filmmaking

CITY WALK is a short film that I made back in March of 2013. I originally made it for a film class project at the City College of San Francisco.

It was a busy week with work and school and the deadline for the project was approaching. Nick, the main actor in the film, and I had worked together on another short film called “Distance”. “Distance” was playing at CAAMfest at the time and he mentioned to me how important it was to keep up the momentum after “Distance” and continue to make films.

His words, along with the cinema class I was taking, encouraged me to make this short. The story is based off of a similar experience I had back in college.

In this film, I wanted to visually explore what it feels like to be lost and to not know where one is going.

DISTANCE  Short Film

Directed by James Z. Feng, Nick Louie, James Y. Shih

 

Our film has finally finished its yearlong festival run and we wanted to share it with you all. Click above to see the final edit.

 

Info about DISTANCE:

Behind the Scenes Trivia

Behind the Scenes Photos

CAAMfest Q&A (w/ Directors Nick Louie, James Y. Shih, and Actor Iris Hsu).

Asian Film Festival of Dallas Interview

 

Director Updates:

James Z. Feng is currently in Taipei, Taiwan directing commercial, music, and narrative videos. His latest project is a look behind the scenes of a commercial for Syoss, an international hair product brand, starring Taiwanese pop singer and actress Christine Fan: Syoss 范玮琪 Christine Fan 2013

Nick Louie is an active San Francisco Bay Area actor and filmmaker. He’s Cinematographer on the soon to be released feature length rock-climbing documentary, Brave New Wild directed by Oakley Anderson-Moore.

James Y. Shih is Co-Producer/2nd Assistant Director on the sci-fi film Advantageous: the feature directed/co-written by Jennifer Phang. He’s also currently submitting his latest short film narrative, City Walk, to festivals.

 

Directors’ Statement

Making this film was an exciting challenge for us and it’s incredibly rewarding for us to share this project with you.

Directors’ Backgrounds: Feng, Louie and Shih first met in the theatre department at UC San Diego where we studied acting and acted together in the first UCSD Asian American Theatre Festival, directed by Jennifer Chang. We are San Francisco Bay Area natives and after moving back to the Bay we’ve continued to work on films together.

We first made Distance as part of the Asian American Film Lab’s 2012, 72 Hour Shootout, where it won the Grand Prize, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing Awards. After the competition, further time was spent sharpening the sound and editing.

For the story, the three of us brainstormed ideas and shared some of our personal experiences. During our discussions, there were recurring themes of love, relationships, and being apart. We decided to put these aspects in the context of a relationship tested by distance.

When do you know someone is worth waiting for? How much choice do we have when it comes to our emotions? What is love? We sought to explore these questions in our film.

At the outset, we agreed that we wanted only a very small crew and cast and to focus on the storytelling. We were incredibly lucky to have Iris Hsu lend her voice and acting talent and for Jesse Chui to provide his beautiful score to this film.

The project gave the crew some incredible filmmaking moments, such as guerilla filmmaking in public locations and avoiding the authorities at the airport. Again, much appreciation and we look forward to sharing more new, engaging films with you in the future.

To Suffer For

I was kidding myself when I thought I could keep up this blog as well as 2nd AD film duties on set (production going on now).

One thought that came to mind was how easy it is to get caught in these tasks, mistakes, and worries and to forget that you chose this path.

I have to remind myself of that and that I should make the most of it. Every job or pursuit has suffering involved. The choice is, what do you want to suffer for?

Q&A after the screening of our short film “Distance” (距離). *

Having our film at CAAMfest was a great and surreal experience for me. I was an intern at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) back in 2010-2011. To come back years later to screen a film here is nothing short of awesome. 

I learned that the CAAM programmers didn’t know I was one of the filmmakers until after it was selected. I’m not opposed to using connections, but to know that the film was selected on merit was especially fulfilling.

Thanks again to all that came. Another shout out to Jessie Chui (Songs For Cinema) for allowing us to use his beautiful song “Asymmetries of Loss” for the film score.

 

 

*Part of the ONE ON ONE shorts program at CAAMfest 2013. Filmed on March 21st 2013. Directors James Y. Shih, Nick Louie and actor Iris Hsu in attendance. Moderated by Mordecai Stayton. Special thanks to Daniel Tong for filming the Q&A.

Distance 距離 (Behind the Scenes Trivia)

                   Nick, James F. and Iris discussing a scene.

You ever go on imdb and read the “Trivia” section for a film? I do, I love all the behind the scenes details and the little, silent adventures that took place. So I thought I’d make small list for our recent short film, “Distance”. Enjoy!

Trivia

- Created for the 2012 72 Hour Film Shootout competition sponsored by the Asian American Film Lab (asianamericanfilmlab.org). Contestants have to write, shoot, and edit a 5 minute short film based on a theme announced at the start of the competition. The film then must be submitted within the next 72 hours.

- Nick Louie came up with the title “Distance”. The title was a big struggle to come up with after shooting.

- All wardrobe was provided by the actors themselves.
- All principal photography took place in San Francisco.
- Iris Hsu and James Shih first met at an English storytelling company in Taipei where they performed “Jack and the Beanstalk” for children. James Shih played Jack, she played most of the other characters (i.e. Jack’s Mom).
- Iris Hsu and James Z. Feng had never met before shooting.
- Not the first time James Feng, Nick Louie and James Shih have collaborated together, they’ve worked on other short films together: Campfire (directed by Louie), Wired Fences (directed by Shih), Louie and Feng on Within/Without (directed by Louie), Feng and Shih on Fight Life: The MMA Documentary and Gray Skies (both directed by Feng)This is the first time the three have shared a director’s title.
- Feng, Louie, and Shih met in the acting program at UC San Diego back in 2005-2006.
-Jesse Chui, the composer for this film, is a good friend of Feng’s. The song, “Asymmetries of Loss” was created under Jesse’s musical moniker Songs For Cinema in 2010.
- Winner of the 2012 Asian American Film Lab 72 hour shootout Grand Prize, Editing, and Cinematography Awards.
- The film is nearly all shot handheld.
- A poor man’s steady cam (a bar with weights and a camera attachment) was used to steady some of the shots, but was not used at the airport so as not to draw attention to ourselves.
SPOILER ALERT
Feng, Louie, and Shih brainstormed ideas and shared personal experiences based on the theme “This is only a test” right after the theme was announced on Friday, June 15th, 2012, 5p. Out of these discussions, Shih eventually came up with what the “test” would be, with Feng fleshing out the details and writing the Mandarin voiceover heard in the film. This voiceover was then corrected for grammar and vocabulary by actor Iris Hsu.

- The filename of the film was “Love Test” before Nick came up with the final title.
- The airport scene where James Feng. and Iris hug took many takes due to people and employees walking into the shot.
- When James Feng turns a corner pretending to go down a hall the opposite direction of Iris, he’s actually going into a wall.