“JesusCat” is Making Me Brainwashed

This is the part of being an actor-slash-producer that boggles my mind. The part where now that the film is all done, I feel obligated to do something with it. But I’d rather just have someone else do it for me, but I can’t afford to pay them to do that, so I sit here trying to promote the project on Facebook, with little idea of how to obtain results in the modern world of social media, all the while being contacted by producer’s reps and distributors and going along with it because it seems like what people in the industry might do, and then I think – HOW DO REAL PRODUCERS DEAL WITH THIS???

Oooohhhhh, they make their associate producers deal with it. Damn.

So, JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult) is now on the radar of producer’s reps and distributors who want to see a screener of the film and/or meet with us at the next film festival. And the irony is that, as you may or may not know, the film was never intended to be a film. It was intended to be a webseries (because that’s what everybody is doing), so our original distribution plan was to post it on You Tube. For free. And a brief Google search reveals that producer’s reps are generally considered scams and charge insane upfront retainer fees (that are higher than it cost us to even make the film). And, coming from the acting world, paying any type of representation anything other than 10% of what I make AFTER I make it, is not computing in my brain.

So, skipping the middle-man, we are going to start meeting with distributors. But then I think of a feature film that I associate produced many years ago. It “got distribution” and has never seen the light of day. You can’t buy it, rent it, stream it – NOTHING. And it’s been finished for several years. So now it’s an “old” film. And I wonder, what’s the point? In this day and age, with resources like Amazon CreateSpace, I can just self-distribute, right? Skip the middle-man and get my movie for sale and streaming immediately. Of course, Amazon takes a large percentage of the sales and because they’re a print-on-demand resource, we’d have to charge more than the average DVD. But, it’s Amazon! I know I’m not the only one who exclusively buys movies, books, and CDs on Amazon. OK, yes, every once in a blue moon I’m wandering around aimlessly in a store and I see a BluRay on sale for like $5 and I get it on a whim. And, yes, I still buy CDs.

So, can someone else please come and do this part for me so I can just go back to being an actor? I’ll even write – yes, I’ll write another play or screenplay, if someone else will take over this producing stuff. I’ll pay you … deferred.

JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult) has been nominated for BEST COMEDY – FEATURE at the 2013 Action on Film International Film Festival. The film will be screening on Tuesday, August 20th at 9pm, at the Krikorian Premiere Theatre, 410 S. Myrtle Ave. Monrovia, CA 91016. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door and can be purchased at www.aoffest.com or 323-878-5522.


Doin’ It Yourself

The following is a brief excerpt from an article I wrote for Eyestrane titled, “Doin’ It Yourself: Being an Actor-Slash-Producer.” Follow the link at the bottom to read the entire article.

One of the most difficult things I’ve been forced to accept as an actor is the fact that I have to produce my own projects in order to get work. I mean, I don’t HAVE to. But because digital media and web content has made it easier, I’ve been able to write/produce/direct my own productions in order to cast myself in strong leading roles that I actually want to play. Being a middle-class, non-name actor, paid gigs are sometimes few and far between. Auditions and classes aren’t enough to keep me sane during those lulls. Further, I’ve stopped submitting for roles listed as, “Asian Hooker #2” or projects requiring nudity, which means, as a young adult Asian-American female, I’ve severely minimized my playing field. So, in order to prevent myself from slipping into artistic depression, I’ve become a bit of a producer, just so I can act in projects that I’m passionate about, with people whom I know and like. I quite enjoy producing my own stuff, but it is extremely time-consuming and strenuous. And expensive. And even more so when I’m just an actor that has no formal training or experience as a producer.

But I highly recommend it.

Finish the article at: http://eyestrane.com/2013/06/doin-it-yourself-being-an-actor-slash-producer/

“JesusCat” World Premiere at 13th Los Angeles Comedy Festival!

This is a re-post from the news blog for “JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult)” at http://www.jesuscatmovie.com.

We are absolutely thrilled to announced that JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult) will be making its World Premiere at the 13th Los Angeles Comedy Festival on Wednesday, May 15th at 9:00pm. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with members of the cast and crew.

Julia Morizawa and Shaina Vorspan will be in attendance, as well as most of the rest of the cast (hopefully), but specific appearances are still to be determined. Additional information regarding parties or other festival events will be announced at a later date.

The LA Comedy Festival runs May 9-19, 2013. It is the largest comedy festival in the United States featuring film, live comedy acts, and a screenplay competition. Their dual emphasis is on “discovering” great comedic talent with the purpose of promoting it to both the entertainment industry and the LA public, as well as, showcasing the works of seasoned professionals and well known stars.

The premiere screening of JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult) will be on Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 at 9:00pm at the Let Live Theatre, 916 N. Formosa Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90046. Tickets are $10 online or $12 at the door (cash only). Purchase tickets and view a complete festival schedule at: www.lacomedyfest.com.

A Meow-Out to Blue Seraph Productions

This is a re-post of a blog entry I wrote for “JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult)” at www.jesuscatmovie.com.

In case you didn’t get it, “Meow-Out” is, like, “Shout-Out” – except with a cat reference.

About a week-and-a-half ago, I was in Norfolk, Virginia for the inaugural Reel It Out Hampton Roads Queer Film Festival (which, I believe, was the first LGBT film festival in the entire state), for their screening of Judas Kiss – an indie feature I played a supporting role in that was released in 2011. I was accompanied by the film’s writer/producer, Carlos Pedraza, whom is someone I have periodically bugged throughout post-production of JesusCat, mostly with questions like, “How did you guys make your website?” and “Do you happen to know why Final Cut keeps doing this to us?” And after two days of chatting with him, mostly about producing, I figured I could write them a special shout-out (I mean, meow-out) on our website as a way to say “Thank you.”

And also because they have a pretty large fan-base and it never hurts to cross-promote between projects or production companies (aka name-drop) that are larger than one’s own.

So, having said all that, I’d like to thank Carlos Pedraza and J.T. Tepnapa of Blue Seraph Productions for their sporadic words of wisdom and support in the making of JesusCat. They may not even know it, but I referred quite a bit to their online presence and how they promoted Judas Kiss in social media to get ideas on getting our project out there. They gave me referrals and ideas and sometimes just plain motivation. I’d also like to thank J.T.’s husband and associate producer, Adam Browne, and Blue Seraph’s production manager, Tellier Killaby. J.T., Adam and Tellier attended a private JesusCat test screening last month and offered us some really strong feedback. At the test screening, we asked for anonymous written feedback only, but I think I could pretty much tell who was who. Especially because when J.T. left that night, he said something like, “Feel free to call me if you have questions about my feedback. That is, if you still want to talk to me after reading it…”

We took some of their feedback and left some of it behind. There were other attendees at the test screening, so we basically took a look at things that were commented on across-the-board. Right now we are working on the end credits for the film and getting outside help with transferring, outputting, rendering (or whatever) the final film to different formats at its highest quality. We have a handful of film festival submissions under our belt already and plan forJesusCat to screen in Los Angeles this year – soon – hopefully more than once. And in other cities too.

Crossing fingers. I mean, paws – or claws.

Blue Seraph Productions is a production company committed to strong progressive values that shed light on the human experience. Blue Seraph Productions doesn’t focus on a lifestyle; we tell stories built on the universal principles that make us human. Laughter or tears, we’re all the same. (Taken from their website: www.blueseraph.com)

Their current project is The Dark Place, a quick-paced and suspenseful thriller, with a dash of humor. Borrowing a page from Sherlock, Britain’s hit TV series, The Dark Place depicts a flawed hero with an incredible gift, a witty and sexy sidekick, and a deadly mystery that will sneak up, grab a hold of and propel viewers to the edge of their seats. (Taken from the website: www.thedarkplacemovie.com)

From Side Project to Feature Film

This is a re-post of a blog entry I wrote for “JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult)” at www.jesuscatmovie.com.

I can’t believe it’s been, like, two years that we’ve been working on “JesusCat (or How I Accidentally Joined a Cult).” Oh, wait. Yes, I can. In fact, two years is really quite nothing in the world if independent film. I guess I’m just anxious to get it out there, and maybe even seen by people other than our significant others. But I wanted to take a moment to sort of, reminisce about this whole process – or at least how I remember it.

In 2010 my original play, “Twenty-Two” premiered in Los Angeles. This was Shaina and my first collaboration, which we also co-produced and co-starred in. It was extremely heavy and largely autobiographical, and somewhere during that process we voiced that our next collaboration certainly needed to be a comedy. And voila! Somewhere between then and the following year, we agreed upon an idea that involved Shaina playing a cult leader and me playing a documentary filmmaker that followed her around. And like many good mockumentaries, we figured it should be improvised. But mainly we just wanted to have fun. We specifically wanted a “side” project that we wouldn’t have to get severe anxiety over. We figured – no script, no budget, no crew – no stress! I’m sure this concept could be easily argued, but we just wanted to be able to shoot most of the project with no one but the two of us, cast our friends in all the supporting roles, and just do this in our “spare time.”

Well, what started as a “side” project, quickly became my “primary” project (and often my “only” project). Shaina and I spent a few months, maybe, drafting a story outline so we’d have some sort of structure to improvise around. Also, we needed some kind of “script” to submit to SAG (now SAG-AFTRA). We chose a “New Media” contract for this project, because it’s really the only union contract that actors can afford, and our original plan was to create a webseries. I mean, everyone’s doing it, right? I had attended a seminar on creating new media content a while back and was advised that even if you’re releasing a webseries, you should plan to shoot and cut it like a feature film that runs about 88 minutes because that’s how you get distribution overseas or something. So we decided to follow that advice. Well, lo and behold, somewhere in this process, it dawned on us that the story could really work as an awesome feature-length film. And that we should submit it to festivals and stuff. And, if anything, we can still always chop it up and release it episodically on You Tube down the line.


During pre-production we went to Denny’s a lot, polished the story outline, drafted contracts, worked on scheduling and budgeting and watched some Christopher Guest movies. Our schedule consisted of twenty-two shoot days (we also had twenty-two line items in our budget), but those shoot days were spread out over approximately one year. Since we cast all our friends and did not pay them, we had to work around people’s day-jobs and other endeavors. This proved difficult as some of us worked 9-to-5, while others waited tables or worked weekends mostly. We had to be flexible (a character trait I continue to struggle with), because sometimes at the last minute a cast-member had to work and just couldn’t be at the shoot. So we’d have to come up with some way to explain why people were missing from scenes. One of my favorite “cover-ups” was the fact that we’d been shooting primarily in my apartment, and somewhere mid-way through production, my partner and I had purchased a fancy HD TV and replaced my old-school TV. So we had to work the new TV into the story, which ultimately served us well. Now that I think about it, I actually don’t know if we ever see my old TV in the current cut of the film. Oh well.

After about 6 months of production, say, once or twice a week, Shaina and I started editing. We had about 12 hours of footage and we slowly shaved it down to 8 hours, then 6 hours, then 3 and so on. We had to work around a lot of breaks – meaning, breaking of character because we’d start laughing. After another 6 months of editing, we had trimmed the film down to about 90 minutes and scheduled some pick-ups with the primary ensemble cast to help us fill in some gaps in the storyline or clarify specific points. And tomorrow (literally), Shaina and I will be incorporating some editing ideas given to us from our test audience into the final cut. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, it’s not, actually, because it’s today and tomorrow is in the future so it can’t technically be “history” – or can it?


Are you serious?

An anonymous friend was just told by Pier One (the over-priced retail store filled with useless trinkets) that the last day for the “Holiday Temp” staff was coming up so he would soon no longer have a job with them.

Here’s the thing. When they hired him, they DID NOT hire him as a “Holiday Temp.” They hired him as part-time, permanent staff. And all of a sudden, out of the blue, they decided to start referring to some of their employees as “temps.” Now, my anonymous friend kind of knew this was coming because several other part-time staff members at Pier One had experienced the same thing. But how is this not illegal? How is this deemed OK by the state of California?

Speaking of the state of California. The other day, at my job – a high-end sushi restaurant – I received an automated government phone call stating that our restaurant was now eligible to accept welfare credit cards as a form of payment. So, in other words, if our restaurant agreed to it, people on WELFARE could come in and spend our tax dollars on a $50-100 sushi dinner.

Are you fucking kidding me?


Everyone in Los Angeles is Vegan

Last night, at the sushi restaurant I work at, an angry guest informed us (the staff) of the most profound thing I have heard all year – “Everyone in Los Angeles is Vegan.”

Unfortunately, I merely witnessed bits of the speech and heard most of it second-hand, so my rendition in this blog post will most likely be paraphrased and/or exaggerated. But,  hey, what isn’t?

So, a little backstory – the sushi restaurant I work at does not serve American or Western sushi. In other words, there’s no California Rolls or Caterpillar Rolls or Dynamite-Disco-Danger Rolls. It’s pretty much just sushi (a term that, as I understand, really just refers to the vinegar-ed rice, but more broadly refers to “raw fish and rice.”) Egg and cucumber are traditional Japanese sushi toppings/fillings, but avocado is NOT. Spicy Tuna is NOT.

According to the book, “The Story of Sushi” by Trevor Corson, “In the early days of American sushi, Japanese chefs in L.A. had realized they could take the worst parts of the fish – the fibrous scraps, the flesh left on the skin, and meat past its prime – and chop them up with chili sauce. The taste of the fish was lost, but Americans loved it.” In other words, if you’re eating Spicy Tuna – you  just got punked. Also according to Corson’s book, “The (California) roll was invented in L.A.’s Little Tokyo in the late 1960s.” Chefs began using avocado in sushi at that time because toro (fatty tuna) was expensive and inaccessible, but avocado had a similar texture and Southern California was abundant with it.

Anyway, enough boring history. Back to last night.

So this upset woman was inquiring about our menu and was so offended that our restaurant does not serve more vegetarian dishes (we only have cucumber rolls). She stated that “Everyone in Los Angeles is Vegan” so we have to get with the times, or something. She also claimed, “I eat sushi all the time, but I’m vegetarian.” Well, I hate to break it to you lady, but you don’t eat sushi. I mean, would you go into a steakhouse and demand vegetarian dishes? This lady might. Would you go into a Mexican restaurant and demand Italian food? This lady might. Would you go into an authentic Italian restaurant and ask for Fettuccine Alfredo? Actually, I would probably do this one. Then get laughed at and kicked out.

Random Note: However, only in Los Angeles can you get Chinese food AND donuts at a single restaurant.

And the grand finale – as this woman was leaving, she told our manager, “I would have stayed, but I expect service with my food. And you were so rude – before we even sat down, you told us that you don’t have anything we want.” Umm… I think we were actually being VERY polite in allowing you to find out what is on our menu BEFORE you sat down after a 30-45 minute wait. Further, we’re just telling you facts. No matter how polite we are, it’s not going to magically make new food items appear on our menu.

The lesson that I learned from witnessing this scene is: Some people are mother-fuckin’ crazy! And now I’m hungry. I want some cheese fries topped with bacon! There’s a Kosher vegan restaurant in walking distance – I think I’ll go there…