Hello YOMYOMF family!!!
I am so excited to be a part of this community and to have participated in this movement that is giving us a platform for our voices to be heard. I especially want to congratulate EVERYONE who accepted the Interpretations 2.0 challenge and told their original stories. I think the biggest goal at the end of the day was to let the world know that yes, our community does exist and that we do have great and important stories to tell. And that we are absolutely CAPABLE of telling those stories! I believe that this long marathon of a creative journey is only possible if we support each other and make this noise together. I took the time to watch every single submission and I have to say that everyone SHOWED UP and DID WORK. And ultimately, every single team has contributed to the visibility of our community, which is so so so important. I highly suggest that you do the same and hold a weekly mini film festival to give every short film the attention they deserve for all the work that their respective teams put in. It’s a really unique experience and I’ve come out of it having learned so much more about how to embrace challenging limitations and tell a solid story in a brief amount of time. Thank you all for being wonderful teachers.
I definitely want to thank YOMYOMF and the selection committee for the honor of having ‘Hit or Miss’ named alongside the rest of the top 15 films! And of the 15 (please tell me if I miscounted!), our film is one of four films helmed by Asian-American WOMEN, so I would like to especially congratulate Julia Chang, Angela Park, and Elaine Loh for this important accomplishment! HUGE congratulations to everyone for making it to this point! I hope you all properly celebrated and treated yourselves. I went down the street to Jollibee and got a three-piece Chickenjoy meal. It was PERFECT.
‘Hit or Miss’ is my second solo directorial effort and like many of the Interpretations 2.0 filmmakers, I also wrote, produced, and acted in my film. I’m primarily an actor, but as Asians we all know that any acting opportunities for people who look like us are few and far between (for now) so I decided to be more proactive with my career and create my own content. For Interpretations 2.0, I originally wanted to try my hand at writing a sci-fi or horror short because as an actor, those are the projects that I am currently hungry for and want to experience. I already had my heart set on driving home to the Bay Area to shoot at the abandoned Mare Island Naval Shipyard, but I just couldn’t find a story I wanted to tell. I was trying to force these concepts out of my mind but that’s all they were, concepts that didn’t have a heart or something to say or characters to root for.
But one night, I was in Muay Thai class and I took notice of this petite, older Filipina woman named Sherry Emata who was absolutely destroying a pad with her body kicks. In the days between that class until the next, I was suddenly flooded with ideas for a story I could write. I’ve always wanted to do some kind of boxing film and the idea of showing a relationship between a daughter and mother through their passion for Muay Thai REALLY excited me. We never get to see a woman, especially an older one, in the tough coach/mother role and I was so excited to see that dynamic come to life on screen. I am also drawn to stories about dealing with change and/or loss because these kinds of events are what connect us all as human beings. In a couple of days I had written multiple drafts and gotten feedback from some of my most trusted creative friends. My excitement for the project started to fill me up like a balloon until I realized that I still didn’t have a cast. I knew I wanted to ask my Muay Thai instructor Ming Freeman and my classmate Sherry to be a part of it but what if they said no? I immediately started to develop back up plans that I was, honestly, less excited about. I just felt deep in my gut that they were the right people for the job and I had to find a way to convince them to do this with me!
The next Muay Thai class finally rolled around and hilariously, only four out of over twenty people showed up, including Sherry. It was now or never. I couldn’t hide on the other side of the room and I couldn’t leave. I pulled Sherry aside and quickly (and way too apologetically) explained to her what I wanted to do and how I wanted her to be a part of it. Without hesitation, she said yes! It wasn’t until later that she told me she went home and wondered what she had just gotten herself into. Sherry’s yes had me pumped for the rest of class and all I had to do now was ask Ming. And just like Sherry, with no hesitation, he also said yes! In utter disbelief, I found myself continuing to come up with more things to convince him with that Ming had to stop and tell me again that he already said yes. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. People don’t just say yes, especially not in this town, and it was at this point that everything started to fall into place. Seriously, this whole project came together as if it was always meant to be. After a month of nailing down locations, crew, and equipment and getting in some emotional rehearsals the shoot came and went in a flash. Ming connected me with David Huey, owner of Muay Thai America Gym, where we got to shoot the bulk of the short (Thank you, David!). And just around the corner was the living room we shot in thanks to Sherry’s brother, Randy Emata! My talented friend William Green came on to do cinematography and provide our short with its beautiful, raw documentary look and feel. My freshly transplanted friend from the Bay Area, David Bernstein, helped us with sound recording and was super collaborative with his thoughts and ideas throughout the shoot. My multitalented friend Alex Wroten gave the short its driving and unique score that I love so much. And my partner in crime, Steven Krimmel who always sticks with me from beginning to end of every project, gave me feedback, talked me through my insecurities and doubts, and shaped this project into what it eventually became in the editing.
I’m so grateful to my team who sacrificed a warm Saturday night to be with me and to my post-production team who had to work very quickly to get this thing done before the deadline. They had to deal with some of the usual suspects when it comes to making films: no time, no money, no lighting, no money, and again, no money. But they kept on saying yes and that’s what makes something as impossible as making a film possible. It was an event in which everyone involved came with so much knowledge in their departments that it was one of the most supportive, collaborative, and educational experiences of my life! Their contributions to this project have literally made my dreams come true and I owe each and every one of them the world.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this lengthy post! I found the creative restrictions of Interpretations 2.0 to be amazingly liberating as opposed to limiting and I can only hope to emulate this kind of experience again in future projects. You can watch ‘Hit or Miss‘ here and if you believe it is deserving of your vote, our team would be so grateful to you for your support. I do have to say that all of the top 15 filmmakers are so deserving of your support as well, so please vote for one of us if not all! Your participation is so important in keeping this movement alive and seriously, we can’t do this without you! As I finish writing this, Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang just won a best comedy writing Emmy for Master of None and I’m just so proud to be an Asian-American artist tonight.
Best of luck to all and please, don’t stop creating!