How I Survived My First Film
As you begin to read this I will likely be in a dark room littered with Red Bulls and staring at a computer screen editing my second independently produced feature film Man Up. I will share more about my second film with you at a later date, but the journey was similar to that of Hang Loose and my co-conspirators (Justin Chon, Kinetic Films) were involved again. I will say that producing Hang Loose felt more like bootcamp compared to the Man Up production which ran a lot smoother, which is what you would expect the second time around.
When I agreed to make Hang Loose in late 2011, I did not fully realize how incredibly difficult making a feature film was going to be, especially with little to no budget – let’s just say that feature film production is way more daunting than the 3-5 minute videos I produce for my YouTube channel. Creating a film from concept to completion requires focus and you need to have the right group of people (crew, director, actors) for it to work, all of which you cannot truly appreciate until the film has been completed. That is when you start to see how all the pieces came together to make it all possible.
I am humbled by the Hang Loose experience but also invigorated by the production to want to create even more films. It is hard to know what to expect from the release of Hang Loose. My only hope is that people will be entertained by the film, whether they connect with the characters or a scene, it’s not meant to be taken serious, it’s meant to make you laugh. The film in many ways is an experiment. I want YOU to know that if my friends and I were able to write, shoot, and distribute a feature film entirely by ourselves, then so can YOU. If Hang Loose can make people laugh or inspire them to create, then it is all worth it.
Hang Loose was filmed on location in O’ahu (as was Man Up). I had so much nervous energy when I showed up in Hawaii two days before production began. This is a film that I conceived and was starring in, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I was able to calm my nerves when we started shooting because I was able to work along side veteran actors that helped ease me into my role. Justin Chon and Dante Basco are both personal friends of mine, and they did a great job of making me feel comfortable on set. When you are lucky enough to work on set with pros, it makes you instantly sharper as an actor.
Dante Basco wrote Hang Loose with me, and we play the main characters in the film. We based scenes from the film on our actual relationship as friends. When I first moved to LA, Dante served as a mentor to me. I have always looked up to him as if he were my cooler older brother and our relationship in Hang Loose is similar. In the film, Dante plays my soon to be brother-in-law that I meet for the first time but quickly takes me under his wing. Not every scene in the film mirrors real life though; in the film we jump off cliffs, get in trouble with gangsters, and almost get our balls blown off by firecrackers. My life isn’t that exciting.
It was Dante who introduced me to Kinetic Films, a production company in Hawaii that was interested in producing independent films, and it just so happened that we had the perfect film for them to work on. Also, I must say that the opportunity to shoot a film in Hawaii is as attractive of a location that you will ever find.
Our directer Ryan Kawamoto did a fantastic job of planning pre-production (you have to wear many hats on an indie!). Ryan was able to secure really great locations for the movie which you will see in scenes where we jump off cliffs, run through alleys in Chinatown, and jump off the sides of mountains on hang-glides.
I started my career as an actor/writer/producer on YouTube and because of YouTube I have had the opportunity to expand my creative skill sets to television and film. Early on YouTube provided me a platform to create content that was relevant to my life while appealing to a wide audience. Over the years, I have come to realize that a lot of the KevJumba appeal comes from content and performances that are honest, relatable, and entertaining to my viewers. Of course, some of the subject matter in my videos speak specifically to my experiences as an Asian-American, but most of the time those are also experiences that transcend race.
YouTube has allowed me to develop a diverse audience by learning from my audience. Because of the immediacy of the medium, I can post a video or status update online and get immediate feedback from my audience, and incorporate their suggestions into how I approach the production of my YouTube videos moving forward. Engagement is the key component to digital media and I want to explore how the Internet can play an innovative role in re-defining the distribution of indie films.
Thank you for reading this, let me know what you think of Hang Loose and if you have any questions about the production of the film, leave your comments below and I will do a follow-up post answering your questions.
Visit this link to purchase the film: http://hangloosemovie.com/
Thanks for all of your support!