I want to make another film

9 03 2015

I’m thinking of making a documentary short about racism in the gay community. God knows it’s an intrinsic problem that most don’t even see as a problem. I have some ideas of how to proceed and what to film, but the time and effort that’ll go into making it is already daunting to me (as someone who has previously made documentary shorts).

Oh, and a budget would be nice but we all know the chance of that happening is pretty much impossible.

Is this all really worth it?

8 06 2014

I’m killing myself looking up queer film festivals around the world to send my film to, but I bet it won’t be accepted in more than three-quarters of them. The more I go through film festivals’ programs, the more I see that they types of films they screen have the gay/lesbian/queer thing very much upfront — and that’s not necessarily the stories that I want to tell. Sure, I made Stay which was super gay, but with something like June, which I think is my best, most artistic film to date, I want to explore other issues than just being gay. Maybe my films are too weird/artsy to fit in to typical film festivals; I’ve been reluctantly submitting my film as an experimental film, which I never considered it to be when I made it. And when my mom came in as I was going crazy, flipping through multiple open tabs on my browser of different film festivals, she asked what I was doing. When I told her I was sending off my film to festivals to get super famous, she told me to stop dreaming and left. I don’t expect to get super famous from my films, but I’d like some validation that my art and my stories are worth seeing, worth showing to other people. I’m thankful June has been screened at the Vancouver Queer Film Fest, though they have screened legitimately weird things, so my film hardly qualifies as too weird for them.

Maybe I was right to give up on film. The acceptances of my writing in various lit mags (despite lots of rejection from other places) has made me feel confident that my stories are worth publishing. I guess I feel like I either have to make clear, narrative films with gay characters facing gay situations, or I shouldn’t be a queer filmmaker if I expect popularity. And I don’t know if I want to do that.

My brain is a pile of mush right now so I will leave my existential crisis at that.

The death of my film career

6 01 2014

I spent the past few minutes submitting my latest film I completed last year, June, to queer film festivals. Only I did it with a sense of defeat. I’ve been telling people for the last while that I’m starting to move away from film; having written and directed short films for the past few years and not gotten much out of it except for a cool thing I can boast about every now and then, filmmaking, as fun as it has been, is so difficult to not just make money from, but to get people interested in.

I’d love to get screened at Outfest, but they’ve rejected all my films, year after year. I’d love to win the Gerry Brunet Award, but I haven’t. I don’t make films for money, but when I put money (and hard work and time and all that) into something I do and don’t get nearly as much after, it leaves you feeling a little deflated.

As with music, the first artsy project I undertook when I was exiting my teens and entering the scary world of the twenty-something, I found that people just didn’t care. And it was hard to make people care, especially when I’m not the type to go around proclaiming how everyone should “listen to my cover on my youtube channel because I’m 5 years old and it would mean so much to me please!” I don’t know what it is. Maybe I just marketed myself poorly when I went around the city and played shows, shows where the other musicians were all guitarists and seemingly more approachable than a gay, Chinese kid playing sad songs on a keyboard.

I’ve been unpopular my whole life, but I guess I thought that people would see through that and get interested in my music because my music was quality. So when I quit music and turned to film, that cycle and that hope began again– only now, I’m declaring the film world the winner, and me the loser.

I like my films. I know they’re not perfect, and I know they may not be super fancy because they’re simple films, but I like to think they’re different and they have a certain quality to them. I like to think I have interesting stories to tell, especially with June, which I’ve spent almost two years developing. I guess I wouldn’t be so reluctant and unenthusiastic about sending out my short film if I didn’t have to pay a submission fee, since it’s not even guaranteed that my film will be shown. And even when it is shown, many film festivals don’t pay, at least not short film filmmakers. So I end up paying a festival to watch my work, potentially paying more money to send an exhibition copy of the film — all in exchange for some people watching my film for 6 minutes.

Is this good enough? Is exposure really good enough? Not for short films. Maybe for features, but most people, I think, don’t really think about short films after (unless they’re exceptional), and even then, it’s unlikely that short film filmmakers get their big break via exposure. It’s difficult for me to justify sending out my film to a festival I feel won’t screen my work when they won’t pay me for it, after I’ve spent a long time working on it. But what else can I do?

I’ll still be sending out June because I spent so much time and effort (and money) on it that it would be a waste to simply let it sit on my computer this year. In a perfect world, short film filmmakers would get more than just exposure. I make films — and music and I write — because I love it. But I can’t use love to rent out equipment for my next film and to pay for film transferring, and for all the people who worked on my film. Wish I could though.

Production schedules are a hoax

6 07 2013

In my experience, there is no such thing as a production schedule where a production makes a film in a month or two and then it’s a wrap. No, there is no such thing.

I’m in the process of going through the behind the scenes footage and interviews. I realized that this whole process of my latest short film, has taken a very long time– almost two years. Well, technically more than that if you’re counting the very beginning, from concept/writing of the script, but I’ll count it from the time we went into pre-production and casting until now.

Here’s what I mean:

Fall/Winter of 2011: we had planned to shoot the film sometime in the winter of 2011, when there is less sunlight and more night. This got delayed because I forgot about it/wasn’t sure if my DP still wanted to do it.

Late November/December 2011: we started to look for actors, planning to shoot in January now.

Mid-December: casting is done, but we have no place to shoot. Also, no money for anything. We put up the project on indiegogo with the hope of getting something.

January 2012: Still no place. We saw a couple places with pianos but they weren’t to our liking. With nowhere to shoot, we postponed the film indefinitely while we continued to look. Our indiegogo campaign ended, with a total of $95, considerably less than our goal of $2500. Oh well. I was expecting practically nothing though.

July 21, 2012: after January, we began to have scheduling conflicts with just about everything and everyone. If the actors weren’t free, the place we found wouldn’t be free. If the place was free, the DP wasn’t free. It was awful, but people didn’t seem to mind too much. Finally, we had a date: July 21, 2012. And it was finally filmed, after more than half a year of planning! Hooray!

March 2013: it’s no longer 2012 anymore. In fact, the deadline for the queer film festival in Vancouver was coming up, and I had barely edited it. So I spent a day putting together a rough cut of the film (which I didn’t even finish with the ending because I didn’t have enough time) and then sent it off to Out on Screen for consideration. They told me a final cut should be done at the end of April at the latest, which freaked me out a bit because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish it by then, but when I mentioned that I was able to hand in an exhibition copy of my films later in the summer in past years, I was told to send it “whenever it’s done.” Thank god.

April 2013: when I start to edit again, I find it’s not working. I edited the rough cut on Final Cut, but since Final Cut X was installed on the Macs at Langara, I could no longer open my project. I was forced to start from scratch. I tried to learn Final Cut X but it was such a nightmare and it became increasingly apparent that I couldn’t work with it because long story short, it would require that I re-format my harddrive, which I didn’t want to do. Instead, I installed Adobe Premiere Pro on my sister’s desktop and worked at home. Sooooo much better.

May-July 2013: Editing party!

The film is almost done. Sound design and color are the main things left. The other little thing is that there’s a tiny scene where the protagonist looks through a keyhole, which we forgot to film last year.

And thus, the scheduling conflict party begins again. It’s such a hassle and so frustrating to deal with scheduling a simple shot like this, especially when there’s a cloud of pressure to hand in the final cut of the film asap. It’s unnerving and it stresses me out.

Let me say that I hate scheduling things. It’s one of the worst things about making a film, which is why I have tried (and failed) to get a production manager. It always gives me such a headache to constantly contact and re-contact people, ask when they’re available, ask other people to clarify, and all that. I swear, it will be the death of me.

So that’s where I am right now. I have to have a copy of the film for exhibition at the latest in August, so figuring in the above, it’s been almost two years since we first started planning the film. Seriously. Ugh.

You know you’re film is good…

27 02 2013

when, while editing it and watching it back, it makes you almost cry.

And now, we have a movie.

22 07 2012

Or at least some footage that will now magically turn itself into a movie.

Best moment of the day: 15 minute crew freakout to try and figure out what to do with hauling the equipment back home.  U-haul cargo van?  Calling up other people we know?  Coming back tomorrow?  Paying an extra day for rentals?  AHHHHH!!!!

Note: it is important to figure out how you will transport people and equipment.  Make friends with those who have big cars.  It will come in handy in the future.  Trust me.

Day 1

21 07 2012

Well, that was fun and pretty alright.  Will share some production photos soon.  For now, it’s bedtime and getting ready for Day 2 of shooting.

Here we go.

21 07 2012

Let me count how many times things go wrong today.

When in doubt,

19 07 2012

post an ad on craigslist and hope that someone sees it a day before your scheduled shoot.

By the way, if anyone reading this happens to be living in the Metro Vancouver area and is a photographer or an aspiring photographer and/or would like to do EPK (filming behind the scenes footage, interviewing ppl), then let me know because I just so happen to have a spot on our crew for you this weekend!


Producing is too hard

18 07 2012

Especially when you’re anti-social/awkward around new people/don’t meet people much/don’t have a zillion friends on facebook.