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 of each highlighted short film, and asked them 5 Questions. 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.
1. How did you come up with the concept for this short?
My friend, Peter Westen, studied in Japan during high school, where he immediately noticed people squatting while waiting for a bus, a restaurant reservation, anything. But they squatted with their heels on the ground, and they didn’t seem to get numb or sore. His Japanese friends explained that this was the “Asian Squat.” By the time I met him in college, Peter had become America’s most vocal advocate of the Asian Squat. He taught himself to do it and will gladly explain to anyone who will listen why it’s superior to our Western Squat.
2. Any challenges or setbacks during the production?
This was only the fourth short film I had ever made, so I did every job on the movie — writing directing, shooting, editing, making the props. The actors were great to work with and eager to come up with helpful suggestions. I guess the entire production was a challenge.
3. Any funny stories from the making of this film?
The actor Michael McConnohie, who plays Dr. Goldstein and also narrates the film, does a ton of voice work in video games and cartoons. He somehow read a breakdown for the project and decided to audition, even though the job didn’t pay anything. When I looked up his credits on IMDB I was floored. He was the voice of Tracks in the original Transformers cartoon. I collected Transformers when I was a kid, so as soon as I saw that credit I knew I had to hire him! Such a wonderful man, I’d love to work with him again.
4. Where has your film played? Festivals or other places around the world?
The film played in festivals in LA, San Diego, Austin, Hawaii, and I think New York. Despite the fact that the movie is ten years old now (it was released in 2002), it continues to have a life on the internet thanks to the fact that it was intentionally “old-timey” looking. I’m actually surprised how often it continues to come up in conversation. I interviewed for a job on The Colbert Report a couple of years ago and when I walked into the room, Stephen Colbert said to me, “I just watched your Asian Squat short. Funny stuff!”
5. What’s been going on with you, filmmaking wise since the completion of this short? What are you working on next?
I just completed my first feature film Shanghai Calling, a romantic comedy about American expats in China. We just recently played at Newport, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival and had a big premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June. We will be playing more festivals in the US soon. You can watch the trailer and read more about the movie on our website: http://ShanghaiCalling.com. I’m also writing my next feature script, and my wife and I just had our first child, so it’s a busy time!