Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Asian Artist Profile: Filmmaker Akira Boch and His New Film, The Crumbles

Akira Boch has directed more than 30 short films, documentaries, and music videos and his work has appeared on MTV, PBS, and in film festivals across North America and Japan. The Crumbles is his first feature film. He is the director, writer, and editor of the film.

Can you talk about The Crumbles?

The Crumbles is a slice-of-life tragicomedy about an indie rock band that's struggling to make it out of the garage. I think of it as a fun little slacker movie with great music. It's always been hard for me to lay out the storyline for people because it's such a character-driven piece, but it focuses mainly on two young women, Darla and Elisa, who are best friends that start a band. But trouble starts brewing because they're opposites in personality. So, the qualities that bring them together and allow them to make great music also start driving them apart. The film also features their wider circle of friends, an eclectic group of misfit artist-types who live in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. So, the film is also somewhat of an ensemble piece.

We made The Crumbles on a tiny budget -- which some people would call "No Budget" -- with the help of filmmaker friends and other artists. It's been a labor of love from the start, and we're happy that it's been pretty well received. We even somehow managed to win the Audience Award at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival! We've been on a nationwide "Awkward 'n' Awesome" tour since January 2013, screening at independent theaters, festivals, and colleges all across the US, and the entire thing has been a blast.

I was especially interested in the friendship between Darla and Elisa. The whole cast is amazing, but the core of the movie, I feel, is their complex and tumultuous relationship. Can you talk about these characters and casting their key roles?

Darla and Elisa are a typical odd couple. Darla is a serious musician, but still trying to figure out who she is. Elisa is a free-spirit and the creative driving force behind the band, but she's unreliable. As the saying goes, opposites attract. Darla believes that she's dependent on Elisa, but this is part of her figuring out who she is.

Casting these roles was challenging because they both required strong acting and musical skills. On top of that, they had to be believable as best friends, which was possibly the biggest challenge of all. We held open casting calls, scoured the local music venues for real musicians, and went to see plays. We looked high and low for about six months. 

We first found Teresa Michelle Lee for the role of Elisa at an open casting call. She had a natural charm and good comedic skills, and she played very naturally in the auditions. She also rocked out on piano for us, which told us that she'd be great on stage in the band.

I had already known Katie Hipol from her work at El Teatro Campesino, a renowned regional theater in San Juan Bautista, California. I had seen her in the lead role of a musical production, so I knew she could sing and act. She also had the additional talent of playing guitar. We decided to audition her, and everyone agreed that she played very naturally on camera. We then brought her together with Teresa, and by the end of their callback, they wouldn't stop hugging each other. It might sound strange, but it's true. That's when we knew they could work together.

The music in the film is awesome! How did the collaboration work between you, the actors, and the musicians?

The music was composed entirely by Quetzal Flores of the band QUETZAL. Incidentally, they just won a Grammy this year in the Latin Alternative category, so we're all excited for them. I've known Quetzal for many years, and I've made several music videos for his band. I feel like we have a strong working relationship, and that's why I wanted him to make the music for The Crumbles. Not to mention, he's an amazing musician.

Quetzal was really the first creative collaborator on the project. He read the script and almost immediately started coming up with musical ideas. I gave him a playlist of influences -- including some of my favorite female-lead bands, like Cibo Matto and Buffalo Daughter. He, of course, brought his own influences to the table. After we found the actors that we wanted to work with, Quetzal then wrote music using the instruments that they were capable of playing. So, the music was made to work with their talents and their personalities.

Quetzal is so good at what he does that every time he'd send me a track, I loved it. Maybe I was just happy to hear something, I don't know. But I never rejected any of his songs. I felt like they would all work in the movie. It's a real testament to his abilities as a musician.

The Crumbles really captures the anarchic and jubilant energy of young artists, that could easily have taken a nosedive towards cynicism, or worse, become some cautionary tale. Was this a deliberate choice to go against that tired narrative?

I intentionally wanted to keep the film light. The idea for the film was initially inspired by watching musician friends of mine go down very dark paths. But instead of focusing on that darkness, I wanted to remind them of the better times, and why they got into playing music in the first place -- for the joy of it, and the friendships that were made.

So, The Crumbles is a film that was made by a group of friends, for our friends.

Where can people see The Crumbles?

We have one more official stop on the Awkward 'n' Awesome Tour, in New York City on Saturday, June 8th, at 4pm at Anthology Film Archives. 

The Crumbles is already available on Amazon's Instant Video Store.

The Crumbles will be available on iTunes and Vimeo On Demand starting in June. And if you add us to your Netflix queue, we'll be there one day soon. Also available on DVD through Amazon and our website TheCrumbles.com in the near future.

The soundtrack is available on iTunesAmazon, and TheCrumbles.com.

For a FREE DOWNLOAD of a Crumbles song, visit our website.

Please look us up on Facebook and Twitter!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Anonymous Secret Confessions From The Writer Of This Blog, Whoever That May Be, I Don't Know...(Or Do I?)

Forgive me, Father, for I am Tim.
Don't tell anyone, okay? These confessions are between you and me (friend). Okay. Here goes! 

I'm the most vain person I know. If I don't see a reflection of myself at least once every hour, I get anxious. Good thing is I'm really cute 90% of the time. 

If you're cute and a girl I've probably had a crush on you (sorry). 

I don't even know who this is, but she's cute so I like her!
If I'm not good at something, I'll usually just stop doing it. This philosophy has prevented me from learning how to ride a bike, tie my shoes properly, or read until the third grade. 

When I'm sad, I'll watch clips of "Whose Line Is It Anyway", especially the "Sound Effects" and "Narrate" games. I'll sometimes do this for hours at a time (don't tell anyone). 

I am so cute! I freaking love that about me! 

People think that because I don't get mad often, not a lot bothers me. Confession! This is not true. The problem is that I'm impatient and get annoyed very easily. I hold back, probably more then I should, because I can't get mad all the time, right?! 

Gah! I'm annoyed because you're wasting my time but I won't say anything because I have to function in a modern American society! 
If I met you and you're a human, I've probably wanted to be your friend (sorry). 

I try to do the right thing, I really do. But sometimes I do the wrong thing with relative ease. 

Seeing a dog or cat will put a smile on my face. But having a pet myself feels tantamount to a 15 year prison sentence.  

I've been perpetually almost-sick for about four years now. 

Anytime I meet someone I admire I clam up because I'm only thinking, "Don't fuck this up. Don't fuck this up. You're fucking this up." 

I'm a little bummed right now. Here's a "Whose Line" video!

When I was a kid, I spoke only to my sister. I would whisper in her ears, afraid that someone would hear me. I've often thought that I was born with the determination to take as little space as possible. I would navigate to corners and ask for nothing, not even of my parents. I lived to be a bother to no one, always. 

Does anyone have a mirror I can borrow? 

The human body is disgusting to me, sometimes. Pooping is gross! Why do people like butts when poop comes out of them?! 

Shh. Don't tell anyone but I'm really confident in my writing and hair. I'm not confident with my motor skills, having long meaningful conversations, or getting a fulfilling job. 

It's hard for me to hate people because, somehow, they always give me something to like about them: a smile, a moment of weakness, etc. 

I love watching people cry sometimes. Sometimes I'll just search in YouTube: "Crying" and I'll watch videos of people crying. I don't know what's wrong with me. 

I love moments like this! Crying is the best!
I believe in reincarnation (a born Buddhist) but also ghosts. I love ghost hunting shows, UFO shows, monster hunting shows. I want to believe in all of it. I want it all to be real. 

Please don't tell anyone that I'm just spilling my guts here, all over your hardwood floor. 

Truthfully, I'm stressed about life and money and my debt, but I don't think I've ever been this happy, ever.  

I do miss you though. 

Seriously, how do I look right now? 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

30 Things That Will Happen To You Before Your 20's Are Over And You're 30, And Other Numbers That Will Make You Read This, Inspired By Thought Catalog

Being in your 20's means readings lists about being in your 20's
1. When you wake up one morning you'll want to stay in bed for the rest of the day, but you'll be like, no, I should get up and then you will! But it'll be like 10:00 and you'll think that your day is wasted already, but you still get things done, mostly.

2. You'll buy groceries at the store and when you get home you'll remember that you forgot to buy something that you meant to.

3. You'll love someone but they won't love you.

4. You'll pay a bill monthly, probably rent or some utility.

5. You'll watch a music video on Youtube and you'll really like it and post it on a friend's Facebook wall but they won't respond with even a "like" and you'll wonder if you've made some terrible mistake.

6. You'll love someone but they'll turn out to be a Popsicle.

7. You'll live in the city, or in the suburbs, or on some farmland, or the mountains, or maybe on a boat.

8. Numbered lists are fun and informative and easily digestible!

9. You'll try to go to a favorite website but you'll accidentally type one letter wrong and you'll go to the wrong website, and you'll say "Damn it" and quickly retype the correct website address.

"I love reading about being in my 20's, especially when there are lists!"
10. Your 10 favorite numbers will be:

         1. 10
         2. 19
         3. 7
         4. 42
         5. 0
         6. 666
         7. 6
         8. 10 - I mean, 3
         9. 30%
        10. Infinity

11. You'll love someone but they love you too.

12. You'll apply for a job and get really annoyed that they haven't called you back in a month. When they eventually call you two months later, you'll already have a job and won't even remember that you applied.

13. You'll lose something but eventually will find it somewhere in your apartment/house/boat.

14. You'll commit a murder that you feel is justified (a corrupt and evil business tycoon) and cover up the crime perfectly and no one will catch you or even suspect that it was you, but it was you, you are a murderer with a dark black heart.

15. You'll probably go swimming once in your 20's. Come on, are you allergic to water or something?!

Probability says you'll probably swim in your 20's, maybe twice!
16. You'll get lost in the city and smart phones haven't been invented yet so it takes you a little bit to get your bearings and find your way home.

17. Your five favorite subjects will be:

         1. Any List About Being In Your 20's, including:
             1. 5 Lies You Tell Yourself When You're In Your 20's
             2. 4 Lovers You'll Love In Your 20's
             3. 3 Ways To Know You're Still In Your 20's
             4. 2 Facts About Your 20's That Will Make You Wish You Were 30
             5. 1 More List About Your 20's Because It's Fun To Read About You Being In Your 20's
         2. Astronomy
         3. (SEO)
         4. How Much You Hate Hipsters
         5. How Much You Hate Twilight, Justin Bieber, And Just Don't Get Kpop

18. You'll love someone, but remember that secret corrupt businessman you murdered? Yeah, you've just found out that he was her/his uncle.

19. You'll think, God, 30 is really old. And then you're fucking 30.

20. You'll have a conversation with your friends about some old Nickelodeon show and you'll bond over that and sing or hum the theme song together, saying that modern cartoons suck.

21. You'll love REO Speedwagon for like a week. You won't know why and you won't like them ever again, not even when you're in your 30's and fucking old.

22. Someone, somewhere, will get married.

23. You'll wake up really early and think you can get a lot done, but then you fall back asleep almost immediately and wake up three hours later, late instead! Don't you hate that?!

24. You'll run out of milk in an inopportune moment.

25. Everyone you know will have a bike and will keep talking about their bikes but you never really learned how to ride a bike because when you were a kid you lived in freaking Alaska (that's what you'll tell them but you're secretly using that as an excuse for your poor motor skills [but they don't know that or about that murdered businessman] no one can know ever you go to grave not telling a soul [either] secret).

26. You'll eat some pizza and love it but get a little sick later and regret eating so much pizza!

27. Omitted

28. You'll be like, being in my 20's is hard!! And you'll read a list about being in your 20's.

29. I should have made a smaller list.

30. I know about that businessman you murdered.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Asian Artist Profile: Tim Hugh and the 18th Annual Asian American Showcase

The Annual Asian American Showcase begins May 17th at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Check here for films and dates!

Can you tell us a little about the Asian American Showcase?

The Showcase was founded in 1995 by Sooyoung Park, William Shin (both of the indie rock band SEAM) and Ben Kim (music journalist) after they had release “Ear of the Dragon”, the first compilation CD featuring Asian American rock bands. The CD did well and they took a handful of the bands that were featured on the CD on a national tour which gain much media attention, including a segment featuring them on MTV. It was on that success that they thought they could help other Asian Americans artists such as filmmakers and actors, writers and poets, visual artists (painters and graphic designers)…we’ve covered just about every form of media art throughout the year. Besides visual art shows, we’ve had rock and jazz concerts, book and poetry readings, live performance and stage readings. The idea was to highlight these artists, not only to mainstream America, but also to our people, to help break the myths and stereotypes that we are only doctors, lawyers and ninjas. The films we screen reflect who we really are…not Hollywood caricatures of Asians with bad accents.

Besides giving support to the artist, we hope to provide positive roles models to other Asian Americans, and to show them that they can pursue the “arts”. When we started, the internet wasn’t quite the resource center that it is now…and it was a lot harder to find out about stuff then. Our festival provided that type of information not just locally, but nationally as well. For the longest time, we were the only festival that only screened films by and or about Asian Americans, meaning we do not show foreign / international movies. That’s just not who we are, and plus those films and directors have other venues and outlets to screen at. Our intent is to help promote and support our up and coming people who might not have a chance otherwise, and also to help show the difference between Asian and Asian American.

You've been the Executive Director of the Foundation for Asian American Independent Media since 2001. While in that role, have you seen things get better for Asian American filmmakers? Or has the struggle to get Asian American films made stayed the same?

Firstly, I don’t think of myself as being an “Executive Director”. I originally found out about the festival through music. I was a fan of the band SEAM, and came to the Showcase not really knowing what was happening. I was expecting to see “Foreign” films, and was totally blown away by seeing images and characters who looked like me and spoke like me. At the time I was into the Chicago indie rock scene and spent many nights in rock clubs being the only Asian, so I kind of always felt out of place. I didn’t self-identify as being Asian American either, but coming to the festival and being around not only similar minded, but similar looking people, both on the screen and off was kind of cool…I didn’t feel out of place anymore. I was hooked! The next year, I tried to see almost everything they were showing…feature, doc, or shorts program, I didn’t care…I just wanted to soak it all up. Being at the festival so much, I eventually became friendly with Sooyoung, Billy, and Ben and would try and help out when I was down there. Sometimes I would take tickets or shoot some photos for them…I was an incidental volunteer. Soon Sooyoung and Billy moved out of state for jobs and asked if I would help Ben run the festival. Eventually Ben moved too…so I sort of just inherited the Showcase…which if fine. It’s a labor of love and not a job. I don’t get paid to do it, I’m an auto mechanic by day and run the Showcase, because, I guess I can. And I really believe in what the Showcase does and stands for, and like helping people when we can. So in a lot of ways…I’m still a volunteer…but now for the filmmakers and artists!

As for the question of things getting better for Asian American filmmakers…that’s a hard question to answer because the overall nature of how films are made and distributed has changed. Because of digital video getting better, it’s easier in a lot of ways to make a film now days and because of that, a lot more films are being made…but it doesn’t mean they are all good though. Also funding a film would be a major hurdle for most, but with Kickstarter and crowd funding it’s made it more possible for people to get the money. So I think there are much more opportunities for the Asian American directors to get films made, and the quality of directors have gotten much better too. Also you don’t necessarily have to do theatrical now days either, because of VOD (video on demand), streaming and straight to DVD, there are still ways to get your movie seen. The struggle will always be there, until one flim breaks out big and makes money. The Asian American community is strange in some ways and it hard to get everyone on board to support one thing (say a film) because there are so many different communities involved in “Asian America” and not one thing will satisfy everyone. If we could rally together like say the African American or Latino communities…we could get bigger films made or at least better distribution. But until then, it will always be a struggle. Money talks…

It’s not to say that the films are not good, but more because these films just get lost in the “Hollywood shuffle”. If a film has Asian faces and language, Hollywood markets it as Foreign, but if it has Asian faces but they speak English, Hollywood doesn’t know how to sell it. That’s why our festival is important, it shows that people want to see these movies, regardless of what the people may look like. None of the films we are showing are subtitled. In my recent memory, I can only think of 2 actual Asian American films to get bigger Hollywood distribution – Justin Lin’sBetter Luck Tomorrow” (MTV films), and Alice Wu’s  “Saving Face” (Sony Classics), and “Saving Face" was marketed as a foreign film and sold better to a non-Asian audience. On the upside, I know of plenty of Asian American directors who are working, so that’s a good sign, and the other night when I was watching the trailers before IRONMAN 3 (yes, I see blockbuster films too!) I saw 2 films directed by former Showcase directors…Justin Lin and Sheldon Candis…I did feel a bit of pride knowing that our support early on in their careers might have helped them get to do these Hollywood films!

I think you have an outstanding lineup this year! I've been hearing a lot about "Seeking Asian Female" after the NPR story, and the "White Frog" trailer is extremely powerful. Do you have a favorite in this Showcase? Is there a dark horse that you think people will be surprised with?

Thanks! Most of the films this year had their world premieres at big festivals, 1 at Sundance, 3 at SXSW (South by Southwest), and the remaining 4 at SFIAAFF (San Francisco International Asian American Film Fest) so all had some kind of buzz. My favorite this year has to be “When I Walk” by Jason Da Silva (Sundance 2013). Jason was a filmmaker that we screened his films in the past, and then seemingly dropped off everyone’s radar. It was during this time he was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis). “When I Walk” is his struggles and journey dealing with and living with his illness. It sounds sad but his enduring spirit and willingness to fight makes this story more enlightening and upbeat then dour.

As for a dark horse, it would have to be “The Crumbles” by Akira Boch. It’s such a fun-spirited rock and roll film that will keep you smiling!

There's a Next Generation Art Exhibit that is part of the Asian American Showcase. What's that? What's Next Generation mean here?

In addition to the film portion of the Showcase, we’ve been doing Visual Art and Gallery art shows too. Last year we had 3 going concurrently during the Festival. Larry Lee has been in charge of all our shows for the better part of a decade, and this year he appointed Yuna Baek to curate “Next Generation” - a group exhibition featuring works by current and former SAIC students along with faculty exploring the future of Asian American art in a digital age of flexible and hybrid cultural identity.

“What is the face of the next generation of Asian American artists? It might as well be an avatar, as the globalizing force of the Internet continues to build a cultural landscape that transcends location, ethnicity, gender, and language. The next generation of artists can log into any culture with a click of a mouse, and their personal identities (be it singular or multiple) are shaped by the limitless possibilities of the web. They build bridges between different cultures and communities, creating flexible and hybrid identities that define the Next Generation.“ Curated by Yuna Baek the exhibition features Kalani Largusa, Heelim Hwang, Sua Yoo, Eunie Kim, Hiba Ali, Arjuna Capulong, Catherine Yeon Soo Kim, Snow Yunxue Fu, Greyson Hong, Kiam Marcelo Junio, and Wang Frank Yefeng.

Can you recommend any Asian American filmmakers (at the Showcase or not) that people should check out?

Man, there are sooooo many that people should check out…that’s a crazy question! If you just look at our back catalog of former directors I couldn’t even tell you how many there are! 6 out of the 8 directors in this years festival have been featured in our past. There are so many talented people to check out, but a good place to start would be with Justin Lin / "Better Luck Tomorrow", Wayne Wang / "Chan is Missing", and Eric Byler / "Charlotte Sometimes" – all show Asian American’s as realistic 3 dimensional bad-ass characters, and that’s who we are!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Eleven Things Oscar Wilde Would Have Said If He Had Lived Longer & Tried Harder

“Time heals all wounds. Except decapitation. Nothing heals that sh*t. Yet.” Oscar Wilde, at the San Francisco World's Fair, 1917

“I have created a meal between breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. It’s called blinner. I’m eating it now.” - Oscar Wilde, visibly intoxicated as he ate a baguette in a french diner, 1922 

“You know what I mean, jellybean? You know. You knew the whole time.”Oscar Wilde, before he ate a lime green jelly bean outside of St. Paul's Cathedral, 1947

“Laughter makes the best medicine, sure. You know what else makes good medicine? Medicine.” - Unknown, Oscar Wilde probably (date and location unknown) 

"I think I'll just get some apples or whatever." - Oscar Wilde, when asked by his cousin, Bo, what he wanted to buy at the South Hampton Farmer's Market, 1953

“Sex scenes are hard to write and even harder to perform.” - Oscar Wilde, while riding a mare, 1914 

“Do you use a lexicon or a lexican’t?” - Oscar Wilde, visibly intoxicated as he berated a tourist at the Danube Promenade in Budapest, 1933

“We hear you, Carl. You’re a libertarian. Government bad. People good. WE GET IT.” - Oscar Wilde, calling out Carl at his monthly Marcel Proust book club, 1974 

“I feel like Chinese tonight, and I don’t mean the food! Get it?! I want to have sexual intercourse with a Chinese person.” - Oscar Wilde, when asked what he wanted for blinner, 1967

‎"Hey, Edgar Allen Poe, do you want to hang out sometime? No? Oh, okay, it's cool. Just let me know if. You know, whatever." - Oscar Wilde, speaking briefly with Edgar Allen Poe at a bar in Brockton, Massachusetts, 1905

‎"I don't like it when people use my quotes just to make themselves seem smarter or more literate. Do not quote me. I repeat, DO NOT QUOTE ME." - Oscar Wilde, 1907