Seoul for Memory

Korean Producer Kae Kim and I posed on the street of Gangnam

Korean Producer Kae Kim and I posed on the street of Gangnam

After the It Project Market wrapped at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PIFAN), I stopped by Seoul for a few days to decompress. I had always wanted to spend more time in Seoul as my friends said that Seoul is now as sophisticated as Tokyo except that it’s more accessible and less expensive. I found what my friends said to be true. Seoul has great food, great shopping and is as sophisticated a culture as Tokyo. Move over, Japan. Korea is here and now.

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I always have the talent to pick the kitschiest hotel. And I did. I wanted to try out the IP Boutique Hotel in Itaewon. Despite the room being a bit cramped, the bed was very firm and comfortable and I could barely get out of bed every morning. And even though the bathroom was small, it was cozy–complete with a heated toilet seat and bidet.

Farewell, James Shigeta!

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I had been hearing about the legendary James Shigeta from my old friend Dexter for several years before making my feature The People I’ve Slept With. It is extremely tragic that my friend Dexter also passed away in 2011—at the young age of 41—who was a personal friend of James. When I needed to cast the role of Angela’s Dad—a fun loving and classy Asian American gentleman–Dexter recommended James. I instinctively thought would be a fabulous idea. Dexter set up a meeting with James, his agent Jeffrey Leavitt, Karen Anna Cheung (who played Angela) and me. I remember we went to the loudest restaurant ever in West Hollywood and we all thought James would be fabulous to play Angela’s Dad.

The Pifan Experience: Eat, Drink , Party and Network!

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It was my second time attending the project market of NAFF (Network of Asian Fantastic Films), part of the Puchon Fantastic International Film Festival (Pifan), which proved to be a fun and fruitful experience. Besides catching up with buyers and producers I met a few years ago, I also made some new contacts amidst conversations about genre films, eating, drinking and partying.

Almost every memorable moment was associated with a flavorful dish and a wonderful friend on the festival circuit.

Australian Film Critic Russell Edwards sang karaoke with the Managing Director of NAFF Thomas Nam DJing.

Around the Horn: Planetary Edition

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If you have to pick a planet to visit, which would it be? I’ve always been fascinated by Saturn because it has rings. Unfortunately, it’s mostly a gas planet so I don’t even think you can land on Saturn. But it’s absolutely beautiful and fascinating. Which planet fascinates you other than Earth?

DHH: Since this question assumes technological advances far beyond those currently available, I would want to visit one of those planets theoretically capable of sustaining human-like life. Gliese 667Cc is only 22 light years away, so that seems reasonable, right? Of course, if I did end up finding myself an immigrant alien, the inhabitants of Gliese 667Cc would probably kill me or dissect me or put me in a zoo or something, but it’d be interesting.

The Day I Left My 20s

Chinese Opera Singer William Lau, Justin Lin, me, and Composer Steven Pranoto at the Toronto International Film Festival premiering the first feature we made before turning 30

Chinese Opera Singer William Lau, Justin Lin, me, and Composer Steven Pranoto at the Toronto International Film Festival premiering the first feature we made before turning 30

I am a late bloomer, and hence I experience many things just a tad bit later in life. I clearly remember the day I left my 20s when I was 33. I went clubbing with a bunch of friends in Vancouver. At the wee hours that Sunday morning, A. invited me to go back to his place to hang out.

Youtubers I met: Draco Chu & Gerrard Panahon

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Around midnight, I was already tipsy at Gameboi at Rage in West Hollywood when a cute Asian boy came up to me and introduce himself as Youtuber Draco Chu. It was refreshing because most gaysians at Gameboi was either shy or snooty. Exactly… what’s there to be shy or snooty about at Gameboi, the quintessential gaysian club in Los Angeles?

We added each other on Instagram and when I got home I decided to check out his channel. I’m always interested in meeting potential gaysian talent. Draco Chu went to UCLA for both undergrad and grad school and is currently an educator moonlighting as a Youtube star. Go Bruins!

The Accidental Winner

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Why you win anything… is truly a mystery to me. And being in the film industry for awhile you just want to spit when you hear the word “award winning.” Scream “Macbeth” in a theater! My college T.A. made me turn around and spit three times. Really?

The most I’ve won at a time at casinos was $80; and the most I’ve lost at a time was $230. And I’ve only gambled a few times in my 40-something year old life.

My version of “Secrets and Toys” trailer

Let’s Make “Operation Marriage” Together!

Mindy Cohn & Tamlyn Tomita for “Operation Marriage”

Mindy Cohn & Tamlyn Tomita for “Operation Marriage”

When I was 16, I was an aspiring children’s book writer and I went to a children’s book conference in Chautauqua. I wanted to write the first gay novel for teens… and everyone was dumbfounded when I told him/her my aspiration. “Gay novels are not for kids,” they all told me flat out. “Why not? Judy Blume is my favorite children’s book author and if she wrote about masturbation and divorce… why can’t I write about homosexuality for kids?” Even then in the late 80s, no one could argue against a 16-year-old aspiring writer who wasn’t even sure of his own sexuality.

Eleven Directors Who Have Influenced Me

SELFIEMy teacher and mentor Academy Award Nominated director Jerzy Antczak once told me, “Quentin, a good director is a good thief. You steal from here and you steal from there… and then you make it your own! And put your actors bumper to bumper… you cannot waste space on film! You do not act like someone who goes FUCK… you must use velvet gloves!”

Jerzy with Polanski!

Jerzy with Polanski!

By “velvet gloves” I’ve stolen to mean that good directors are calm and prepared on set to inspire the actors and your team to work hard without screaming, yelling or throwing walky-talkies at people.

Here are the ten other directors who have influenced me and I try to steal from.

Personifying Comedy Ninja

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When picking the name of our comedy film festival, my partner Chuck Parello and I went through a huge list of names. I wasn’t at first sold by the name “Comedy Ninja.” Wouldn’t it be too ethnic? We started showing a few shortlisted names to friends and many loved “Comedy Ninja.” It’s the laugh that sneaks up on you.

Once we settled on the name, Chuck started looking for someone to embody the Comedy Ninja. We discovered Mr. John Crenshaw, a young comedian, who auditioned through Youtube to personify the Comedy Ninja.

Odd Couple Gives Birth to Comedy Ninja

From Comedy Ninja’s closing film Blissfully Unmarried

From Comedy Ninja’s closing film Blissfully Unmarried

There are many ways filmmakers can collaborate other than working on a movie together. For example, we can create film festivals together! That’s exactly what my longtime director friend Chuck Parello and I did. We are starting the first annual Comedy Ninja Film & Screenplay Festival that runs from May 30th until June 1st this year at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles!

Come to think of it, Chuck and I are really an odd couple. Chuck is a true crime horror filmmaker who grew up in the Windy City. And I’m this queer artsy fartsy filmmaker who grew up in Hong Kong and Montreal. I first met Chuck and his wife at the European Film Market in Berlin in 1999 where we were both hustling our first features. I showed up at his market screening and he showed up at mine… and since then, we’ve been hanging out, partying together, and bitching about filmmaking from New York to Los Angeles for the past 15 years.