Over the past months, we've been touring the film at various festivals at a time when audiences are seeking a reprieve from the barrage of awful current events, particularly in the US. During the Q&As we have been heartened for those who came out to see our film, and who resonated with the themes of family, forgiveness, compassion and inclusion - traits that so many of us seem to cherish even more these days. We can't take credit for the timing, but we're certainly grateful, as we see yet another wave coming our way with a slate of Asian-American visibility in our popular culture.
These screenings also gave us an opportunity to hear from audiences how they are feeling - not just about our film, but how stories like those in FOR IZZY fit in to the larger dialogue of what is going on in our communities today.
In our Q&As after our screenings, there was one audience member at Frameline whose question really stood out, which I wasn't able to answer as eloquently in the moment. She asked (par...
I got the news on Wednesday morning May 23rd that Elizabeth Sung had suddenly passed away the night before. As of this writing, while I'm still processing and struggling to write about her in the past tense, I wanted to share my thoughts on a person who has meant so much to me.
A few years ago, I was standing in line at the Austin Film Festival waiting to sit in on their many discussion panels with seasoned writers. Rather than stare into my phone, I started talking to the woman behind me about our films, what projects we were working on, and all the small talk that comes with introducing one's self at film festivals. When I spoke about a script I was writing (which would later become FOR IZZY) and mentioned Elizabeth Sung's name, her eyes immediately lit up and her face brightened.
"She was my acting coach!"
Seeing on a consistent basis people brighten up so spontaneously at the mention of Elizabeth's name epitomizes the kind of impact Elizabeth has had on so many of the people she came...
To be honored in this way was not only a surprise, but truly humbling as we saw some amazing films that covered such a wide spectrum of the Asian-American experience. The films featuring Asian-American stories over the years seem to have evolved and changed. Not only is the primary frame of reference the immigrant identity issues and racial politics, but stories that go beyond that. Stories about us, by us. And FOR IZZY is no different that way. The feedback we got both at LAAPFF and at Ashland was not on the character's ethnicity and their relationship with white America, but about the character's interior lives. Their Asian-ness is one of several elements in what gives specificity to the characters, but their Asian-ness isn't the central theme o...
Producer Mike Gray and I are still recovering from our four days at the 17th Annual Ashland Independent Film Festival, where our film received the Varsity Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. It was truly an honor to be considered amongst so many great films we saw there. With each passing year, it seems that not only are there more films out there, but collectively they're get more diverse, more daring and audacious - the bar just seems to get higher so to have the audiences connect to our film in spite of its unusual structure and format really inspires me to continue extending the edges of storytelling even further.
In many ways, it's easier these days to make a *traditional* film in terms of story, format, look, etc not only because of the tools available, but the conventions are become even more established (three-act structure, hero's journey, beat sheets, etc). Which makes the challenge of making something different that stands out ever more important (and mo...
It all started in early 2015 in a conversation over ramen noodles with Jenny Soo – I wanted to write something for Elizabeth Sung, Jim Lau and Jenny, all of whom I worked with on prior films.
After a year of multiple drafts, workshops, and finding Michelle Ang to round out the lead cast, we went into production almost exactly a year ago in June 2016.
This film would not have been possible without the love and care from everyone in the cast and crew, as well as our Indiegogo supporters.
An Asian-American family drama told in a documentary style, mixed media format with animation and spoken verse – envisioning these elements together was creatively inspiring for me as I was writing the script. But at the same time, I was worried because the reality of making it would be a tough sell - or “execution dependent” as they say in the film world. In the end though, it has turned out the way I had originally imagined and set out to do, and more. I’m proud of this film and the faith that m...
Simply put, I'm blown away by those who backed our campaign. Going into it, we had no idea how this would turn out. None of us had experience with crowdfunding, and frankly it was terrifying at first. What if people get annoyed? What if I look desperate? What will people think of me?
And then something clicked. When folks started emailing me to explain why they contributed, I realized something. People DO want to help when they believe in the mission - in a way, they want to be a participant in the cause, with filmmakers as custodians of that cause. It's not about me, you, us or them - but about something beyond that.
It doesn't have to be about hard hitting social issues (although FOR IZZY does touch upon it), but about community.
It's the CROWD in crowdfunding - that's the other half that matters as much if not more than the funding itself.
It's not just contribution, support or donation - it's about participation.
And I do very much now feel like a custodian of this film that you have en...