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 Mun Chee Yong, the director of 9:30.
1. How did you come up with the concept for this short?
It was quite instinctive. At the time, I was close to dropping out of USC. i was going through a phase during which I became very focused on telling only the important stories. I wrote 9:30 in my mentor Pablo Frasconi’s class in a single draft. I hardly changed anything after that. It was told from the gut. Looking back, it was quite a precise description of a state that i was familiar with.
2. Any challenges or setbacks during the production?
We had the Movie God on our side. This was sort of a miracle production. We had one good news after another leading up to the film shoot. The shoot itself was my best creative collaboration at the time. I had an amazing time working with Sung, who played the lead, as well as my DP, John. The biggest challenge was we had a very limited budget. It forced some choices that were surprisingly good. For example, we had to shoot on a variety of 35mm short ends donated. We didnt have a generator and we didn’t pay for our locations so we had to work alot with existing lights. We only spent what we had to. I gave the hostel owner a 6 pack of beer. I still remember seeing him shake his head as he walked down his hostel after we wrapped. He had never seen a film set before that. Years later, this same guy would be so excited when he found out I was making a feature that once again, he offered us our main location. The same goes for the grocery store. We shot our scenes there for free, with minimal lighting. We even cast the actual grocer for the part. Coincidentally, years later, we also went back to the same grocery store to shoot my feature.
3. Any funny stories from the making of this film?
So Sung had a a few scenes with this grocer, who’s an actual grocer, not an actor. I directed Sung and pretty much left the grocer to react to Sung on his own. In one of the scenes, Sung stormed in, accusing him of selling a faulty product. Not knowing why Sung was behaving so rudely to him, the grocer lashed out. He was genuinely offended. We got our scene, but Sung had to calm him down after that.
4. Where has your film played? Festivals or other places around the world?
It played in more than 50 festivals worldwide including Deauville, Edinburgh, Sao Paulo, Bilbao, Cannes’s “Tou Les Cinemas Du Monde” and won at SXSW.
5. What’s been going on with you, filmmaking wise since the completion of this short? What are you working on next?
Since then I’ve written a few scripts, DPed a feature and made my feature directorial debut in 2011. The movie’s called Where the Road Meets the Sun, starring another very talented Asian American actor, Will Yun Lee. it’s hard to tell what i’m working on next. I have a few projects in development. I’m hoping that one of them, a monster film, would be my next project.