A Portrait of Filmmakers as Young Men

Chinese Opera Singer William Lau, Justin Lin, me and Steven Pranoto in Toronto for Shopping For Fang’s Canadian premiere at TIFF 1997

Chinese Opera Singer William Lau, Justin Lin, me and Steven Pranoto in Toronto for Shopping For Fang’s Canadian premiere at TIFF 1997

Fellow Offender Justin Lin’s post on Class of 97 brings back humble memories of our roots as UCLA film students and independent filmmakers. I remember driving up to San Francisco to promote Shopping for Fangs at Berkeley. We stayed overnight on the floor of a future producer’s dorm room and we didn’t sleep very well on the night that she invited us to screen our movie on campus.

So the next night, when we were offered another night on the floor of this humble student’s dorm room, we declined and said we were heading back to Los Angeles.

But our secret plan was to find a nice motel room where we could spend a night in and write. As we were heading out of Berkeley, we checked all the motels in the vicinity and they all turned out to be over $60 per night. I was sure that we could find a motel room in the $40 range in the Oakland area.

Throwback Thursday: My Favorite 90s Tunes

(Left to Right: Akemi Look, Kimberly Rose-Wolter, Michelle Krusiec and Karin Anna Cheung play four best friends in the 90s in The Unbidden)

(Left to Right: Akemi Look, Kimberly Rose-Wolter, Michelle Krusiec and Karin Anna Cheung play four best friends in the 90s in The Unbidden)

As I was researching 1990s music for my feature in post-production, The Unbidden, I started to recall my favorite 90s tracks that still sound contemporary and fabulous. Here are my top 10 in no order or preference:

1. Opus III’s “It’s a Fine Day” (1992)

Reinventing Asian American Cinema

(Not so much The Joy Luck Club from left to right: Amy Hill, Kimberly Rose-Wolter, Michelle Krusiec, Tamlyn Tomita, Julia Nickson, Akemi Look, Elizabeth Sung and Karin Anna Cheung)

(Not so much The Joy Luck Club from left to right: Amy Hill, Kimberly Rose-Wolter, Michelle Krusiec, Tamlyn Tomita, Julia Nickson, Akemi Look, Elizabeth Sung and Karin Anna Cheung)

If there is a cinematic genre called Asian American film, then every Asian American feature should be an invention until we find a formula that can do well and sustain the genre. If we don’t have a formula, every movie must be a new invention or a re-invention. That’s the real excitement about Asian American cinema; precisely because there is no formula for success every movie can essentially be experimental and innovative.

I keep thinking that the last feature I made would be my last Asian American feature, but then there are so many wonderful Asian American actors I want to work with and so many new ideas I want to try out.

Around the Horn: Single Parenting

Bev

I want to take the opportunity to say a big congrats to fellow Offender Beverly who’s going to be a single parent. I’m also planning to be a single dad through surrogacy next year… I meant I have already started the process and am planning to have the child next year. I’ve always wanted to have a child since I was a teenager, and it seems like these couple years feel the right time to do it. It’s now or never. What are your thoughts on single parenting? Were you raised by a single mom or dad? What advice, thoughts or blessings would you give us?

A Return to ’0506HK’

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My ex-boss Director Peter Chan ruminated with me about my own future in 0506HK

My ex-boss Director Peter Chan ruminated with me about my own future in 0506HK

After almost 10 years since I started making my first documentary feature 0506HK, I was brought back to my little known and seen film by a festival in Kochi, India, which is showcasing it in their “Make Belong” program as part of Kochi-Muzuris Biennale. Right after Ethan Mao between 2005 and 2006, I picked up a prosumer HD camcorder and decided to make a film about my own search for identity. I had just turned 35 and I was wondering if I should return to my birthplace—Hong Kong—to live and make films.

It’s Never Too Late to Say I Love You

WONDERLANDEarlier this year, I came across an essay written by Candice Chung titled “Why Chinese Parents Don’t Say I Love You” from a friend’s Facebook page. As a first generation Chinese immigrant from Hong Kong, even though I know there’s much truth in the essay, it’s never too late to say “I love you” to your Chinese parents and vice versa.

Joan Chen and BD Wong hug Booboo Stewart in White Frog

Joan Chen and BD Wong hug Booboo Stewart in White Frog

About a decade earlier, my mom started saying “I love you” to me after every phone conversation. I was already in my mid-thirties and I thought in the beginning that it definitely felt new and different. Perhaps because I was Asian and a guy, I was slightly awkward at PDA for most of my life. Not long after she started, she got me to say “I love you” back to her. In the back of my mind, I would wonder why I had to say it because it was obvious. Is saying “I love you” overstating a fact? Can’t you tell from my actions and behavior that I do love you?

An Open Letter to Sichuan Garden’s Ran Duan

AnOpenLettertoRanDuan

(Please see the details of the case of Ben Edelman vs. Ran Duan of Sichuan Garden in the following link)

Dear Mr. Duan,

I have reviewed the published correspondence between you and Mr. Edelman and have deemed Mr. Edelman to be in the right.

As a Chinese immigrant myself, apart from your restaurants not adhering to the provisions of State laws, I am appalled at the horrible customer service and experience that you and your institutions provided to a legitimate and paying customer, including ungrammatical English.

The Crossing

TheCrossing

Yesterday, John Woo’s latest epic, The Crossing, opened in China. They even opened the movie ahead of Hong Kong, so my film critic friend had to make a trip to the neighboring city of Shenzhen, one of the youngest cities in China rivaling Hong Kong in both its economic progress and bustling population, to watch the movie in the theater. Naturally I had to tag along.

Adventures in Filmmaking: The Golden Horse Film Project Promotion

PHILANTHROPY

The Motley Crew: Producer Aaron Shershow, I and Producer Robert Wei

The Motley Crew: Producer Aaron Shershow, I and Producer Robert Wei

I’ve been hearing about the Golden Horse Film Awards since I was growing up in Hong Kong, and this year was its 51st edition. I met Christy from the Golden Horse Film Project Promotion at the NAFF project market at Puchon and pitched her my Chinese romantic comedy project Morning, Paris! Two months later, I got an invite to participate in the Film Project Promotion which, for years, my filmmaking colleagues have been telling me great things about.

Walking the Golden Horse Film Awards Red Carpet!

Making the First Asian American Psycho Thriller

MakingTheFirstAsianAmericanPsychoThriller

Writer/Producer NaRhee Ahn and I have been fans of the horror thriller genre since childhood and we have been talking about working on a genre project for years. As Asian Americans, we wonder why there hasn’t been a project like this earlier. Justin and I made Shopping for Fangs, which was initially branded as a thriller but it’s essentially a genre-hybrid dramedy. I also remember Offender Philip had an Asian American horror in the works several years ago.

But this genre has been virtually unexplored in Asian American cinema.

The Trouble with ‘Interstellar’

interstellar-chris-nolan-receiving-unexpected-reviews-interstellar

While there is no debate that Interstellar is a well-made film that’s entertaining and thoughtful, I do find it troubling that the film envisions a future that’s extremely homogenous and white. Ironically, some of the world’s greatest films also end up to be the most racist films like D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of the Nation. There is no debate that The Birth of a Nation is a great cinematic achievement, yet is it not equally racially troublesome?

In Interstellar, there are virtually no people of color other than the token black astronaut (somehow a token black guy always gets cast in these Hollywood space sagas), the black principal and Latino teacher who try to block the main character’s son from going to college, and an Asian extra in the baseball game.

Around the Horn: What’s Your Iconic Horror Movie Villain?

the-tall-man-phantasm_72278_97378

It’s that time of the year again—Halloween—my favorite season. If you have to pick one iconic horror movie villain to remember for this trick-or-treat month, who would that be? And Why? For me, it would be the Tall Man from the Phantasm series. When I first saw the Tall Man in the original Phantasm, I kept wondering what he was about. And he really scared me as a kid, “Boy!!!!!!!” The Tall Man has always been shrouded in mystery. He isn’t exactly a villain… but more of a servant of the dark… or of an alien race… almost like the Terminator… but he certainly executes the scary deeds of his anti-human boss. Who is the Tall Man???

IRIS: I love Vincent Price as a villain. His voice and persona are so distinctly memorable. I went to see him speak once while in college. He read his lines from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which was definitely a treat to hear in person. Iconically evil, but hilarious at the same time: