I’ve made it back from Vancouver in one piece, and just settling back in, nursing a cough that I came down with on my last day there. The lack of sleep has definitely caught up to me. There were a lot of long fun nights and catching up with old friends. I had a crazy good time, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience from the event. Everyone at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival went out of their way to make me feel welcome and ensure that I was taken care of, which I was more than appreciative of. I have to give a huge thanks to the entire staff who worked tirelessly to put the event together. Without the outlet you guys provide filmmakers, it would be tough to get our projects seen by a large audience, so for that I thank you. I want to specifically thank the Founder and President, Barbara Lee, Festival Director, Grace Chin, Senior Programmer, Kathy Leung, and Volunteer Coordinator, Mark Oh, who were fantastic hosts and made me feel like I was at home again. There were so many others that I didn’t get the chance to chat with too much, but were all very gracious in my stay there, so thank you to all of you as well!
The screening itself was, for all intents and purposes, successful! We probably had about a 70-80% full house, which was more than I could have asked for. I got some great feedback on the film, which, for the most part, was overwhelmingly positive. The Q & A afterwards was full of questions, and people seemed to genuinely want to learn more about the project, its process, and history. Most of my Vancouver friends and family were there, so I also have to thank them for all of their unconditional support. Without them, I wouldn’t have the courage to keep doing what I’m doing. During the screening I couldn’t help but feel so grateful to have such amazing people in my life who supported my work, despite the fact that I’m a novice at this. My filmmaking peers gave me some humbling compliments afterwards, and it inspired me to work harder and get better as a filmmaker. Community is a big thing for me, and I really felt it.
However, there was one specific encounter I had after the screening that took me aback, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. An audience member approached me and told me he had randomly chosen to watch the film, without any knowledge of it or the festival. He just happened to be in the theatre, wanted to catch a flick, and serendipitously chose ours. But he wanted to tell me how much he loved the film, and genuinely hoped that it would continue as a series in some form on TV, film, or the web. He asked me a lot of questions about why it was so difficult to get off the ground when I had a quality product, and I explained the barriers we face in filmmaking and the TV business. We chatted for quite a long time. I told him that all the cards were stacked against me and I still had a very tough road ahead. It made him pretty frustrated to hear that because he felt like more people needed to see it and couldn’t believe projects like ours would go unnoticed. I was humbled and flattered to say the least, and couldn’t believe that I had reached someone in a way that evoked such passion. But what was more gratifying than that, and this may sound a little strange, was that this passion was coming from a young White man. It reaffirmed to me that universal stories with Asians in them can reach anyone. All this bull about there being no market for films with Asians in them was just that. This is what I hoped would happen. Stories are just stories. And human beings are just human beings. The fact that the most passionate audience member was not of Asian descent, meant more to me than I can express. It’s why I wanted to get into film. That interaction alone solidified my purpose as a filmmaker. To tell stories that almost anyone could relate to – and show that we’re all the same.
Hey friends! I’ve been back from New York for about a week, frantically catching up on work, but I’m finally getting a chance to write a little update.
New York City was, of course, a blast, but the New York Television Festival was quite the eye opening experience. We had attended countless panels and chats with almost every major American network, and even had a handful of meetings with some networks regarding MILLIONS. The conclusion? No one’s looking for a drama. And this is not even counting the whole all-Asian cast thing in our show, which will always be a hurdle. I probably shouldn’t call it an eye opening experience however, because numerous industry types have always warned me from the get-go that doing a drama would be an absurdly tough road, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised. It was more a disappointing experience, I guess. Mostly because, over the course of the week, I really got the sense that it didn’t matter at all what type of drama you had on your hands or even its quality – it just wasn’t going to be considered. The NYTVF naturally leans very heavily on comedies because that is what almost all networks are looking for. So the development deals that were handed out at the end of the festival went 100% to comedic filmmakers. Not a single deal was handed to a dramatic filmmaker. But that doesn’t really say much because there were very few of us. The festival itself is fantastic, and offers comedic filmmakers amazing opportunities, I’m just not sure it’s a place for dramatic serial filmmakers at this point. Maybe things will change in the future, but in a lot of ways, it’s the networks that dictate the content of the festival, so it’s out of NYTVF’s control. Ultimately, that is why this series was created for the web. Regardless of whether a network believes in the series or not, what we’ve produced will be seen by an audience, which I couldn’t be more excited about!
The public screening of MILLIONS at the festival, for the most part, received a great response. Many seemed to enjoy it, and most just kept telling us that they wanted to see more (since we screened only a half hour cut). We also had a lot of people approach us afterwards to tell us how much they related to the story despite the Asian cast. It was humbling to hear, and was always what I had hoped for. I’m hoping the Internet will feel the same way when we release some time next year, but we shall see. Tubefilter also did a short write up about the NYTVF and gave us a very cool mention. You are not boring Aymar! Thank you for being a drama fan, and for the shout out! I salute you.
Now for the big one. Our World Premiere of the complete first volume of MILLIONS screens at the 17th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival as the Closing Night Film on Sunday, November 10th at 7:45PM in the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas (88 West Pender Street). Save the date! It’s in 9 days! You can purchase tickets online here. As I mentioned in my last post, it feels fitting that I’m having my first major project screen in Vancouver. It’s the city I first studied film in, and began my film career. It’ll be pretty special, I think. If you live in the area, I hope to see you there. If you’re a friend of mine from Vancouver, and you’re reading this, I also hope to see you there! Not only would it mean a lot to me, but I’d love to see you since I don’t get back to the city very much. You’ll probably be getting a personal invite from me in any case.
Before I sign off, I just wanted to thank every single person that’s been involved in this project and has supported us these last few years. This screening is the culmination of all the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears we have put into this, and none of it would have been possible without you. So from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.
Took a minute to settle in, but we’re back from France and the Marseille Web Festival. Before I get into how much of a BLAST it was, I have another major announcement to make…
MILLIONS will be having its feature-length World Premiere on November 10th, as the Closing Night Film at the 17th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival! I am extremely excited about premiering in Vancouver with one of my favourite festivals. It’s a little bit of a home-coming party for me as my film career started in this city. I have so many people I love there, both friends and family, and am hoping to see all of them while I’m there. So I, and possibly a couple of others from our cast and crew, will be in attendance for the screening. My anticipation is through the roof for this one. If you’re in the city at that time, I hope you can make it out and see what we’ve worked on for the last few years. Vancouver, I will see you soon!
Now for Marseille. We had an absolutely amazing time in this beautiful city. It was only a two day festival but I had one of the best film festival experiences I’ve ever had. We met a ton of very very talented filmmakers, partied with like-minded individuals, and celebrated the future of film. I have to give a huge heartfelt thanks to Jean-Michel and the entire Marseille Web Fest staff. Not only were they extremely hospitable and gracious, they also put on a first-class film festival to rival any of its larger counterparts. I’ve spent so much time holed up working on MILLIONS, that I didn’t realize how strong and supportive the web series community was out there. It’s a growing force in the industry, and I couldn’t be more excited about its future.
I want to give some special shout outs to a few of my favourite series that I checked out at the festival, because they deserve far more attention than they’re getting.
The first is DAEMONIUM, a sci-fi Argentinian series, by Dany Casco. We had the pleasure to get to know Dany, who’s a ridiculously talented prop artist, costume designer, writer, and actor, but also a large hulking man with an awesome sense of humour and a big heart. He created the series, wrote it, acted in it, and made every single prop and costume in the series. I can’t imagine the amount of work that’s gone into the show, but it’s been his labour of love for the last few years. It’s an epic five chapter story, with the third chapter releasing soon. Check out the first and second chapters here and here.
The second series is THE BOOK CLUB, a YOMYOMF action comedy, by Timothy Kendall. This dude. We got to know Timothy really well over the course of the festival also, and like his work, the man’s a riot. I was already a fan of the series, as I’m a big follower of YOMYOMF, so I geeked out for a second, meeting the man behind it. I’d love to get into more comedy work some day, so hopefully a collaboration is in the future. Check out the first episode here. You can find the rest of the first season on the YOMYOMF YouTube channel.
The third series is TUBE TUBE, a British voyeuristic faux-natural dramedy that takes place on London’s Tube, by Ben A. Williams. Each episode is a random snippet of a conversation or encounter on the train. All done in one take. We got to know Ben pretty well too, and he’s a thoughtful and (almost stereotypically) refined English gentleman with a sharp wit. He’s a lot like his series, which had me rolling unexpectedly at unexpected times. Check out one of my favourite episodes here.
The last one I only managed to check out after the festival, but wanted to make a mention of it here because I enjoyed it. It’s called EVENT ZERO, out of Australia, by Enzo Tedeschi. It’s an action/sci-fi series about 7 people after a train crash. But it just so happens that it’s about a lot more than simply a train crash. Unfortunately, Enzo let me know that the series would not continue, but he does have a new series on its way called Airlock, so you should definitely check that one out. You can see the first episode of EVENT ZERO here.
I probably should also mention that we did manage to go home from the Marseille Web Fest with some hardware…
The New York Television Festival is up next for us! MILLIONS will be screening on Wednesday, October 23rd at 9:45PM and Thursday, October 24th at 7:15PM in the Tribeca Cinemas. It is a free public screening, so please reserve your tickets on the NYTVF website before it sells out. This is another one I am ecstatic about. It’s a huge opportunity for us, and I can’t wait to meet a ton of new talented folk, and of course party it up in New York City. I’ll be back with a summary of those events when we return!
Hey all, I finally make a return! Hope you’ve all been enjoying the summer. I unfortunately have only been able to enjoy the sun sporadically as I’ve been holed up for much of the summer furiously working on post-production of the series. We’re very close to the finish line, but I do have a couple announcements to make. As I mentioned in earlier posts, the series will be hitting the film festival circuit first, before hitting the web. So the first couple festivals (that will be screening approximately the first episode of the series) are: the Marseille Web Festival in Marseille, France, between October 3rd and 5th and the New York Television Festival in New York City between October 21st and 26th. We’ll be in attendance for both festivals. We’re extremely excited about it. If you’ll be in those cities between those dates, please do look for us, as you won’t be able to catch it anywhere else! A list of more festivals are to come, so stay tuned!
I’ve disappeared, I know. It’d probably be appropriate to fool you guys with something right now, it being April 1st and all, but I think faking the release of the first episode today would only be hilarious to me, and shitty for you. It’s been an arduous process, but we should be months away from completion of the first season of the show. My estimation is some time in the summer. Again, do not quote me. This, however, unfortunately does not mean it will be released at that time. We’re still figuring out a marketing strategy, and it may hit festivals before it hits the web. A new trailer should hit in the summer at the very least. It’s looking great so far, and I’m pretty excited about it, but there’s still a ton of work ahead, so I haven’t had a lot of time to actually be excited. All I can do for you guys right now is give you some stills. So here’s one below. I can’t promise that I’ll be back here soon, because the next few months are going to be spent not sleeping and editing the shit out of the series. But I will do my best. I hope all of you are well and until next time, thank you to everyone who’s continued to follow us throughout this journey. Your support means everything to us. It hasn’t gone unnoticed, because we’re doing everything in our power to ensure that the final product will be worth the wait.