The Short List: BASKETBALL, MERI JAAN

As part of the YOMYOMF Network series, The Short List, where we present short films we love every Friday at Noon EST, we’ve reached out to the filmmakers with 5 Questions to see what’s up since the production of their short film. It’s a way for them to revisit their film and get an update on their next projects. You can view all The Short List films here.

This week, we ask 5 questions to director Veena Hampapur about her short film, BASKETBALL, MERI JAAN.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WkvWGdgGpQ[/youtube]

1. How did you come up with the concept for this short?

The Short List: TERRA COTTA

As part of the YOMYOMF Network series, The Short List, where we present short films we love every Friday at Noon EST, we’ve reached out to the filmmakers with 5 Questions to see what’s up since the production of their short film. It’s a way for them to revisit their film and get an update on their next projects. You can view all The Short List films here.

This week, we ask 5 questions to director Yasmine Gomez about her short film, TERRA COTTA.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyWz4wSQQxU[/youtube]

1. How did you come up with the concept for this short?

The Short List: VIA TEXT

As part of our new YOMYOMF Network series, The Short List, where we present short films we love every Friday at Noon EST, we’ve reached out to the filmmakers with 5 Questions to see what’s up since the production of their short film. It’s a way for them to revisit their film and get an update on their next projects. You can view all The Short List films here.

This week, we ask 5 questions to director Abe Foreman-Greenwald about his short film VIA TEXT.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcxkrMWdXP0[/youtube]

1. How did you come up with the concept for this short?

Top Ten Films You Missed in 2011, Part Two

Here’s the second half of my blog about the top ten non-mainstream films that you may have missed in 2011. Part I outlined numbers 10 through 6 . These are essentially films that may have flown under the radar, but are readily available either via video-on-demand, released on DVD, or even streaming online. Although I had absolute fun with the recent MISSION IMPOSSIBLE film (Paula Patton, love me!) and the final HARRY POTTER was a befitting ending to the franchise, they already exist on other people’s lists. Even FAST FIVE got kudos in Time and The Hollywood Reporter. But, this list is for the “little guys,” indie films that need to be seen and hopefully, will be seen by Offenders like you!

Top Ten Films You Missed In 2011, Part I

Since it’s the end of the year and various top ten lists are being bandied around in the pop culture ethos, why not YOMYOMF jumping on the band wagon too, right? Well, it’s more my own lists and I’ll write one up in these final weeks of 2011. But my lists will be a bit more eclectic, instead of something typical like listing THE DESCENDANTS or THE ARTIST and the usual movie lists that are baiting for award recognition (but, I’d urge you to watch these two films anyway, because they are both great). Instead, I’ll do my personal top ten stuff that I liked this year, ranging from movies, to music videos, you name it. Whatever tickled my fancy this year.

First off, here’s Part I of my top ten films you may have missed this year, ranging from microbudget indie fare to classic horror genres, to Euro cool crime thrillers — Now, these are particular titles that I’ve either watched or programmed at film festivals. Most of them either have some form of distribution or they will eventually be available via VOD, on DVD, or at a theater near you. These are films that I feel should be seen by as many people as possible, and the fact that the new normal of indie film distribution allows filmmakers to seek out alternative means of distribution (i.e. VOD, streaming video, iTunes, etc), makes this truly the Golden Age of indie cinema. It’s just that we’re so saturated by so much content out there, it’s hard to separate the good from the enormous crap out there. Hopefully, this list will be a good starting point.

Buy in Bulk


With the holiday shopping season in full swing now, I’d like to proffer a suggestion to all you holiday shoppers (esp. those of you who are of the semi-lazy variety) who are having problems figuring out what to purchase for your various friends, family, colleagues, etc. It’s an idea that will not only save you time but actually also contribute exponentially to the Asian American arts.

Buy in bulk.

Yes, we’re all familiar with the general idea, especially those of us who are frugal, thrifty, cheap (whatever you want to call it). You make the semi-weekly runs to Costco or Sam’s Club or whichever massive warehouse store is in your geographical area, and you purchase a buttload of the same item at the same time (usually at only a small discount if you do the actual math).

Dinner with Roger and Lydia

I first heard of Roger Garcia, a pioneer champion of Asian American films, when I was an intern at Visual Communications in 1988. Finally, in the last decade or so, I’ve started meeting him at various film festivals all over the world. Roger and his wife Lydia Tanji began stationing in Hong Kong after his appointment last year as the executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the largest festival player in the region. Returning to Hong Kong, I touched base with Roger who warmly invited me to dinner at a tucked away Izakaya in Wanchai, the neighborhood where I grew up as a kid. It was also my first time hanging out with Lydia though we met briefly at the Hawaii International Film Festival a couple years back.

Having stayed in Hong Kong for a few days, I was mostly catching up with friends and family and was desperately seeking some kind of inspiration for a story or a blog with little luck. On top of that, my Macbook was acting up and I had to go to the most dreaded Genius Bar that usually came up with little solution other than replacing the entire computer. Meeting Roger and Lydia definitely changed my luck as I was immediately inspired talking to them about the state of Asian American filmmaking over sake, beer and tasty skewers of meat and vegetables.

SAIGON ELECTRIC: Big Premiere in Vietnam & Second Chances (Part 3)

Here’s Part 3 about my first experience as a producer for a film called SAIGON ELECTRIC (You can read Part 1 and Part 2)), a hip hop, coming-of-age film made in Vietnam. It was released there in April and is set to be released in select U.S. cities on October 7th. We’re currently mounting a big premiere on September 20th in Orange County called THE ELECTRIC SHOWCASE,  featuring ABCD Season 5 Champions Poreotics. So without further adieu, here’s the latest chapter of the SAIGON ELECTRIC Journey:

I was able to make it to the final days of shooting in mid-June and let me tell ya three things that hit me: It was super hot… It was super humid… And I sweated like a pig. That’s pretty much it. But I surely missed a lot more sweating because the crew pretty much sweated it out through the entire shoot, in one of Vietnam’s most blazing summers in a long time. It was amazing how no one really fainted from exhaustion! On the last day of shooting, it was a simple scene where Hai, the rich handsome kid played by heartthrob Khuong Ngoc, is dropping off our street smart dancer Kim at her place to pick up some things before they head off on their romantic weekend getaway. It was shot in an alleyway that is famous for its graffiti and just so happens to be next to a small factory. Anyway, it was fun to see the factory girls come out after their shift and get all excited with seeing Khuong Ngoc right in front of them, as they whip out their camera phones in unison to take photos of the comely star just a few feet in front of them. To me, it was a good sign.

SAIGON ELECTRIC: Us vs. Them (Part 2)

Here’s Part 2 about my first experience as a producer for a film called SAIGON ELECTRIC (You can read Part 1 here), a hip hop, coming-of-age film made in Vietnam. It was released there in April and is set to be released in select U.S. cities on October 7th. We’re currently mounting an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for a small, but proper, theatrical release.  So without further adieu, here’s the latest chapter of the SAIGON ELECTRIC Journey:

February 2010: With the script done and most of the financing in place, we were dead set on starting production in May 2010. We figured it would be ready for a Christmas release later that year. There was only one problem. We weren’t well-versed in hip hop, especially in Vietnam. So, with some scratch in his pocket, we sent our intrepid (and younger) producer, Danny Do,  on a mission to Vietnam in March, to do some scouting and outreach with the various dance crews. Danny ventured to Hanoi first, where hip hop is actually a bigger scene (the dancers that populate Lenin Park on a daily basis number in the hundreds). That’s where he met up with Big Toe, the best dance crew in Hanoi, if not Vietnam. They were competing internationally, getting endorsements, and also acting in a daily TV soap called Buoc Nhay Xi Tin, which reminds me of a Viet version of Kids Incorporated. Danny made strides with the crew, but unfortunately, they weren’t going to be available in May because they were going to be out of the country.

Danny made it south to Saigon a.k.a. Ho Chi Minh City, where the film is based anyway, and met up with various crews, ranging from step up, hip hop, pop-n- lockers and actual b-boys. He was filming their practice routines and uploading them to Youtube so we could see them back in the States.

SAIGON ELECTRIC: A Vietnamese American’s Journey Back to the Motherland (Part I)

I’ll be blogging about my first experience as a producer for a film called SAIGON ELECTRIC, a hip hop, coming-of-age film made in Vietnam. It was released in Vietnam in April and is set to be released in select U.S. cities on October 7th. We’re currently mounting an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for a small, but proper, theatrical release.  So without further adieu, here’s Part I of the SAIGON ELECTRIC Journey:

My first foray into producing has been the most fun and the most excruciatingly stressful time of my life. Like many young Vietnamese Americans working in the entertainment industry, I too, caught the wave to make movies in a booming economy in Vietnam. Forget images of PLATOON, APOCALYPSE NOW, HEAVEN AND EARTH or anything from Oliver Stone’s oeuvre of white guilt — This ain’t your daddy’s Vietnam. Like the rest of Asia, Vietnam is catching up with the rest of the world, with booming industries, a rising middle class, major construction in Saigon and Hanoi, and half of the 89 million national population under the age of 30. With the Internet explosion, western trends are quickly being adopted and changing the youth landscape in Vietnam everyday; K-pop, Japanese anime,  iPhone apps, LA streetwear, and Madison Ave. branding are the amino acids in the new DNA of the modern Vietnamese teen.

Telling it like it is: What we can learn from African American cinema

Here’s a short, but very wise segment from journalist and social commentator Roland S. Martin about the hypocrisy of African Americans when it comes to supporting African American film and entertainment.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj3PfehWt7Y&feature=player_embedded[/youtube] Martin is referring to two indie features starring predominately African American casts that are slowly rolling out in theaters now — MOOZLUM starring Nia Long and is about a young Black Muslim entering college during 9/11 and I WILL FOLLOW, a drama about a woman grieving after the death of her husband.

He preaches the truth, but if apathy continues, then the market place has spoken and African American cinema will die a slow death. This, of course, applies to Asian American cinema as well. Is it necessary to find our Tyler Perry to turn the tide or at the very least, carve a sliver of space in the lexicon, where Asian media images can somewhat thrive?

INTERPRETATIONS Update 7-13

Don’t forget that our INTERPRETATIONS filmmaking panel is coming to New York this Saturday, July 17, 5 PM at the Clearview Chelsea Cinema as part of the Asian American Int’l Film Festival, which opens this Thursday night with a screening of the acclaimed import from the Philippines, Manila Skies. Our panel is FREE but reserve your tickets here before they’re all gone. We’ve commissioned actor Ken Leung (Miles on TV’s Lost) to make his own INTERPRETATIONS sample short and we’ll be world premiering his film/”Valentine to the Big Apple” entitled Rumble at our panel so come out and be the first to see Ken’s directorial debut. Ken will be in attendance to discuss his short and participate in our filmmakers’ panel following a screening of our commissioned shorts.

Ken Leung's "Rumble"

Check out all the updates on our INTERPRETATIONS website. We’re starting to receive your submissions and will start posting those films throughout the week and rest of the summer so log in often to see what your fellow filmmakers are coming up with. Offender Jerome is also starting a new feature entitled ONE ON ONE on the website where he’ll be interviewing some of our jurors and other industry professionals about the craft and business of movies. His first interview with CAA agent Rowena Arguelles (whose clients include Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke and Offender Justin Lin) is up now. He’ll next be interviewing producer Dan Lin (Sherlock Holmes, Terminator Salvation) so if you have a question you’d like to ask Dan, submit it by this Sunday, July 18 to: Jerome@yomyomf.com