It’s December 31st, 2018, and I figured this would be the perfect time to sit back and reflect about the last year. I meant to shoot a vlog but found myself under the weather the past few weeks, so I figured an old fashioned blog is a worthy substitute. I already had a list of notes typed out so turning them into compete sentences should be simpler yet I haven’t written anything longer than a grocery list in some time. It’s also a great time for me to plug my new website build! Did you know I had a website? And yes, I moved over to SquareSpace using the discount code “WONGFU” to save 10% at checkout ;)
In terms of build-out, the website is more or less complete. I want to use this site as a way to showcase some of the many projects I’ve worked on. Usually a portfolio site shows a person’s best and most polished work, but I plan to share as much as possible because every job or gig I’ve taken has taught me valuable lessons and played a role in getting me to where I am today.
Looking back, 2018 was a year filled with ideas, planning, and a ton of trial and error. I believe Pre-Production is and should be the most difficult part of production. It’s the uphill battle in getting a project done so when you’re finally on set and ready to roll, everything is in place and accounted for so the production can run as smoothly as possible. That’s how I look at 2019; as the first day of principal photography just around the corner. I’ve done all the prep and rehearsals I can and this is the year I put everything into action. The last step is to review my notes and check all my bases before calling ACTION!
JANUARY got off to a tough start, being that it was one of the most unsure moments I’ve had in a long time. We came into the new year with a huge slate of projects already green-lit and in motion. Hitting the 3 million subscriber mark also gave us that pressure and motivation to see that number continue to grow. Like many YouTube channels, a significant portion of Wong Fu’s revenue comes from branded content. These collaborations helps us fund daily operations and the projects that are 100% our own. We kicked off the new year with one of these branded collaborations for the Super Bowl season. The year started off at a blazing fast pace, and we never let go of the gas. For an overview of Wong Fu’s 2018, check out our recap video HERE edited by Michelle Hsieh.
In mid-January, I was invited by the DigiFilm Club of UC Irvine for my first solo speaking event in front of an audience. I have done some small interviews in the past and a few Q&A’s with Wong Fu, but this was new territory for me. I spoke about my experience as an Assistant Director and how I chose the path of becoming a filmmaker.
FEBRUARY saw the launch of our Patreon page we called Wong Fu Forward. We didn’t anticipate the amount of support that came through and are so grateful to everyone who joined in February and that have continued to support throughout the year. We even crashed Patreon’s website on the day of our launch! Lunch Breaks continued every week along with fulfilling perks and producing exclusive content for the Careholders. Meanwhile, pre-production for one of our biggest in-house projects was underway.
Chinese New Year season is also a busy time for mean as I performed with my lion dance team, the San Diego Lucky Lion Dancers, for the 16th consecutive year. I somehow managed to find time to chat with the Asian Pacific American Club at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Corona, CA.
MARCH - Yappie was an enormous test of everyone’s individual abilities and how we worked together as a team. We had a narrow window of filming due to talent and location schedules and our spring college tour was upon us. We ultimately pulled the project together by the skin of our teeth and released it to the world. Wong Fu has always been known for its personal stories involving life and relationships, however, I don’t believe the company has felt as vulnerable as it did during the release of Yappie. It was the first time we really tackled the issues of race and politics within and surrounding the Asian American community. There wasn’t exactly a clear agenda with the series, but it sparked the tough conversations we’ve been hesitant to have.
MAY - Asian Pacific American Heritage Month came at just the right time this year. Wrapping production on Yappie left me very doubtful and unsure about my abilities and future. But being at the IdentityLA concert and interacting with fans reminded me of why I chose to do this in the first place; to connect with my under-represented community and give back in the ways I know how; to help lay that foundation in giving future generations of Asian American youth the role models in media we rarely saw ourselves.
In May, I played in my first paintball tournament of the year. I told myself that 2018 would be the year I officially got back into the sport so I tried out for a team back in December 2017 called Techno Kitty based in my hometown of San Diego, CA. I was able to join the practice squad and dust off some equipment that’s been sitting around for years. At this particular tournament, I was a guest on a team called San Diego Engage who I played a second event with later in July.
JUNE marked yet another speaking event, only this time alongside my colleague Chris Yang. We were invited by the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific Film Fest to promote our upcoming series Yappie. The film industry in Northern California is no where close to the Film Capital of the world in Los Angeles, but I’m excited to see how the community grows in the Tech Capital of Silicon Valley.
JULY was a pivotal month in that it was the first time having my long time and long distance girlfriend of six years, move in with me in LA. We had talked about it for so long and the timing finally worked out. We found the perfect little bungalow with plenty of room for Mochi and Mayu to run around in the front yard. It's not a lot of room for the amount of stuff Jessica and I have, but we've been able to make it work thus far. Despite the parking tickets and having my truck side-swiped on the street overnight, this has been my favorite place I've called home.
At the end of the month, I was invited by UVSA to be the keynote speaker for the Vietnamese American High School Student Association’s annual summer camp. I shared some of my experiences and journey to working with Wong Fu Productions as well as my thoughts about Asian American representation in the media.
We released an episode of Yappie each week starting in June and the engine kept humming along. We made a handful of videos in the meantime to keep our channel active but the Yappie train was traveling full speed ahead. We went on a multi-city North America tour, got back and made a few more things including Asian Bachelorette 2 and Vantage Points.
When I thought things would start slowing down, the opposite kept happening. On Labor Day, a holiday meant specifically for NOT working, I found myself training in jiu-jitsu with my older brother Brian. This was our first time training together as he was preparing to compete in his first tournament. Even when we were on the wrestling team in high school, we only wrestled each other once and he dropped me on my face. In this case, I had a few years of jiu-jitsu experience on him and was able to give him a few pointers before his competition. 2018 was supposed to be the year I took jiu-jitsu more seriously and competed myself, but it unfortunately was sidelined as my calendar kept me busy enough. I trained as often as I could at Cosmic Training Center in Alhambra, CA. If you’re ever in the area and would like to train, let me know!
Later in the month, Wesley Chan and I got the opportunity to produce a shot film in collaboration with our friends, filmmaker Tommy Trinh and actor/martial artist Noah Fledar. It was our first time working on an action short of this caliber and Wes's return to directing after more than a year. One of the locations we used was first featured as the famous Bat Cave in The Dark Knight.
Also in September, Jessica officially started her classes in pursuit of her esthetician license, something she's been wanting for years. She's got only a few weeks of her program left, and I'm so proud at how well she's been doing the last few months. If you're still reading this far down and are due for a facial or new skin care regimen, check our her professional Instagram profile HERE.
Then I turned 26 and I smashed my finger in my garage door that day.
OCTOBER will be remembered as the month I was injured. A week before playing in the ISA Charity Basketball game in San Jose, I partially tore my hamstring during a grappling training session. Luckily, my brother Brian, who’s a Doctor of Physical Therapy, was able to walk me through rehab techniques to get some strength and flexibility back in time for the game. I was unable to even jog leading up to game day, but I’m glad I was able to put up a few points for my team led by The Fung Bros. After an intense and hard fought game, we came up short by a single point and game-winning shot be Jason Lee of Jubilee Media.
I wrapped up the month producing another side project helmed by Julie Zhan and Wesley Chan. Her short film “Zoetic” is currently in its final phases of post production and preparing for its festival run. It’s a meaningful short about an Asian American woman’s relationship with her immigrant mother and family. So much heart was put into this film and I can’t wait to see how far it can go.
This month, we went back on road for our Yappie College Tour. Meeting and interacting with the fans and supporters has always been one of my favorite parts about working for Wong Fu Productions. We split the team up on separate legs so some could stay back to work on the next short, or create our hottest selling item of the year; the Asian Bachelorette Calendar.
DECEMBER - This past month was spent almost entirely in recovery mode. Jessica and I got food poisoning, myself twice. And we’ve spent the last couple of weeks fighting off a cold that hit some of the Wong Fu team as well. We celebrated the 15-year anniversary of Wong Fu Productions with our second annual Holiyay Party inviting over 250 of our friends from the industry and community. The team closed up shop for the winter with an intimate and fancy dinner and played an imaginary game of white elephant.
It’s been a tumultuous year to say the least, and I’m sure I’ll be waking up in the middle of the night remembering something I missed to put in this blog post. If I don’t publish this now, it may never see the light of day. So cheers to 2018! It’s been fun and stressful learning experience but we pulled through. 2019, I’m ready for you.
Thanks for reading and have a happy and wonderful New Year!