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  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

Updated: Oct 23, 2019


Hey there everyone! We realize we let our Facebook family know about our trailer. It’s just that we didn’t let our website family know about our trailer. Here it is: Our MAT trailer.

But it’s not just any trailer. It’s a teaser trailer meaning that we roughly had a minute to tell our story. Let me tell you what… That was damn hard. We had to figure what to put in and what to leave out all the while tell our story. As you can imagine, we were sad that we didn’t get to include everything. It’s just that our allotted time really only let us tell the really big idea of our story: a guy with special needs looking for his mom.


Yes. It was truly hard to distill our story down except it also helped clarify our current stage. We’re in what is called “post.” Many know about this process whereas others don’t. I’ll give a tiny overview for those unfamiliar: It’s when the film has been shot and its raw footage is being shaped into the final film that audiences eventually see. And here’s the thing about post: I’ve heard many horror stories about it.


In fact, I’ve been told that post is where films go to die. We’re happy to report that our film is far from that. We’re just about at the point called “picture lock.” This is when the creative edits are done with the film and we move into the final stages before the world sees MAT. (Is this cool or what!?!)


I digress for I didn’t relate how our teaser trailer has helped with post. It’s that it reminded us of what to emphasize and dig into deeper. And applying this logic helped us to cut the film. The other big thing that has helped us is that we've had a family of fellow filmmakers give us notes on our various renditions of the film. It’s been an incredible learning process that we’re so profoundly happy that we did. Plus, we’re able to fix things not working while we’re still in a position to do something about them.


Both Richard and I have a favorite writing teacher Corey Mandell that explained in terms of writing but it also applies to a film in progress. His comment is that the story that plays in the writer’s head isn’t the one in the reader’s head. The reader only has the pages. S/he isn’t privy to everything that the writer generated to put together those specific pages in that particular order

The same can be said for films and their audiences in that we have plenty of footage not in our current cut. But the generous souls helping us inspect our film has allowed us to better understand audience reactions and what needs to be clarified. This is especially since most had little to no information before they saw MAT. In fact, some had only seen our teaser trailer and others had only heard us talk about it a tiny bit.


We’ll let you know of any updates. In the meantime, enjoy the MAT again since it’s been a bit or maybe even the first time.


And we haven’t said it enough… Thanks so much for all of your support! It’s beyond super cool!. 



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  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

Locations define the life blood of characters: where they live and raise their families, earn their pay and spend their time. They also help define the backstory of the characters. As a low budget filmmaker, the most important question you should ask always yourself is:





What locations do I have access to for free?” #indiefilmmaker

Most locations in MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING (MAT) are filmed in my family’s different houses. The story also takes place in South Central Los Angeles because the special needs adults that inspired it reside there. I still call the South Central by its original name since my old school neighbors still refer to it by its Original Gangsta name. May sound funny except Los Angeles has tried to scrubbed the notoriety associated with that name immortalized in songs like Tupac’s anthem, “To Live and Die in LA.” Los Angeles has even attempted to nickname it to “‘#SOLA” like the neighborhoods WeHo (West Hollywood) and NoHo (North Hollywood.) The moniker #SOLA is of course referring to the new and improved name of “South Los Angeles.”


I know I’m Filipino and this movie is a mini biopic (sans zombies), but I still chose to make in about Koreans in South Central. The big reason is that Koreans are part and parcel to South Central and its culture. They are a big part of the community with their different businesses. An example is the great film GOOK that focuses in on a Korean store during the LA Riots

There are hundreds of group homes or “board ‘n’ cares” all over South Central. Most house four to six clients per home. They did this to help better integrate the adults with special needs into the community. This was as opposed to locking them away in a mental institute where they have zero interaction with society. We hosted the clients during the filming. They delightfully welcomed the cast and crew. In fact, they still talk about this experience to this day with joy.

Another house added “triple the value.” We shot Kim’s bedroom and stairs that Me Young climbs. And we also used the basketball court since its look inspired the feeling we were trying to convey in that scene. The ultimate filmmaking trick was using the garage for the office in the laundromat since the one on location was way too small. I also found ways to incorporate it more than originally planned since it’s a free location. Plus, I was able to use my junk as background set decorations. I’ll clean it up… One day.

A gangsta’s crib was a difficult location to find. Originally we were going to go with the trope of some boarded up abandoned house. But we couldn’t find any without big “no trespassing” signs. We figured that they still have tenants that like to do things like crawl in your shoes or burrow in your skin. Those are definitely not wanted guests on set. Our conclusion was to use an indoor pool that we could access. We have to give major props to our Production Designer Carlo Garduno.Carlo did an amazing job of decorating the indoor pool wall with gangsta graffitti. While we were filming prison scenes in the Clayton Museum, Carlo was painting up a storm



Originally, we were going to film The TV show, “Apocalyptic Zombies” in Montana. Part of it would in the tiny town of Fromberg where Holly’s Mom used to live. We had access to a whole town, half of which was abandoned. The Mayor even offered to block streets for us when we were filming. They are a theater group that was specifically to help us do local casting. We even had access to my other sister’s famous pig Hamlet: And the Devries-Roberts Cemetry even said we could film there


It would have been epic to Montana, but we ran into too many challenges trying to make it happen. As a result, we shot the TV show in Los Angeles. We had access to an Airbnb and friends were able to give us access to locations. It was also fun improvising some scenes here and there in different parts of the greater Los Angeles area. A cool thing is that many parts of downtown Los Angeles organically look like a scene out of the apocalypse with its random graffiti, trash and abandoned buildings.


Mad props to our actors Callie Gilbert (Andrea) Andre Devin (Mini Rambo) and Lisa Crosato (Sharon) who toughed out the cold, wet rain in good spirits. A couple of funny mishaps were when Callie locked her keys in her car and a seagull pooped on Lisa’s shoulders

Many thanks to Rick Clark from Hearts on Fire Tattoo Parlor. His place added so much authenticity to the gang.


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  • Apocalyptic Thanksgiving

I wanted to see SHOPLIFTERS twice before I wrote this review… Why? It’s that damn good. But I also wanted to get this out there while this film is still in theaters. Catch it while you can! I’m sure that you can relate in wanting to do the best job ever since it’s just one of those films. And what exactly are those kinds of films?


They are the kind where the filmmakers capture moments of true humanity. My favorite example in this film is when the family featured realizes the authorities are looking for one of them because of their shoplifting ways. The family’s solution is to cut the little girl’s hair to “give her a disguise.” She is still recognizable except she is even cuter because you can see her face better. The family is the same way in that the haircut represents the peeling back of their layers to see how lovable they all are in their eclectic ways. You want to hang out with them as well as help the little girl hide in plain sight. Another interesting layer to the scene is that the family learns her real name.



DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY


But what is this family anyway? The description that I initially saw said that they are dysfunctional. It’s just that all families are that way if we’re all honest. This term is often thrown around as a way to dismiss all the stuff that happens behind closed doors. It’s the stuff that people don’t truly want to talk about for fear of retribution and possible loss of friends. This is why movies like this are so important for they explore ideas that would be delicate to bring up at any kind of social function or social media for some of the characters’ actions are risky. Okay. Most of the characters do questionable things except love and survive in the big city.


These moments then ask us what we would do if faced with similar situations? How short sighted would some of our decisions be? Is even considering the future a luxury? I don’t know…



THE WALKING DEAD


However, there is one thing that I do know: I’ve revealed all that I will about the inner workings of this family for I’d much rather have you enjoy watching their different layers fall away. I don’t want to ruin this beautiful film for you in the same way others did for me with "The Walking Dead" Everyone told me of significant characters dying before I got to the episodes. It bummed me out to the point that I can’t bring myself to watch those scenes since I love the characters so much. This may not mean much to you except Richard and I used to faithfully wait every Sunday for a new episode and went on the “Talking Dead” twice.



INFO FOR FILMMAKERS


A thing that I won’t leave a mystery about SHOPLIFTERS movie is that it doesn’t take place in bazillions of locations. It was also clear that a lot of thought was put into the different details that make up the images on the screen. They also give a great slice of life in the slums of a Japanese city on the seedier side. A great book that talks about this aspect of the story is Bruce Block’s “The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media.”

The lighting in the way the girl is introduced in the movie is a prime example of this… (A tiny spoiler. Big spoiler here) She is in the light except she is alone on a porch whereas the family is in the dark looking at her. But the family in the light while the porch is dark the second time we see that same location. The darkness and the light speak to the idea of the good guy vs the bad guy...it's just that this movie plays with that well since these characters are multi-layered. No one is completely good and no one is completely bad.


Another aspect of SHOPLIFTERS is that the images also reflect the emotional story that play out on the screen. They work well together in order to tell this story. An example is how the house is crammed full of mismatched stuff in the same way this family come together for their greater good. Tom Provost also has a wonderful class that explains all about how to tell your story visually in his Cinema Language Class.


Tom has classes in conjunction with Mark Stolaroff’s “No Budget Film School.” Richard and I took both of these classes prior to shooting MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING (MAT). Charlie also was the one who suggested that we attend them since he liked them so much.



AND MAT

A visual style we used in MAT is to try to have bars or shapes that look like bars around the character of Kim throughout the movie. They represent Kim’s emotional state and reveal his past.


We thought that this movie is a good fit for MAT since MAT is also about family. It also talks about the Asian family experience in a way not often seen in movies. And it helps us to understand that our hearts grow from love rather than restrict…

Have a great night!

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