Buried in…

There’s a good reason why I haven’t updated in over a month.  And it’s summed up with one word: Paperwork

Tons of muther-effin’ paperwork.

The SI gang and I are in the middle of putting together, SHATTERED: The Asian American Comic Anthology (that’s SECRET IDENTITIES: Vol 2, which for some reason isn’t an acceptable title with the publisher — so much for brand recognition ).  So back and forth edits, drafting contracts and last minute outreach are abound.  Heck, some of you have seen what the board looks like:

Then I’m producing my first project (a secret one — that will probably remain one until it’s shown) that I’ve been working on since January.

Things are coming together amazingly well and I don’t want to say any more than that, less to jinx it all.  But besides the shooting itself — it involves setting up the LLC, payroll, SAG signatories to use the actors, scouting locations, pulling permits, getting insurance, drafting up contracts and setting up bank accounts.   Below is a snapshot during a location scout and is my favorite one so far.

And then to top it all off, we’re doing a re-fiance for the house.  Which if you haven’t been through one before — man, it’s a full-time job with the stuff they need you to collect and verify within days for the lender and escrow.  It amazes me how in the world anyone can get a re-fi done these days.  I’m one of the most organized people you’ll ever meet and even I’m having problems keeping up to speed.

But despite all this paperwork, it couldn’t stop me from doctoring up another YES, WE’RE OPEN poster — Hollywood Style!   I’ll always be able to find something to stick inside that poster board we’re holding.

The LA screening will be at the beautiful, 600-seat DGA Theatre on Sat, May 12 at 9PM.  Tickets are available here:

The screening last month at The Castro was amazing.  It was a rush to see it alongside 1,400 people laughing (at the funny parts, of course).

Below are a few pics from the night.  But let’s take some new ones at the DGA on May 12!!

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Done, Done & Done.

Gettin’ excited for this weekend and seeing this for the first time alongside a potential crowd of 1,400 peeps.  If you’ll be in the Bay Area, won’t you be one of them?  If so, there’s a pretty simple checklist below to follow.

And stay tuned on Wednesday, for my special ‘interpretation’ of the movie!  Tickets are available here.

Y.W.O. WORLD PREMIERE

I think this is fairly self-explanatory.

It’s an honor to be SFIAAFF’s Centerpiece Film in the historic, 1,400 seat Castro Theatre and in the perfect city to debut this movie — San Francisco, where it all started almost a year ago.

So if you’re in the Bay Area that weekend…. tickets are available to the public here on Monday, Feb 13.

There will also be a shin-dig at the W Hotel downtown afterwards – so, let’s boogie.

I might be wearing clothes this time.  Might.

Behind the YWO Poster

Oh boy —  you know nuthin’ good can come from those sultry looks across the couch.

The poster above was a result from the impromptu photoshoot we did a few months ago using a New Yorker poster as a placeholder.  Lynn was wearing short, shorts and a strapless top while I was… well, let’s just say I’m method and wanted to help her awkward expression be as authentic as possible.  Because I’m a giver.

As you can see the plan worked,  however she has not spoken to me since.

I’m kidding.  I wouldn’t have had the balls (pun intended).

One of my favorite shots is below – it’s very John/Yoko-esque.

Stay tuned for the premiere announcement in a few weeks!

On a side note, today marks 10 years from when we premiered BLT at Sundance 2002.  A $250,000 film funded by Dir. Justin Lin’s credit cards that went on to make over $15 Million in Box Office/DVD Sales.  He’s actually there right now as a Juror.

The place 10 years ago where film critic, Roger Ebert ignited a bidding war for the movie after chastising another critic for holding Asian American actors to a double-standard in his sweeping generalization that the film portrayed Asian Americans ‘negatively’.

I wonder how that critic would feel seeing Asians on screen with a *gasp* — libido — in “Yes, We’re Open“?

Yes, We’re Open (Part Duex)

This past Sunday, the “YES, WE’RE OPEN” crew reunited in Southern Cali for a few pick-up shots.

Upon seeing the completed version of the film, the director and producer found a few areas that would benefit from a couple extra scenes here and there.  That’s moviemaking — inspiration and revelations sometimes just pop up at the last second and you either switch gears to make it happen or you don’t.

So there was another bedroom scene.

Where somehow this guy wound up being utilized… and I’ll just leave things at that (or at least for the DVD commentary).

And a dinner scene.

Lynn and I were treated throughout the day to a few clips of the movie, which really looked amazing and hilarious.  The performances, timing and editing were so on point from everyone involved.

And while they had us, we also shot a few possibilities for the theatrical poster and promotional materials.

Even though we’ve reached our initial KickStarter goal of $10,000 (amazingly in the first 10 days), these pick-ups were a very unexpected hiccup in the production’s budget albeit much needed.

So there’s still a little over a week to make a pledge towards our  YWO KickStarter if you haven’t already, in order to help our investors breathe a little easier because… socks cost money.

Even if you only use just one.

D.I.Y. ADR

ADR stands for “Additional Dialogue Replacement” – or also known as ‘looping‘ or ‘dubbing‘.  And whether it’s done to hide an overhead airplane, traffic, wind, add another line off screen or replace a mumbled word… with almost every project, it needs to be done.  And ‘Yes, We’re Open‘, is no different.

However with the Director Rich Wong being in SF and me in LA — enter my home recording studio to the rescue!

But real recording studios communicate through a ‘phone patch‘, where the person on the other line can hear the audio/takes directly from the mic and vice versa into the actor’s headphones.

However here in the SHEN STUDIO, we don’t believe in all that expensive, fancy-schmancy gear (nor can we afford it) — so we simply hold up a cordless phone to communicate.  Bam.  How you like dat?

Towards the end, there was a potential snag.  One scene took place in the shower and we needed to match the ‘echoey-ness’ of the bathroom we shot in.  So the isolated padding of the booth just would not do.

Solution?  Break it down ‘mobile-style‘ and into the shower!

During playback I noticed the mic was picking up the clicks and hums from the laptop being too close — so a small tweak.

45 minutes to combine the takes, label them, email them off… and we’re done.

And believe you me, if I weren’t planning on taking photos of this process for a blog post — this ADR session would’ve been entirely done while wearing nothin’ but my boxers.

The ‘perks’ of working from home, right?

YWO Kickstarter Update:

We made it!  Thank you ALL!  Now if we could somehow pull off what this guy managed to do with his KS.  🙂

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…

MARGINAL MAN!!!

I’ll be taking part in East West Player’s Summer Reading Series for works in progress on stage this Saturday, August 13th at 8pm.

I’ll be portraying MARGINAL MAN An Asian American Superhero that derives superhuman strength from being perpetually marginalized and is the Keeper of the Yellow Light.

So swing on by Southern Cali peeps to — 120 Judge John Aiso St. – if you’re free to check out this hilarious new work by Richard Kim.

At first, the color configuration of the text boxes in the flyer above seemed oddly familiar until I realized… duh.

Guess I associate all things superhero with: green, white and red — that or I’ve got a subliminal thing for the Italian Flag.

YWO KS Update: It’s been only 5 days into the “Yes, We’re Open” Kickstarter and as Bon Jovi sang, “…We’re (OVER) halfway there!”

A big ‘thank you‘ to everyone’s help in getting this amazing project towards completion and coming along for the ride!

Hopefully this amazing surge out the gates lines YWO to be in a stronger position to exceed the initial minimum request like Kickstarter successes: C-Loop and Womanthology (here’s a great blog reaction from Womanthology’s creator on being 430%+ funded) — with the extra funds used to cover the endless expenses the film will incur with marketing, promotions and festival fees.

KickStarting “Yes, We’re Open”

YES, WE’RE OPEN’s Kickstarter has officially launched!

What’s KickStarter you may ask?  Bascially, it’s a funding framework to help ‘kickstart’ creative projects.

The Way It Works: A project must reach its funding needs within a set time frame or NO money (prior pledges before the deadline) exchanges hands.  This way — creators don’t develop a project with an insufficient budget and donors don’t contribute to a project that is unlikely to come to fruition without a full budget .

In YWO‘s case, the production’s fiscal goals of $10,000 need to be reached by Oct 3 in order to be successfully funded.

The funds will go towards all our post-production needs (editing, music, sound mix, color correction, etc) to ready a cut for our submission into the 2012 film festivals (ie: Sundance, Tribeca, South by SouthWest, etc.) — where all the film distributors congregate annually to acquire ready-made films for a relative bargain (bargain for them but big for the producers).

Way back in the day, before all this FaceBook and Kickstarter ballyhoo — “Better Luck Tomorrow” received major help from multiple sources to ready a cut suitable for our submission into the Sundance Film Festival – which ultimately led to the film being discovered and distributed by MTV Films/Paramount.

From director Justin Lin’s acquaintance with MC Hammer providing us funds at the 11th hour to continue production… to the sound engineers of an Academy Award ® nominated movie sneaking “BLT” onto their sound stages during their 2-week vacation and doing our entire sound mix for free (literally saving us tens of thousands of dollars).


Originally, I re-dubbed approximately 85% of my dialogue for “BLT” (which never really matches up perfectly in the end) due to audio problems when we originally recorded.

However, with the assistance from these Oscar-winning sound engineers, they were able to recover all the original tracks, except for one scene (Daric visting Ben at his corn-dog job).

So barring any pro-bono assistance from the crew currently shooting “The Hunger Games”,  YES, WE’RE OPEN could use your help here!

Many thanks in advance and for those who have already pledged (ie: mom)!

YWO – Part 4 – The Other Woman

This shoot couldn’t have been made any easier for me in terms of the circumstances that were set up:

– As mentioned before, I already knew my “Sylvia” (Lynn) for 6 years in real life.

– The director, Rich Wong shot 90% of the movie in chronological order to help us logically build towards the end (sometimes the ending is shot first for logistical reasons).

– Learning the dialogue was a cinch (even the 5-page monologues!) because of writer, HP Mendoza‘s talents as a wordsmith.

But the final piece came together when Sheetal Sheth came in as “Elena” after Lynn and I had been shooting for a week.

(Let’s pause here for an informational sidebar):  

I first saw Sheetal 10 years ago on stage co-presenting an award at the 2001 Asian Excellence Awards with former MTV VJ, Ray Munns.

Now, Ray was being kind of a wise-ass on stage.  His humor to win over the crowd was to sort of throw Sheetal under the bus (ie: inappropriate flirting, cutting her off, etc).

Finally Sheetal just blurted out, “Why are you even here?!

Which promptly shut Ray up and brought the house down because we were ALL thinking the same thing –“This guy is Asian?” (And btw, yes — 1/2 Korean).

I instantly fell in love with this mysterious gal’s spunk.  And for the next decade she was always on my radar being the fearless actress.

(end sidebar).

Then all of a sudden, she appeared on the YWO set — and that apprehension of kinda knowing someone, but not really — was all there (which worked in the confines of the script to a tee).

It was like Betty and Veronica.

Or Mary Ann and Ginger.

Where you know you’ve already got the perfect girl in Sylvia (Betty/Mary Ann) but then a minx like Elena (Veronica/Ginger) shows up and throws everything out of whack for Luke (Archie/Gilligan).


What a horrible gig, right?

(Btw that’s Surrogate Valentine director, Dave Boyle who I’ve got my large noggin pasted over – who is also in the film and steals the show.  “SV”, my first appearance with Lynn in a project, will be playing at BAM in NYC on June 23 & 24.)

YWO – Part 3 – The Clothes

While Lynn was able to score a lot of great grub for the shoot via her blog, Jerry Ma from Epic Proportions Art & Design helped “Luke” with his ‘at home’ casual look.

GATCHAMAN Shirt.

ALCOHOLIC Shirt.

GOLDEN ARMS Shirt.

Here’s where you can get outfitted like “Luke” and find other clothes he would’ve worn!

One huge misstep was underestimating the SF night air — it’s freakin’ freezing!

And then I made the “character choice” in this scene to have my jacket unzipped and therefore had to keep it that way to maintain continuity throughout the entire night.

Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid.

Loot at how miserable I look.

Look at how miserable Lynn looks — and she’s bundled up!

The night was stretched out even longer with people on the street ruining takes by looking into the camera, panhandlers trying to get some screen time and… me — forgetting to UNZIP my jacket (trying to warm up between takes).

Making literally one of the best takes of the night totally unusable — AGH!  Rookie.

These pals are my secret weapon for shooting in cold weather – meet Mr. Long Underwear and a Ms. Thinsulate Jacket Liner with a low scoop collar that can’t be seen underneath anything.  The combo worked like a charm when I shot HATCHET II in the Louisiana Bayou.

But this time they were in my closet at home just hangin’ out.

Finally somebody took pity on me and I wound up looking like this for the last hour between takes.

 I felt like a pansy.  But I didn’t care.

Our costumer, Irene, was great.  All the dressy outfits she found for my character were way more hip than me.

I tried to rock this look as effortlessly as Dante Basco does… but ultimately the scarf was nixed.

Please instruct me on how you reign in the scarf’s puffiness and have it drape around the neck with the grace akin to an ascot without looking like a Hong Kong Pop Star.

How Dante?

HOW?!?