UPDATE (NOON): I’M AT DGA PREPPING FOR OUR PANEL SO STARTING LIVE BLOGGING EARLY. KEEP REFRESHING ALL AFTERNOON FOR UPDATES.
Reminder that we’ll be live blogging here and tweeting during Interpretations: So You Really Want To Make Films? panel this afternoon at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival from 2-4 PM PST (that’s West Coast time for those not in the know). If you have tickets, we recommend showing up early to stake out a spot. If you don’t but want to take a shot at rush tickets, again show up early. We’ll do our best to get in as many people as we can. But for the rest of you, check in right here this afternoon and keep hitting that refresh button for updates.
We’ve commissioned eight talented filmmakers to make short films for us, which we’ll be using to launch this initiative. We’ll be screening a few of them at the panel today and you can see the rest at the festival through a special app via your iPhone. Just stop by the Toyota Lounge or the area where the cars are being displayed to see how. All the shorts will eventually be up on our new Interpretations site (which should be up and running at some point today). Some of the shorts are playing “exclusively” at the fest so they won’t be online until after Thursday so definitely be the first to see them if you stop by the fest. And here are our eight commissioned filmmakers:
Kenneth Bi (Hong Kong-based director of The Drummer, Sundance Fest Critics’ Pick by Hollywood Reporter)
David Chan (visual effects artist, Fast & Furious)
Evan Jackson Leong (Short form, music video and documentary director)
Spencer Nakasako (Emmy Award winning director, Refugee)
Danny Pudi (star of NBC’s Community) with his filmmaking team of Timothy Kendall and Chris Marrs
Wong Fu Productions (indie production company w/15 million views of their shorts online)
Mora Stephens (Independent Spirits Awards’ John Cassavettes Award-winning director, Conventioneers)
Iris Yamashita (Oscar nominated writer, Letters From Iwo Jima)
See everyone in person or here online this afternoon!
LIVE BLOG BEGINS
11:59 AM: Sitting at the cafe in the lobby of DGA listening to the people at the next table talking about our panel. It has begun…
12:02 PM: Meeting my fellow Offender Roger at 12:30 PM to go over his MC-ing duties. Now this is the face of a man you want to MC your panel:
12:08 PM: Need food and coffee. Will be back in a few.
12:46 PM: Going over MC script with Roger
1:06 PM: Anderson is here. He works for the fest but always seems to have the time to hang out. He’s that good!
1:21 PM: Prepping for the panel. Be back at 2 PM if not before.
2:13 PM: Running late. Previous screening started late but getting ready to go.
2:20 PM: Theater filling up. Getting ready to start.
2:21 PM: Walt Louie from VC making introductions.
2:23 PM: Roger on stage. “It’s kind of a homecoming…a lot of us has history with Visual Communications.”
2:24 PM: Roger talking about first Better Luck Tomorrow trailer at VC. How they played it here before the film came out.
2:25 PM: Roger thanking our sponsors: title sponsor is Toyota. They are sponsoring our panel so it’s free. Additional sponsors: Audrey magazine, Koream magazine, WGA, Fox, and Universal. Also, Intertrend, Amauta Labs and VC.
2:27 PM: Roger explaining what YOMYOMF is. If you’re reading this, you already know who we are
2:29 PM: Roger explaining YOMYOMF was started to create an online community. Starting with Better Luck Tomorrow and all the people we’ve met over the years and how to keep that community going.
2:29 PM: “Launched YOMYOMF last year from second floor of Justin’s home.”
2:31 PM: Roger introduced everyone in attendance from YOMYOMF: Justin, Anderson, Elaine, Sung, Emmie, Iris, Jerome, Anson, David, Winston, Philip
2:32 PM: Roger talking about starting YOMYOMF Films–we want to create all sorts of content from webisodes to features. Maybe even porn according to Roger? First YOMYOMF Films is CAR TALK DISCUSSION by Sung and Anson. Sung on stage.
2:33 PM: Sung: “I wouldn’t say Car Talk Discussion is anything deep but does represent what we are.”
2:33 PM: Screening Car Talk Discussion
2:38 PM: “You got some lotion?”
2:39PM: Roger talking about Interpretations. Roger: “Something that came from Justin’s gut.” Justin takes the stage.
2:41 PM: Justin: Interpretations about honing your voice. Have one script and see how people interpret it.
2:42 PM: Create a 3 minute short and everyone works off the same script with four lines.
2:43 PM: Justin: ” Technology has leveled the playing field so end of the day it’s about storytelling and point of view.”
2:45 PM: Hey, before I forget: A shout out to our Offenders who couldn’t be here today: Beverly, Sarah, Alfredo, Webmaster Eric. Will pour a bottle of soju on the sidewalk in tribute to them.
2:46PM: Will screen some of the shorts we commissioned to launch (see list of filmmakers above): Iris, Mora and Danny/Timothy/Chris will talk about their films after.
2:46PM: Roger going over the rules for Interpretations. Will post more on this later.
2:47 PM: Hi Ammadiyya!
2:48 PM: Some of our industry jurors who will be participating are: our panelists, Chris Lee (producer Superman Returns), David Henry Hwang (Tony winning writer M. Butterfly), Art Marcum & Matt Holloway (writers Iron Man), Niija Kuykendall (Warner Bros exec), John Sloss (Cinetic Media), Anne Lai (Sundance Lab Producer-in-Residence), Chris Morgan (writer Wanted), Joe Russo (director Arrested Development) and many others.
2:48 PM: Screening our short film. Be back in a few.
3:07 PM: The films are great! Can’t wait for you guys to see them when they’re all online. Adam, I think when you see the films you’ll get a sense of an answer for your questions.
3:08 PM: Roger bringing some of our filmmakers on stage: Mora, Iris, Danny, Chris and Timothy.
3:09 PM: Roger: “How did you approach this project?”
3:12 PM: Iris initially wanted to say no when asked to do this because not filmmaker but since it’s for emerging filmmakers, thought it was good to do.
3:12 PM: Danny was approached by Justin when he was directing Community and recruited Tim and Chris to help. FYI, Justin’s next episode airs this Thursday on NBC.
3:13 PM: Tim said their short was made in five days. Chris: We kicked around a million ideas but knew wanted to do action/comedy.
3:14 PM: Sorry can’t get to a lot of the comments. Hectic just blogging and keeping up.
3:15 PM: Mora said yes–”Any excuse to direct is great.” John Cassavettes said just pick a start day and buy a lot of beer and then plan your film accordingly. Filmmaking 101 right there folks!
3:17 PM: Mora begged painter James Jean to be in her film. Filmmaking 101 Part 2: Begging works.
3:19 PM: BTW, if you have industry-related questions, email it to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
3:22 PM: Roger stop hitting on Yuri Tag (from Kaba Modern from America’s Best Dance Crew). She can be your daughter.
3:23 PM: Offender Winston taking over to moderate our industry panel.
3:25 PM: Winston introducing our panelists: Rowena Arguelles (Creative Artists Agency, agent), Trevor Groth (Sundance Film Festival, Director of Programming), Jeffrey Kirschenbaum (Universal Pictures, Executive Vice President of Production), Dan Lin (Producer, Sherlock Holmes, Terminator Salvation)
3:28 PM: Trevor talks about watching shorts for Sundance (tens of thousands of shorts). He doesn’t look into where the film came from. But once the submissions are whittled down, looks into filmmaker’s background and where they are in their career. Answer to Winston’s question if they evaluate young filmmakers differently from established ones. Main thing is looking for an original voice and overlook technical flaws.
3:29 PM: Dan looks for storytelling ability, original vision and ability to work with actors.
3:30 PM: Jeff looks for emotional engagement.
3:31 PM: Jeff says great time for new filmmakers and voices. “How does he or she tell a story?”
3:32 PM: Rowena: “Do I love this person enough to break the filmmaker?” It takes about three years if you sign a short filmmaker/video director/commercial director. Fewer opportunities for indie films.
3:33 PM: Rowena on how the industry has changed: “I can’t sign some of the people I could’ve signed ten years ago.”
3:34 PM: The panel is being taped but will take time to edit before we put up.
3:36 PM: Rowena talks about signing a young filmmaker off a short so there are exceptions. A young Maori filmmaker who’s also been cast in the upcoming Green Lantern.
3:38 PM: Trevor: “Its tough to stand out.” So many films including shorts. Submissions at Sundance up every year. You need to stand out. Online a good venue. Sundance found filmmakers online who made short Drunk History w/Will Ferrell, Don Cheadle, etc… Be creative in getting your ideas out there.
3:41 PM: Young filmmaker made a film called Panic Attack for $300 and put it online, got discovered by CAA and now making $30 mil feature version produced by Sam Raimi (Spiderman).
3:42 PM: Dan: Online shorts get distributed virally and if they’re good, can explode. It’s changed how you can get material to people. Studios willing to take more risks because of District 9.
3:43 PM: Jeff: Shorts that are bought are because of concept or an original voice.
3:44 PM: Jeff: get out there and shoot. The more you do it, the better you get.
3:46 PM: Sundance working with Without A Box to accept submissions online in the future.
3:48 PM: Besides making a great film, what does a filmmaker have to do to catch you attention? Trevor: “That’s it.”
3:49 PM: For Rowena it’s different. She’s looking to shepherd the filmmaker’s whole career. So she needs to meet filmmaker and you just know when someone has it. So many factors: vision, being good in a room, she has to send these directors into meetings and they need to be able to impart vision and convey confidence. You can’t just be a brilliant artist. “There’s a certain twinkle in their eye, ambition not just for their film but for their career. They better believe in themselves.
3:52 PM: Jeff says studio films are usually within $30-100 Million+ so you need someone with confidence in themselves and what story they’re telling. What’s important is their interpretation of their story.
3:54 PM: Jeff talks about Justin’s confidence when he came into Tokyo Drift in t-shirt and long john underwear with room full of suits and told them how to do the film and was able to articulate a vision. Won them over.
3:55 PM: Dan: You have to be able to command the room. I’m looking for a partner/director who can be inspired. Fight against some of your “Asian” upbringing. Be bold, commanding and sell yourself. Some great filmmakers can’t speak, get across their vision.
3:56 PM: Trevor: Or collaborate with people who can do that if it’s not you. Best films are from a collective, like Blue Tongue Films out of Australia.
4:01 PM: Jeff: Wanted to be writer but didn’t know anyone in industry. Found small industry jobs after UCLA, got into AFI for two years as a screenwriter. Second year got an offer for internship. Ended up getting development gig on whim. Read scripts and worked on own scripts on side. Got job offer at Universal. Was worried about being studio executive, his dad told him not to limit yourself by labels. Tried it out and “failed” his way up as an executive. Redefining what it meant to be a storyteller for himself.
4:02 PM: Trevor started as an intern for Sundance. Volunteered for Sundance Labs. Anyone with screenplays should submit for lab.
4:03 PM: Rowena reiterates how helpful the Sundance Lab is. Great resource for filmmakers.
4:06 PM: Rowena became agent because she couldn’t “write, act or direct” but wanted to work with artists and be their closest advisors.
4:07 PM: Will try to address some of the questions in comments in a future mailbag section.
4:09 PM: Panelist talking about ways they juggle work with family. All have kids so it’s hard.
4:12 PM: How do you get started? is the last audience question. Dan: “Dare to fail.” Makes mistakes when he’s too safe.
4:13 PM: Rowena: “Every day my clients fail.” They don’t get the job. You fail everyday, but you have to get over it. Get over fear of failure and fear of fear or don’t be an artist. That’s artist’s life.
4:15 PM: We’re out, will post pics and more stuff later.