After I posted the Popcorn Talk interview with my cast on The Unbidden including Julia Nickson, Amy Hill, Akemi Look and Hayden Szeto on Facebook,
I got some interesting feedback saying some prominent Asian American actors have long stated that being involved with APA projects is a career suicide move.
As an Asian American filmmaker who has produced and directed eight 100% Asian American features, I have to say that any actor who thinks that way is absolutely full of shit.
Have you heard of any actor’s career being ruined by acting or being involved in the wrong movie? In fact, every prominent actor in Hollywood has done independent or low budget films to start off their career. Independent films, be they Asian American, horror or low budget, are the foundation of a Hollywood actor’s trajectory. Independent films also provide a training ground for new actors. Check out Jack Nicholson in Roger Corman’s Little Shops of Horror shot in 2 days and one night:
Surely if you are an established actor, there is no reason for you to slum and make $100 a day in a little indie movie. But there is no reason for you to shit on the passion of indie filmmakers either.
Without Asian American or independent films, many actors wouldn’t be discovered. And this is coming from someone who has put John Cho, Reggie Lee, Jun Hee Lee, Archie Kao, Randall Park, Chris Zylka, Booboo Stewart, Harry Shum Jr., Tyler Posey, Justin Martin, Gregg Sulkin, Manish Dayal, Akemi Look, Hayden Szeto and others in either their first movie or first starring role. All of them have booked bigger roles after working on my Asian American features.
I remember I invited producing/writing team Leo Chu and Eric Garcia to The People I’ve Slept With screening at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. They loved Randall Park’s performance so much that they cast him as the dad in their Nickelodeon series Supah Ninjas.
Still toiling in the independent film arena, I was most encouraged by the late Asian American Hollywood screen legend James Shigeta who openly said he wanted to be involved with my film because I was an Asian American filmmaker.
And The People I’ve Slept With was his swan song.
At James’ funeral, I got inspired to make The Unbidden after bumping into Julia Nickson and Nancy Kwan. I talked to Julia and started getting Tamlyn Tomita, Amy Hill and Elizabeth Sung on board. I wanted to make an Asian American film that featured two generations of actresses.
Just as Julia and Amy talked about in the PopcornTalk interview, making an Asian American film is never really about the money. It’s all passion, the best kind of movie making that people get involved with having the heart in the right place.