Lovely Essay

This essay really inspired me.  Everything’s going to be okay.

http://www.tloclub.com/2013/05/after-flood-personal-essay.html

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Red Carpet – “Bullet To The Head”

Check out this video I shot and edited!  The lighting for this event was pretty harsh, like many red carpet gigs I’ve done.  I was happy that the correspondent asked good questions and stuck with her plan!  It was her first time covering an event like this, and I’m glad Audrey/KoreAm assigned a very enthusiastic and competent person.  This definitely made editing my footage a lot smoother.

Editing this piece was easier than usual, because I was allowed to use IAMMEDIC’s song, “One.”  It’s such a nice piece of musical composition that complemented the footage.

Thanks to Farah and Steven for getting me this gig!  I had a lot of fun!

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Angela & Jake’s Engagement Video

Shot in one day on November 11th, 2012. This was a fun video to make because of all the wardrobe changes and locations. We went to Santa Monica Pier, Rodeo Drive, and Kenneth Hahn Park.

I made a shot list and storyboard the night before, and I gotta say that this video turned out better than I envisioned. Originally, I was going to infuse humor by intercutting it with slapstick takes and use the interviews as voice-over. Fortunately, my subjects suggested that we use the song, “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers and cut out the stuff I just mentioned. That totally freed me up to ground this video and it worked!

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Fall 2012 Projects

Just a little update on what I’m working on.  I really want to finish these before the end of the year!  The reason I put it off for so long is because I’ve had quite a year working non-stop!  I had that full time job at a production company and then a feature film!  It’s late September and I started taking classes again.

1. Ritchie & Terisa Wedding

2. Sabrina & Andrew Wedding

3. Mrs. Ho’s 80th Birthday Event

4. Red Carpet and Convention reels

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The Hunger Games film review

Expectations and Mindset going in

I’ve seen Battle Royale back in 2003.  I knew that The Hunger Games is similar to that film, but I’ll get to that comparison later.  I saw The Hunger Games trailers and read the first two pages of the book.  Realizing that I had about ten days before the film releases in theaters, I decided that I didn’t want the book to be fresh in my head.  That was a good choice, and I’ll tell you why.

Exposition and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance was going to be the basis on how I enjoy the film.  If I had the book fresh in my head, I would be frustrated with the adaptation.  I didn’t want to ruin the film by knowing what happens next.  I wanted the information to come at me, as the screenwriter and director intended.  I wanted to know if I could understand the story on film narrative alone.  Then I would assess whether reading the novel afterwards was something I’d want to do.

First Impressions

The opening shot was text on a black screen, explaining the background of the world.  The next shot was a two-shot of Stanley Tucci and another character, sitting down, talking about the main character.  Then, we are introduced to Katniss Everdeen.

From the get-go, I was kind of annoyed at the framing device.  The morning before watching this film, I heard Lenny Kravitz talk about the film on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show.  He said that anything that needs to be explained to the viewer who hasn’t read the book will be through an “announcement” character played by Stanley Tucci.  He’s pretty much the MC or media figure in the world of The Hunger Games.  So pretty much, I’m gonna call this guy “Mr. Exposition.”  THANK YOU!  <—– <sarcasm>  I didn’t like that as a viewer, I am pulled into this world through a framing device that has characters from the media tell the story of Katniss Everdeen.  Booo!  Again, I didn’t read the book!

I hated the way the camera moved during the scenes in District 12.  Two minutes into the movie, and I feel like I’m watching The Bourne series.  TOO MUCH shaky camera movement.  They couldn’t use a steady cam?!!  I understood that maybe they were going for the theme of “instability.”  I get that District 12 is a place that’s unstable.  However, the camera movement was too distracting when I was trying to get acquainted with Katniss Everdeen, her family, her friends, and her world.

The first 2/3 of the film

I noticed that the audience in the theater was quiet.  It was a packed house at the 12:05am opening night showing, yet there were no cheers, gasps, laughs, or clapping.  Sure, there was that one time after 20 minutes of trailers played, we had the opening logos from Lionsgate and people clapped.  But that was it!

I liked that the first hour and a half mostly focused on developing the world, our main character, and the character’s preparation for The Hunger Games.  It was well-paced with dialogue, flashy costumes, and tons of set-up for the last third of the film.  I can tell people were either bored or relaxed, knowing that the good stuff comes later.

I saw The Winter’s Bone and I feel that Jennifer Lawrence earned the role of Katniss because of that movie.   Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss was easy to connect with and root for.  The problem is that the other characters (other than Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta) barely had any screen time.  The film was so truncated that I figured I’d have to read the book if I wanted more background and story development from the other characters.  There was so much going on, that I knew there was no time to give attention to anyone but Katniss and Peeta.

The Hunger Games portion of the movie

The actual games was what everyone was waiting for.  After and hour and a half of set-up, it was time for action!  I gotta say, I was not impressed.  It was a rip-off of Battle Royale, beat by beat, stock characters, and plot-wise.  Also, they cut away from most of the violent action.  I understand that it’s a PG-13 movie meant to reach a broad audience, so that didn’t annoy me too much.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the movie overall.  Without reading the book, the movie still felt condensed and truncated to a big degree.  The focus was all on Jennifer Lawrence and the overall story.  If I want the complete characterization of the cast, I’ll read the book.  If I want the details of the world and the games itself, I’ll read the book.  Until then, I am satisfied with the decision to not read the book beforehand.  If I did, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the movie while the book was still fresh in my head.

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YES, WE’RE OPEN Review

After weeks of anticipation, I attended the world premiere of Richard Wong’s new film, Yes, We’re Open.  I’ve been a fan of Richard Wong’s work since Colma: The Musical, and I was so excited to see him collaborate with H.P. Mendoza again.

Yes, We’re Open is NOT a musical.  It is an 80-minute comedy that centers around an Asian-American couple played by Lynn Chen and Parry Shen.  In the film, the main characters explore the idea of an open relationship.  The subject material may be controversial to some people, but I chose not to see it that way.  The film gives an honest take on what a modern couple may go through.  It was important that I not judge the characters as they talk about these ideas.

I love that the plot is mostly driven by dialogue.  The actors play their parts so realistically and honestly, that I forgot I was watching a film.  I felt like I was watching a play or observing a real couple. Because the dialogue and plot was so engaging, eighty minutes went by so fast, and I was left thinking, “Wow, that’s it?  The movie was so short!”  Imagine if there were musical numbers inserted at the proper beats in a scene, and I think there could’ve been a good extra twenty minutes of run time!

The best part of this film is the music.  It is so amazing, and by the time the movie ended, I was left longing for more.  Richard Wong and H.P. Mendoza have created another fine piece of indie cinema and I’m looking forward to their next collaboration.

 

I imagined that if it had musical numbers, the film would be EPIC!

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WHITE FROG Review

I was totally stoked to attend the World Premiere of Quentin Lee’s new film, WHITE FROG, starring Booboo Stewart and Harry Shum Jr.  It was totally worth the $55 ticket and the seven-hour drive from Los Angeles.  Below is a video of my red carpet coverage…

I’ll admit to this freely…

I shed man tears by the time the credits rolled.  This is a testament to Booboo Stewart as an actor.  He gave an astonishing performance for an actor his age.  Don’t worry, it’s not a sad or overly dramatic movie.  It’s a character-driven film with some unexpected funny moments.  Booboo Stewart plays the main protagonist, Nick Young, a teenager with asperger syndrome who must adjust to life after a family tragedy.

I love that the writers make it clear to the audience that asperger syndrome is NOT the same as mental retardation.  When I watched Booboo play his character, I didn’t think of RAIN MAN or TROPIC THUNDER.  I didn’t think about the joke about how an actor should “never go full retard.”  I love how the writers wrote in dialogue that was sensitive to the use of the word, “retard.”

The story itself is very easy to follow.  When I fidgeted in my seat at the Castro Theater, it was only because I had back pain, not because the movie bothered me.  NO SPOILERS HERE.  I won’t go into the plot or story, but I’ll say what’s obvious.  The first few minutes are properly spent introducing the main characters, setting up the world they live in, and establishing the tone for the rest of the film.  By the last few minutes, I felt that I have experienced the complete journey of our beloved characters.  That to me, is what makes the film great.

There was one technical problem that bothered me as I watched the film.  Some shots were really washed out, as if the camera operator didn’t bother to check the zebras for hot white spots in the frame.  I wondered if that was an aesthetic choice.  The film is called “White Frog,” so I figured that maybe the cinematographer was going for a “white” theme.  When the Q&A session was about to start, Quentin Lee went on stage and immediately apologized for the projector settings.  I thought that was a humorous moment and I love Quentin for his quirky, humble humor.

The Castro Theater was really packed!  I heard that it was a sold out show, and I was very impressed with the level of enthusiasm coming from the crowd.  There were lots of laughter and cheers throughout the film.  I could’ve sworn I heard girls swoon during Harry Shum Jr.’s shirtless scenes! Overall, I loved the vibe coming from the audience, and that is what makes going out to the movies a pleasant experience.  There were no babies crying, mobile phone disasters, or hecklers that I heard.  That’s a win!

Finally, I just want to conclude with a big congratulations to the cast and crew for making such a pleasant indie film to watch.  Great job, everyone!  This movie will go far in the festival circuit for sure, so for those who haven’t seen the film yet, take the chance to see it when it arrives in town.

In the mean time, this is Awkward Russell’s review and I’m signing out.  Peace!

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