by the work of this directing duo named Daniels. They're more known for their crazy music videos (which I had been watching a lot of lately), but they also made shorts that I think are just really cool to watch. They released one recently that kind of.... blew me away. From now on, I think I definitely want to just make stuff that has a super unique voice and gives people the impression that they've never seen anything like this before.

Interesting Ball from DANIELS on Vimeo.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wrapped on Short #1

Recently finished principal photography on the end of the world shoot. I Acted, Co-wrote, Co-directed, and Co-produced and will eventually add the editing credit to it. I wanted a co-director actually because I personally find it to be really hard to act and direct at the same time. I think because I started off as such a technical minded person, when I'm in front of the camera I find myself looking at all of the technical stuff in front of me and I can't help but think about that stuff and I usually step out of the character. I think this time it wasn't too bad since I had a co-director. I tried to not look at playback or even the monitor unless an opinion was really needed on my part.

Overall, I think the production went really well though. We had a 5 person crew, which technically makes it the biggest production I was able to assemble in Los Angeles. Most of the sketch comedy videos I had made recently have been super low key and usually it's just 1-2 person crew tops. I was able to borrow a camera from one friend, lights and sound equipment from another friend, and get most of the cast and crew to work for free. So yeah, it's good to know I can get a decent production together on a shoestring budget. Technically the biggest expense was lunch, which I always splurge on because I feel like a production with good food is a good production.

I'm trying to get this finished for this media showcase that is occurring on Dec. 8th, so it'll be done pretty soon. I'll post about it as things get done. I supposedly have another shoot set for this weekend, it's not as likely to happen though... we'll see...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Falling through

So I had another gig just fall through again. This time it was for a huge movie, but it would have been a smaller role. The whole process was really strange actually.

I auditioned for a one line role for this movie about a month ago and didn't hear anything. Three weeks later I got an email saying I didn't get that role, but they were looking to put me in another role and they would let me know in a few days. A few days later they said I would have a meeting with the director the next day at the studio. At this point, I still don't know what the role is for and it seems really strange to have a "meeting" with a director for such a small role. If it was a small role at all. I still had no idea what it was for and I asked my manager if he could divulge any details at all. After a long while he tells me "they want you to drool nerdy".

The next day I show up to the studio in a graphic tee and a hoodie (my nerdy look, or at least as far as I was willing to go). I wander to the stage where I'm supposed to meet and I see like 10 other people dressed as nerds just standing outside including one in a full batman getup. I assume this is where I was supposed to stand and I just wait there for about 20 minutes. Finally someone shows up and says that they're actually in the middle of a shooting schedule and we would "meet" the director when they had a break between setups. Finally we get some details of what the role is. It apparently involves stunts and doesn't "involve acting at all". After another 20 minutes or so of waiting outside we finally start going through the stage in a line. As we're walking through, the casting director tells us "Isn't this the weirdest thing? The director was very insistent on not having a stunt person. He wanted comedic faces." Finally our "meeting" comes up. One by one we walked up, waved hi to the director, they took our picture, then they told us to leave. That was it. We waited for about an hour and we were pretty much out of there in less than 10 seconds.

When I got back, everyone was curious to know how my meeting went. When I went around telling people that I had a meeting with the director I was under the impression it would be a more involved interaction than an audition when in fact it was less. I think everyone shared my disappointment. The next day I got an email from my manager telling me that apparently they did have to go with a stunt person after all. Funny enough, this wasn't even the first time this happened. I got replaced by a stunt person when I got a role in the movie "Oldboy" by Spike Lee. But yeah.... basically I feel like I hyped things up for myself and I now have another "miss" to add to my belt for the year. I've got another prospect that came up yesterday that I'm not gonna tell anyone about. Hopefully that will be the ticket to booking...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Website is launched

It's still kind of unfinished actually... but it should be fine for now considering I'm only posting it on this blog and I still never publicly posted this blog either.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Two recent screenings and what was wrong with them...

So one of the benefits of living in Los Angeles is there is always free screenings to go to. I went to two recently that were special sneak preview screenings that had the cast and crew there. Both movies were considered "indies" I guess but were movies that probably had less than a $5,000,000 budget and had a handful of names but were probably still constricted by budget. Both were also flawed in a way and I guess I'll talk about them.

The first was Revenge of the Green Dragons that was directed by the guy who made Infernal Affairs, which was the movie that The Departed was a remake of which became a best picture winner in the Oscars. Martin Scorsese put his name on it as Executive Producer probably as a favor to the filmmakers. Honestly, he should probably be pretty ashamed to be associated with it at all. The movie is a pretty big mess. I honestly could not really tell you what went on through a majority of the movie. I feel like it tried to just fill every gangster movie cliche into a 90 minute movie. At the end they randomly had a twist that was unnecessary and just served to make everything before it even more confusing. I started laughing out loud when it occurred and a handful of people looked at me like I was as an asshole. It wouldn't be the first time though. Probably the worst aspect of it to me was the casting. They had a handful of Asian American "celebrities" but they were horribly miscast. A lot of characters seemed like pretty boys trying to shed their image and trying too hard in doing so. This was the worst of the two movies for sure. The whole story just rang false too, which is surprising because apparently it's based on a true story (of course that doesn't mean a damn thing these days). I'd probably give this like a 3/10.

Sex Ed was the second movie. It starred Haley Joel Osment of the Sixth Sense and AI except now he's like 25 and he's in an R rated sex comedy now. This wasn't as bad, but I feel like this movie suffered from now being too bold. The movie was mildly funny, but there were times where I felt like the movie could have pushed further and they didn't and other times where something really strange would happen and it would just feel off tone. Overall it just felt very predictable and feels like it could have just as easily have been a studio movie/ So as it stands it just looks and feels like a cheap studio movie with a star who is kind of worth seeing it for. They mentioned that they were worried throughout about pissing parents off with the topic of Sex Ed since it's kind of a hot button issue these days, but I feel like they should have went further with it. They're probably not going to get those people in the theater anyways, so the least they could have done is made a really interesting take on the whole issue, but instead it was pretty flat. It was ok though... I'd give it like a 6/10.

Both make me wonder what to do when I eventually want to make my indie feature film debut. I am writing a movie currently, I guess I just gotta learn from these examples and try to do better.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Some more videos to post

Working on my website. Probably will launch it in the next day or two. Was trying to find a place for these videos, but I feel like they're kind of in a class of their own. Anyways, these are a series of 30 second to 1 minutes videos I did with my old roommate back in Louisiana. They were pretty fun.

Gonna be a busy month

So I haven't been able to post everyday. I don't think I should... there's isn't always something to say.

That and over the next month I'm gonna be working on producing at least 3 different short film projects. I recently started going to these #Weownthe8th meetings that is run by Dante Basco who played Rufio in the movie "Hook". Anyways, they're holding a media showcase of sorts on Dec 8th and they broke people into groups to create content for it. I was already looking to shoot a couple of different things and this deadline provided a good excuse. Here's what I have going so far....

I broke into a group who wanted to make a musical of some sort. The idea developed and we eventually decided that it would be about following people's lives going through a shitty day. Before long a song was made and I came up with a pretty crazy idea for a video. This one is the most elaborate and may not end up happening, but I'm excited about it. I'm directing/editing, but won't be in it.

Second project is based on a anthology concept I came up with some friends back in New Orleans. It's basically what people would do if they had literally 5-10 minutes left before the world ended. I decided to shoot the one that seemed the easiest and the concept for that is a guy deciding that he wants to confess his love to a girl. When he gets to the girl's apartment he starts spewing it out but within seconds another guy comes in and confesses his love to the same girl as well. Hijinks ensue. I'll be co-directing/acting in this one.

Last project will be a short comedy sketch based on the experience I had with a voiceover agent. I submitted to be represented by her and she responded that they currently weren't looking for anyone who had an Asian accent, but they would let me know when they did. Only problem... I don't have an accent at all. It was silly.

Anyways, too lazy to write more. But it'll be a busy month. I also submitted an application to this Armed With A Camera Fellowship which is basically a grant program for Asian American filmmakers to get a short film made. We'll see how that goes too. Oh yeah, and I'm still attempting to finish writing this feature film I've been working about my high school days.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Not many people have seen this...

I don't know who actually reads this blog, but I'll just post this. A friend from high school asked me to be in this... it was an interesting time... I'll just put this here for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Short auditions, weird convos, and talking cats

Not sure if I'll actually be writing posts once a day, but I figure I'm on a roll so far so why not?

I went to an audition today for a tv show. I was auditioning for four different roles actually, but each of the roles were pretty much one line that was between 1-6 words. The night before I watched a couple episodes of the show, thought about the wardrobe, tone of the show, genre, what the people who made it did before, where my character would fit in this world, etc etc etc. All this stuff that I learned in class that I should do. Then I showed up, and did four 5 second auditions for the lady and I was out of there. It's crazy to think, but I guess that's the business I'm in....

On my way back I stopped at a trader joe's and saw the wife of one of the directors from 21/22 Jump Street and had a weird conversation. Didn't really know what to say... was kind of in a hurry, but it was basically pretty awkward on my part. Oh well, hopefully it doesn't reflect too poorly. Here's a link to a video I saw last night of a talking cat that's pretty amazing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Almost, but not yet

So I recently auditioned for a role in a movie where there weren't many lines, but I would be around for the whole movie. So basically something like that I had for 21 Jump Street so it would have been a pretty sweet deal. I submitted a tape to my Louisiana agent for it and a few weeks later they asked for my availability since I was being considered for the role.

I usually try not to get too excited because things aren't official until they're official (there was the time where I was told I was booked for a role and shot the next day and then two hours later it was given to someone else because they had stunt experience). But they didn't get back to me in a week and I started just telling people the "good news". Unfortunately today, I found out that I wasn't cast and now I kind of immediately regret telling anyone at all. Kind of sucks, but I guess there's always the next one. I think from now on I'm not going to tell anyone anything until after something comes out. It's always more fun when people message me saying they had no idea I was even in this or that.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New sketch comedy video up!

We have a new video up on my sketch comedy team's page. All Asians Look Alike (An Action Thriller). This from was from an idea my brother pitched to me years and years ago, but we never got around to making it. When I got around to making sketch videos again this one was kind of a favorite in the pitch sessions. I was originally going to be in it, but because at the time we were a small operation I wanted to run the camera so I could try a handful of cool shots. Looking at it now... there aren't really that many cool shots though.

Thanks to Harrison Pak, Desmond Chiam, Tim Montoya, and Jinhee Joung (Kimmy Jin from Pitch Perfect) for agreeing to be in our video. Also to Romero's Chicken and Donuts for allowing us to shoot there.

A lot of people are confused by the ending. Does anyone else not get it?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I got a URL!

Recently bought the URL for what my official website will be.

It's not up yet, but I'm glad no one took the URL. For those wondering why I chose it, it comes from a t-shirt that my friend bought be in high school. I wore it for my Senior Superlative high school picture when I was voted most witty.

I think I still have the shirt at home, but it's pretty beat up. Here's one of the few pictures still left of it.

Thanks to Nick Marinello for taking the pic more than eight years ago.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Not sure what I'm doing...

I'm just trying to figure things out. Let's just start this off with my first video I ever did. It's probably still one of the works I'm most proud of.