Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Interview and shorts on Chopso as well as another Zine

Forgot to make a November update. I was caught up being back in my hometown. The year is starting to wrap up. It was a bit slow in the latter half. I did get asked to put a few of my shorts on Chopso, which is a Netflix like service for Asian American content. They interviewed me as well and I was pretty happy with out it came out. Here is an excerpt below, but if you want to check the rest of it out click this link.

C: Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I was originally a computer engineering major. My freshman year of college was at Louisiana State University in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. School was cancelled for two weeks, a tree landed on my car, and I had some time for self-reflection. I had just had a terrible first semester and I remember sitting in my Physics 101 class and wanting to just gouge my eyes out, thinking about hanging out with the same people from high school, playing more World of Warcraft, and taking 3.5 more years of classes I didn’t enjoy. It was that moment when I realized that I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t have a childhood dream of making movies, but I knew I enjoyed storytelling, so I decided to switch my major to film and attend University of New Orleans, the only film school in the state. My parents weren’t super happy with it.

I was also asked to submit another article on the story time zine. This issue focused on self discovery so I wrote about my thoughts on how people perceived the roles that I had gotten since getting into the acting biz. Here it is below.

Walking Stereotype

      I was at the Q&A for the Asian American International Film Festival in New York for my feature film Steve Chong finds out that Suicide is a Bad Idea. I was one of the leads in the movie and had written the story with some friends from film school. It was a sold out screening and the audience reception was amazing. I was riding high, answering questions and getting praise from the audience. Then one Asian guy raised his hand and said, “you know, throughout this week I’ve seen movies with a broad range of Asian characters that defy stereotypes. Do you find it problematic that you played the awkward, shy Asian nerd who never gets laid, which is basically reinforcing a negative stereotype?” I was caught by surprise. Here I was thinking that I was taking a positive step forward by making a movie with an Asian character as a lead, only to be told that I was bringing us back a few steps. I hadn’t even thought of my character in that context. This was the first time I learned about the torch I had to bear as an Asian person working in the film industry.

     I would say that with almost every major role that I’ve played I’ve had someone say, either to me or about me online, that they felt that by me taking the role I was doing “our people” some kind of injustice. For 21 Jump Street I played a character named Roman, who was part of a group of nerds who liked science and technology and were kind of dorky. I’m good at science and technology and am kind of dorky so I didn’t think much of it when I was cast for the role. It turned out that the role was originally even written for a black guy, and I was the only Asian who went in for the callback audition. I had a lot of fun on that set and the experience was the launching point for my acting career. After the movie came out,some people called my character a walking stereotype. One of my cousins approached me at a wedding to tell me that I should be more cognizant of the roles that I take on in the future. On the other hand, I remember talking to one of the directors of the movie and he told me that he cast me because I was the only one who came into the audition who played a “nerdy” character with confidence. Everyone else played it like a stereotypically meek version. It’s still a role I’m proud of.

     For The Big Short, I play a character from China who acts like he doesn’t know English, but then breaks the fourth wall to let the audience know, in a perfect American accent, that not knowing English is a facade to make his math skills more credible. To me, the rolet was interesting and kind of ironic because I personally don’t even know how to speak any form of Chinese language fluently, so it was cool to kind of play into the stereotype, but then turn it on its head. Recently, someone on Twitter told me that they stopped watching the movie right after seeing my part. Another person I talked to at a film festival party told me that seeing that portion of the film made them uncomfortable. That I was the butt of a racist joke and that people were meant to laugh at me than with me.

     It’s a unique perspective I am forced to confront every time I audition for a role. Apparently the characters that I’m most right for are the ones that people consider negative stereotypes. It’s not that I’m blind to the fact that there are problematic aspects to the way I’m being portrayed in mainstream media, but I feel like I’m able to improve on those written roles by making them more real. I have had to accept the fact that there will be people who will still only concentrate on the negative.

     Going back to the Q&A for Steve Chong, I responded to the question by saying, “we didn’t make this movie with race in mind at all. I was literally just playing myself on screen. So if what you saw was a negative stereotype, then I guess I’m a negative stereotype.” He sat back down seemingly dissatisfied with the answer. After the screening, he came up apologized and said that he now felt like it was problematic that he even asked the question in the first place. If the character of Steve Chong needed to be a shy, awkward dude who doesn’t get laid because Stanley is also a shy, awkward dude who doesn’t get laid then that’s cool. I figure if that guy can accept for me who I am, then I sure as hell should too. But ultimately, I hope that it doesn’t ever have to be asked in the first place.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Youtube Milestone and other updates

Recently got back from a trip to Europe. Lately I've been getting into international travel with a small group of friends. For the most part we just eat. Last year, it was Tokyo and this year we decided to go for Europe and knock out London and Paris. For those interested, it's mostly logged on my instagram account and it starts with this post below.

A post shared by Stanley Wong (@swong37) on

I've otherwise been writing a lot lately. Have been working on the same short for a long time, but have also recently finished writing a pilot and a feature film. I also recently got accepted as a writer for the 2018 CBS Diversity Sketch Showcase. Been having trouble acclimating myself into writing for that CBS showcase though, so we will see how that will develop. Otherwise, just been working the grind. Holidays are coming up and it starts to slow down then. Hopefully I can get another short made before the end of the year. Writing is rewarding in itself, but I find myself missing the accomplishment of finishing a film of my own.

 Also, this is crazy. I recently checked out my youtube page and saw that I have had over 10 million views logged. Over 99% of the views are from the Pac-Man viral video I made over 10 years ago now. I really wish some of my more recent works would have caught on, but it's fine. 10,000,000.... damn.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Zine Article and other stuff

Little late on the update. Been mostly busy and nothing huge to update on. A lot of writing has been happening. Just finished writing drafts for my next short, finished up a TV pilot, working on a feature, and recently got accepted as a writer for the CBS Sketch Diversity Showcase.

I also recently got asked to write something for my friend Lianne's zine. I never wrote for a zine before. I'm still not even 100% sure what a zine is, but it was cool to be asked so I accepted. The theme for the issue was Los Angeles and I wanted to write something unique. I was suggested to do a list so I decided my topic would be comparing LA the state to L.A. the city. I have it posted below.

LA vs L.A.
By Stanley Wong
I find myself in a very particular case when it comes to people using abbreviations for places that involve the letters L and A. I was born and raised in Louisiana (LA), but I moved to Los Angeles (L.A.) about four years ago to LIVE THE DREAM. A lot of the time in writing people ask a question about LA/L.A. and I have to follow up with “Do you mean Los Angeles or Louisiana?” On both ends, I have people telling me “Well of course I meant L.A/LA, you dingus.” But how the hell was I supposed to know? A lot of people from Los Angeles have gotten lazy and stopped using the two periods and I guess people in Louisiana just never think about Los Angeles at all (which might explain why no one ever comes to visit me). Anyways, I just wanted to start this piece with that bit in hopes that people stop calling me a dingus.
Parking – In my first four months of living in Los Angeles I got eight parking tickets. I haven't gotten a parking ticket in a long time lately and it's because I learned one simple thing. PARKING SIGNS MATTER. In Louisiana, you can straight up look at a NO PARKING sign and what it actually means is WELL I'M NOT SAYING YOU CAN PARK HERE, BUT YOU CAN PROBABLY PARK HERE. Literally every thing you can get a ticket for I had to find out the hard way in Los Angeles. You actually have to pay the meters the amount of time you park there? Yes. The street cleaning is actually a real thing? Yes. When it says two hours parking they actually know that your car has been there for longer than two hours? This one really blew my mind, but yes. So learn from my pain and trust the signs. They will not mislead you. They mean what they say.
Weather – Los Angeles is known for its weather. I can wear a pair of jeans, T-Shirt, and a hoodie all year round and I'd be perfectly fine. Louisiana is also known for its weather. I can wear a pair of jeans, T-Shirt, and a hoodie for like 4 months out of the year and every other time and I would probably just die. I've gotten soft. I've been in L.A. long enough now that when I go anywhere else and experience anything below 60 degrees or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit I think the world is ending. I went back to Louisiana for the summer once since moving and I felt like my face was melting. I asked my friends and family if there was record breaking heat that year and they said no. In fact, it was cooler than normal. The weather is so goddamn nice in Los Angeles that when it rains, people lose their fucking minds out here whereas in Louisiana there can be a category five hurricane headed straight for you and people won't even think about moving. I was there for that shit. It was nuts.
Food – My favorite culinary discovery in Los Angeles has got to be the taco truck taco. There just isn't anything quite like it and there's nothing I've found that's more satisfying at 2 AM when nothing else is open. In Louisiana, the closest thing you can get is Taco Bell. Not only as just a late night nothing else is open and this is my last resort type of food. Taco Bell is actually a pretty decent option there when it comes to just Mexican cuisine in general. I know that Louisiana is known for its food, but it wasn't until I lived in Los Angeles for a few years that I realized that it's ONLY known for its signature Cajun/Creole food and nothing else. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing. But Los Angeles has actually been called the city with the best ethnic food in the world. Pretty bold claim, but I believe it. My taste palate has also been completely ruined because of Louisiana. Almost any time that I eat seafood anywhere else I think “This is ok.... but it would probably be better with a fistful of cajun seasonings, a sauce made out of an entire stick of butter, and being fried to hell.” But even despite Los Angeles’ completely availability of amazing authentic Mexican food, I've still eaten Taco Bell out here a few times. Old habits die hard.
Asians – The first thing I did when I arrived in Los Angeles after a four day drive from Louisiana was go to the Westfield Mall in Century City to eat. After five seconds of walking around I looked around and screamed “HOLY SHIT THERE ARE A LOT OF ASIANS HERE!” Growing up in the deep south there weren't a lot of Asian people. I did a high school senior prank where we threw boxes of crickets in the hallways and I opted to wear a mask even though that calls a lot of attention to itself. But, I did it because literally the only thing someone would have to say to identify me is that they saw an Asian dude with glasses. I was the only one in my entire school. Would that shit fly in Los Angeles? No, you can probably find just as many actors/actresses as you could Asian dudes with glasses. So it was at that moment I had the epiphany that I wouldn't be alone anymore. I wouldn't be “the Asian kid” in all the social circles. It was an interesting feeling. That's all I have to say about that.

She also drew this cool picture of me and added it into the book. Fan art!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Music Video and other updates

July has been a busy month. Every year I go to Evolution (A Street Fighter Tournament) and San Diego Comic Con, which takes up two weekends. This year I also tacked on a New York trip. The month isn't over yet so maybe there's time to do something else, but I'm honestly kind of exhausted. I had some huge auditions that happened as well, so I'm really excited to see what happens with those. As always I'm also writing. Currently have two shorts, a pilot, and a feature in the works. Wish I had something closer to production, but it's tough.

So a few months ago, I was contacted on facebook and asked to be in a music video. It was from a director I had never met and for an artist I had never heard of. It was a paying gig though and it would require me belting out on karaoke, which I would have done for free. Not everyone knows, but I'm a karaoke enthusiast. I really let out when it comes to Karaoke even though I'll shy away from doing almost anything dance related. I actually list karaoke as one of my very few performance skills on my acting resume. Funny enough, apparently the director told me that he cast me based on my performance in The Big Short and Hand Fart, which don't really give any indication that I would be good at karaoke at all. But good on him for recognizing my potential?

The music video was recently released. It has a press release on Teen Vogue. Never thought that anything I would be in would be featured on Teen Vogue, but there's a first for everything!

Here's the link to the video itself.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hand Fart as a Vimeo Staff Pick

Long time without an update, but I was kind of waiting on hearing on a few things. Lots of ups and downs lately, but this one will be focused on Hand Fart finally being released online.

It's been over a year since Hand Fart first screened and I had really high hopes for it because it's a really short piece that leaves an impression. I submitted to all of the larger festivals and even got invited to some higher end festivals, but by the end of it I had only gotten into the Nashville Film Festival. That experience was really great though and we won the Audience Award at that festival so I still believed in the movie, but we never really got into any other festivals. I was told that it was hard to program, which I suppose I can understand.

Because Nashville Film Festival was an Academy Award Qualifying festival I was eligible to submit for the movie to be a Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere. They only pick one movie a week and they usually follow it with a small write up. Unfortunately, I didn't get a staff pick premiere, but my movie did get picked as a staff pick, which is just as good. I always thought that Hand Fart would do better online anyway, so I'm glad to announce that it is now online for all to see on Vimeo. I even made this cool thumbnail for everyone.

So watch it, share it, do whatever. I think this is the greatest artistic achievement I've created so far and I hope people recognize it. I've been writing a lot and have a lot of things coming, but I hope this holds people over until then.

Hand Fart from Stanley Wong / Travis Ashkenasy on Vimeo.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Last Straw Trailer and Sex Bell

The trailer for the short that I co-directed with Vince Cruz that played at the recent LA Asian Pacific Film Festival got posted. It had a really great audience reception actually. I was initially scared it wouldn't do so well because the whole production was kind of rushed and I wasn't super stoked about the script because I don't even drink boba. It probably won't be online for a while, but until then you can check this out.

I worked on another short last weekend as part of the AT&T Create-A-Thon Festival. After the LA Asian Film Festival I got depressed because I felt like I hadn't made that much, even though half of the year had almost passed. I got an email for this 32 hour competition thing and I started reaching out to some folks to see if they were interested in making something. Even up to the day before I still wasn't sure if I was going to go through with it though.

We didn't know for sure if there would be any parameters to how the short would be made, but thankfully Chris Lee (who was part of the We Kill Kaiju's team that I was a part of for channel 101) wrote a script out just in case there weren't any restrictions. Me and my roommate Phil went to the meeting and found out we could make whatever we wanted and we got home and started rushing to produce things so that we could shoot for the next day. We somehow were able to secure all the cast, crew, and locations before the night ended.

The next day was a bit of a whirlwind. Actors were dropping out and we were scrambling to fill those roles while still traveling to shoot and getting everything together. Surprisingly, everything actually all worked out. The only thing that didn't was the shoot we had planned in a subway train. We thought we were just gonna walk on to an empty train and start shooting, but when we got down there we realized that there were way too many people. We ended up just shooting it on the subway platform, but even then there was a lot of security that we had to avoid. At one point they came out and we hid all of our cameras and they stood there and stared at us and we thought for sure we were busted. Then all of a sudden they asked us if we saw a suspicious looking person carrying a bunch of trash and we pointed him in the opposite direction and finished the scene when they were out of sight.

I stayed up all night editing with Phil. We would take turns taking one hour naps while struggling to keep our heads straight. I really love the rush of being on set, but there was definitely a moment where I thought "I don't think I really miss this part." By the end of it, we came out with a pretty good movie and turned it in maybe 10 minutes before the deadline. We went to the screening and in my opinion I thought ours was way above everyone else's and sure enough we won. We got 40 $25 amazon gift cards. We ended up splitting it pretty evenly among all the cast and crew.

A post shared by Stanley Wong (@swong37) on
So anyways, I posted the video on youtube recently. It's called Sex Bell and it's pretty good considering we made it in less than two days. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Nashville Film Festival / LA Asian Pacific Film Festival 2017

Little late on doing my monthly updates. A lot of things have actually happened. I recently got cast in a Fox pilot, which is great because it was initially a really light pilot season. In fact, I was actually supposedly booked in a much smaller role in the show but then they cut from the script. A week later, I got notice that they had written in some new roles and because they had already seen me they just gave it to me. It was a really great experience, but with the looming writer's strike it may not actually even happen so we'll see what happens. I'll write more about it when I figure out if that gets settled.

So Hand Fart played at the Nashville Film Festival, which I thought was great because it's the first non Asian related festival we got into. Me and Travis both flew down there and it was our first time going to Nashville. There's some really great red carpet photos we were able to take.

Our first screening unfortunately played at a bad time because it conflicted with the opening party and the local shorts program. It was less than half full, but it played really well. We both had to leave before our second screening, but apparently it was almost full during that one. I knew we probably wouldn't win any of the traditional jury awards, but I got notification that we actually won the audience award. We're even featured in an article in Variety, which is my first time being in that publication. http://variety.com/2017/film/news/nashville-film-festival-complete-winners-list-1202403863/ I have my certificate coming in the mail and in the meantime, I get these cool laurels now. I hadn't won an award for my movies since we won the audience award for Steve Chong so I'm glad that I feel like I'm getting back into the groove of becoming an award winning filmmaker again.

I otherwise have a short that is playing at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival again this upcoming week. It's from a script that I didn't write, but I was asked to direct from a friend. So I don't feel like it is a movie that is exactly mine, but I'm still glad I have a movie in the festival again. It's called The Last Straw and is about competitive boba drinking.


Other than that I've been very much inspired to create a lot more. I'm writing a zombie feature with an old collaborator and still polishing a previous pilot from before. I'm really trying to get a 10-15 minute short off the ground in the next few months. The year is starting off pretty strong. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Music Video and other stuffs

Forgot to make updates for a while. The Channel 101 show that I starred in got cancelled in the February screening. It was sad, but we got voted in 7th place so we didn't make the top 5 to be able to make a 4th episode.
Also, my first music video that I directed actually made it's online debut a few months ago. My friend Peter Su, who I met at We own the 8th, asked me to direct it. It's not the typical material that I usually make, but I was excited to try out the medium and I like his music. It was a cool experience and I'm definitely excited about making more in the future. It was even recently featured on the Huffington Post, which was cool.

Other than that I recently started co-directing another short with Vince Cruz who brought me on. It'll be playing at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival so I'm excited I have something playing two years in a row.

Handfart got into the Nashville Film Festival, so its first Non-Asian Festival screening. Also working on some more shorts. Blah blah blah.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

New Year

So it's 2017. Just wanted to give a few thoughts on what's happened so far and what I hope/plan to do for the year.

I've been submitting Hand Fart to festivals. It got rejected from Sundance/Slamdance, but I submitted to about 10 more so I'm hopeful to be able to travel if it gets accepted to those festivals. Stay tuned for that. I really think it should be able to do well on the festival circuit.

I recently wrote a TV pilot with my frequent collaborator Travis Ashkenasy and Desmond Chiam (who I've cast in a handful of my projects) and have been submitting it to certain grants and fellowships. It's a little different from what I usually write because it's so high concept and a little bit more of a traditional comedy, but it's looking really good and I'm excited to get my hand in writing. I'm not really sure what you're supposed to do with a pilot script, but I really think it will lead to more in the future.

Speaking of Travis Ashkenasy, he recently moved from Los Angeles back to the bay area. It came as quite a bit of a shock since I felt like I had finally found a collaborator I really enjoyed working with and we were just starting to create some really great stuff, but real life things forced him to move and I'm now in a position where I need to figure out how to keep things going. Granted, the bay area isn't far so we still very much plan to meet in Los Angeles and continue writing and shooting when necessary, but currently he is out of the country for the next three months so I need to figure out what to do with my time until then as well.

So, on that end, one of my goals is to complete another short. I'm thinking in the 10-15 minute range so that I can make something with a bit more of a story and impact. Loose details so far, but I want to make something on the topic of online dating and how it has changed the game of relationships so far. Tone wise, I feel like my wheelhouse has been playing with genre and presenting really serious material and pushing it to where it just ends up being funny. I'd like to experiment with the opposite and present typically comedic material, but take it so far that you actually see some of the tragedy behind it. Hard to think of examples, but I think my friend's short (which recently won the grand jury prize at Sundance) is a bit of an indicator of what I want to go for.

Thunder Road from Jim Cummings on Vimeo.

Other than that, I want to keep up the acting stuff as well. I have high hopes this year. I feel like I have a lot of momentum going into it. I actually booked my first audition of the year on a new show already. It's a one day role, but I felt like it was a good one. I'll write about that in a very near future post.