Got back from LA about a week ago, and boy oh boy did I miss home. There's something about NYC: the smell, the people, that cannot be found anywhere in LA. And no, not the urine smell.
This trip to LA was ca-razy. Ok, so I booked the trip right before Christmas because I haven't been there since May 2014 and I was low-key missing that place. Every time I go, it's for work -- Kollaboration the first time, then LAAPFF for all the other times. Every time I go, I only stay for a few days; and this time, I stayed for 9 days. It's the longest I've been in El-to-the-Eyyy. I stayed with Ms. Grace Su, whom I met at the fest in 2013. Her crib is in Studio City, and she got a cute dog named Moki. I also met her ex-roomie's cute dog Chewie. Their love for dogs makes me wanna get one. Maybe I'll get a dog--most likely a cat though cuz they're more independent. Someday.
LAAPFF was amazing, as always. I had the pleasure of connecting with Abe again after always calling him frantically for advice on what films to look out for. He's always so real about what's in the pipeline. This year's selection is a bit real hard to choose from. All the good films I've been eyeing on got in more mainstream film festivals in NYC. It makes me so happy to see Asian American filmmakers make it beyond the APA film festivals, but a part of me is selfish. With that, I always secretly hope an APA film will go with AAIFF/LAAPFF/CAAMFest instead. Alas, filmmakers gotta do what they gotta do to keep moving up that ladder. Gotta meet different people and hopefully strike a bigger deal. That's the name of the game. That's real. That's reality, and I'm slowly beginning to accept it.
I had a sobering moment. Wait. I actually had many sobering moments throughout the trip.
Sobering moment # 1: I had the chance to go with Grace to her commercial callback, and when I was in that audition room, I felt something I've never really felt before. I don't know how to describe it. It was this type of hunger everyone has in the room. Everyone in the room is fighting for a few positions, and everybody in town is going for it. It made me realize it's a dog eat dog world out there.
Sobering moment #2: Acting is not acting alone, you must "know" people. I've always had that icky feeling about this fact. Mostly because I think if you're good, you'll eventually make it and compete for the coveted roles everybody else is fighting for. Sometimes your talent takes you in the door, but some/most of the time, it's who you know who can get you into that door. I'm still processing what this means. I guess I'll leave this thought here and revisit this some other time.
Sobering moment #3: Asian Pacific America is a universe still left to be defined and explored. There's so many different ethnicities and nationalities that make up the APA community. It's hard to define what really unites us. Maybe it's the shared sentiment that we're all here now, and we're all cobbling our lives together in this country. Our struggles may be different, but the experiences we go through might have some similarities. We're still all different though cuz we're all humans with different emotions and experience. What we need to do is: we gotta tell our own stories. We gotta support our filmmakers and storytellers (aka financial support), so that a good product can be made. We gotta start the pipeline now to show that it is possible to work in this industry.
Sobering moment #4: You have to keep going. No one will be there to cheer you on. You are your own motivator. Create your own thing. You may fall, but you learn from your project. You must know how to stand up and keep going.
Sobering moment # 5: You might make or be in a shitty film--how you deal with the feedback or the jobs you take after matters more. The key is to keep your craft sharp, so that when better opportunities arise, you step up to the plate.
Sobering moment #6: Miscommunication sucks and will leave you eating alone at the dinner table. Always confirm.
Sobering moment #7: You don't have to drink to have fun. I stayed sober for most of the trip and I was surviving off adrenaline. I was completely jetlagged, so I still had to have my coffee. Now if only I can kick that addiction...
Sobering moment #8: LA's California produce and their restaurant's dedication to serving salads with every meal is key. Also the Korean food is so good. Also the beach is beautiful. The sun warms your soul. When the night falls, you better have a jacket with you.
All in all, this LA trip taught me so much about the industry--and life! If you don't see what you deserve, you better start making moves cuz nobody in the world is gonna hand you nothing. You gotta work for it. Earn it. Work so hard you cry at night, and the next morning when you wake up, you do it all over again. No shortcuts.
I had crazy thoughts of giving up after going on this trip. But that thought only lasted for a split second. I guess I realized how hard it really is and was gonna throw in the towel, but I thought about why I stayed for so long. Gotta keep telling stories, cuz boy we got stories.
DON'T GIVE UP! Gotta move through it. Gotta keep werkin'. Seriously, no shortcuts.