In celebration of the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles screenings at Sunset Gower Studios this month, we're conducting a series of Q&A Features and this week we're bringing you director Wesley Du of "Dumpling."
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you've been working on it.
"Dumpling" is a story about a former boxer who believes that "you just don't know a man until you fight him". When he completely fails to connect with his son, he challenges him to a fight because that is his only way in which he knows how to connect with people in his life.
This project started off as a play back in 2006 and it had readings at all the major Asian American Theater companies in the United States, but it was never produced so a part of me felt the journey was unfinished. That is why I wrote this as a short film and decided to make it even though the film and the play have many differences. I think it's just the idea of the "dumplings" being a metaphor for the family that I had a major need to express.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?
My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Whatever little bit of talent I have comes from Him.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
I think if this happened 7 years ago I would be more excited than I am now. Back then I was much more self centered and ego driven. Now it's great to have my film shown at film festivals and I am greatly humbled by the opportunity, but it doesn't mean anything to me unless the work has an impact when people watch it.
What inspires you?
Authentic and vulnerable interaction and dialogue between people.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
I admire Marvin Sims, Philip Gotanda, and Spike Lee. I had the privilege of being mentored by Mr. Gotanda for 2 years when I was living in San Francisco. He instilled in me a respect for the history and the people who came before me within the Asian American theater and film community. He told me that if I didn't have anything to say then I shouldn't be doing this.
Marvin Sims was a teacher of mine back in college. He renewed my faith in art and myself after I was told by the faculty at Cal Arts that I shouldn't be an artist. He has since passed but he still continues to be a major influence in my life and always will.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
I don't really consider myself engulfed in the "industry" so I wouldn't know how to answer that question. I've made a short film that has screened at some great festivals. I don't make a living at this so I am not exposed to what it really means to be "in the industry".
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
Spike Lee because he is someone who has held onto his integrity for all these years and has never back down from speaking his truth.
What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?
I don't know how to answer this because looking back nothing was nearly as "tough" as I thought it was at the time.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
You should become a therapist.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Don't put all your eggs into one basket. It's okay to follow and explore other passions that you have besides acting, writing, and directing. I cringe when I hear people say that acting, writing, or directing is the only thing they are good at. I don't think they give themselves enough credit. You can make a living pursing other things that you love while also continue to follow your artistic passions. It doesn't have to be one or the other. If you think of getting a job doing something else that you're passionate about to SUSTAIN your dream of being an artist so you don't have to be working as a waiter or bartender, I think you'll be better off in the long run.
But as far as artistically, the best piece of advice I can give anyone is just to take the craft seriously because stories are important to society. Doctors heal lives but artists make life worth living for so please take what you do seriously and treat it with integrity. Being an actor, writer, or director is no different than being a concert pianist or ballerina. It takes just as much time, effort, and commitment to the craft and at times I feel that is somewhat lost.
Where can we expect to see you next? You can expect to see me continuing my private practice as a mental health therapist in Redondo Beach and also working with lower resource individuals, families, and couples at The Relational Center in Miracle Mile.
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.
You can check me out at http://www.wix.com/wesleyjdu/mft.
For more information on the screenings in Los Angeles, see below:
NewFilmmakers Los Angeles invites you to join the Monday April 16th 2012 film screening series and after-party event at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood with a filmmaker lounge throughout the evening.
5:30PM Shorts Program Pre-Screening Reception
6:00PM Shorts Program #1 Screening:
* Dumpling (Dir. Wesley Du)
* Bugbaby (Dir. Rebecca Lorenne)
* Ticket to Hell (Dir. Enrico Natale)
* The Contract (Dir. Ryan Goldstein)
* A Very Office Christmas (Dir. Maital Falkovitz)
7:00PM Feature Film Program #1 Pre-Screening Reception
7:27PM Shorts Film Program #1 After-Party
7:30PM Feature Film Program #1 Screening:
* The Maiden Danced to Death (Dir. Endre Hules)
9:15PM Feature Film Program #2 Pre-Screening Reception
9:35PM Feature Film Program #1 After-Party
9:45PM Feature Film Program #2 Screening:
* The Mighty Mavericks (Dir. Casey Kriley)
11:20PM Q&A with Feature Film Program #2 Filmmakers
11:35PM Feature Film Program #2 After Party
You will have the opportunity to meet the directors of each film, the actors and other crew + participate in a live audience Q&A.
There are pre-receptions and after-parties for each program. Admissions to the programs are only $6 which includes the screening ticket and access to the filmmaker lounge. Visit the NewFilmmakers LA Official Website at www.NFMLA.org for more information and to purchase your ticket now!http://www.newfilmmakersla.com/tickets.html
About the Author
Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner, LA Youth Newspaper and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know theteam of talented contributors.
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