Interview with Yes, We’re Open director Richard Wong

A Movie about Sex

Asia Pacific Arts talks to Richard Wong about filming boom-boom-boom sex, free-flowing sex, versus hot sex in his latest comedy about adults exploring open relationships.

by Ada Tseng

Luke (Parry Shen) and Sylvia (Lynn Chen) like to think of themselves as a very modern (i.e. liberal, mature, open-minded, and all-around admirable) couple. Especially when they compare themselves to their recently-married friends, Scott (Tasi Alabastro) and Cassy (Theresa Navarro), who don’t seem to retain their own individual identities in their relationship; who would actually own the book, Why the Democrats Are Killing America, when they all live in the progressive city of San Francisco; who are barely adventurous enough to double-dip, let alone try Luke’s signature “weird food” that only a really modern culinary foodie could whip up in the kitchen.

After their sex life starts to become routine, Luke and Sylvia discuss the possibility of having an open relationship. While they are busy being proud of themselves for their honesty, Cassy and Scott introduce them to their friends Elena (Sheetal Sheth) and Ronald (Kerry McCrohan) — a winsome couple that looks like they might just be able to out-cook their weird food, out-wit their political banter, and out them as a couple that’s not quite open-minded enough to go through with an open relationship.

Yes, We’re Open is Richard Wong’s third feature film, after 2006’s Colma: The Musical and 2008’s Option 3. The script is written by Wong’s frequent collaborator H.P. Mendoza, who won an award for Best Screenplay at the 2012 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

APA talks to Richard Wong about the making of Yes, We’re Open.

Click here for the rest of the article.


I Am a Ghost: HP Mendoza’s Existential Horror Film

One of my favorite films (and interviewees) of the year!

My article here:
Not Darkness, Not Night: Interview with I Am a Ghost’s H.P. Mendoza

Asia Pacific Arts talks to director H.P. Mendoza about coming to terms with his reputation as “the music guy,” turning a cheerful hotel into a haunted Japanese Victorian house, and frightening audiences with the terror of nothing.

by Ada Tseng

Those who loved H.P. Mendoza’s previous movies (he was the writer/star of Colma: The Musical and the writer/director of Fruit Fly) should know that I Am a Ghost is not a musical. It’s natural for viewers to want filmmakers to keep doing what we already know they’re really good at; in Mendoza’s case: performing a musical number on top of a car as the alarm is going off; writing catchy music that can be drunkenly karaoke-d and/or used to coax tears out of a cynical movie audience; and simultaneously critiquing and celebrating gay culture through ’80s synth pop. But Mendoza wanted to show that he could do more.

More, in the case of Mendoza’s second feature film I Am a Ghost, would be achieved with less. Less actors (Anna Ishida is the main lead, only joined by Jeannie Barroga’s voiceover, Rick Burkhardt as a naked grey demon, and a couple of body doubles), less crew (Mendoza shot the entire film with the help of his work and life partner Mark Del Lima), less production time (seven days for production, because Ishida’s busy schedule would only allow for that), less running time (75 minutes was all he needed to effectively scare the crap out of his audience), less comedy (ghosts perhaps aren’t as snarky as recent high school grads or fag hags), and, last but not least, less oversight (“With a camera on my shoulder and no one to tell me that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, we embarked on my smallest film ever,” Mendoza writes in his Director’s Statement. “And my most ambitious yet.”).

The result is a visually mesmerizing, psychologically terrorizing work of art, a ghost story that toys with eerie memories and the common person’s existentialist doubts. Since its world premiere in March 2012, I Am a Ghost has earned lead actress Anna Ishida the Special Jury Award for Best Actress at Mix Mexico, and H.P. Mendoza was named Best Horror Director of 2012 by San Francisco Weekly.

Asia Pacific Arts chats with H.P. Mendoza about making I Am a Ghost.

For more of the interview, go to Asia Pacific Arts.

National Film Society’s web series: Awesome Asian Bad Guys

Glad to see their Kickstarter campaign got funded!

My profile article here:

Awesome Asian Bad Guys Vs. Non-Awesome Asian Bad Guys

National Film Society’s Patrick Mendoza Epino and Stephen Dypiangco embark on their first action-comedy web series, Awesome Asian Bad Guys. Asia Pacific Arts talks to the duo about subverting expectations and the ever-evolving challenges that emerging filmmakers have to tackle to be competitive in the new media age.

by Ada Tseng

Hey, I’m Patrick. Hey, I’m Stephen. We’re the National Film Society.

If you are familiar with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, you might expect to find a premier film organization that hosts high-class galas honoring extremely talented white people and Sidney Poitier. This National Film Society, in contrast, features two fresh-faced, well-lit 30-something Filipino American filmmakers, staring at you through your computer. In Patrick Mendoza Epino and Stephen Dypiangco’s snappy 2-3 minute comedy videos that have been gaining a loyal YouTube following since debuting in September 2011, they are typically sitting side by side — or surrounding an often-disinterested interviewee who’s not sure how he or she got roped into participating in these shenanigans in the first place.

National Film Society with actress Michelle Krusiec.

Each week, Epino and Dypiangco consult thespian friends for acting tips (how does comedy work?), share their knowledge about film technology (low budget sound effects), and engage in brainy debates (Manny Pacquiao vs. Batman?). Their videos are filmed in the style of Vlogs, but instead of using webcams, these film school graduates — Epino from SF State, Dypiangco from NYU, as we learn from their debut video “Film School or No Film School?” – use a DSLR camera to professionally capture their awkward pauses, their bromantic water fights, and the 1st annual National Film Society Awards show that took place in Dypiangco’s apartment, in front of a window, where most their videos are shot.

To read the rest, go to Asia Pacific Arts.