SING MY SONG

by Barbara K. Lee

CA

LOGLINE:   Where are all the Asian Rockstars in North America?  In an era of Trump and his daily challenges to diversity, can an Asian music superstar emerge from all this chaos?

 SYNOPSIS:  Sing My Song  is a documentary that follows the journey of songwriter Kayee Lee to find a singer for her songs and through this process she struggles with whether or not to choose someone Asian, but unlikely to make it big in North America or someone mainstream, meaning African American, Caucasian or Latino who will likely have a better chance of making her songs into hits.  Kayee begins her quest to have her songs recorded by superstar artist and the first American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, but as a long time advocate of diversity in mainstream media, she must confront her own biases ingrained from the absence of Asian rockstars while growing up in the West.

Through interviews with Asian American and Asian Canadian musicians and singers, Kayee discovers a wide and deep pool of of immensely talented Asian artists in North America, all waiting to be seen and heard.

When meeting this wealth of talent face to face, and at the same time recognizing the scarcity of Asian musicians in the landscape of popular music, the question that repeatedly comes to mind is - why are there no Asian Rock Stars in mainstream music in the Western World?  And for those that are getting attention, why is there a cloud of ethnic ambiguity surrounding their marketing and promotion.  A seemingly milder form of white washing or a "don't ask and don't tell" attitude.

As Kayee's journey progresses, she realizes that the answers to her questions are not black and white, but are as varied as all the artists she encounters.  Adding to this, is the demise of the "old" recording industry and the ever changing new music industry rising up from the internet to replace the old rules and the old gatekeepers.

This documentary attempts to unravel the complex issues both within the Asian communities and the larger non-Asian community, the history of the recording industry and the new set of rules these artists need to learn and adjust to in order to break through.

In the background of this documentary is the ever present daily reminders that we are now living in an era of a Donald Trump Presidency, who seems to be on a personal crusade against diversity.  Racial tensions are at the highest levels in decades.  What does this mean for someone like Kayee who has devoted over 20 years of her life to advocating for a strong voice for the Asian American/Canadian population in mainstream media?

There is a sliver of a silver lining to all of this......more and more people around the world, particularly artists in film, movies, media, music and all other disciplines are standing up and celebrating diversity as hard and as loud as the President's anti-diversity tweets and executive orders are trying to stifle it.  Kayee finds herself struggling between doing what is best for her songs and doing what is best for her community and are the both so different?

There is no better time to share a story from the Asian Canadian and Asian American community about what it is like to be an invisible visible minority in mainstream media and music.

The documentary hopes to examine how this invisibility affects an entire community through thought provoking interviews while documenting one dreamer’s journey.   Does she succeed?  The audience will have to follow along as she learns about the music industry and who she finds as a singer or singers for her songs.

Filmming of this project started almost 4 years ago and 80% of the filmming has been completed.  There has been location shots in Nashville, Washington State, Vancouver and Los Angeles.  We are hoping to finish up filming the final performance with Kayee's singer(s) performing her songs and one last interview with an Asian K-pop sensation born in Canada.

Interviews include well-known Asian rockstars Far East Movement, the only Asian American group to top the Billboard Hot 100 List, Wanting Q, an Asian Canadian, platinum selling singer-songwriter in China and Chin Injeti, a Grammy winning musician, producer and singer/songwriter.

Production of the film budget has been raised and this final funding push is to help with the finishing of the project. The $13,000 is to complete the post-production, in particular, the editing, colour correction and sound mix to get it read for festival and other distribution opportunities. 

Because the universality of music is at the heart of the story, we are hoping to reach our stretch budget to polish the soundtrack and hopefully record a couple more Asian American/Canadian artists.

We are grateful to all those that contribute, please check out our Perks.  If you are unable to contribute please share this project with those in your social media networks.

THANK YOU!!!

p.s. - Canadian donors should check with their own accountants regarding deductability of donations under applicable CRA rules.

Cast and Crew:

Barbara Lee - Writer/Director/Producer

Barbara K. Lee is an independent filmmaker in Vancouver, Canada.  She was an award winning broadcast journalist and reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). and she is also the winner of the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada's Diversity award Pacific/Yukon and her NFB produced documentary BETWEEN THE LAUGHTER aired on CBC and PBS Northwest.  As a songwriter she uses her Chinese name Kayee Lee. After completing this film, Barbara will focus on her horror script.

Mona Stillwell - Director of Photography

As a director, producer, cinematographer, and editor, Mona has produced two original feature length films: Everything Louder Than Everything Else (2010) and Let Me Be Fictional (2008). She founded an Asian female filmmaker networking group in Vancouver and sits on the Board for the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. Mona is a graduate of Vancouver Film School’s Sound Design Program and holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of British Columbia. Mona is a feminist storyteller who holds space for intersectional voices.

Quentin Lee is an experienced filmmaker having produced eight independent Asian American feature films 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. He is the Chief Creative Officer for the newly launched digital platform CHIOPSO and will be overseeing and managing all content acquisitions and partnerships for CHOPSO.

Koji Steven Sakai - Associate Producer

Koji is the CEO of CHOPSO the ultimate streaming destination for English-language Asian content worldwide.  He 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.

Cast:  Notable Interviewees

Far East Movement

Far East Movement (FM) is an LA based American hip hop, rap and electronic dance music group. The group formed in 2003 and consists of Kev Nish (Kevin Nishimura), Prohgress (James Roh) and DJ Virman (Virman Coquia). Their single "Like a G6", featuring pop-rap duo The Cataracs and singer Dev hit number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 chart and on the iTunes chart in late October 2010, making them the first Asian-American group to earn a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  

 

The group's latest album, "Identity," is the first release under their own record label Transparent Music. "Identity" focuses on bridging Eastern artists with FM's Western dance music roots. The album received a positive review in Billboard Magazine; the single "Freal Luv" with Marshmello featuring Tinashe and Chanyeol from the chart topping K-pop group EXO, received 21 million plays on YouTube. Far East Movement has also branched out with a number of collaborations on labels Ministry of Sound, Dim Mak, and Ultra.

 

Wanting Q

Wanting, is a Chinese-born singer-songwriter and pianist based in Vancouver, Canada.   In 2009, she became the first Chinese artist to be signed to the Nettwerk label and she is managed by Terry McBride. Her first album,  Everything in the World jointly released with Universal Music China in 2012 went platinum in China within its first week on sale and her singles "You Exist in My Song" and "Drenched" were used in the soundtrack for the Hong Kong film Love in the Buff.

 

Chin Injeti

Chin Injeti is a Canadian singer, musician, and music producer. He got his start as a founding member of Juno Award-winning group Bass is Base. He frequently collaborates with producer DJ Khalil; together they have written and produced songs for Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Drake, Clipse, Eminem and P!nk.   Injeti's work with Eminem and Lecrae has garnered 3 Grammy Awards, as well as Grammy nominations for Aloe Blacc's Lift Your Spirit and Pink's The Truth About Love.

Budget Breakdown: 

Editing $7,000.00
Color Correction $3,000.00
Final Sound mix $3,000.00
Total $13,000.00