Here’s kind of a new feature here. An interview. I recently got in touch with writer/director Derek Nguyen about a really cool project that you should know about and support. He’s working on a short film called The Potential Wives of Norman Mao which you should definitely support. Read on!
1. Is your short film The Potential Wives of Norman Mao taken from your personal experience?
The film was inspired by my personal experience. There was a period in which my step-mother would try to set me up with all these women every time there was a family function. She was quite obvious about it and it made everyone involved quite uncomfortable but it was really funny at the time. Of course, this all happened before I came out!
2. How did you assemble the cast? Do all the Asian actors hang out together somewhere like at Home Depot?
I knew most of the cast before I started the film. I have been close friends with Ed Lin and Cindy Cheung for a great many years (I went to their wedding!). Soomi Kim and I have been artistic collaborators and close friends for almost 15 years. We collaborated on a multimedia theater piece called Lee/gendary about the life of Bruce Lee that ended up getting a few awards. I met George Takei years ago when my play, Monster premiered at East West Players in Los Angeles. And when I was beginning production on Norman Mao, I thought he’d be the perfect narrator for the film and got back in touch with him through the theater’s artistic director, Tim Dang. Ron Nakahara, Tina Chen, and Wai Ching Ho are amazing trailblazers in the Asian American theater and film communities that I had the privilege to meet through personal contacts. Wai actually came to my house during 9/11 when the subways were stopped and she was on a shoot in Brooklyn and couldn’t get home! And I met Michelle Ang through auditions for the film. Her energy and professionalism really shown through. I really enjoyed working with all of them and there was a great camaraderie on set!
3. Is your script universal or is there something uniquely Asian at its core? Could it work as, say, The Potential Lives of Norman Gonzalez?
I truly believe that if you want your story to be universal, you have to be specific. I think any story can work in any culture but what makes the story resonate is context, backstory, and complex characters. Matchmaking is a universal practice. But having it in an Asian context gives it a specific texture. I hope that the film is universal because the characters are Asian.
4. What’s the best way people can support The Potential Wives of Norman Mao? How/when can we catch it?
In an effort to raise funds to finish the film, we’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign in which people can become backers on the film and receive one-of-a-kind rewards. People can even be producers on the film, get on IMDB, and hobnob at film festivals with us. There’s also a behind-the-scenes video on the page.