Reaching for the Stars

by Z. Eric Yang

CA

Our 51-day campaign has been a huge success! The support from our community is incredibly encouraging and humbling. We’ve surpassed our initial goal of $5K by a large margin from 57 individual donors, and are now guaranteed all funds generated by the campaign. Because we’ve successfully reached our initial goal, Hatchfund has graciously offered us an additional 30 days to reach our stretch goal of $18,500. Our stretch goal will allow us to cover all our production expenses beyond the initial costs, and ensure the high production value that we are striving for. It will also help us access more resources to delve deeper into the subject matter and tell the story in the most compelling way possible. This dream is becoming real thanks to all YOUR support. Let’s continue to ride this wave and get to our stretch goal so all our costs can be completely covered!

Reaching for the Stars is a documentary about the stories of Asian American actors in Hollywood. Besides featuring a comprehensive collection of interviews from major Asian actors in Hollywood, we will also follow 4 - 6 Asian American actors as they navigate through their daily lives in Los Angeles.

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Through the film, we will get to experience the challenges, joys and sorrows that these artists have to go through to achieve their dreams. The actors in the film will be from a wide range of cultural heritages, age groups, social classes and sexual orientations, and they are at various stages in their careers. They have their own unique personalities, interests and hobbies, and life stories. But what they all share in common is their drive to reach for new heights in the entertainment industry, which often presents them with obstacles and frustrations that are unique to this community.

Unlike other films about the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of Asian-Americans in American media that rely on blatant political and social statements to get the messages across, Reach for the Stars will focus on telling the human stories about these actors. As we embark on the journeys with them, we get to know them as real people, care about them, and hopefully fall in love with them. Viewers of various ethnicities will come to know them and connect with them on an emotional level. Only when the audience identifies with the characters will they truly understand and appreciate the challenges and injustice that Asian-American actors have to constantly fight against.

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Our documentary will also include interviews and soundbites from other Asian-American actors besides our main cast of characters. Ideally, through interactions between our subjects, one will get a strong sense of community among these artists. This is a vibrant group of people who hold on to their dreams and fight for the identity of Asian-Americans as a whole in the American culture, in spite of the odds against them that often seem insurmountable. 

I’m a first generation immigrant. Having grown up in China and spent most of my adult life in America, I have the privilege of seeing the stark contrast between how Asians are portrayed on the screen in the two countries.  As a young boy, I was immersed in stories that had heroes that I looked up to and wanted to be like when I grew up. Those stories played a huge part in my growth. They encouraged me and emboldened me, because never for a second did I doubt that I would be rewarded with love, respect and victory if I was brave, hardworking, and determined as those heroes. 

I don’t know if Asian-Americans can have that kind of powerful experience growing up, because most of the time, the heroes in movies and television don’t look like them, and those who do look like them don’t matter in the stories. And in the rare cases that they do, they are often not the heroes that we would look up to. They are the ones that we would hate to be.

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America is changing. For the better. Today there are more Asian characters that matter, although they are still far and few between. In the midst of this slow yet promising change is a small group of Asian-American actors who have endured obscurity for decades and fought for the identity of this often neglected demographic. 

I want to tell the stories of these brave artists. They are, first and foremost, human just like anyone else. They have dreams, fears, and even quirks that make them unique yet familiar. Most of them may have felt that they were fighting a losing battle at some point in their careers, but they carried on. For Asian-Americans, they are the forerunners of a diverse and interesting people in the American fabric.

Here's our estimated production budget stretched over a year of production:

Production Equipment & Rental:    $5000.00

Travel/Lodging:    $5000.00

Perk Costs:    $500.00

Legal & Administrative Fee:    $1500.00

Meals:    $1500.00

Shipping:    $500.00

Color Correction:  $5000.00

Sound mix: $5000.00

Music Composition & Licensing: $2500.00

Contingency: $2500.00

E&O Insurance: $3000.00

TOTAL PRODUCTION BUDGET: $32,000

 

 PRODUCTION TEAM

Z. Eric Yang (Producer/Director)

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Eric is a graduate of the College of Motion Picture, Television, and Recording Arts at Florida State University. His MFA thesis film, The State of Sunshine, earned him a Director’s Guild of America’s Best Asian Student Filmmaker Award and a Student Academy Award. He is an Annenberg Feature Film Fellow at Sundance Institute for his feature screenplay Midland’s Got Talent, and has developed projects for top artists such as Morgan Freeman and Jet Li.

 

Quentin Lee (Producer)

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A member of Producers Guild of America, Quentin is an experienced filmmaker having produced eight independent Asian American feature films including the seminal Shopping for Fangs, festival hit The People I’ve Slept With and critically acclaimed White Frog along with his latest live and filmed comedy series titled Comedy InvAsian. He has been running Margin Films, a production and distribution company for over 20 years.

 

Koji Steven Sakai (Producer)

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Koji is a writer/producer with over a decade of experience in the industry. He has produced the feature films, The People I’ve Slept With, #1 Serial Killer, Dying to Kill, Dwayne Perkins: Take Note (2015), a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and most recently, Comedy InvAsian (2017), a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. In addition, he served as Vice President at the Japanese American National Museum for over 5 years