Last week, we highlighted the five winning finalists of our INTERPRETATIONS Film Initiative. We said that in coming weeks, we’d also spotlight some of the other “worthy” entries. Well, one of our INTERPRETATIONS filmmakers, Feodor Chin (along with fellow filmmakers Deborah S. Craig and Timothy Tau), has already taken it upon himself to bring attention to some of the other shorts at an event dubbed MISINTERPRETATIONS which took place this past Wednesday. The five shorts screened included many of the juror favorites so we thought it’d be fun to spotlight them here as well as have Feo and company blog about the MISINTERPRETATIONS experience. So below, you’ll find Feo’s MISINTERPRETATIONS recap with photos by Mark Nilsen (including info on how your short can be a part of a future screening) followed by the five MISINTERPRETATIONS films with a few words from each filmmaker. Enjoy and look for more INTERPRETATIONS shorts to be featured here in the coming weeks.
On Wednesday, November 3, five INTERPRETATIONS shorts screened at the El Cid Short Film Night, a monthly program that is the brainchild of Los Angeles event producer, Michael McCarthy. After a mutual friend showed Spice It Up! to Michael, he contacted me to see if I’d like to screen it. Naturally, I said yes.
He also asked me if I knew of any other comedy shorts he could program as he had some time to fill for the November show. So in addition to some other comedian/filmmaker friends I sent his way, I asked him to take a look at Randall, Dave, and Neil’s WWJD, Deborah S. Craig’s White Out, and Jolene Kim’s Cafe on a Staircase. WWJD and White Out are terrifically funny and while Cafe… is not a comedy, I thought it was a lovely film that might round out the evening nicely as well as give the audience an idea of what else could be done with the same four lines.
Not long after announcing the screening, Timothy (whom I met through the INTERPRETATIONS contest) asked about screening his film, The Case. I definitely enjoyed Tim’s stylish, neo-noir take and with that we had our “final” five. Deborah cleverly coined the moniker “MISINTERPRETATIONS” and while that’s how the event was advertised, I really must say, these films and these filmmakers are absolutely winners in my book.
And I can tell you that the crowd at El Cid that night would agree. In fact, Michael has become such a big fan of the INTERPRETATIONS concept and films that he plans to hold an all-INTERPRETATIONS screening at the El Cid tentatively scheduled for Thursday, November 18. So if you’re in LA (or willing to fly out) and you’re interested in screening your INTERPRETATIONS short (or any other shorts you may have produced) contact Michael McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tim at email@example.com or via his Facebook and maybe we’ll see you there!
SPICE IT UP!
by Feodor Chin
I’ve been asked, more than a few times, how I came up with the idea for this film and honestly, after reading those four lines, this was the first thing that popped into my head. Now I’m not exactly sure what that says about me, but whatever it is, it’s probably not good. At any rate, I knew if I was going to implement the idea, it would have to be well executed; well lit, stylistically lensed, and art direction would be key. Because of the nature of the content, if the film ended up looking “cheap” the final product would come off feeling more “sleazy” as opposed to “funny”. Fortunately, I was able to secure a top-shelf cast and crew to bring my dark and sordid imaginings to vivid, vibrant, hi-definition life.
Mad props to: Pyongson Yim, my director of photography, was simply brilliant in capturing the static, “boring” feel of the couple’s weekly routine as well as the madcap insanity of their “experimenting” in the bedroom. Jason Ray, my art director, was a machine. Most of the props and sex toys you see in the bedroom, he made in his garage. And it was he who bravely ventured into a Silver Lake S&M shop to purchase our “hero” dildo. The man’s a champ. Matteo Molinari, my editor, really nailed the pace and the comedy. And he also found the public domain music that was originally going to be just a temp track but it worked so well that we just stuck with it. And of course, Jennifer Chang is an absolute superstar. So beautiful, so versatile, so talented, and so very naughty! She was a real trooper. (And we found her lingerie at a little shop down in Santee Alley, in case you were wondering.)
While it was definitely a fun shoot, it wasn’t exactly an easy one. But in spite of the cramped quarters, record breaking heat, and untrained animals, I think my team came through smelling like roses. So I invite you to enjoy the fruits of our labors and, yes, keep it spicy, my friends.
by Deborah S. Craig
I write a lot of projects I can’t show my Mom. Ever. They are rated NSFM – Not Suitable for Mom. (It’s hard to convince her I’m making social commentary in a bubble bath in a bikini.) Let me tell you about my Mom. My Mom is from Indiana. My Mom is lowbrow. I can say that because she’s MY Mom. Anyhow, my Mom likes slapstick comedies with puns and people tripping. She loves that pooh/chocolate bar scene in Caddyshack. “Funny” sound effects to her mean fart jokes. That’s why I made White Out. It’s like I wrote a stream of fart jokes dedicated to my Mom. I’m adopted.
My DP/editor, Jason H. Thompson, volunteered to make something with me. I thought he meant “love” but he meant a short film. I guess because he’s married. My buddy Ray Chang volunteered to direct and even supplied his own “doctor” costume. I don’t know why he has one either. He was psyched to direct some scenes with some hos. I thought he wanted to make a rap video. He thought I knew it was spelled hose. I have a lot of talented friends (Jordan Kai Burnett, Burl Moseley, Nicholas Galbraith) so I bribed them with promises of rotisserie chicken and multiple sides on Labor Day. I still can’t believe that worked. My frequent collaborator, film composer George Shaw donated his entire music library so I could “score”. I trained a dog, and my friend Jin Namkung made a senior citizen’s fantasy come true.
Our screening at El Cid was a hit and laughing along with an entire audience filled me with pride and guacamole. I was a little
disappointed there were no female winners for the Interpretations contest, but being a winner in my Mom’s eyes is the best prize of all…except for three thousand dollars and hearing my hero Danny Pudi (the genius behind my favorite Interpretations film Blow Out Sale) say my name and winner in the same sentence.
White Out is rated SFM. Suitable for Mom.
CAFE ON A STAIRCASE
by Mei Melancon & Jolene Kim
I had a dream about a love story that took place at a table sitting lopsided on a staircase and all the dishes were sliding off the table. It was very bright and “French” in a sort of Amelie way. Café On A Staircase came to me in a dream as do most of my ideas. I was playing around with the idea for a few months but never seemed to be able to nail down the dialogue. So, when I heard about the Interpretations competition, the required dialogue, and the deadline of “2 weeks away”, I was very excited that it fit in with my story and I would have an end product in the next 14 days. The piece is about possibilities and the life that we choose to have.
I chose to collaborate on this project with a fellow artist, Mei Melancon. I asked her to direct it, as I would produce and act in it. It’s always an adventure to see what will happen to your original idea when you have a bunch of artists collaborating together. Mei had a bunch of great ideas and did an excellent job in manifesting her vision of each character. You can read her inspiration at our profile page. We also had a great gaffer, Mike Albrecht, who just finished working on Pirates of the Caribbean and so Café On A Staircase now took on an eerie feel. Tyler Barnes, our DP, who is still an undergraduate, did an excellent job and contributed many great ideas. Our editor, Art Chudabala, is a working professional and donated his highly professional service as did everyone else. We essentially had a non-existent budget, save for the necessities such as FOOD!
Although the original idea was not fully manifested, which is expected when a project goes into collaboration, I think Café On A Staircase is very effective and will cause your brain to think even if it’s just for a second to wonder what it was that you just saw. It’s amazing to see what you can do as an artist when you put your mind to it. The opportunities are out there for us to grab hold of. And you can make something beautiful with absolutely nothing but sheer art.
BY Randall, David And Neil
I thought the Interpretations competition was a great idea. The whole conceit of basing shorts off of the same four lines of dialog was such a fun challenge. And then also to have your work seen and judged by a distinguished panel sealed the deal for me. I wrote the script, and I called up Neil and Dave. I went to college with the guys, and throughout the years, we collaborated on a lot of projects, the last one being a short called Blueberry. Dave has a way with visuals and storytelling. Neil has a way with getting even the unimaginable done on a shoestring. I showed them the script, and they were down. We assembled the team, planned the shoot, and moved forward.
The shoot itself was challenging. In a single weekend, we crammed in several locations. We got chased by cops, we got smacked around by waves while trying to keep the camera above water, and we almost got cited for trespassing. Our savvy producer Neil was able to talk the officer out of it. Turns out one of the advantages of driving around in van with Jesus while also wearing bracelets that say WWJD, is some people will let you get away with things. All in all, production was grueling, but we had a great time. We took a week to decompress, and then we moved on to post. Our friend and my former bandmate Rickmond Wong did the awesome score for us. Dave worked magic in the editing room. We were done by the deadline.
The piece itself is not a pro-Jesus or an anti-Jesus piece. It is an anti-white Jesus piece. No just playing. It is mostly a piece about where we get our morality from. To me, it doesn’t matter, as long as we stay off that crack pipe. Trust me, it’s highly addictive. Thank you to everyone at yomyomf and the Interpretations initiative for providing us with the inspiration and the excuse to make movies!
by Timothy Tau
I approached the editing of my film The Case as I did most of my fiction: editing and cutting it until it hurt, until the story was reduced to its barest bones. I consider myself first and foremost a writer. Filmmaking to me is just another way of writing, another way of crafting the cinematic language of cuts, pans, camera angles and the infinitude of visual decisions into a coherent and sculpted piece of work — this became especially clear to me during this contest, because the script was already taken care of. That is perhaps why it seems as if The Case appears to be incomplete, and leaves something more to be desired: after all, it is just a mere portion of a larger story (and larger idea/world), and the full eight minute version which will be released soon might shed some light on some perceived gaps. But I have to truly credit my three amazing actors, Max Phyo, Cyndee San Luis and Hidekun Hah, as well as my Cinematographer, Cameraman, SFX Specialist and fellow filmmaker Rick Darge, as being the real “writers” of this short film because they wrote every minute of it with their brilliant, detailed and layered performances and creative contributions – becoming, for a moment, not only denizens and painters of my surreal Noir world but also adding new twists to their archetypal Noir roles, creating something new from something old.
I mainly directed and shot this film as a “test run” of what was possible, as a way to show audiences a glimpse of the Noir world I envision constantly in my fiction and in my imagination – as a result, I tried to throw in every genre imaginable and to pay homage to a wide variety of different storytelling styles: Film Noir, of course, but also Sci-Fi, Spaghetti Western, Horror Camp, Manga, and so on. My fiction writing is additionally very cinematic and visual in style: as an example, my short story “Land of Origin” (Second Prize in this year’s 2010 Playboy College Fiction Contest) was about a Taiwanese American lawyer who goes back to Kaohsiung, Taiwan and gets mixed up with betel nut girls and the gangster underworld, and the story lends itself extremely well to a cinematic form, with all of its descriptions of eye-popping color and locale and character. When I shoot a film, I adopt a very literary-based framework, especially when it comes to editing, composing and framing scenes. So, I approach my writing like film and my film like writing, and I feel achieving the balance between both worlds is the key to the finest storytelling.