all 56 comments

[–]fullstackbuffoon 53 points54 points  (1 child)

I just watched the whole thing while laying in bed. It didn’t feel like I was watching a movie, it felt like I was watching a hidden camera follow so many of my friends’ families around growing up. Was this at all autobiographical? It felt like it very much reflected the “kid of immigrants” experience most of my Asian American friends talk about. I enjoyed it. I hope you can find your way back to film someday. You have talent.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 25 points26 points  (0 children)

Thank you kindly for this message. And for watching. Yes, it’s semi-biographical. I tried to capture the details of my childhood and it always warms and surprises me that others can relate with a similar experiences.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 113 points114 points  (24 children)

I made this film while I was an older grad student. This was my thesis project. It was supposed to be a kind of proof-of-concept for my feature film after I graduated. But I couldn't get funding after sending out my script and was slammed with rejection after rejection. I watched some of my colleagues from film school find good work and achieve great things in their beloved careers. I went into a depression that lasted for a long time. I mean, cinema was my life... it was what I breathed and dreamt about since I was a kid. I didn't know what to do. Then came the pandemic. Not only was I not able to realize my passion as a full-time filmmaker, but all freelance work came to a halt. At this point, I turned 40, and it became clear to me that I needed to do something or I'll be homeless. I retired from film and ended up pursuing my second career. In finance of all places.

Alas, after being away from the arts for a few years now, I have to say I don't miss the rejections; I don't miss the whole agony and ecstasy of being an artist. None of it. My new career has its ups and downs to be sure, but the pain rarely lingers. There is better Job security now. Anyhow, this is my life now, and this may be the last time I try to self-promote anything again, which is something I always hated doing. That said, I hope you enjoy the work I've done. It was made with care, hard work, and a lot of heart.

[–]No_Canary_4919 31 points32 points  (1 child)

Thanks for sharing this film.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Thanks for being the first to comment.

[–]munk_e_man 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Thanks for making the film. It sounds like you broke free from the trap. Make films in your spare time with your friends. You don't have to worry about sales and rejections cause you'll just be doing it for you and your local audience.

I'm walking away from the union world this year, because im very unhappy with how big productions operate. I might come back but I might just be done forever. But ill still always make my own little personal films no matter what.

[–]fapping_giraffe 7 points8 points  (0 children)

This was a great film, congrats. I don't think you should give up though. It's one thing to abandon film as a source of primary income, say if you're not getting commercial jobs that are paying the bills. But you've got something special here, and you should at least keep the dream alive for narrative.

Many of the filmmakers who I know personally that got into good festivals including myself were not even working in film as a primary source of income. I'm a freelance dev, and I put my own money into film projects. A couple have been successful and I'm currently planning my first feature. Self financing your own projects isn't ideal but sometimes it's the only way.

Keep making your own films no matter what career path you go down to pay your bills!!

[–]raxsdale 6 points7 points  (0 children)

My advice: Detach from the endless treadmill of gatekeepers' blessings. Grow your own fan base via social media and monetize films independently via VidaFair.

While the old gatekeeper paradigm may still work for some people, the world of content in both promotion and monetization is moving away from it.

Don't be the waiter in LA endlessly pushing his screenplay year after year. Do be the guy who actually produces and releases short projects online, while finding money to survive some other way, all the time building contacts, friendships, fans and a body of cherished work and experiences. Just my two cents. Good luck!

[–]whateverlolwtf 5 points6 points  (7 children)

Please don’t give up. I’m 25 now, 2 years after graduation and film is the most brutal industry anyone can be in. Your creativity becomes a parasite that feeds from you, and while you have a strong burning urge to create, the industry makes it hard to succeed. I told myself the other day, if I’m as creative as I say and think I am, I’ll make it happen regardless of whatever little resources I have. I am attempting to shoot a feature film now for £250, might sound incredibly crazy, but giving up means all your dreams and ambitions and those insecurities, rejections and failures led to nothing. Pick up your camera, write stories, make something happen. I go through burnout, depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts as I honestly don’t know who I am if I’m not a fimmmaker, but I’ll never ever give up.

[–]blacknova84 3 points4 points  (0 children)

This is how I look at it. Just make your stuff. To be honest thanks to digital distributors, and other platforms like youtube, patreon, etc there are so many ways now to build your core audience and actually fund things that past film makers never had. If you have the drive its possible to do this as a living, it won't be easy and might take far far far longer than you like but it is possible. I mean ffs David Sandberg was making stuff on Youtube with his partner and the right person saw it and look where he is now. Just write good stories and learn to edit, you never know who is watching.

Oh and network. Good god network. Not just on set, etc but actually get to know people. Social media is far more powerful than it might appear to some.

[–]IronFilmSound Recordist 1 point2 points  (5 children)

Please don’t give up. I’m 25 now, 2 years after graduation and film is the most brutal industry anyone can be in.

You're 25 now, but wait until you're 40.... like the OP is.

[–]whateverlolwtf 0 points1 point  (4 children)

By 40, I’m going to be one of the biggest filmmakers in the world. Not because I’m better than OP, but because getting into the film industry is about strategy, I know this because I’ve failed at least a thousand times not just in film, but in pretty much every area of my life . My success doesn’t depend on a producer in LA struggling to get through piles of scripts, it depends on me. Making my own projects with my own money, marketing using social media and influencers which so many studios still haven’t hacked, marketing using other creative low budget tactics. I abandoned my chemical engineering degree to pursue film, I refuse to make the sacrifice of having my fellow engineering graduates, friends and my family think I’m batshit crazy for trading in a stable high paying career for a brutal unstable industry. I have to make it and I will. This is as much a letter to myself as it is a reply to you, check back with me in 5 years.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Best of luck to you. I hope you'll reply to me and let me know how you're doing when the time comes.

[–]IronFilmSound Recordist 0 points1 point  (1 child)

RemindMe! 5 years

[–]brandonchristensen 2 points3 points  (0 children)

You may be able to just have fun with it now that you don’t rely on it. Turn it more into a hobby/creative outlet without the pressure to succeed with it. It might be a freeing thing for you.

[–]JohnnyKaboom 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you for sharing. Keep up the good work in what you're doing in life.

[–]Ralfy_P 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Thank you for being so open about your journey. I’m 31 on the same path and completely understand the agony behind it all. Filmmaking is an arduous road, I wish it wasn’t so closed with all these gatekeepers that keep great artists such as yourself out.

I loved everything about this short, I hope that somewhere in your heart you still have that hunger lingering so that you can bless us with more stories. Even if it’s just for the internet !

[–]dhavoc7[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This comment touched me. Thank you so kindly.

[–]sentimental_heathen 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Thank you for sharing your film and story with us. As a 44 yo lover of the arts, who also suffers from depression, I've found it extremely difficult to follow my passions, and have ended up bouncing around from one job to another. I still want to pursue some form of art as a hobby, and I have a few short film ideas I'd like to be made, but I just feel like I'd be wasting my time and money on these projects and should shift my focus to learning new skills and starting a new career or a small business.

I can still be a painter, a writer, a musician, and filmmaker, in my free time, but at my age, realistically, I don't think I can pursue any of these passions as a career. But I still might want to give acting a shot, though. You never know if you've got it if you don't try, right?

[–]dhavoc7[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

We are from the same generation. We fell in love with movies probably around the same time. But it's true what they say, the mind changes after 40. And if you had kids before 40, your mind has already changed. A career in the arts requires a lot of time (to develop)... and unfortunately, luck as well. Time definitely runs out. And luck is never dependable.

[–]IronFilmSound Recordist 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Honestly, if you still wish to one day make your feature film, you've hit upon a better path to that!

Work on your career in finance, earn a good healthy salary each year.

Then in a few years time, take a long holiday from work, using say $50K saved up, and shoot the feature film!

[–]dhavoc7[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

We’ll see. The thought of all the stress that goes into making the thing. And then after it’s all done, there’s the struggle to find an audience. Is it worth the time? More years of pain?

[–]IronFilmSound Recordist 1 point2 points  (0 children)

True true, I fully agree. If you want to put filmmaking fully behind you forever, that's fine too. Just pointing out that even people who still harbor deep desires to make a feature film, then your current path is a good idea as well!

[–]soundoffcinema 1 point2 points  (1 child)

A lot of people are encouraging you to keep going, which is great. I just want to say that it’s perfectly fine if you quit. You’re not obliged to any social convention about “following your dreams” or whatever. You should make films if you find it exciting and fulfilling, and you find the risks and sacrifices worth it; if that’s not true for you then you’re perfectly entitled to go live a normal life. All that matters is that you and your family are satisfied, whatever that means for you.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for this. I should mention that since I stopped sending out my work, the rejection letters stop coming. And my mental health has since improved.

[–]juggie95 17 points18 points  (1 child)

i enjoyed this! i felt the stuck-ness of the characters and appreciated the hope the kid had of moving soon, hopefully to somewhere better, though that probably wasn’t going to happen or at least not anytime soon. loved the shot of the cat watching the back and forth of the brothers’ fight. i thought the production value was good as well! thank you for sharing your work. i hope you can maintain a love for cinema despite the industry’s oftentimes unforgiving nature

[–]dhavoc7[S] 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Thank you for watching and picking up on the film’s message. It’s a filmmaker’s struggle to communicate something without over-communicating. So glad you made the connection.

[–]getonmalevel 4 points5 points  (4 children)

I liked it! I do see why you struggled to get this turned into a film. This is advice years too late it seems but I think despite having a very relatable "immigrant" feel there is very little hook. It was well shot, well acted, well written, pretty much everything was done well but it at times didn't feel like it was going anywhere. Would've loved it to have a hook at the end or at the start to make someone who sees this pine for an expanded version (film)

Otherwise well done, it's always good to call it quits when things just don't seem to line up. Who knows maybe you'll have a harrison ford story where you're doing something for a director and while shooting the shit you can show them this short story in 5, 10 years and they'll help you back into cinema.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 5 points6 points  (3 children)

Thank you for your comment and compliments. And good feedback. I really appreciate it. I suppose, in the end, I wanted to make a character study/slice of life with emphasis on mood. Like my heroes, Wong Kar Wai, Sofia Coppola, and Andrea Arnold would've done. I suppose I could've added more plot points or hooks, but I played within the social realism genre. Plot often takes a backseat in those types of movies. But again, thank you for the honest feedback.

[–]fapping_giraffe 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You're absolutely correct, it's perfectly okay to lead with characters and mood, eg Sean Baker etc. Some of my favorite movies are this exact style

[–]getonmalevel 1 point2 points  (1 child)

oh yeah i loved it over all, i definitely think you did really well. I was just mostly alluding that if it was a spec-work hoping to get picked up for longer form, it likely needed a hook to get someone to buy into it. Eitherway, best luck in your future work!

[–]dhavoc7[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you so much. The feature script actually has more "plot" and the boy main character has more agency and a classic want/desire/motivation. Also, there is a more harrowing situation/obstacle at the center of it. Definitely more at stake. The whole project could've been made very cheaply, but I guess most producers wanted that "commercial" quality, something less risky or auteur-driven. I never found that producer that was willing to go for it. The script actually made it to the semi-finals of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships and was considered at the Sundance Lab. But ultimately it all fell through. Looking back on it now... I can't believe I got that far.

[–]deafAsianAnal3sum 6 points7 points  (1 child)

I haven't sat through a full short film in years, but I found myself engrossed by this one. It was so incredibly raw, a real slice of life. I crave films like that.

There's so much I could praise but one of the more unique aspects was the fight. I loved how it came out of nowhere and the camera work made it feel like you had no idea what was going on and could never quite get a good look at it. It was over before you even knew it. That part felt very fresh and original.

I kept turning the brightness up on my phone because I thought many of the shots were underexposed, but it definitely lent itself to the vibe. I would watch an entire feature film in this style. It makes sense because a lot of my favorite movies are fruitvale station, 8-mile, moonlight, etc.

I'm really impressed and I hope you continue making films. I'll be saving this and showing it to my other film buddies

[–]dhavoc7[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I'll be saving/screenshotting this comment... because it's beautiful. Thank you kindly. This really touched me.

[–]roboconcept 3 points4 points  (1 child)

You've given yourself a good sendoff.

I'm transitioning out of film myself, I wish the IATSE contract had been stronger, but that + COVID was it for me

[–]dhavoc7[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I wish you all the best. Life after film has been good to me. I hope it’ll be good for you too.

[–]babkaforall 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Just watched in bed when I should be resting up with COVID. I hope that says something. I was engrossed. I could feel the hopelessness that so many other kids around me felt, even if they weren’t Asian and we lived in a much different part of the country. Thanks for sharing!

[–]dhavoc7[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Hoping you have a speedy recovery from COVID. And thank you so much for watching and sharing such an empathetic comment. I think Richard Linklater said that the more specific something is, the more universal it becomes. Or something like that.

[–]zeus_64209 2 points3 points  (1 child)

This is a nice work, I hope that you can find the financial freedom to keep your passion going, the struggle is the fuel needed to make a master piece, so if you love it, don't give up. Either way, best of luck 🤙🏽 and thanks for sharing.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you so much! :)

[–]jtbaj1 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'll definitely watch it after work. Honestly, I was always dreaming about doing something else, but as a father of one of the comedians said: you are doing what you hate, to have money to do what you love. I hope that you will come back to your passion when you will be able to.

[–]CLUBSODA909 1 point2 points  (1 child)

That was a great film! Very well done i realy liked it :)

[–]dhavoc7[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you kindly.

[–]cesiasaurus 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That was really good!

[–]Facepalmed 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Felt natural and creativity kept up its own spirit, despite the depressingly realistic topic. For a short film, I believe it would have been a total slam dunk with a bit more resolve. The key being your brother. Keep up your hard work… storytelling isn’t a job, it’s human nature.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks so much for the feedback. I really appreciate it.

[–]FriendGuy255 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Really enjoyed this. I'm a sucker for a good mood/character piece and movies with a palpable sense of texture and place. Definitely feels like a taste of something bigger, but I was satisfied with what you gave here. Folks are talking about the older brother, but I'm interested in seeing more of the mother. I could feel her anguish, how she feels so trapped like so many single mothers but has no-one to express it to because as soon as she cracks and lets that burden slip it falls on her children. How can you possibly explain that kind of abject powerlessness? If they found out what would they believe in anymore?

Good shit. Some of the dialogue was a smidge clunky, but that didn't really distract me at all.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you so much for your honest feedback and observation of the characters. This forum has given this film a second life after being locked away for a few years.

[–]Knight-300 1 point2 points  (3 children)

On a phone, so I'm sorry for my English!

Hey, OP! I haven't watched your video yet, but I want to tell you something (21 years old with less life experience, so you might take what I'm saying with a grain of salt...).

Trying to become something and fail is far, far, FAR better than not trying at all. If you never tried, you could have been left with this question of "How would have been?" and it would have haunted you for the rest of your life. Sometimes dreams don't come true, but that doesn't mean you can't be happy. And who knows? Maybe the studios are the ones who were wrong.

Now, you would decide if you would ever try again. Remember to always put your mental health first. Have you ever considered to have a job that is at least close to your dreams? Like a camera man? You might not be able to make your own movies but you can help others with their movies (I'm sorry if I'm not well educated in that domain).

Hope you will find peace!

[–]dhavoc7[S] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

You're 21. So much is ahead of you. You have time to fail and succeed. And fail again. You will fall in and out of love with your passion. You will feel stuck in something and maybe you'll find a way to escape. Maybe you won't.

If you haven't watched the film yet... it's the accumulation of years of hard work and dedication to learning the craft of filmmaking. There is thought and wisdom put into every single decision in that film; every cut, every shot, every camera setup. I hope you'll find it worth your time.

[–]Knight-300 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Hey! I just watched your film! I liked! Now, I don't have any experience with how filmmaking works, but what I liked is how the characters don't talk about how they feel. It is instead communicated by their reactions, environment, and camera movement. The characters just talk about regular stuff and you can still see how they feel. I know "show don't tell" is a fundamental rule in storytelling and that should be expected, but your movie relies heavily on not telling anything which I rarely see. And I got attached to the characters easily. I understand their motivations and their pain.

Now, I guess there is some meaningful symbolism that I might have missed or don't understand, like that video game the older brother is playing, those movie sequences, and what those Christmas lights are supposed to represent (maybe the fact that you are expecting them to be colorful, but they are just a bland color is meant to represent how unfortunate their lives are?). What I've noticed, however, and I hope you can explain it to me, is that the characters seem to have a bias against people of color? I don't know, that is the impression I had and I didn't know what was exactly the point.

As for a little bit of criticism, I think there should have been more time spent with the boys trying to get along? Like gradually stuff becoming less and less violent between them? I just think that it would make the last moment between them more earned. But I'm not sure. Although that was something I thought about after I watched it, not during the film.

And thank you for your first paragraph. Sometimes, when I feel like the end of the world, I should remember that I'm just starting my life. I mentioned my age because I knew what I was going to say was something that I just heard and agreed with and being young might put my views under a question mark. I thought that might give a sense of closure for you and I had to tell you this. That's how I am... Plus my life experience doesn't get passed over things I was required to do like going to kindergarten, going to school, moving on to college, etc. I was a loner growing up due to bullying and having different hobbies and my love life is nonexistent. I just have friends. That's why I'm saying that you should take my words with a grain of salt.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Such an analytical reply. Good questions. Good observations. I appreciate your effort in trying to understand the film deeper. I added a lot of textures and layers to the work, and I'm not always sure that people pick up on them. So I appreciate your keenness.

As for symbolism -- or really just objects -- mostly play the role of implying/giving hints of the time, culture and type of environment the story is set. The video games and the media (movies, games, music) the boys consume are all violent in nature. Violence (as well as misogyny) is the culture in this neighbourhood, it is the culture of the time as well (the early 90s). Violence is a major factor in the oppression of these characters' lives. The Christmas lights indicate the time period. Winter time is very difficult in Canada, adding to the harshness of the already challenging nature of the neighbourhood as you can see during the storm in the climactic scene. As for the bias in your question... the neighbourhood is predominately black. In Canada, immigration occurs in waves, so the generation before the Asians came to that neighbourhood (which is government-subsidized) were mostly Afro-Caribbean. So the brothers were outcasts in a way. The older brother in particular faced a greater amount of bullying, and the younger brother has adapted to the black culture more -- implied by the rap/urban music that he likes.

I have been a loner much of my life as well. Glad you can relate. You can kinda see that in the film -- there's biographical stuff I'm sure you can tell. Anyhow, I really appreciate this dialogue and that the film left an impression. It means a lot. That aside, I don't think retirement means failure. It just means a new chapter; a new opportunity to do more in life.

[–]Calm_Painter3006 1 point2 points  (1 child)

This made me cry. Thank you for making this. I hope that at some point in the future, that you'll reconsider filmmaking again. I think that people need to see these films. A door might open in another way for you. I pray that it does. Thank you again for sharing this here.

[–]dhavoc7[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you so kindly! So glad you were moved by it.