Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ken Choy is My Number One Fan

That’s an exaggeration. Ken Choy is really a fan of any Asian-American artist who’s trying to make it in the media world.

That’s why he created MAPID – Mavericks of Asian-Pacific Islander Descent – “dedicated to the development and promotion of underrepresented artists, writers, activists, and future community leaders and their supporters, friends, and allies.”

Ken is a producer, director, actor, and writer, not to mention a networking god! A few words from the man himself:

Why are groups like MAPID important?
KEN: There's this impression that those who are in the arts are "me me me." But to get ahead in the entertainment industry, a team effort is required. You absolutely have to be a team player. It's totally un-Darwinian which most of us are ingrained with. MAPID is an ever-expanding team and only exists because of what people put back into it. I've always been with the same mind-frame – as high a level I get to, I'm taking people with me.

Who's kicking ass the most in the Asian-American media world?
KEN: A whole bunch are making waves. Justin Lin has motivated many emerging filmmakers with Interpretations. Daniel Dae Kim, Kelly Hu are just some of the celebs that give back to the community. Edwin Chung just got a promotion at NBC. The Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) brought an amazing group of people for their recent event Koreans in Hollywood. But I'd have to say, I'm impressed most with the folks who are awesome and really made an impact in the discussion.

What's the best thing undiscovered Asian-American talent can do for their careers?
KEN: Explore what their strengths are. The industry is not a "You Can Have It All" biz. Focus on who they are, what they do best, and begin to brand and market that. You have to create an entree point. Worrying about being typecast before you get cast in the first place is self-defeating.

Dream lunch date?
KEN: Takeshi Kaneshiro. I wouldn't turn down Jeremy Sheffield, though not sure about his recent career choices. Who is he? See, that's what I mean. A Native Hawaiian physical therapist who can give me massages every night!

See Ken and MAPID in action next month as they co-sponsor the 3rd Annual ID Film Fest at the Japanese American National Museum. At which this here blog will be a media sponsor! Woot! Follow this blog for more details to come...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tools of the Trade: Getting Your SAG Card

It’s a classic catch-22. How do you get a role in a feature film? You need a SAG card. How do you get a SAG card? You need to get a role in a feature film.

So you want to be a card-toting, dues-paying member of the Screen Actors Guild. Who doesn’t? Being in SAG means access to roles that actually pay money! But getting into SAG is difficult for one simple reason –

SAG doesn’t want you to get in!

There are already thousands of SAG actors that don’t work consistently. The majority, in fact. Yet every SAG actor has an equal vote in all union issues, most of which don’t apply to them yet. Letting more members into SAG just means more unemployed actors making decisions that affect the small percentage of the membership that actually is working.

So they make it wicked hard to get into SAG. And wicked expensive – initiation fees were $2,277 last I checked. But if you want to move your career forward, getting into SAG is necessary and in my opinion, it can be done.

Here are the ways:
  • Taft-Hartley – A fast pass into the ranks. Easier if you’re under 18, a celebrity in a different field (like Jordan Farmar), or if you have a crazy talent like fire-eating that happens to be needed on How I Met Your Mother this week. Make sure your resume lists all your special skills, but only if you can actually do them. Taft-Hartleys seem to be more common in the commercial world, so try to get a commercial agent right away.

  • Background Vouchers – Get with a good call-in service and be professional. Show up on time, bring good wardrobe choices, and stay where you’re supposed to be. 2nd 2nd ADs like actors who listen to them, work hard, and don’t complain.

  • Via AEA or AGVA – Snag a lead role on stage or in a theme park, and a year later you can become SAG Eligible. Disney’s Pixar Parade, anybody?
But most of all, be diligent! It’s a long road, but you’ll get there eventually. If I can do it, so can you! Click here to read Part 2 of this series!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Logo Land

Thought it was time to give my blog a logo. What do you think?

My logo inspiration:

Famima!! With two exclamation points!! One of my favorite places ever!!

This logo will do for now - unless there’s a brilliant graphic designer out there that wants to design a few alternatives for me. Anyone? Bueller?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

To Do: Procrastinate and Be Impatient

I’ve accomplished so much today! I’ve done three loads of laundry, emptied the dishwasher, and vacuumed the living room! I even cleaned my keyboard! What haven’t I done yet?

Oh right...


Procrastination is a sneaky little devil. Disguising itself as productivity, eating up precious hours, slinking into my day and refusing to go away.

Whenever I’m running errands, waiting in line at the post office or stuck in traffic on the 405, I fantasize about writing. I picture myself curled up by the window with my notebook while the words pour out with graceful ease. I’m glowing with creativity. Any man who happened to see me in this state would be immediately drawn to my intensely beautiful aura, stunned by the breathtaking sight of me in my element. It’s an idyllic tableau in my mind’s eye. Me. Writing.

But then I get home and open up said notebook, and I can’t find a comfortable position on the sofa. I have emails to answer and vital Tweets to check. I often end up inspecting my pedicure, reading my past writing, or rambling for a while before drawing a huge X through the page, punctuated by an angry scrawl – “Who cares???”

Procrastination gets the blame, but I know that impatience and self-imposed expectations are my real enemies. The unnecessary demand for results that stunts my creativity and keeps me from diving in without fear.

And then I remember – bird by bird. A brilliant anecdote from Anne Lamott’swonderful book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Any daunting task becomes less daunting when you break it down into pieces. Everything is written one word at a time. One paragraph at a time. One page at a time. Bird by bird.

And then, I write.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fictionless Friday: An Update

My writing has gone to a dark place. A delightful and delicious dark place. And although I’m enjoying it, I have no idea what happens next.

Two months ago, my writing mentor challenged me to set my fiction writing aside for a while and start writing about myself. To find the material that’s already within me, lying in wait to be discovered.

Didn’t seem like a difficult challenge. If anything, I was game to see what I would find once I dove into the dark recesses of my soul. So I did.

Sixty days later, I have almost 100 pages of material. I’ve written about my family, the pain of being an outsider, the guilt of failed relationships. Tearful and charged words about school picture day and my hatred of eHarmony. I remembered stories about train rides to Kansas and the Sears catalog that I thought I’d forgotten. Gotten angry over casual encounters of the kindergarten kind. It’s been a thrilling trip into my psyche and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

But now, when I look at those 100 pages, I don’t have a clue what to do with any of it. How do I take all of my personal junk and use it in my fiction writing? Or my new television pilot ideas?

Putting my stories into my characters would just make those characters sad, pathetic losers. Perhaps that’s simply borne out of self-judgment, but I just don’t see how the dark details of my life can possibly be applicable.

Maybe you think it’s obvious, but I’m still waiting for the click. The ah-ha moment where I see how my personal material can be mined in my fictional narrative.

Established writers always tell me to write what I know, but who wants to see a show about my crazy little life? I don’t know. But until the pieces fall into place in my head, I’ll continue writing about myself. Fictionless and fancy free. We’ll see what happens next.