Tag Archives: Lia Chang Photography

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL directed by Steve James Receives Oscar® Nomination for Best Documentary Feature

January 23, 2018 – Los Angeles The FRONTLINE (PBS) documentary ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL directed by award-winning filmmaker Steve James (Life ItselfHoop Dreams) and produced by Mark Mitten (Life Itself) and Julie Goldman (Life Animated,  Buck), has been nominated for an Academy Award® in the Documentary Feature category.

This nomination marks the first Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Feature for Steve James; Mark Mitten’s first Academy Award® nomination; and Julie Goldman’s second Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Feature. For the acclaimed PBS documentary series FRONTLINE produced out of WGBH/Boston, this is a first Academy Award® nomination.

Co-producer Fenell Doremus, Producer Mark Mitten, Jill Sung, Vera Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Heather Sung, Producer Julie Goldman, Director Steve James. Photo by Lia Chang
Co-producer Fenell Doremus, Producer Mark Mitten, Jill Sung, Vera Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Heather Sung, Producer Julie Goldman, Director Steve James. Photo by Lia Chang

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL chronicles the Chinese-American Sung family’s fight to clear their names after their small bank in New York City’s Chinatown became the only U.S. bank indicted for mortgage fraud related to the 2008 financial crisis. The documentary follows how the bank’s indictment and subsequent trial forced the Sung family to defend themselves — and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community — over the course of a five-year legal battle.

Thomas Sung, Hwei Lin Sung, Heather Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Vera Sung and Jill Sung. Photo by Lia Chang
Thomas Sung, Hwei Lin Sung, Heather Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Vera Sung and Jill Sung. Photo by Lia Chang

“I’m so pleased and grateful. This is such a wonderful recognition for all of the ABACUS team, but especially for the Sung family. It has been a joy being able to follow their story,” said director James. 

Jill Sung, Vera Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Heather Sung and Director Steve James. Photo by Lia Chang
Jill Sung, Vera Sung, Chanterelle Sung, Heather Sung and Director Steve James. Photo by Lia Chang

One of 2017’s most critically-acclaimed documentaries, ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL was previously nominated for “Best Documentary” by both the National Board of Review and by The Chicago Film Critics Association, and was awarded “Best Political Documentary” by the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards last November. Steve James is a nominee for Best Director by the DGA for his work on ABACUS.

The New York Times called ABACUS “a classic underdog tale,” and The Hollywood Reporter called it “both an affirmation and an indictment of the American Dream.”

The 90th Academy Awards® nominations were announced today by the Academy. Also nominated in the Documentary Feature category was the POV documentary, Last Men in Aleppo. This year’s Oscars ceremony will take place Sunday, March 4, 2018.

ABOUT ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL 
ABACYS SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL is a Mitten Media, Motto Pictures, and Kartemquin Films Production for WGBH/FRONTLINE and Independent Television Service (ITVS). It is co-presented with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). The director is Steve James. The producers are Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman. The co-producers are Fenell Doremus and Nick Verbitsky. The executive producers are Gordon Quinn, Christopher Clements, Betsy Steinberg and Justine Nagan. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of ITVS is Sally Jo Fifer.

Steve James, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and More Attend “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” Screening at Metrograph Cinema; Among 15 Documentary Features to Advance in 2017 OSCAR® RACE 

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Two-Time Oscar Winner Dianne Wiest and Jarlath Conroy Star in Beckett’s HAPPY DAYS at Yale Rep, April 29 – May 21

Two-Time Academy Award winner Dianne Wiest and Jarlath Conroy star in Samuel Beckett’s two-hander HAPPY DAYS, staged by Artistic Director James Bundy, April 29-May 21 at Yale Repertory Theatre. Opening Night is set for Thursday, May 5. Yale Repertory Theatre is located at 1120 Chapel Street (at York Street) in New Haven, CT.

Dianne Wiest and Jarlath ConroyHAPPY DAYS includes scenic design by Izmir Ickbal, costumes by Alexae Visel, lighting by Stephen Strawbridge, sound design by Kate Marvin, movement coaching by Jessica Wolf, dramaturgy by Catherine Sheehy and Nahuel Telleria, and stage management by Kelly Montgomery.

HAPPY DAYS is described as: “With her husband increasingly out of reach and the earth itself threatening to swallow her whole, Winnie’s buoyant optimism shields her from the harsh glare of the inevitable in this absurdly funny and boundlessly compassionate portrait of the human spirit.”

Tickets for HAPPY DAYS range from $20-99 and are available online at yalerep.org, by phone at (203) 432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office (1120 Chapel Street). Student, senior, and group rates are also available.

JARLATH CONROY (WILLIE) previously appeared at Yale Rep in Hamlet with Paul Giamatti in 2013. His Broadway credits include The Seagull; The Weir; The Iceman Cometh; On the Waterfront; Philadelphia, Here I Come!; The Visit; Ghetto; Macbeth; and Comedians. His Off-Broadway credits include, The Coward, A Man of No Importance, Pigtown, A Life, Our Lady of Sligo, A Couple of Blaguards, Gardenia, the American premiere of Translations, and The Matchmaker. His regional theatre credits include Outside Mullingar; The Homecoming; Da; The Steward of Christendom (Barrymore Award); Juno and the Paycock (Helen Hayes Award); Henry V (Helen Hayes Award nomination); Faith Healer; Molly Sweeney; Twelfth Night; Ah, Wilderness!; The Plough and the Stars; and A Christmas Carol. At the Royal Court: Cromwell and Hamlet. He has also directed productions of True West and Human Resources. His film and television appearances include Putzel, True Grit (2010), The Art of Getting By, Across the Universe, Kinsey, Stay, Day of the Dead, Heaven’s Gate, “Law & Order: SVU,” “NYPD Blue,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “The Knick,” “The Beat,” “Summer,” and “A Marriage: O’Keeffe and Stieglitz”.

Jarlath Conroy and Paul Giamatti celebrate at opening night party of Yale Rep's Hamlet in New Haven, CT on March 21, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang
Jarlath Conroy and Paul Giamatti celebrate at opening night party of Yale Rep’s Hamlet in New Haven, CT on March 21, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

DIANNE WIEST (WINNIE) previously appeared at Yale Rep in Hedda Gabler and A Doll House. Her New York theatre credits include Rasheeda Speaking (The New Group), The Cherry Orchard (Classic Stage Company), Arthur Miller’s All My Sons on Broadway, The Seagull (CSC), Third, Memory House, Salome and Oedipus with Al Pacino, The Shawl, Hunting Cockroaches, After the Fall, Beyond Therapy, and The Art of Dining. Her film credits include Five Nights in Maine; Sisters; The Humbling; Synecdoche, New York; A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints; Hannah and Her Sisters (Academy Award); The Purple Rose of Cairo; Radio Days; September; Bullets Over Broadway (Academy Award); Parenthood (Academy Award nomination); Rabbit Hole; FootlooseEdward Scissorhands; and The Birdcage. She received Emmy Awards for her performances in “The Road to Avonlea” and the HBO series “In Treatment” and currently appears in the CBS series “Life in Pieces”. Ms. Wiest is a Beinecke Fellow at Yale School of Drama this spring.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers and musicians. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Q & A with Emmanuel “Manny” Brown, Actor, Award-Winning Fight Choreographer and Champion Martial Artist

Emmanuel "Manny" Brown. Photo by Lia Chang
Emmanuel “Manny” Brown. Photo by Lia Chang

Last November,  Emmanuel “Manny” Brown nabbed two awards at The Urban Action Showcase International Action Film Festival for his fight choreography on the short film Junkyard a.k.a. Stuntmen – a   2015 UAS IAFF Award for Best Action Sequence and 2015 UAS IAFF Award for Best Action in the 2 Min Warning Action Scene Contest.

junkyard

The UASE also celebrated the 30th anniversary of my first film, The Last Dragon last year, and will continues it’s Diversity in Action initiative of honing the past, present and future multicultural achievements in the genre of Heroes, by celebrating my second film, the 30th Anniversary of the Martial Arts Cult Classics Big Trouble in Little China,  in which I played a Wing Kong Guard.

Lia Chang and Donna Noguchi in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China (1986).
Lia Chang and Donna Noguchi in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China (1986).

The Urban Action Showcase International Action Film Festival (UAS IAFF) will screen both competition films as well as showcase main stream action cinema over two days, November 11-12, 2016, in New York. Click here for more information.

2015 Big Trouble in Little China Cast Reunion

Emmanuel "Manny " Brown
Emmanuel “Manny ” Brown

In addition to being an award-winning fight choreographer, Brown is also an actor, a champion martial artist,  an acrobat/tricker, a singer, and a dancer. He played Spider-man and Electro in the original Broadway cast of Spider-man:Turn Off the Dark, and has worked on the TV shows  “Elementary”(CBS), “Taxi Brooklyn” (NBC),  and “Forever” (ABC).

Cole Horibe, Emmanuel "Manny" Brown, Clifton Duncan and Jon Rua in David Henry Hwang's "Kung Fu." Photo by Lia Chang
Cole Horibe, Emmanuel “Manny” Brown, Clifton Duncan and Jon Rua in David Henry Hwang’s “Kung Fu.” Photo by Lia Chang

I first met Brown in 2014 at The Pershing Square Signature Center, where he was acting in and serving as fight director for Signature Theatre Company’s Off-Broadway world premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu, and subsequently garnered a 2014 Village Voice Obie Award for his fight direction.

Emmanuel "Manny" Brown takes a bow at the curtain call of David Henry Hwang's "Kung Fu" at The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Emmanuel “Manny” Brown takes a bow at the curtain call of David Henry Hwang’s “Kung Fu” at The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Photos: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s ‘Kung Fu’ 

Branden Jacob-Jenkins’ Appropriate, Lisa Kron’s Fun Home, Sonya Tayeh, Emmanuel Brown, Mia Katigbak, K. Todd Freeman, John Earl Jelks Among 2014 Obie Award Winners

His other Off-Broadway credits include Charles Mee’s Big Love (Signature Theatre Company); Sweet Science Suite (BAM); and the Classical Theatre of Harlem productions of The Tempest as Stefano and Romeo N Juliet as Tybalt. In addition to Kung Fuhe has served as fight director for Sweet Science SuiteDeadly She-Wolf Assassin at Armageddon! (La Mama), Coin TossWorld’s FinestUnder the GunHis regional theater credits include Sucker Punch  (Studio Theatre of DC) and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (La Jolla Playhouse). Brown holds a B.F.A from the University of Florida.

Bobby Steggert, Emmanuel Brown and Ryan-James Hatanaka. Photo by T Charles Erickson.
Bobby Steggert, Emmanuel Brown and Ryan-James Hatanaka. Photo by T Charles Erickson.

Below is my interview with Manny about his favorite martial arts films, his latest accolades and what he’s been up to lately.

Emmanuel "Manny" Brown. Photo courtesy of Emmanuel "Manny" Brown/Facebook
Emmanuel “Manny” Brown. Photo courtesy of Emmanuel “Manny” Brown/Facebook

Lia: How old were you when you developed your love of acting and martial arts?
Manny: I developed a love for martial arts after my first class as a 10-year-old. I had an appreciation for acting all my life and did some acting classes in middle school and high school, but I decided to get serious about it when I was 19.

Lia: The 2016 Urban Action Showcase will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Big Trouble in Little China in November this year.  Does this mean anything to you?
Manny: Absolutely. Big Trouble in Little China was one of the first movies featuring the martial arts that I had ever seen because I have an older sister who was obsessed with it. It is a part of my youth.

Lia: What other films have inspired you? 
Manny: Rumble in the BronxThe Last DragonLady DragonLegend of Drunken Master, Enter the DragonFist of Legend36th Chamber of ShaolinFearless Hyena, Jackie Chan’s First Strike.

Lia: What did it mean for you to receive these awards?
Manny: These awards mean that I am one step closer to doing fight choreography on film and TV and that all of my studying of film fighting is paying off.

Emmanuel "Manny" Brown. Photo by Ryu Ronnie Wright
Emmanuel “Manny” Brown. Photo by Ryu Ronnie Wright

Click below to watch Junkyard.

Lia: How did you get hired for Spider-Man? What was your experience of working on the production and being on Broadway?
Manny: 
I got cast in Spider-man by attending an open dance call. I had a great experience working on the show despite all of the controversy/problems. Being on Broadway is an experience like no other. Such great, receptive and enthusiastic audiences.

Cast members of the Broadway production of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." Dale May for Time Out New York
Cast members of the Broadway production of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” Dale May for Time Out New York

Lia: What kind of adjustments do you make working on your fight direction on film, on television and on stage? 
Manny: I usually find myself having to make more adjustments when working on stage, as I can’t rely on editing and complete control of audience sightlines. I always try to adjust to my performers abilities to make them look as good as possible. On stage I have to work harder to make each technique “sell” to the audience.

Ari Loeb and Cole Horibe in David Henry Hwang's "Kung Fu". Photo by Joan Marcus
Ari Loeb and Cole Horibe in David Henry Hwang’s “Kung Fu”. Photo by Joan Marcus

Lia: Do you have a preferred medium?
Manny: I don’t have a preferred medium as each poses its own set of challenges.

The cast and creative team of David Henry Hwang's celebrate at their opening night party at Signature Theatre Company's Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
The cast and creative team of David Henry Hwang’s celebrate at their opening night party at Signature Theatre Company’s Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Tell me more about the Urban Action Showcase.
Manny: The Showcase has been terrific both times I attended. It has introduced me to other action artists and icons I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. Demetrius (Demetrius Angelo is the Founder and Executive Producer of the Urban Action Showcase and Expo) has done a lot to provide a platform for us, indie filmmakers and I am grateful for that.

Lia: Who have you been inspired by in the martial arts world? 
Manny: Jackie Chan, Don Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, Billy Blanks, Ted Jan Roberts, Bruce Lee, Jim Kelly.

Lia: Have you had mentors? If so, who have they been and in what capacity have you worked with them?
Manny: My martial arts teachers – Allen Abdul, Dean Butler, Dale Herring). My acting teachers – Harry O’Reilly, Mikell Pinkney, David Shelton). Also John Chung, who coached the karate team I competed for, and the late Fred Ho.

Sheldon Best, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Emmanuel "Manny" Brown and Clifton Duncan at the opening night party for David Henry Hwang's "Kung Fu" at Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang
Sheldon Best, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Emmanuel “Manny” Brown and Clifton Duncan at the opening night party for David Henry Hwang’s “Kung Fu” at Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 24, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Who have been your acting role models?
Manny: Jeffrey Wright, Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Martin Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Sidney Poitier.

Emmanuel "Manny" Brown in flight as a Knicks Acroback Tumblers at Madison Square Garden. Photo: Facebook
Emmanuel “Manny” Brown in flight as a Knicks Acroback Tumblers at Madison Square Garden. Photo: Facebook

Lia: What did you do during your time with the New York Knicks and the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden?
Manny: I was an acrobat for the Knicks Acroback Tumblers and a dancer/acrobat/cheerleader for the Liberty. It was a cool job working at the Garden.

Sheldon Best and Emmanuel Brown in Studio Theatre’s production of Roy Williams SUCKERPUNCH (2012). Photo: Scott Suchman.
Sheldon Best and Emmanuel Brown in Studio Theatre’s production of Roy Williams SUCKERPUNCH (2012). Photo: Scott Suchman.

Lia: What have been your three favorite projects?
Manny: A play I did in Washington DC called Sucker Punch, the episode of “Blindspot” that I was in, and the play Kung Fu I worked on in NY.

Lia: What are you working on now?
Manny: I am planning on working on a production this Summer with Classical Theatre of Harlem.

Lia: A fun fact that nobody know about you.
Manny:
I am a cinephile and and learn how to say certain things in other languages from watching foreign films.

The 2016 Urban Action Showcase International Action Film Festival Featuring the Cinemax Action Short Film Competition Call for Entries is Now Open! Submit Now through Oct. 1 2016. Over $100,000 in Cash, Distribution and Prize Opportunities! Click here for details.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

Multimedia: Garth Kravits Featured on Latest Episode of Joel B. New’s SOMETHING NEW Podcast

In Episode 406 of “Something New” — a musical theatre podcast that interviews artists and premieres original songs — award-winning songwriter Joel B. New sat down with Garth Kravits, co-creator and co-host of “Playball Podcast.”

Joel B New, Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel B New, Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang
Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

Garth Kravits is an actor, singer, musician and composer and award-winning filmmaker. He made his Broadway debut in the musical The Drowsy Chaperone. Kravits has appeared in the Off-Broadway productions of Old Jews Telling Jokes and Toxic Audio Loudmouth; regionally in Gettin’ The Band Back Together, Meet Me in St. Louis: A Live Radio Play, and It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, (Bucks County Playhouse); The Producers (Gateway Playhouse) and Happy Days: A New Musical (Goodspeed Opera House); and as Benny Southstreet in the regional tour of Guys and Dolls. On television, Kravits has guest starred on “30 Rock,”” The Blacklist,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Hostages,” “Tin Man” and “The Carrie Diaries”. He and Sean Dougherty host the “Playball Podcast,” where Broadway professionals get passionate about sports. For more info, visit www.garthkravits.com and www.playballpodcast.com.

Joel B New, Garth Kravits, Josh Kight. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel B New, Garth Kravits, Josh Kight. Photo by Lia Chang

For the live song portion of the episode, Mr. Kravits performed “The Night Cafe.” Music and lyrics by Joel B. New. Inspired by the artwork of Vincent Van Gogh. Accompanied by Josh Kight on piano. This performance can be heard on SoundCloud and seen on YouTube.

New is currently in pre-production for his solo EP Cabot Cove, a collection of songs inspired by book titles referenced to in the TV series “Murder, She Wrote,” starring Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury. The Kickstarter campaign to fund said album runs thru April 6th.

“Something New” is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

Joel B. New, Garth Kravits, Josh Kight. Photo by Lia Chang
Joel B. New, Garth Kravits, Josh Kight. Photo by Lia Chang

Joel B. New is the recipient of an American Theatre Wing Jonathan Larson Grant for his music and lyrics. His stage projects include TO HELL AND BACK, MACKENZIE & THE MISSING BOY, AWAKENING (book: Jenny Stafford, music: J. Oconer Navarro), STANDALONE, AGATHA IN THE ATTIC, and RSVP. Joel’s work has been seen and developed at Ars Nova, Lincoln Center, 54 Below, New York Theatre Barn, Prospect Theater Company, Musical Theatre Factory, and the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival. For more info, visit joelbnew.com.

Broadwayworld.com: Garth Kravits Featured on Latest Episode of SOMETHING NEW Podcast
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Garth Kravits and Benjamin Halstead win TUNE IN TIME Musical Theater Song Writing Competition at The York Theatre 
An Afternoon with Garth Kravits of Bucks County Playhouse’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’
Photos: Garth Kravits, Michael Keyloun, Klea Blackhurst, Eloise Kropp, Maxine Linehan, and Aaron Ramey in GROUNDED FOR LIFE at The York

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

Dax Phelan’s JASMINE starring Jason Tobin, Eugenia Yuan and Byron Mann, screens at Pasadena International Film Festival on Mar. 8

12096085_10154485476229988_261567620710116889_nDax Phelan’s JASMINE starring Jason Tobin, Eugenia Yuan and Byron Mann, will screen as part of the third annual Pasadena International Film Festival on Tuesday, March 8th (Laemmle Playhouse 7, 7:50 p.m.). Tickets are $12.00 each and now on sale at LAEMMLE.com, or at the Laemmle Theatre Box Office. (Please note: The Safari Browser on MACs may not work with the Laemmle website. If experiencing difficulty, use another browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.) Cast and crew will hold a Q&A afterwards. Laemmle Playhouse 7 is located at 673 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101.

Interview with Jason Tobin, star of Dax Phelan’s JASMINE, Screening at CAAMFest 2016 on Mar. 14th 

Leonard To (Jason Tobin) is a man who is struggling to come to terms with the unsolved murder of his beloved wife, Jasmine. After more than a year, he decides to come back to Hong Kong and move on with his life. He searches for a new job, attends group grief support meetings, and reconnects with Grace, a woman from his past. While he still calls the police, hoping Jasmine’s murder case will be resolved, Leonard does seem to start life anew.

A scene from Dax Phelan's JASMINE
A scene from Dax Phelan’s JASMINE

On the first anniversary of Jasmine’s death, Leonard visits her burial site and crosses paths with a mysterious man, who Leonard becomes convinced is a prime suspect for his beloved wife’s death. Leonard decides to investigate and follow this man, in hopes of finding connections to his wife’s murder, and reports the man to the police. However, when the police fail to arrest the man, Leonard realizes that the only way for him to stop his own fiery downward spiral and move on with his life once and for all is to take matters into his own hands. The result: a shocking and unforgettable final revelation.

Dax Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang

In his directorial debut, Dax Phelan keeps us on an edge of our seats and takes us on a roller-coaster ride with his star-studded cast and crew. With a strong character-driven narrative and constant suspense all set in the bustling city of Hong Kong, Dax Phelan creates a story that is bold, riveting, and shocking with a theme that is universally relatable to anyone who has ever loved and anyone who has ever suffered. Jasmine is dedicated to Dax Phelan’s mother.

Jason Tobin. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Tobin. Photo by Lia Chang

Jason Tobin is a Hong Kong actor and producer who co-wrote, co-produced and stars in Jasmine.  He is best known for his role as Virgil Hu in Justin Lin’s critically acclaimed 2002 film Better Luck Tomorrow (BLT)The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, #1 Serial Killer and Chris Chan Lee’s Yellow. In our interview over Skype, Tobin talks about the making of Jasmine, the challenges of low budget filmmaking in Hong Kong, and being a part of the Independent Asian American cinema scene including Better Luck Tomorrow.

Below is my interview with Jason Tobin.

Chang: How did you get into acting?
Tobin: I was 18. I had finished high school and was supposed to go to University in the UK. At that point, I didn’t know you could become an actor. I literally thought being an actor was a lark. I didn’t realize you could study to be an actor and try to get the job. I just didn’t understand. In high school, you are studying to go to law school or become a doctor, that ‘s your job. When I was 18, my father recognized that I loved movies and liked acting. He showed me an advertisement for an acting class in Hong Kong and I went to it. I was done for. Six months later, instead of going to university in the UK, I packed my bags up and moved to LA.

t16763gy719Chang: What have been your favorite projects?
Tobin: The Asian American features that I’ve done- Yellow with Chris Chan Lee, followed by Better Luck Tomorrow, #1 Serial Killer, Finishing the Game and now Jasmine. When I look at my body of work, I am really proud to have done these Asian American features.In my whole life I always wanted to be part of something important. I feel that having worked in these Asian American films that not only did it satisfy my creative urges as a performer and as an actor, they also satisfied me because I felt like I was part of something important. If I have somehow contributed to Asian American cinema and helped move it forward, you can’t pay for that. That’s a deep sense of satisfaction that you can’t get anywhere else.

Chang: You said, ‘Asian American cinema is where I belong; it is where I want to be.
Tobin: Obviously I lived in America, so I have a lot of friends who are Asian American actors or filmmakers. We frequently talk about how we want to be part of the mainstream. Why can’t they cast more Asians where they don’t have to be the Kung Fu fighter, or have to explain their Asianness? There’s all the talk about wanting to get into the mainstream. I’ve caught myself speaking in those terms too. Several years ago, it occurred to me that I don’t even feel comfortable working in that arena. Younger actors can speak with a lot of bravura. I am happy to stay within my community, my culture, making films that are important to us. To me at least. I’m never going to be a Caucasian man; I’m never going to be a black man. I’m never going to be French or Jewish. I am a Chinese, English speaking guy. I am really happy with that. The stories that I am interested in telling, I have always felt like a bird between two trees. Trying to fit in.

Chang: Are you working on something now?
Tobin: It’s a story about these two down and out Asian American actors who are completely unemployed and can’t get hired at all. They decide to go on a road trip to visit Bruce Lee’s grave in Seattle. That’s the premise. We’ll be shooting that in 2016.

I am working on a Martial arts film. It is not going to be an action packed martial arts film. It is going to be sparse, when you see it, it will be important. I talk about it like a martial arts film – meets American indie film. It’s another thing that we always talk about in Asian American cinema, why do we always have to be the martial arts guy? I completely understand that sentiment, and even though I have practiced martial arts my whole life, and watch so many martial arts film and am a massive Bruce Lee fan, as an actor I always steered clear of it. I wanted to be taken seriously as an actor. I’m getting older, I love the genre, I better do one now before I get older.

finishing-the-game-movie-poster-2008-1020406341I dipped my toes into martial arts films with Justin Lin’s Finishing the Game, the premise is that it’s a mockumentary and I am not in the film. I was cut out. My character Toby Jackson is not in America. The documentarian is in LA and as originally scripted, they would cut to me in Mexico as an underground street fighter, trying to get back into America. He can’t get back in so he’s becomes part of this underground fight club.I was in the best shape of my life, 4% body fat. After the shoot, Justin Lin came up to me at the end of the day and told me that this was the best acting he had ever seen me do. Several months later he calls me in Hong Kong, and says, “I love the footage It’s some of my favorite stuff we shot but I just can’t make the footage work in the film. It just doesn’t make sense.” It was heartbreaking. He says I’ll give you all the footage.

This is the impetus for this Bruce Lee road trip story. They are huge Bruce Lee fans, and one has just been cut out of the film where he’s playing a Bruce Lee type character. Finishing the Game was an important film for me even though I am not in it. Art director Candy Guitterez designed the poster and used a ghost image of me in the poster. It’s my face on the poster with all of the other Bruce Lees layered on top.

Han (Sung Kang), Virgil (Jason J. Tobin) and Ben (Parry Shen) are overachieving high school honor students in Orange County who live second lives at night as a gang responsible for criminal mischief in Better Luck Tomorrow. Photo: MTV Films
Han (Sung Kang), Virgil (Jason J. Tobin) and Ben (Parry Shen) are overachieving high school honor students in Orange County who live second lives at night as a gang responsible for criminal mischief in Better Luck Tomorrow. Photo: MTV Films

Chang: What was your experience with Better Luck Tomorrow?
Tobin: Better Luck Tomorrow was a blessing and an Asian American powerhouse. The gift that keeps on giving. I’ve gotten so much out of that film. When I was in LA at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, I met actors from Revenge of the Green Dragon and Soul Searching. They told me that because of BLT, they were really inspired by me. You can’t pay for that.  Every time I go back to America and I hear about the importance of that films in their lives, it validates me for all of the hardships of being an actor. An actor’s life is full of ups and downs.

BLT shook things up. My audition was on a Sunday, I was feeling jaded but luckily I went to it.  After one or two scenes, we improved and it was cool and fun. When I read the script I was blown away. This is the kind of role, specifically with my character,  an unbelievable role. This is the kind of role that makes careers, that wins Oscars. He’s such a live wire, shows such vulnerability. If this film were cast as a non Asian American film, Virgil would not have been the white guy. I felt incredibly lucky. The third day of shooting, I turned to Roger and said that this movie is a gift. This is a blessing. I am so lucky to be on this film. I have felt that throughout the whole journey.

I am a British citizen and in 2002 we’d gone to Sundance with Better Luck Tomorrow. The film hadn’t been released yet, so I went on vacation to Argentina. On my way back to America I was denied entry. Even though I had been in and out of America many, many times, for some reason, post 9/11 things were computerized and the infraction that I had overstayed my visa by 5 days several years earlier, showed up. They said I had to go back to the UK and reapply for a visa. A lot of people took that to be that I was deported but I wasn’t. It just meant that my Visa application was rejected. It meant that I spent a few years away right when BLT came out. Many people thought that I should have been there to capitalize on the success. I watched BLT’s success from afar.

better_luck_tomorrowI wasn’t there for the poster. That actually is not my body. The day of the photo shoot, the cast had a body double for me. They took my head from another picture and stuck it on. It was sad but I have no regrets. I spent a year in Argentina, learning guitar, learning Spanish. After a year of that I thought I better go back to work. Being a British citizen, I went to London, did a couple of movies, and TV shows. As much as I enjoyed working in the UK I was still an Asian man, an Asian person working in a predominantly white country. I’ve done this before; I’ve fought this battle before. I decided it was time for me to go back to Hong Kong and find a different challenge.

Jason Tobin and his wife Michelle. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Tobin and his wife Michelle. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: What is your experience of being Eurasian?
Tobin: I am from Hong Kong and have always loved Hong Kong, but I also have a love hate relationship with it. I am a real product of Hong Kong. I constantly get asked why my English is so good? They don’t understand the history of Hong Kong, that there is a British colony, with two school systems, Chinese speaking and English speaking, and that I’m Eurasian. My Father is white, a British guy; my mother is Chinese, a Cantonese woman from Hong Kong. I wanted to use as much of myself and even to the extent when we meet Leonard at the beginning of the film, he’s come back from somewhere, he’s been away. If you notice my accent changes quite a bit. In America, me as Jason, I grew up speaking Cantonese, speaking English, I went to a British School so I learned to speak English with an English accent. Subsequently I went to America, and learned to speak with an American accent. I spend time in Australia because my wife is a naturalized Australian, so frequently my accent changes depending on who I am talking too. If I am in America and speaking to American people, I am going to sound more American. When I am home and with family, I sound more British. It’s not phony either way. It’s just comfort. I don’t feel comfortable sounding like an American when I am talking to my dad. It doesn’t feel right. I brought little things like that to the character. Aussie, American, added something to Leonard, where is he from? It adds to the fact that he’s trying to be something that is not.

Chang: Dax said, “I wanted to go on record that I would be the first one to make a movie with Jason as the lead.” What is your response to that?
Tobin: I’m unbelievable grateful for Dax’s belief in me because no one else has done that. It really flatters me that he felt that strongly about me as an actor and as a performer.

It is tough to make a film, especially when you have very little money. It’s easy to test your relationship. Our relationship, thank goodness is all the better for it. We’re still friends. It’s something special when someone believes sin you.

Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin and Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin and Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: How did you and Dax first meet?
Tobin: I had just got back to Hong Kong. I had just worked with Byron on a film and we really hit it off. We hung out a bit and he told me that he had a friend in town, a screenwriter named Dax Phelan. They were working on a project. We had dinner one night. Dax and I talked a lot about films, the kind of films that we liked, and the kind of actors we liked. A few months later in LA we met for coffee and talked about doing a movie together. Just getting to know him in Hong Kong, spending time with him in Hong Kong, it was very much the kind of relationship that I’ve always wanted to have with a director. As an actor, I’ve always wanted to have the kind of actor/director relationships like Scorsese and DeNiro back in the day, or Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris. In many ways Dax and I did have that relationship. We really got to know each other. We talked about things that I’ve never really spoken to another director before. We spent a long time talking about things, we spoke about things that we were deeply ashamed of, things that we felt truly embarrassed us, moments in our life that we were not proud or happy to speak of. We had that level of trust. That played into the story of Jasmine.

Chang: How did you and Dax develop the story together?
Tobin: Jasmine is not autobiographical. It did not happen to me and Dax. We did, however, try to channel as much of the loneliness and deep seeded shame.

In terms of the process of writing; I really wanted to use as many aspects of myself as possible. I wanted make the kind of a film that was really organic as possible, and to try and act the way it was organic. I wanted to use as much of myself as possible, whether it be pain, death, or loneliness that I felt in my own life. With regards to my character Leonard, my father’s name is Anthony Leonard Tobin, So I used my father’s middle name. To is actually my Cantonese name, even though my surname is Tobin.

I had never played an adult. I’d always played young people, college age. For the most part, I’d always played very young. Jasmine was an opportunity for me to channel certain aspects of my father. I’m not saying my father is Leonard To. There are all these aspects that I wanted to bring truth to the character. Dax already had an idea, about this unreliable investigator, narrator, and protagonist. To me, I had a lot of feelings that I had about Hong Kong, growing up here, certain isolation, even though it is a massive city and population. There is something about him- the clothes don’t fit him; the suit does not fit him. He’s always the outsider. There is a wealth gap, an elitist gap, the very elite Hong Kong, and people that are trying to be that. That is something I can relate to.

Chang: Why was the scene in the hotel room the scariest day of Dax’s life?
Tobin: We were shooting at Chungking Mansion. (Chungking Express). I think Wong Kar Wai may have grown up there. It’s a very seedy, rundown building and not the cleanest or safest building in Hong Kong. It’s pretty disgusting and full of life. It’s really, really fascinating. We ended up shooting in a very cheap low budget hostel on the 10th floor.

The scene that day was that Leonard was having a very very tough night. Leonard can get though the days because he is interacting with people, but the nights were problematic because that is when the loneliness would overtake him. This is the scene where he is alone in his room at Chungking Mansion. We did a lot of long takes. Improvisational- a lot of it was about behavior, how he spent his time. We start rolling as the scene progressed and he begins to spiral out of control. I started to do things that weren’t in the script. At one point, I opened the window. I was completely naked. I opened the window and stepped out the window and was on the ledge. And Dax said cut! Dax was terrified that I was going to jump. In that instant I knew I had perhaps gone too far as an actor. That was a very risky thing, not a safe thing to do. It really hit a chord in me. I just started crying and bawling my eyes out uncontrollably for half an hour. I stood in the room. It was just me, Guy and Dax and it was deathly silently. They just filmed me for a good 20-30 minutes, crying. That became a 3 second shot in the movie.

Dax and I had talked about Martin Sheen having a mental breakdown in Apocalypse Now. I’m not trying to compare myself to those kind of actors. We had talked about DeNiro, Marlon Brando, and Martin Sheen, so I wanted to step up. I wanted to push myself as much as I could. In that instant it really hit a chord in me. It made me think that my life did flash before me. It made me extremely, extremely sad. In a sense, that is the essence of Leonard To.

Chang: What character does Hong Kong play in the film? 
Tobin: I grew up in Hong Kong. I spent my life living in American, studying to be an actor. I spent a long time as this Asian guy working in a white country and trying to break through that barrier. I felt proud to be part of this Asian American wave of film. I always felt like I fought the good fight. I was glad to be part of Yellow and that whole movement. There was a part of me that wanted to come back to my hometown and make a film here.

In Hong Kong, I’m not local enough, I’m too westernized. Hong Kong movies are always about Hong Kong people. Very rarely are they about people like me who are English speakers. I wanted to make a film in my subculture. I wanted to use that aspect of myself. I wanted to tell this story. I’d always felt this sort of isolation living in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a big city, but it feels small, like a little village because it is such tiny bit of land. There’s something about the extreme wealth and elitist that is here and also this huge working class population. It’s like a microcosm of America. There’s this great wealth divide. Byron’s character represents the rich, powerful, that have everything, beautiful women, there’s Leonard who can’t fit in. he want it so bad and he can’t have it. He’s trying to fit into his suit. He’s trying to be something that he is not. Even though I am not Leonard To, I can relate to that. As an actor, I sometimes feel as if I am just an imposter. It is something that I wanted to explore.

Chang: What are the challenges of low budget filmmaking in Hong Kong?
Tobin: Low budget filmmaking is challenging regardless of where you are. If you are trying to shoot a film without permits, and you are trying to use real locations, Hong Kong is such a populated city that wherever you stick your camera, someone will be looking right into it. In LA, you can always find a street that is relatively quiet. You wait until people walk by, and you have it for a few minutes. In Hong Kong, you literally have three seconds before someone else starts looking in the camera. We did many, many takes. The other thing that was particularly difficult about our shoot, at the time, we were using the Red One camera. I believe at the time the native ISO wasn’t particularly fast. It is handheld with a wide lens, an unbelievably short lens with a very shallow depth of field. With the aperture wide open, just keeping me in focus was extremely difficult. The film looks great for it. We could have gone the other way and used longer lens. When you use shorter lenses, you are right in the action. I am glad that the visual style of the film is the way it is. it really helps tell the story. Especially with the 1:235 ratio as well. With other films shot in Hong Kong; you can always see someone looking in the camera.

In Hong Kong they usually use long lenses because there are so many people that it is better to be far away because no one knows you are shooting. Guy liked the look of using short lens. Dax believed using 235 was great for landscapes. He wanted to use that more for our faces, it’s unusual. It is not a style that is used that often in Hong Kong.

Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang
Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: How were Byron and Eugenia cast?
Tobin: Byron is a really cool guy. He’s this suave, charming, charismatic kind of guy. He’s like this gentleman/playboy, which is not as an insult. It’s easy to want to be him. I love the guy. It was easy for me as Leonard to want to be Byron. There an ease there, and also he’s a great actor. From the very beginning when we started writing the script, he was always in our mind to play the man. He’s originally from Hong Kong. I think he has a home in LA, in Vancouver; he’s definitely an international jetsetter. He’s actually the kind of guy that I want to be.

Jason Tobin and Eugenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Tobin and Eugenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang

I had known Eugenia for a long time and always thought that she was a great actress. I had never worked with her but we’ve known each other for a while.

Euguenia Yuan and Jason Tobin in #1 Serial Killer.
Euguenia Yuan and Jason Tobin in #1 Serial Killer.

She was someone we had always thought of. For me the shoot was incredibly difficult. As you know, the film is mostly on me. It was a tough shoot. I had to do take after take, long takes, and I had to do such emotional, every scene is emotionally draining. Long takes, and multiple takes. I was exhausted. After two or three weeks of filming, Eugenia showed up for a few days to do her scenes. I was so happy that I had someone to act opposite. As an actor she is really easy to work with. She’s very in the moment, responsive. She was always very organic and in the moment. It elevates your acting.

As scripted, the original cut was two hours and 40 minutes. We had gotten to a shorter edit, 90 minutes at one point, and I said to Dax and Chris, “You’ve been editing to the script for a long time, now you need to throw the script away, and edit the film that you have. You need to rewrite it. I told them to go Malick on it.” To their credit, they tore the film to pieces and rebuilt it with that in mind. They came away with a much better film. What that means is that in the process, a lot of performances, actors and scenes got cut out. You use a lot of clay, pottery, and sculpture, pack a lot on and take things out. Even though I am in a lot of the film, to get those scenes we had to do so much more to get that. In film they always talk about shooting ratio, it’s the acting ratio and writing ratio that makes up that backstory, that got cut out.

Euguenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang
Euguenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: Who is Grace and what was the evolution of her character?
Tobin: As an artist you want to work on a subconscious level. Is she is real or not real. The story evolved and changed through the making of it. There are a lot more intimate scenes where Grace and my character Leonard are getting to know each other and getting reacquainted. If you notice, in Grace’s scenes, there’s a baby crying in the background. Whose baby is that? Could Leonard be the father? With Grace, to me she always symbolized the life that he could have, and that the audience should want him to have. She’s the path that could lead him to some sort of salvation. Psychologically he is unable to.

Those scenes didn’t make it in the final cut, but we had to go through those scenes in order to have one did make it into the film. Eugenia says more than one look, then a script full of dialogue. I sometimes describe it as acting beyond the frame.

Chang: How did your producer Stratton Leopold get involved in the project?
Tobin: Dax and Stratton have known each other for many years. I think he met him when he was working at Mace Neufeld. Stratton mentored him and always believed in him. When Dax approached him about Jasmine, Stratton was on board right away.

The night before the first day of the shoot, one of our investors pulled out. Can you imagine the amount of stress when a major investor pulls out the cash? You’ve hired the people; you’ve booked things out. Then you lose the money at the last minute. It wasn’t all the money, but it was a huge chunk and it would have shut us down. Stratton was literally a guardian angel, not just because he lent his expertise and his name to the project, but also because he literally saved us. Our boat was about to sink. He saved the day.

Chang: How long was the shooting schedule?
Tobin: A good month. A four-week shoot, six days a week. We had a terrible schedule. You could never do this in America. In Hong Kong, and I certainly wouldn’t do it again, we had really short turnarounds. Some days we had 8 hour turn around. That’s ridiculous. I honestly don’t put up with that anymore. The 8-hour turn around was good for my performance. If I was supposed to be tired, I definitely was.

In Hong Kong, there are no unions. As an actor you have to protect yourself. When you are in the states, in the west, there are rules. That being said, I was the producer on this film, so I could have put my foot down. With such a low budget film, with the tight turnarounds, I didn’t enjoy them, but we couldn’t afford not to do it. Fortunately, everyone on board the film, every cast member, every crewmember, really believed in the script and they persevered through it. I would never want to put a crew through that kind of pain and agony again. Dax said that everyone came on board because they wanted to help me, so I am very thankful.

Chang: What challenges did you face in postproduction?
Tobin: The biggest challenge we faced in postproduction was that we had zero budget. We had no money whatsoever. We had tried to raise money prior to the shoot, but we could only raise enough to shoot the film.

We did not have enough to complete the whole postproduction part of it. What that meant was that we had to make the film sporadically and then we had to go back to work. We would return to making the film as we made more money.

After the shoot, we didn’t have an editor, but in the back of mind I’d wanted to introduced Chris Chan Lee to Dax. I’d worked with Chris Chan Lee on his first feature Yellow. I have great respect for Chris. He’s the kind of filmmaker that can do everything. He can write, he can DP, he can direct, he can edit. He’s an all around filmmaker. He was working as an editor and knowing that this was Dax’s first time as a filmmaker, and knowing their personalities as well, I had a feeling that they would really hit it off and that both of their experiences would compliment each other. I feel like a genius for introducing them.

Chang: Why did the film take so long to complete?
Tobin: Right after the shoot, he suffered a few family losses, his mother and grandmother. That set him back. He needed to drop the film for a while so he could regroup and recover. What that meant was that we had an extremely long postproduction. Several years. It was never because the film wasn’t any good. Life got in the way.

We were not going to make this film in any sort of traditional way. We weren’t trying to make a commercial film. We stayed true to the spirit of it, this organic.

We were always very patient. We never rushed ourselves. We were going to make the best film that we could make. Traditionally when people think your film takes a long time to finish, they think it has problems. That was never the case.

After a while a couple of crewmembers and people that worked on the film got upset. It’s understandable. People work on a film; they want to see where their time and energy went. People were paid a pittance on this film. I totally understood it. We went into this film with a certain philosophy. We’re going to take our time.

Nicole Watson, David Tsuboi, Michelle Tobin, Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin, Eugenia Yuan, Jon Anderson and guest attend the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang
Nicole Watson, David Tsuboi, Michelle Tobin, Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin, Eugenia Yuan, Jon Anderson and guest attend the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: How did you raise the completion financing?
Tobin: We needed to get sound design and music. Byron knew Nicole Watson, her and her partner Jon Anderson saw the film and loved it. They came in and paid for the postproduction. We could see the finish line. DPS in Hollywood. It would have been cheaper in Hong Kong.

2015 LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL GRAND JURY PRIZE FOR BEST FEATURE GOES TO JASMINE, DIRECTED BY DAX PHELAN. HERE, THE TEAM FROM JASMINE CELEBRATES ITS FIVE AWARDS. FIFTH FROM LEFT: CHRIS CHAN LEE (WINNER, BEST EDITING); SEVENTH FROM LEFT: JASON TOBIN (WINNER, BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA); THIRD FROM RIGHT: DAX PHELAN (DIRECTOR); SECOND FROM RIGHT: GUY LIVNEH (WINNER, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY). (PHOTO: STEVEN LAM)
2015 LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL GRAND JURY PRIZE FOR BEST FEATURE GOES TO JASMINE, DIRECTED BY DAX PHELAN. HERE, THE TEAM FROM JASMINE CELEBRATES ITS FIVE AWARDS. FIFTH FROM LEFT: CHRIS CHAN LEE (WINNER, BEST EDITING); SEVENTH FROM LEFT: JASON TOBIN (WINNER, BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA); THIRD FROM RIGHT: DAX PHELAN (DIRECTOR); SECOND FROM RIGHT: GUY LIVNEH (WINNER, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY). (PHOTO: STEVEN LAM)

Chang: Being on the Film Festival Circuit…
Tobin: We had our US premiere in Dallas, our LA premiere at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. In this day and age, everyone in Hollywood is talking about the West and China co-productions. Everyone is trying to figure it out. Everyone wants to make these films. We did it. Jasmine is a US –Hong Kong co-production. Jasmine is a little indie film that we made. That is the thing that I am most proud of. It’s as much an American film, as it is an Asian American film, as it is a Hong Kong film. For me, I spent my whole career training as an actor in Los Angeles. I spent so many years going to the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival for other films, Better Luck Tomorrow and Yellow. To finally bring my film, a film that I produced, that I co-wrote, that I gave everything to, bled for, to premiere in Hong Kong and in LA, to me that was fabulous.

I grew up in Hong Kong; I went to America to study to become an actor. My whole adult life, my acting life was LA. To me Hong Kong and LA are my hometowns. To make a film in Hong Kong, to premiere in LA, to be so well received. When I won the best actor award at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, I was in tears. I was so moved. Hong Kong is my home, but coming to LA with the film felt like coming home as well.

Lia Chang, Bea Soong, Phil Nee, Elizabeth Sung, Eugenia Yuan, Jason Tobin, Tzi Ma and Vic Huey at the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Ursula Liang
Lia Chang, Bea Soong, Phil Nee, Elizabeth Sung, Eugenia Yuan, Jason Tobin, Tzi Ma and Vic Huey at the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Ursula Liang

For a complete schedule visit www.pasadenafilmfestival.org.

About PIFF
Founded in 2013 by Jessica Hardin and Marco Neves, industry veterans and Pasadena residents, the Pasadena International Film Festival is the only competitive film festival in Pasadena, California. PIFF aims to bring high-caliber, independent cinema to a city renowned for its love of culture and the arts. Films that have won at PIFF have gone on to win at the American Pavilion Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at Asians on Film on March 10th, The Women’s Film Festival 2016 in Philadelphia on March 13th and the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

Actors James Hong, Tzi Ma and Elizabeth Sung Talk Shop

Elizabeth Sung, James Hong and Tzi Ma at the SIXTY Lower East Side Hotel in New York on December 11, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang
Elizabeth Sung, James Hong and Tzi Ma at the SIXTY Lower East Side Hotel in New York on December 11, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Veteran actors James HongTzi Ma and Elizabeth Sung were in New York in December to shoot the Season 4, episode 14 of “Elementary,” entitled, “Who Is That Masked Man?”,  which stars Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller, with Larry Teng at the helm. The episode aired on Thursday, February 25, 2016 on the CBS Television Network. For more information, click here.

Director Larry Teng, James Hong and Lucy Liu on the set of "Elementary". Photo courtesy of James Hong's Facebook Page
Director Larry Teng, James Hong and Lucy Liu on the set of “Elementary”. Photo courtesy of James Hong’s Facebook Page

When three gang members are murdered, Holmes and Watson are amazed when an elderly woman emerges as their prime suspect.

Lucy Liu and Elizabeth Sung in "Elementary".
Lucy Liu and Elizabeth Sung in “Elementary”.

The fact that they were working on the same set in the same city is a rare occasion. Their relationship is quite familial. They were gracious enough to sit down with me on their day off from shooting to talk about their collective histories in the business.

James Hong. Photo by Lia Chang
James Hong. Photo by Lia Chang

James Hong’s career as an actor, writer and producer spans seven decades. Hong has acquired credits of 500 roles in feature films and television, probably the most of any actor. His credits include Big Trouble in Little ChinaBlade RunnerChinatownWayne’s World 2, and “Seinfeld”. He also recently starred in “Agents of Shield” with Ming-Na Wen, Kung-Fu Panda 1, 2 & 3Balls of FuryThe Day the Earth Stood StillThe Lost Medallion and RIPD starring Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon and Jeff Bridges.

James Hong, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown Copyright: © 1974 Paramount Pictures
James Hong, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown Copyright: © 1974 Paramount Pictures

Hong is one of the founders of the East-West Players, the oldest and largest Asian American theater in Los Angeles. He served as president and charter member of the Association of Asian Pacific American Artists and was a former member of the SAG Board of Directors under Charleton Heston as president. 

James Hong as Hannibal Chew in Blade Runner. © 1982 Warner Brothers Pictures
James Hong as Hannibal Chew in Blade Runner. © 1982 Warner Brothers Pictures
Elizabeth Sung. Photo by Lia Chang
Elizabeth Sung. Photo by Lia Chang

Elizabeth Sung was raised in Hong Kong and is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. Her first TV role was with Hong in 1988, on the set of “The Equalizer” with Russell Wong as her love interest. From 1994-96, she was a series regular in the 1st Asian American storyline on the “Young and the Restless” as  Luan Volien Abbott and is memorable as the second wife in The Joy Luck Club.

Elizabeth Sung as Second Wife in "The Joy Luck Club"
Elizabeth Sung as Second Wife in “The Joy Luck Club”
Classic Soap Opera Digest Cover Date: January 31, 1995- Elizabeth Sung, Peter Bergman and Phillip Moon
Classic Soap Opera Digest Cover Date: January 31, 1995- Elizabeth Sung, Peter Bergman and Phillip Moon

Other roles on film include Memoirs of a GeishaLethal Weapon 4, Falling for Grace, Ping Pong Playa,  Finding Madison, The People I’ve Slept With, House Under Siege, Go for Sisters, Tango and Cash, China Cry, Death Ring and Yes And. Her television credits include “China Beach,” “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes,” “Kojak: Flowers for Matty,” “Knots Landing,” “Charmed,” “Border Line,” “ER,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Passions,” “NYPD Blue,” “For the People,” “Crossing Jordan,” “House M.D.,” “E-Ring,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “The Sopranos,” “Ni Hao, Kai-Lan,” “The Suite Life on Deck,” “The Forgotten,”  “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Flashforward,” “Bones,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Awake,” “Mike & Molly,” “Shameless,” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.  She has appeared in the short films GodlikeWoman in FragmentsNuptials of the DeadThe Boxer, and the webisodes Who’s in ChargeMiss Guidance and Meet the Kayak.

Elizabeth Sung and Joan Cusack in Showtime's "Shameless"
Elizabeth Sung and Joan Cusack in Showtime’s “Shameless”

Sung was in the Directing Workshop for Women at the American Film Institute where she made her first award winning film, Requiem (1995). Her graduate thesis film, The Water Ghost (1998), earned Sung an MFA in directing from the AFI. She garnered the 2013 Golden Angel Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 9th Annual Chinese American Film Festival, and the 2013 Asians on Film Best Supporting Actress Award for her role of the mother in Steve Myung’s Anita Ho, one of her favorite projects to date. She holds a BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and was a member of The Alvin Ailey Repertory Dance Company. Her current projects include the pilot “Lees of LA,” and she can be seen in the films Front CoverPali RoadFallen Stars and The Unbidden at film festivals around the country.

Tzi Ma as Cheng Zhi in 24: Live Another Day Photo: FOX
Tzi Ma as Cheng Zhi in 24: Live Another Day
Photo: FOX

Tzi Ma has worked in film, television, and on stage for four decades creating such memorable characters as the recurring role of Cheng Zhi, nemesis to Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer on the hit series 24 and 24: Live Another Day, and playing opposite Tom Hanks in Joel and Ethan Coen’s remake of The Ladykillers. Ma worked with Hong on the the film Red Corner (1997), and two TV series,” The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” (1994) and  “Millennium” (1999).

Ryan Hurst, Tom Hanks, J.K. Simmons and Tzi Ma in The Ladykillers (2004). Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon, SMPSP – © 2004 – Touchstone Pictures. All rights reserved.
Ryan Hurst, Tom Hanks, J.K. Simmons and Tzi Ma in The Ladykillers (2004). Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon, SMPSP – © 2004 – Touchstone Pictures. All rights reserved.

Ma’s distinguished body of work, also includes roles in such films as Million Dollar ArmRush HourRush Hour 3The Quiet AmericanAkeelah and the BeeDante’s PeakChain ReactionGolden Gate, Diablo and Rapid Fire. His television credits include “Satisfaction,” “Commander-in-Chief,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Fringe,”” The Practice,” “Law & Order,” “ER,” “NYPD Blue,” “Boomtown” and “Chicago Hope”. I caught up with Ma last summer when he was in New York for a screening of AMC’s “Hell on Wheels” at the Asian American International Film Festival.

Byron Mann, Tzi Ma, Angela Zhou attend the AAIFF2015 screening of AMC’s Hell on Wheels at Village East Cinema in New York on July 31, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang
Byron Mann, Tzi Ma, Angela Zhou attend the AAIFF2015 screening of AMC’s Hell on Wheels at Village East Cinema in New York on July 31, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Since then, Ma has worked on Denis Villeneuve‘s sci-fi film Story of Your Life in Montreal and on The Jade Pendant directed by Po-Chih Leong, a wonderful Chinese/English director, in Salt Lake City.  He finished the second season of “Satisfaction” in his recurring role as the Zen Master in Atlanta; worked on Lorne Michael’s “Man Seeking Woman,”  with Simon Rich in Toronto; guest starred on the ABC procedural drama “Stitchers” and on the TNT sitcom “Angie Tribeca” with Rashida Jones. Ma is the youngest of seven children born in Hong Kong and was reared in New York City.

Grace Truman (Stephanie Szostak) and the Zen Master (Tzi Ma) in Satisfaction. (c) USA Network
Grace Truman (Stephanie Szostak) and the Zen Master (Tzi Ma) in Satisfaction. (c) USA Network

In-depth profile: In Conversation With Tzi Ma

Elizabeth Sung and Tzi Ma on location Hawaii for "Pali Road".
Elizabeth Sung and Tzi Ma on location Hawaii for “Pali Road”.

Sung and Ma are featured as husband and wife in the independent film Pali Road which is set for theatrical release on April 29, 2016, and is currently screening on the film festival circuit.

CAAMFest 2016: PALI ROAD starring Michelle Chen, Jackson Rathbone, Sung Kang, Henry Ian Cusick, Tzi Ma and Elizabeth Sung Screens on Mar. 12

Elizabeth Sung, James Hong and Tzi Ma at the SIXTY Lower East Side Hotel in New York on December 11, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang
Elizabeth Sung, James Hong and Tzi Ma at the SIXTY Lower East Side Hotel in New York on December 11, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What was your first project together?
Tzi: Elizabeth and I started out as lovers on a film called Half Ass by Vic Huey in 1986. We played lovers. We sang this Cantonese opera song. (they sing) For Pali Road, we were in Hawaii for 3 ½ weeks. We had a great time. I fed her everyday. (laugh)
Elizabeth: Fresh fish from the ocean that he caught with his bare hands. I first worked with James on an episode of “The Equalizer” in 1988. I was a poor dancer/maybe prostitute. James played my father. Mako was the gangster lord. Russell Wong played my love interest.
James: Kim Chan and Mako were in it. Mako was a very memorable person, actor. You can never forget him. He had that style of silence, when he goes hmm- it means yes and it means no. Wonderful guy.

Lia: Last April, the Japanese American National Museum in LA had a sold out screening of Big Trouble in Little China, and we enjoyed a reunion of our fellow cast members Peter Kwong, Gerald Okamura, Al Leong, George Cheung, James Lew, Jeff Imada, and screenwriter Gary Goldman. Please share your experience with Big Trouble in Little China.
James: There’s many more films on the horizon for me, but there will never be another Big Trouble in Little China. I’ll tell you why. I started East West Players, 51 years ago. We paid for the theaters ourselves, out of our own pocket to perform, now they are on a sizable budget.  I hope they keep going with new leadership, now that Tim Dang has stepped down. It means a lot to the Asian American actors to have an organization like East West Players, someplace to go to. And look at how many actors and actresses got their chance, coming out of East West Players. They perform such good plays. It’s getting a lot of recognition, nationwide. We need that to augment the actors that we have now, and the ones that are coming. I see so many faces on the television of people that have sort of graduated from East West. It’s a wonderful place for training.

A Big Trouble in Little China reunion with Peter Kwong, screenwriter Gary Goldman, James Lew, George Cheung, James Hong, Lia Chang, Gerald Okamura, Jeff Imada, Joycelyn Lew, Al Leong and Eric Lee at JANM's Tateuchi Democracy Forum in LA on April 8, 2015. Photo by Tami Chang.
A Big Trouble in Little China reunion with Peter Kwong, screenwriter Gary Goldman, James Lew, George Cheung, James Hong, Lia Chang, Gerald Okamura, Jeff Imada, Joycelyn Lew, Al Leong and Eric Lee at JANM’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum in LA on April 8, 2015. Photo by Tami Chang.
James Hong. Photo by Lia Chang
James Hong. Photo by Lia Chang

Big Trouble in Little China was the kind of movie for us, martial artists, the greatest of all, actors, writers, that movie, John gave us all a chance. In fact, Jim Lau, James Lew and Jeff Imada were stunt coordinators, choreographers, and were promoted to associate producers by the end, that’s how hard they worked. So that was the kind of atmosphere that existed on the set. I slept outside the stage, overnight in a little small trailer, got up and put on the makeup. In those days, we couldn’t afford much. It was a tough shoot but it was the best we could do at that time and everybody had high hopes. Believe it or not, that whole film was made for 25 million dollars. Now it would cost you close to 150. Everybody here put 150% of effort into that movie, way beyond what they were paid.  But for some reason, the studio did not put the publicity behind it. They put it into Alien, which became a huge hit, so Big Trouble lagged behind. It’s found it’s own cult audience.

Big Trouble in Little China Cast Reunion 

Peter Kwong, James Hong, and James Pax at HorrorHound Weekend Indianapolis, September 2015.
BTILC stars Peter Kwong (Rain), James Hong (David Lo Pan), and James Pax (Lightning) at HorrorHound Weekend Indianapolis, September 2015.

Lia: David Lo Pan is such an iconic character. What is the reaction that you get from fans?
James: It’s amazing, when you do a film, you don’t know which one is going to become popular. Blade Runner also was a great film, and you could see that coming. But Big Trouble, you didn’t know because it was so new for its time. John Carpenter got the idea from Raymond Chow of Hong Kong to do a film as such. But he put his own trademark on it. For some reason, the hidden values and gimmicks that Carpenter put in have become alive nowadays. When I do go to the conventions, that is the most popular role I have ever done, among the 100’s that I have done. They remember that one. I have no idea why. That’s the way films are, you don’t know which one will grow.

Photo of Leelee Sobieski from The Idol (2002) with James Hong
Photo of Leelee Sobieski from The Idol (2002) with James Hong

Lia: What are your three top favorite projects?
James: Big Trouble is my top favorite because I did do three roles rolled into one. Blade Runner, Chinatown. One of the movies that has never been shown here in America is L’Idole, a French film, which stars Leelee Sobieski. I went to Paris for two months and made it in 2002. It was all in French. I didn’t speak a word of it, but I learned approximately 400 words in French. I was about 80 or so. It was a taxing situation, but I loved it. The French people are so great. There is something about them that is very different from the American people. I wish them luck in the future. I play an older man, but a main character, as a human being, rather than being a cliché.

Lia: With the long career that you’ve had, is there some role that you’d like to play, or a director that you would like to work with?
James: I’d like to work for myself. I’ve produced and directed some films before. Now I’d like to get back into it and do a couple more films before I retire, travel a little and enjoy life. I look at these wonderful actors next to me and say yeah, I knew them before.

James: All of you listeners and readers, please let us know, we seldom get a reaction from an Asian American audience as to what is happening. Do they like our work, do they not like it? Please write in and we will answer your questions.

James Hong (Center) in "Elementary".
James Hong (Center) in “Elementary”.

James: Something about Tzi Ma, he is so busy these days, he reminds me a little bit of what I used to do. He’s hopping from one film to another. He was late getting here because he was on another set in another city. Congratulations on that.

Tzi: Thank you James. If I could follow in your steps, I’m good.

Tzi Ma in "Elementary".
Tzi Ma in “Elementary”.

Lia: What did you mean when you said that you are currently being accessed for your funny?
Tzi: It’s kind of weird, I don’t know where it came from. My last sitcom before “Man Seeking Woman” was “Head of the Class,” which was 1000 years ago, with that kid, Jonathan Ke Quan. I’ve always turned those things down, because we are the butt of the joke. I don’t want to be the butt of the joke. There are a lot of great sitcoms that ask for our participation, like “Seinfeld” or even “Friends”. And every time I look at those scripts, I can’t do them. We’re always the butt of the joke. Not really the participant of the joke. Whereas “Man Seeking Woman” and Angie Tribeca,” we are the motivators of the joke. So it is a big difference. I’ve often had a problem with sitcoms, but all of a sudden, two sitcoms back to back. I don’t know what generated that interest. I don’t know why they asked me to do it, because these are all straight offers.

Lucy Liu, Jonny Lee Miller and Tzi Ma in "Elementary".
Lucy Liu, Jonny Lee Miller and Tzi Ma in “Elementary”.

Lia: What is your character in “Elementary”?
Tzi: I haven’t had time to read the script. I will read the script over the weekend. The only thing that we are clear about it since these characters are Triad characters is that they need to speak Cantonese as opposed to Mandarin. The script was written in Mandarin. Liz and I had a discussion about it, so we brought it up to the director and he agrees. The director of this episode, Larry Teng, is Asian American. It goes to show you the advantage of having a director who knows the background. He knows that Triads do not speak Mandarin, they speak Cantonese. That is the advantage of working with someone who is Asian American or Chinese American because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or recite the encyclopedia for them to understand what your motivations are, what you are doing, what your relationships are. It’s something that we do, practically on a per project base. We practically have to explain ourselves on a daily basis because they don’t know. It is a lot easier to work on a project when you have three actors who know what they are doing, who knows where they are, and a director that knows everything about us. That’s kind of cool.

12658051_1876241662657215_7739090337491590125_oLia: Pali Road is currently on the Film Festival circuit. Can you tell me more about it?
Tzi: Pali Road is a new experience. It is the first time for me working with a Chinese director who cut his teeth making films in China. He was educated in Australia and Vancouver. His directorial debut was a Chinese film. The film was financed and already had distribution in China. The lead actress is from Taiwan. She has done some films in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.

Lia: Did you like working in Hawaii?
Tzi: Yes. We were in the North Shore. The North Shore is not Waikiki. The North Shore is serene, spiritual, and it rains more on the North Shore. You really get all the benefits of all the native ions coming from the ocean. We were staying at Turtle Bay resort, and we were at the apex of the island. Every morning, I just opened the lanai doors and absorbed all that good energy. It was relaxing for us. It was something that I think given the circumstances on a low budget film, everybody is under the gun, and a lot of pressure on everybody to make the film within 18 shooting days, so I think that if we were in another location, it might have been very taxing for us. The fact that we were on the North Shore, it really gave us the opportunity to at least take a breather. We don’t feel like we’re constantly on edge, given the schedule and all the work that we had to do with the script, rehearsals, locations. I think as a location, it served us, served the project in a very meaningful and positive way.

Elizabeth Sung and Tzi Ma play husband and wife in the upcoming film Pali Road. Photo by Lia Chang
Elizabeth Sung and Tzi Ma play husband and wife in the upcoming film Pali Road. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: Can you speak to your relationship? 
Elizabeth: I’ve known Tzi for more than two decades. When I heard of Tzi then, we were both dancers, coming from the dance world. When I saw his face at The Public Theater, Dance and the Railroad, I thought, “Who is this guy?” Then, I got to know him through friends. At that time, we’d not had the chance to work together until our friend created the film short Half-Ass in 1986. By then, we knew each other a lot better.

John Lone and Tzi Ma in a poster of The Dance and The Railroad. Courtesy of Tzi Ma
John Lone and Tzi Ma in a poster of The Dance and The Railroad. Courtesy of Tzi Ma

He’s always been an inspiration, like spearheading a lot of things. He never just takes a script at face value. He always digs and finds other angles. That’s very inspirational. If you have a mediocre script, or not so very good script, Tzi is going to make it live. He’s always been my challenge. To work with him, that’s what I love. You have a good sparring partner.

Elizabeth Sung and Tzi Ma in "Pali Road".
Elizabeth Sung and Tzi Ma in “Pali Road”.

One of the things that I treasure, with  Pali Road, how do we make the characters that we play, husband and wife, the parents of this girl- how do we make this relationship with her, the parents, live? We were from China, and yet we’re concerned for her. How do we make that intriguing, exciting, familiar, with depth to provoke thoughts within the audience’s mind? Or have them look at themselves to be reflective.

6da6dfb33058562e7e725fb65460eed3Lia: What was your favorite project that you worked on?
Elizabeth: For me, never the big budget projects. It has always been the independent project, where the script comes to you and it’s not quite there. And the filmmaker, the ones that I choose to work with are open-minded, you can have discussions and they will take input. You see the script evolve. My romantic comedy project, Anita Ho, the character, the mother’s character was not quite present. Through discussions and working at it, that became a major counterpart to the two leads.

"Anita Ho" 2013 Chinese American Film Festival Golden Angel Award for - Best Comedy - director, writer, actor / Steve Myung, producer, writer, actress / Lina So Golden Angel Award - Best Actress in a Supporting Role / Elizabeth Sung.
“Anita Ho” 2013 Chinese American Film Festival Golden Angel Award for – Best Comedy – director, writer, actor / Steve Myung, producer, writer, actress / Lina So Golden Angel Award – Best Actress in a Supporting Role / Elizabeth Sung.

Lia: And your favorite project with Elizabeth?
Tzi: I would have to say, Half-Ass. The first one. That scene was supposed to be the genesis of a script. It was like a sizzle reel. It was the beginning, a germination of a project that he wanted to do, which we participated in. Sometimes, you don’t see things at the moment. Sometime later, you realize that those things are the most valuable things that you could do. We got to know one another better. We formed a relationship. We know who we are. It just so happened that somehow the universe put us in the same city, because I went out to LA. Next thing you know, she was in LA. Before that, we were in New York together. Once we parted ways in terms of where we are going, and then to see each other, the bond became stronger. Through the years, these things lead to other things. Without Half-Ass, I may not even know Elizabeth. So really, hindsight is always quite rewarding when you look back and say, wow, if that didn’t happen, some of these things may not have happened.

Lia Chang, Bea Soong, Phil Nee, Elizabeth Sung, Eugenia Yuan, Jason Tobin, Tzi Ma and Vic Huey at the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Ursula Liang
Lia Chang, Bea Soong, Phil Nee, Elizabeth Sung, Eugenia Yuan, Jason Tobin, Tzi Ma and Vic Huey at the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Ursula Liang

Lia: How has it been navigating as an Asian American actress in the industry and directing?
Elizabeth: Not easy. As an Asian American actress, from my time in the industry, because what was available then, and what is more available now, it was either prostitutes or waitresses. Sometimes you may have some social worker roles, or reporter. But now, it’s a lot more professional women, not just fresh off the boat. It’s still an uphill battle. Not easy. That’s why I said, for the independent projects that I participate in or that I can lend my support, I really do enjoy them. Especially to Asian American directors who write a story that is compelling and that has something to say.

In terms of my directing, it all came from realizing after the Miss Saigon protest, where the role of the Engineer role was supposed to be half Asian and went to a Caucasian who put prosthetics on his eyelids. Tzi was a very vocal representative of all of us. We sweat and we fought for, after the show opened, that this part needed to go to an Asian American actors. In that big movement, what I did learn is somebody who put the project together, with the money, as long as you talk about it, they are the ones that initiate it. If you don’t have the story, and you don’t have the money to give life to a project. The voice many not be as powerful. I went to the director workshop at AFI first. I went back to school to get my degree in directing from the American Film Institute. I realized from my dance background that one short project does not make me a director. Coming from Hong Kong, I need structure. I’m not that self-motivated, like Tzi. I need to be in an environment where there are classrooms so that everything is there for me to do a few more projects. I have put my directing on hold for a little bit, strictly for financial reasons (student loans are high).

With the whole digital revolution, I want to reconsider. It is a very different time. Especially with the possibility of doing co-productions, with like-minded people with East and West. The chance of getting film projects off the ground is a lot easier, if one can find like-minded people.

Tzi Ma in "Elementary".
Tzi Ma in “Elementary”.

Lia: Have you ever considered directing?
Tzi: I have. I’ve directed theater. I enjoy the directing process. I think I can make some contribution as a director. I feel my strength would come from working with the actors. I do understand their journey, I understand their experience. It’s really a welcoming sight when you see a Chinese American director. With this particular episode, we don’t have to recite the Bible for this guy. At least you don’t have to worry about these little things like, I remember working on two or three projects back to back, when I go to the set, I see the same Qing Dynasty painting on three different shows. You run into these kinds of generalities of who we are. They don’t know it.

I think our contributions as directors, is that we have the innate understanding of the culture; we have experienced their experiences, so that they don’t have to go home and struggle and say how do I present the right picture for this director? Which is what we do all the time. We go home, beat our head against the wall. Ok, what are we going to say to this guy? How are we going to say it? In what context do we present it? I just want my actors to go home, do their work, do their preparation, come to the set and I will be there to protect them. I think that’s key, for our presence behind the camera.

Because the struggles that we went through, such as what Liz said about Miss Saigon, is that there’s also a genesis to that too. That character was not Eurasian. At first, the character was Asian. Then after Jonathan Pryce took the role as the Asian with prosthetics, and we saw the cast album, there were pictures of him in yellow face. That’s when we did the complaint. After we complained, that’s when the character became Eurasian. They said, “well why not, because it is a Eurasian character, we can cast Jonathan Pryce. Now the character is Eurasian, and it is okay to cast a white actor. So we know that again, we need to empower ourselves, in every aspect. That’s why I approach scripts the way that I do as an actor. I want to empower me as an actor. I don’t want to walk in a room and relinquish the creative process to someone else’s hand. I know it is untrustworthy. Now, if he is Asian American, then I feel a little better, because then I don’t have to worry about not trusting him.

It’s a process. My advice to young actors is never shy away from saying what you need to say. Eventually, you’ll get better at it. In the beginning, it was terrible. The stuff that came out of my mouth was offensive and abrasive. I couldn’t get anywhere. I didn’t know how. Eventually, I learned how to say it. That comes from experience. Every opportunity you get, speak your mind. Because the more you practice on how to present that, you’ll get better at doing it. You’ll become more articulate. Your points will become more precise. You have to be very specific about what those points are, because time is precious. Usually when a project gets going, once the actors get involved, it’s off. It’s a bullet train that’s left the station already. You’ve got to go in there with your guns loaded, everything laid out on the table. ‘These are my concerns. What do you think?’ So there is a point of departure.

Lucy Liu and Elizabeth Sung in "Elementary".
Lucy Liu and Elizabeth Sung in “Elementary”.

The beauty of working with somebody you know, like working with Liz, since we know each other, we can get together before hand. Like this project. We called each other over the phone, talked about what was important. How do we present it to the director? It’s about being specific. Where are we and at what time are we talking about? We are in New York Chinatown, current time. This organization, if you are a Triad or a Tong, they are a very specific organization. It’s not like they are one. The writers don’t know there is a difference. For us, as professional actors, ultimately, we hold the responsibility. You’re not going to see the director on the screen. You’re not going to see the writer on the screen. You’re going to see us on the screen. It’s like self-survival. I don’t want to look bad. I don’t want Liz to look bad. We really have to do our due diligence. That’s made our working easier because we know each other. We’re familiar with each other’s work. We have the respect and the admiration of each other’s work. We can sit down and speak openly about what are concerns are, how do we handle it, how do we deal with it. Some things are not just about reality. Not about the truth itself.

Lucy Liu and Elizabeth Sung in "Elementary".
Lucy Liu and Elizabeth Sung in “Elementary”.

For instance, Pali Road is a film for China. There are some things you cannot do because it is going to be shown in China. So now we have to figure out a way to help the director get over that hump. He doesn’t even know. This is an important part of the script and an important part of the scene. But it may not get past the censor. We need to think about strategies on how to say the same thing, get the same results and pass the censors too. That’s an added responsibility.

Elizabeth Sung in "Elementary".
Elizabeth Sung in “Elementary”.

Elizabeth: I have to give a shot out to the director Larry Teng. I worked with him on “Hawaii Five-O”. He told me that it was his first freelance project as a director. This time, after Tzi and I had a discussion about the dialect, we contacted Larry and he was open. He was raised in Queens. He had a conversation with each of us, so he said, “I agree.” So after the two voices, plus his initial instinct, it’s a triple reinforcement that he approached the writers to say that this language dialect needs to be authentically Cantonese. So, this way sometimes a director, an Asian American, needs support from the cast. Not just one person holding the banner. It’s not enough. We come in knowing the culture. Tzi grew up in Chinatown. I lived in New York from the 70’s to 80’s, 16 years. I have knowledge, watching TV and reading newspapers that Mandarin will not do. Another thing that I do appreciate Larry, when they were working on my first day, he said, “It is important to me to not perpetuate stereotypes. I want to go for the humanity of this character. Because he said it is too easy to do the other thing. This is one thing that I don’t want to perpetuate as a director.” He had this little sidebar conversation. I said I respect you and I support you 100%. I am there.

Aidan Quinn and Tzi Ma in "Elementary".
Aidan Quinn and Tzi Ma in “Elementary”.

Tzi: Most productions that hire one of us or both of us are very lucky because we know, at least to a point where the characters are properly written. For example, if we were shooting “Hell on Wheels,” it wouldn’t have simplified characters, and we’re able to catch it. This didn’t exist in 1870. It has to be the traditional characters. As far as the experience in Chinatown is concerned, we know that experience. I lived it; I lived at 34 Henry Street. IN that sense, we’re an asset.

Actor Tzi Ma attends the AAIFF2015 screening of AMC’s Hell on Wheels at Village East Cinema in New York on July 31, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang
Actor Tzi Ma attends the AAIFF2015 screening of AMC’s Hell on Wheels at Village East Cinema in New York on July 31, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Elizabeth: And the director appreciates that because he has back up. A lot of time, you pick your battles. As a director, there are many of them. If you are able to support him in presenting his case, then he has one less battle to fight. If we can do that for him, that’s great.

Lia: What’s next for you?
Elizabeth: I am working with an Asian American indie director, who has written a story for Asian characters, two sets of families- how they converge in LA, and how each of them affected each other. They went through a journey. It is an ensemble story. It will be an interesting story to tell and my character is a mother who has done all the wrong things with the best of intentions, and yet learned at the end of the day.

Tzi: I’m working on an independent film called Mediation Park by Mina Shum, who is a wonderful Canadian director. Sandy’s (Sandra Oh) in all her films. I think Sandy is like her alter ego. Sandy is also in this film. This film is really quite poignant. It’s about a woman, who all her life is dependent on the husband to do everything-to provide, to take care of the daily chores, bank account, insurance, and he dies. Now what is she going to do? She’s on her own now, completely. How does this woman learn to not only be self-reliant, but who she is. When you are with this husband who has done everything and has had full control of you, you’ve lost you. You’re only part of him. How does this woman find her? This is a woman’s story.

Here’s the funny part-when I was in Vancouver for a meeting with Mina, I was in a bank to get some money. There was a long line, and I saw that woman online, gorgeously dressed, quite elderly, she walks to the counter and she pulled out about 10 cards. She had no idea what any of those cards were. She said, “These are all my husband’s cards. These are all the accounts that I have. I’ve never even seen them. I don’t know what to do. If I need money, I don’t know how to take it out.” Good thing the staff was so nice to her. I’m standing there. Life is stranger than fiction. I was just mesmerized by this woman, because I just read the script. And there she is right in front of me.

Elizabeth Sung, Tzi Ma and Lia Chang
Elizabeth Sung, Tzi Ma and Lia Chang
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at Asians on Film on March 10th, The Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia on March 13th and the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

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Elizabeth Sung, Tzi Ma and James Hong to Guest Star on ‘Elementary’ on Feb. 25

Elizabeth Sung, James Hong and Tzi Ma at the SIXTY Lower East Side Hotel in New York on December 11, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang
Elizabeth Sung, James Hong and Tzi Ma at the SIXTY Lower East Side Hotel in New York on December 11, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Elizabeth Sung, Tzi Ma and James Hong are guest starring in the Season 4, episode 14 of “Elementary,” entitled, “Who Is That Masked Man?” which airs on Thursday, February 25, 2016, at 10:00PM ET/PT on the CBS Television Network. For more information, click here.

Click below for my in-depth interview with the trio.

Actors James Hong, Tzi Ma and Elizabeth Sung Talk Shop

Elizabeth Sung in "Elementary".
Elizabeth Sung in “Elementary”.

Synopsis:
When Holmes’ investigation into the attempt on Morland’s life pushes their strained relationship to the breaking point, the identity of Sherlock’s mother is revealed. Also, when three gang members are murdered, Holmes and Watson are amazed when an elderly woman emerges as their prime suspect. The episode is written by Jason Tacey and directed by Larry Teng.

Lucy Liu and Elizabeth Sung in "Elementary".
Lucy Liu and Elizabeth Sung in “Elementary”.

“Elementary” stars Lucy Liu as Joan Watson, Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Homes, Aidan Quinn as Captain Tommy Gregson, Jon Michael Hill  as Detective Marcus Bell and John Noble as Mr. Morland Holmes.

James Hong (Center) in 'Elementary'.
James Hong (Center) in ‘Elementary’.
  • GUEST CAST:
  • Elizabeth Sung (Bai May-Lung)
  • Eddie Korbich (Sven Eklund)
  • Joe Mazzello (Griffin)
  • James Hong (Meng Zhou)
  • Tzi Ma (Xi Hai Ching)
  • Kevin Kilner (Michael Haas)
  • Charlotte Bydwell (Soleil)

In Conversation With Tzi Ma

Lucy Liu, Jonny Lee Miller and Tzi Ma in "Elementary".
Lucy Liu, Jonny Lee Miller and Tzi Ma in “Elementary”.
Tzi Ma in "Elementary".
Tzi Ma in “Elementary”.
Aidan Quinn and Tzi Ma in "Elementary".
Aidan Quinn and Tzi Ma in “Elementary”.
James Hong in "Elementary".
James Hong in “Elementary”.
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen which will screen at Asians on Film on March 10th, The Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia on March 13th and the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

Interview with Jason Tobin, star of Dax Phelan’s JASMINE, Screening at CAAMFest 2016 on Mar. 14th

Jason Tobin will be featured in two films at CAAMfest 2016 – Dax Phelan’s award-winning film Jasmine which also stars Glen Chin, Grace Huang, Sarah Lian, Byron Mann and Eugenia Yuan, and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, directed by Justin Lin.

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Jasmine screens in competition at CAAMFest on March 14th, 2016 at the Alamo Drafthouse, 2550 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA at 6:20 p.m. Click here for tickets.

Jason Tobin, Dax Phelan (writer/producer/director), Chris Chan Lee (editor/producer), Jon Anderson (executive producer) and David Tsuboi (associate producer), will be in attendance for the Jasmine Q & A that follows the screening.

Keiko Kitagawa as Reiko and Jason Tobin as Earl in Justin Lin's 'The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift'. Photo: © 2006 Universal Studios
Keiko Kitagawa as Reiko and Jason Tobin as Earl in Justin Lin’s ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’. Photo: © 2006 Universal Studios

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift will unspool as a special presentation at CAAMFest on March 13th, 2016  at the Alamo Drafthouse, 2550 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA at 9:40pm. Click here for tickets.

Leonard To (Jason Tobin) is a man who is struggling to come to terms with the unsolved murder of his beloved wife, Jasmine. After more than a year, he decides to come back to Hong Kong and move on with his life. He searches for a new job, attends group grief support meetings, and reconnects with Grace, a woman from his past. While he still calls the police, hoping Jasmine’s murder case will be resolved, Leonard does seem to start life anew.

A scene from Dax Phelan's JASMINE
A scene from Dax Phelan’s JASMINE

On the first anniversary of Jasmine’s death, Leonard visits her burial site and crosses paths with a mysterious man, who Leonard becomes convinced is a prime suspect for his beloved wife’s death. Leonard decides to investigate and follow this man, in hopes of finding connections to his wife’s murder, and reports the man to the police. However, when the police fail to arrest the man, Leonard realizes that the only way for him to stop his own fiery downward spiral and move on with his life once and for all is to take matters into his own hands. The result: a shocking and unforgettable final revelation.

Dax Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Phelan. Photo by Lia Chang

In his directorial debut, Dax Phelan keeps us on an edge of our seats and takes us on a roller-coaster ride with his star-studded cast and crew. With a strong character-driven narrative and constant suspense all set in the bustling city of Hong Kong, Dax Phelan creates a story that is bold, riveting, and shocking with a theme that is universally relatable to anyone who has ever loved and anyone who has ever suffered. Jasmine is dedicated to Dax Phelan’s mother.

Jason Tobin. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Tobin. Photo by Lia Chang

Jason Tobin is a Hong Kong actor and producer who co-wrote, co-produced and stars in Jasmine.  He is best known for his role as Virgil Hu in Justin Lin’s critically acclaimed 2002 film Better Luck Tomorrow (BLT)The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, #1 Serial Killer and Chris Chan Lee’s Yellow. In our interview over Skype, Tobin talks about the making of Jasmine, the challenges of low budget filmmaking in Hong Kong, and being a part of the Independent Asian American cinema scene including Better Luck Tomorrow.

Below is my interview with Jason Tobin.

Chang: How did you get into acting?
Tobin: I was 18. I had finished high school and was supposed to go to University in the UK. At that point, I didn’t know you could become an actor. I literally thought being an actor was a lark. I didn’t realize you could study to be an actor and try to get the job. I just didn’t understand. In high school, you are studying to go to law school or become a doctor, that ‘s your job. When I was 18, my father recognized that I loved movies and liked acting. He showed me an advertisement for an acting class in Hong Kong and I went to it. I was done for. Six months later, instead of going to university in the UK, I packed my bags up and moved to LA.

t16763gy719Chang: What have been your favorite projects?
Tobin: The Asian American features that I’ve done- Yellow with Chris Chan Lee, followed by Better Luck Tomorrow, #1 Serial Killer, Finishing the Game and now Jasmine. When I look at my body of work, I am really proud to have done these Asian American features.In my whole life I always wanted to be part of something important. I feel that having worked in these Asian American films that not only did it satisfy my creative urges as a performer and as an actor, they also satisfied me because I felt like I was part of something important. If I have somehow contributed to Asian American cinema and helped move it forward, you can’t pay for that. That’s a deep sense of satisfaction that you can’t get anywhere else.

Chang: You said, ‘Asian American cinema is where I belong; it is where I want to be.
Tobin: Obviously I lived in America, so I have a lot of friends who are Asian American actors or filmmakers. We frequently talk about how we want to be part of the mainstream. Why can’t they cast more Asians where they don’t have to be the Kung Fu fighter, or have to explain their Asianness? There’s all the talk about wanting to get into the mainstream. I’ve caught myself speaking in those terms too. Several years ago, it occurred to me that I don’t even feel comfortable working in that arena. Younger actors can speak with a lot of bravura. I am happy to stay within my community, my culture, making films that are important to us. To me at least. I’m never going to be a Caucasian man; I’m never going to be a black man. I’m never going to be French or Jewish. I am a Chinese, English speaking guy. I am really happy with that. The stories that I am interested in telling, I have always felt like a bird between two trees. Trying to fit in.

Chang: Are you working on something now?
Tobin: It’s a story about these two down and out Asian American actors who are completely unemployed and can’t get hired at all. They decide to go on a road trip to visit Bruce Lee’s grave in Seattle. That’s the premise. We’ll be shooting that in 2016.

I am working on a Martial arts film. It is not going to be an action packed martial arts film. It is going to be sparse, when you see it, it will be important. I talk about it like a martial arts film – meets American indie film. It’s another thing that we always talk about in Asian American cinema, why do we always have to be the martial arts guy? I completely understand that sentiment, and even though I have practiced martial arts my whole life, and watch so many martial arts film and am a massive Bruce Lee fan, as an actor I always steered clear of it. I wanted to be taken seriously as an actor. I’m getting older, I love the genre, I better do one now before I get older.

finishing-the-game-movie-poster-2008-1020406341I dipped my toes into martial arts films with Justin Lin’s Finishing the Game, the premise is that it’s a mockumentary and I am not in the film. I was cut out. My character Toby Jackson is not in America. The documentarian is in LA and as originally scripted, they would cut to me in Mexico as an underground street fighter, trying to get back into America. He can’t get back in so he’s becomes part of this underground fight club.I was in the best shape of my life, 4% body fat. After the shoot, Justin Lin came up to me at the end of the day and told me that this was the best acting he had ever seen me do. Several months later he calls me in Hong Kong, and says, “I love the footage It’s some of my favorite stuff we shot but I just can’t make the footage work in the film. It just doesn’t make sense.” It was heartbreaking. He says I’ll give you all the footage.

This is the impetus for this Bruce Lee road trip story. They are huge Bruce Lee fans, and one has just been cut out of the film where he’s playing a Bruce Lee type character. Finishing the Game was an important film for me even though I am not in it. Art director Candy Guitterez designed the poster and used a ghost image of me in the poster. It’s my face on the poster with all of the other Bruce Lees layered on top.

Han (Sung Kang), Virgil (Jason J. Tobin) and Ben (Parry Shen) are overachieving high school honor students in Orange County who live second lives at night as a gang responsible for criminal mischief in Better Luck Tomorrow. Photo: MTV Films
Han (Sung Kang), Virgil (Jason J. Tobin) and Ben (Parry Shen) are overachieving high school honor students in Orange County who live second lives at night as a gang responsible for criminal mischief in Better Luck Tomorrow. Photo: MTV Films

Chang: What was your experience with Better Luck Tomorrow?
Tobin: Better Luck Tomorrow was a blessing and an Asian American powerhouse. The gift that keeps on giving. I’ve gotten so much out of that film. When I was in LA at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, I met actors from Revenge of the Green Dragon and Soul Searching. They told me that because of BLT, they were really inspired by me. You can’t pay for that.  Every time I go back to America and I hear about the importance of that films in their lives, it validates me for all of the hardships of being an actor. An actor’s life is full of ups and downs.

BLT shook things up. My audition was on a Sunday, I was feeling jaded but luckily I went to it.  After one or two scenes, we improved and it was cool and fun. When I read the script I was blown away. This is the kind of role, specifically with my character,  an unbelievable role. This is the kind of role that makes careers, that wins Oscars. He’s such a live wire, shows such vulnerability. If this film were cast as a non Asian American film, Virgil would not have been the white guy. I felt incredibly lucky. The third day of shooting, I turned to Roger and said that this movie is a gift. This is a blessing. I am so lucky to be on this film. I have felt that throughout the whole journey.

I am a British citizen and in 2002 we’d gone to Sundance with Better Luck Tomorrow. The film hadn’t been released yet, so I went on vacation to Argentina. On my way back to America I was denied entry. Even though I had been in and out of America many, many times, for some reason, post 9/11 things were computerized and the infraction that I had overstayed my visa by 5 days several years earlier, showed up. They said I had to go back to the UK and reapply for a visa. A lot of people took that to be that I was deported but I wasn’t. It just meant that my Visa application was rejected. It meant that I spent a few years away right when BLT came out. Many people thought that I should have been there to capitalize on the success. I watched BLT’s success from afar.

better_luck_tomorrowI wasn’t there for the poster. That actually is not my body. The day of the photo shoot, the cast had a body double for me. They took my head from another picture and stuck it on. It was sad but I have no regrets. I spent a year in Argentina, learning guitar, learning Spanish. After a year of that I thought I better go back to work. Being a British citizen, I went to London, did a couple of movies, and TV shows. As much as I enjoyed working in the UK I was still an Asian man, an Asian person working in a predominantly white country. I’ve done this before; I’ve fought this battle before. I decided it was time for me to go back to Hong Kong and find a different challenge.

Jason Tobin and his wife Michelle. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Tobin and his wife Michelle. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: What is your experience of being Eurasian?
Tobin: I am from Hong Kong and have always loved Hong Kong, but I also have a love hate relationship with it. I am a real product of Hong Kong. I constantly get asked why my English is so good? They don’t understand the history of Hong Kong, that there is a British colony, with two school systems, Chinese speaking and English speaking, and that I’m Eurasian. My Father is white, a British guy; my mother is Chinese, a Cantonese woman from Hong Kong. I wanted to use as much of myself and even to the extent when we meet Leonard at the beginning of the film, he’s come back from somewhere, he’s been away. If you notice my accent changes quite a bit. In America, me as Jason, I grew up speaking Cantonese, speaking English, I went to a British School so I learned to speak English with an English accent. Subsequently I went to America, and learned to speak with an American accent. I spend time in Australia because my wife is a naturalized Australian, so frequently my accent changes depending on who I am talking too. If I am in America and speaking to American people, I am going to sound more American. When I am home and with family, I sound more British. It’s not phony either way. It’s just comfort. I don’t feel comfortable sounding like an American when I am talking to my dad. It doesn’t feel right. I brought little things like that to the character. Aussie, American, added something to Leonard, where is he from? It adds to the fact that he’s trying to be something that is not.

Chang: Dax said, “I wanted to go on record that I would be the first one to make a movie with Jason as the lead.” What is your response to that?
Tobin: I’m unbelievable grateful for Dax’s belief in me because no one else has done that. It really flatters me that he felt that strongly about me as an actor and as a performer.

It is tough to make a film, especially when you have very little money. It’s easy to test your relationship. Our relationship, thank goodness is all the better for it. We’re still friends. It’s something special when someone believes sin you.

Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin and Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang
Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin and Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: How did you and Dax first meet?
Tobin: I had just got back to Hong Kong. I had just worked with Byron on a film and we really hit it off. We hung out a bit and he told me that he had a friend in town, a screenwriter named Dax Phelan. They were working on a project. We had dinner one night. Dax and I talked a lot about films, the kind of films that we liked, and the kind of actors we liked. A few months later in LA we met for coffee and talked about doing a movie together. Just getting to know him in Hong Kong, spending time with him in Hong Kong, it was very much the kind of relationship that I’ve always wanted to have with a director. As an actor, I’ve always wanted to have the kind of actor/director relationships like Scorsese and DeNiro back in the day, or Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris. In many ways Dax and I did have that relationship. We really got to know each other. We talked about things that I’ve never really spoken to another director before. We spent a long time talking about things, we spoke about things that we were deeply ashamed of, things that we felt truly embarrassed us, moments in our life that we were not proud or happy to speak of. We had that level of trust. That played into the story of Jasmine.

Chang: How did you and Dax develop the story together?
Tobin: Jasmine is not autobiographical. It did not happen to me and Dax. We did, however, try to channel as much of the loneliness and deep seeded shame.

In terms of the process of writing; I really wanted to use as many aspects of myself as possible. I wanted make the kind of a film that was really organic as possible, and to try and act the way it was organic. I wanted to use as much of myself as possible, whether it be pain, death, or loneliness that I felt in my own life. With regards to my character Leonard, my father’s name is Anthony Leonard Tobin, So I used my father’s middle name. To is actually my Cantonese name, even though my surname is Tobin.

I had never played an adult. I’d always played young people, college age. For the most part, I’d always played very young. Jasmine was an opportunity for me to channel certain aspects of my father. I’m not saying my father is Leonard To. There are all these aspects that I wanted to bring truth to the character. Dax already had an idea, about this unreliable investigator, narrator, and protagonist. To me, I had a lot of feelings that I had about Hong Kong, growing up here, certain isolation, even though it is a massive city and population. There is something about him- the clothes don’t fit him; the suit does not fit him. He’s always the outsider. There is a wealth gap, an elitist gap, the very elite Hong Kong, and people that are trying to be that. That is something I can relate to.

Chang: Why was the scene in the hotel room the scariest day of Dax’s life?
Tobin: We were shooting at Chungking Mansion. (Chungking Express). I think Wong Kar Wai may have grown up there. It’s a very seedy, rundown building and not the cleanest or safest building in Hong Kong. It’s pretty disgusting and full of life. It’s really, really fascinating. We ended up shooting in a very cheap low budget hostel on the 10th floor.

The scene that day was that Leonard was having a very very tough night. Leonard can get though the days because he is interacting with people, but the nights were problematic because that is when the loneliness would overtake him. This is the scene where he is alone in his room at Chungking Mansion. We did a lot of long takes. Improvisational- a lot of it was about behavior, how he spent his time. We start rolling as the scene progressed and he begins to spiral out of control. I started to do things that weren’t in the script. At one point, I opened the window. I was completely naked. I opened the window and stepped out the window and was on the ledge. And Dax said cut! Dax was terrified that I was going to jump. In that instant I knew I had perhaps gone too far as an actor. That was a very risky thing, not a safe thing to do. It really hit a chord in me. I just started crying and bawling my eyes out uncontrollably for half an hour. I stood in the room. It was just me, Guy and Dax and it was deathly silently. They just filmed me for a good 20-30 minutes, crying. That became a 3 second shot in the movie.

Dax and I had talked about Martin Sheen having a mental breakdown in Apocalypse Now. I’m not trying to compare myself to those kind of actors. We had talked about DeNiro, Marlon Brando, and Martin Sheen, so I wanted to step up. I wanted to push myself as much as I could. In that instant it really hit a chord in me. It made me think that my life did flash before me. It made me extremely, extremely sad. In a sense, that is the essence of Leonard To.

Chang: What character does Hong Kong play in the film? 
Tobin: I grew up in Hong Kong. I spent my life living in American, studying to be an actor. I spent a long time as this Asian guy working in a white country and trying to break through that barrier. I felt proud to be part of this Asian American wave of film. I always felt like I fought the good fight. I was glad to be part of Yellow and that whole movement. There was a part of me that wanted to come back to my hometown and make a film here.

In Hong Kong, I’m not local enough, I’m too westernized. Hong Kong movies are always about Hong Kong people. Very rarely are they about people like me who are English speakers. I wanted to make a film in my subculture. I wanted to use that aspect of myself. I wanted to tell this story. I’d always felt this sort of isolation living in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a big city, but it feels small, like a little village because it is such tiny bit of land. There’s something about the extreme wealth and elitist that is here and also this huge working class population. It’s like a microcosm of America. There’s this great wealth divide. Byron’s character represents the rich, powerful, that have everything, beautiful women, there’s Leonard who can’t fit in. he want it so bad and he can’t have it. He’s trying to fit into his suit. He’s trying to be something that he is not. Even though I am not Leonard To, I can relate to that. As an actor, I sometimes feel as if I am just an imposter. It is something that I wanted to explore.

Chang: What are the challenges of low budget filmmaking in Hong Kong?
Tobin: Low budget filmmaking is challenging regardless of where you are. If you are trying to shoot a film without permits, and you are trying to use real locations, Hong Kong is such a populated city that wherever you stick your camera, someone will be looking right into it. In LA, you can always find a street that is relatively quiet. You wait until people walk by, and you have it for a few minutes. In Hong Kong, you literally have three seconds before someone else starts looking in the camera. We did many, many takes. The other thing that was particularly difficult about our shoot, at the time, we were using the Red One camera. I believe at the time the native ISO wasn’t particularly fast. It is handheld with a wide lens, an unbelievably short lens with a very shallow depth of field. With the aperture wide open, just keeping me in focus was extremely difficult. The film looks great for it. We could have gone the other way and used longer lens. When you use shorter lenses, you are right in the action. I am glad that the visual style of the film is the way it is. it really helps tell the story. Especially with the 1:235 ratio as well. With other films shot in Hong Kong; you can always see someone looking in the camera.

In Hong Kong they usually use long lenses because there are so many people that it is better to be far away because no one knows you are shooting. Guy liked the look of using short lens. Dax believed using 235 was great for landscapes. He wanted to use that more for our faces, it’s unusual. It is not a style that is used that often in Hong Kong.

Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang
Byron Mann. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: How were Byron and Eugenia cast?
Tobin: Byron is a really cool guy. He’s this suave, charming, charismatic kind of guy. He’s like this gentleman/playboy, which is not as an insult. It’s easy to want to be him. I love the guy. It was easy for me as Leonard to want to be Byron. There an ease there, and also he’s a great actor. From the very beginning when we started writing the script, he was always in our mind to play the man. He’s originally from Hong Kong. I think he has a home in LA, in Vancouver; he’s definitely an international jetsetter. He’s actually the kind of guy that I want to be.

Jason Tobin and Eugenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Tobin and Eugenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang

I had known Eugenia for a long time and always thought that she was a great actress. I had never worked with her but we’ve known each other for a while.

Euguenia Yuan and Jason Tobin in #1 Serial Killer.
Euguenia Yuan and Jason Tobin in #1 Serial Killer.

She was someone we had always thought of. For me the shoot was incredibly difficult. As you know, the film is mostly on me. It was a tough shoot. I had to do take after take, long takes, and I had to do such emotional, every scene is emotionally draining. Long takes, and multiple takes. I was exhausted. After two or three weeks of filming, Eugenia showed up for a few days to do her scenes. I was so happy that I had someone to act opposite. As an actor she is really easy to work with. She’s very in the moment, responsive. She was always very organic and in the moment. It elevates your acting.

As scripted, the original cut was two hours and 40 minutes. We had gotten to a shorter edit, 90 minutes at one point, and I said to Dax and Chris, “You’ve been editing to the script for a long time, now you need to throw the script away, and edit the film that you have. You need to rewrite it. I told them to go Malick on it.” To their credit, they tore the film to pieces and rebuilt it with that in mind. They came away with a much better film. What that means is that in the process, a lot of performances, actors and scenes got cut out. You use a lot of clay, pottery, and sculpture, pack a lot on and take things out. Even though I am in a lot of the film, to get those scenes we had to do so much more to get that. In film they always talk about shooting ratio, it’s the acting ratio and writing ratio that makes up that backstory, that got cut out.

Euguenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang
Euguenia Yuan. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: Who is Grace and what was the evolution of her character?
Tobin: As an artist you want to work on a subconscious level. Is she is real or not real. The story evolved and changed through the making of it. There are a lot more intimate scenes where Grace and my character Leonard are getting to know each other and getting reacquainted. If you notice, in Grace’s scenes, there’s a baby crying in the background. Whose baby is that? Could Leonard be the father? With Grace, to me she always symbolized the life that he could have, and that the audience should want him to have. She’s the path that could lead him to some sort of salvation. Psychologically he is unable to.

Those scenes didn’t make it in the final cut, but we had to go through those scenes in order to have one did make it into the film. Eugenia says more than one look, then a script full of dialogue. I sometimes describe it as acting beyond the frame.

Chang: How did your producer Stratton Leopold get involved in the project?
Tobin: Dax and Stratton have known each other for many years. I think he met him when he was working at Mace Neufeld. Stratton mentored him and always believed in him. When Dax approached him about Jasmine, Stratton was on board right away.

The night before the first day of the shoot, one of our investors pulled out. Can you imagine the amount of stress when a major investor pulls out the cash? You’ve hired the people; you’ve booked things out. Then you lose the money at the last minute. It wasn’t all the money, but it was a huge chunk and it would have shut us down. Stratton was literally a guardian angel, not just because he lent his expertise and his name to the project, but also because he literally saved us. Our boat was about to sink. He saved the day.

Chang: How long was the shooting schedule?
Tobin: A good month. A four-week shoot, six days a week. We had a terrible schedule. You could never do this in America. In Hong Kong, and I certainly wouldn’t do it again, we had really short turnarounds. Some days we had 8 hour turn around. That’s ridiculous. I honestly don’t put up with that anymore. The 8-hour turn around was good for my performance. If I was supposed to be tired, I definitely was.

In Hong Kong, there are no unions. As an actor you have to protect yourself. When you are in the states, in the west, there are rules. That being said, I was the producer on this film, so I could have put my foot down. With such a low budget film, with the tight turnarounds, I didn’t enjoy them, but we couldn’t afford not to do it. Fortunately, everyone on board the film, every cast member, every crewmember, really believed in the script and they persevered through it. I would never want to put a crew through that kind of pain and agony again. Dax said that everyone came on board because they wanted to help me, so I am very thankful.

Chang: What challenges did you face in postproduction?
Tobin: The biggest challenge we faced in postproduction was that we had zero budget. We had no money whatsoever. We had tried to raise money prior to the shoot, but we could only raise enough to shoot the film.

We did not have enough to complete the whole postproduction part of it. What that meant was that we had to make the film sporadically and then we had to go back to work. We would return to making the film as we made more money.

After the shoot, we didn’t have an editor, but in the back of mind I’d wanted to introduced Chris Chan Lee to Dax. I’d worked with Chris Chan Lee on his first feature Yellow. I have great respect for Chris. He’s the kind of filmmaker that can do everything. He can write, he can DP, he can direct, he can edit. He’s an all around filmmaker. He was working as an editor and knowing that this was Dax’s first time as a filmmaker, and knowing their personalities as well, I had a feeling that they would really hit it off and that both of their experiences would compliment each other. I feel like a genius for introducing them.

Chang: Why did the film take so long to complete?
Tobin: Right after the shoot, he suffered a few family losses, his mother and grandmother. That set him back. He needed to drop the film for a while so he could regroup and recover. What that meant was that we had an extremely long postproduction. Several years. It was never because the film wasn’t any good. Life got in the way.

We were not going to make this film in any sort of traditional way. We weren’t trying to make a commercial film. We stayed true to the spirit of it, this organic.

We were always very patient. We never rushed ourselves. We were going to make the best film that we could make. Traditionally when people think your film takes a long time to finish, they think it has problems. That was never the case.

After a while a couple of crewmembers and people that worked on the film got upset. It’s understandable. People work on a film; they want to see where their time and energy went. People were paid a pittance on this film. I totally understood it. We went into this film with a certain philosophy. We’re going to take our time.

Nicole Watson, David Tsuboi, Michelle Tobin, Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin, Eugenia Yuan, Jon Anderson and guest attend the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang
Nicole Watson, David Tsuboi, Michelle Tobin, Dax Phelan, Jason Tobin, Eugenia Yuan, Jon Anderson and guest attend the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Chang: How did you raise the completion financing?
Tobin: We needed to get sound design and music. Byron knew Nicole Watson, her and her partner Jon Anderson saw the film and loved it. They came in and paid for the postproduction. We could see the finish line. DPS in Hollywood. It would have been cheaper in Hong Kong.

2015 LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL GRAND JURY PRIZE FOR BEST FEATURE GOES TO JASMINE, DIRECTED BY DAX PHELAN. HERE, THE TEAM FROM JASMINE CELEBRATES ITS FIVE AWARDS. FIFTH FROM LEFT: CHRIS CHAN LEE (WINNER, BEST EDITING); SEVENTH FROM LEFT: JASON TOBIN (WINNER, BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA); THIRD FROM RIGHT: DAX PHELAN (DIRECTOR); SECOND FROM RIGHT: GUY LIVNEH (WINNER, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY). (PHOTO: STEVEN LAM)
2015 LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL GRAND JURY PRIZE FOR BEST FEATURE GOES TO JASMINE, DIRECTED BY DAX PHELAN. HERE, THE TEAM FROM JASMINE CELEBRATES ITS FIVE AWARDS. FIFTH FROM LEFT: CHRIS CHAN LEE (WINNER, BEST EDITING); SEVENTH FROM LEFT: JASON TOBIN (WINNER, BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA); THIRD FROM RIGHT: DAX PHELAN (DIRECTOR); SECOND FROM RIGHT: GUY LIVNEH (WINNER, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY). (PHOTO: STEVEN LAM)

Chang: Being on the Film Festival Circuit…
Tobin: We had our US premiere in Dallas, our LA premiere at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. In this day and age, everyone in Hollywood is talking about the West and China co-productions. Everyone is trying to figure it out. Everyone wants to make these films. We did it. Jasmine is a US –Hong Kong co-production. Jasmine is a little indie film that we made. That is the thing that I am most proud of. It’s as much an American film, as it is an Asian American film, as it is a Hong Kong film. For me, I spent my whole career training as an actor in Los Angeles. I spent so many years going to the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival for other films, Better Luck Tomorrow and Yellow. To finally bring my film, a film that I produced, that I co-wrote, that I gave everything to, bled for, to premiere in Hong Kong and in LA, to me that was fabulous.

I grew up in Hong Kong; I went to America to study to become an actor. My whole adult life, my acting life was LA. To me Hong Kong and LA are my hometowns. To make a film in Hong Kong, to premiere in LA, to be so well received. When I won the best actor award at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, I was in tears. I was so moved. Hong Kong is my home, but coming to LA with the film felt like coming home as well.

Lia Chang, Bea Soong, Phil Nee, Elizabeth Sung, Eugenia Yuan, Jason Tobin, Tzi Ma and Vic Huey at the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Ursula Liang
Lia Chang, Bea Soong, Phil Nee, Elizabeth Sung, Eugenia Yuan, Jason Tobin, Tzi Ma and Vic Huey at the #AAIFF2015 screening of Jasmine at Village East Cinema in New York on July 30, 2015. Photo by Ursula Liang

Related articles:
#AAIFF2015: Dax Phelan’s Award winning JASMINE to have New York Premiere at Village East Cinema on July 30 
JASMINE and TWINSTERS Take Top Honors at the 31st Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival; ADVANTAGEOUS, MISS INDIA AMERICA, THE KILLING FIELDS OF DR. HAING S. NGOR among the winners

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival on November 21st. She is profiled in Examiner.com, FebOne1960.com BlogJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachangphotography.com

BD Wong, Oscar Isaac, Aziz Ansari, Randall Park, Constance Wu and more nominated for 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards

Congratulations to BD Wong, Aziz Ansari, Randall Park, Constance Wu and Oscar Isaac on their 2016 Critics’ Choice Award nominations in the Television category.

The Critics’ Choice Awards are the newly combined honors from the Broadcast Film Critics Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association. The winners of the 21st annual Critics’ Choice Awards will be announced at the Sunday, January 17th awards gala, hosted by T.J. Miller at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. It will broadcast live on A&E (8/7c), Lifetime and LMN.

BD Wong as White Rose on Mr Robot. credit: USA Network
BD Wong as White Rose on Mr Robot. credit: USA Network

Wong’s turn as White Rose in the USA Network’s Mr. Robot has garnered him a Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series nod.  Over the summer, he reprised his role as Dr. Wu in the blockbuster Jurassic World, which has been nominated for Best Action Movie, Best Sci-Fi Horror Movie, Best Visual Effects, Best Actor in an Action Movie (Chris Pratt) and Best Actress in an Action Movie (Bryce Dallas Howard) in the Film category. Wong has been shooting the FOX Bat-prequel Gotham portraying the iconic Bat-foe Hugo Strange, a brilliant professor and psychiatrist tapped to head up Gotham City’s notorious Arkham Asylum.

Constance Wu and Randall Park in ABC's 'Fresh Off the Boat'. Credit: ABC
Constance Wu and Randall Park in ABC’s ‘Fresh Off the Boat’. Credit: ABC

Fresh Off the Boat‘s Randall Park will go head to head in the Best Actor in a Comedy Series with Master of None‘s Aziz Ansari, who also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series-Musical or Comedy Park’s Fresh Off the Boat co-star Constance Wu has been nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari

Oscar Isaac, who starred as Nick Wasicsko in HBO’s Show Me A Hero,  won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture made for Television last Sunday, and is nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor in a Movie made for Television or Limited Series. Show Me A Hero has also been nominated for Best Movie Made for Television or Limited Series and Best Supporting Actress in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series (Winona Ryer).

Video: Oscar Isaac Wins Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie – Golden Globes 2016

The Guatemalan-American actor and singer received his first Golden Globe nomination for his starring role in Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), and is know for his lead roles in A Most Violent Year (2014) and Ex Machina (2015), which has been nominated for Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie, Best Original Screenplay (Alex Garland) and Best Visual Effects.

Oscar Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang
Oscar Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang

Isaac stars as X-wing pilot Poe Dameron in the seventh Star Wars film – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), and in 2016, can be seen in the ninth X-Men film, X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), as the titular supervillain Apocalypse.

Peter Sohn's 'The Good Dinosaur'
Peter Sohn’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’

Other nominations of note include Peter Sohn’s The Good Dinosaur  (Best Animated Feature), The Assassins (Best Foreign Language Film), and Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto (Best Score) for The Revenant.

Congratulations to all of the nominees.

TELEVISION
BEST DRAMA SERIES
Empire 
Mr. Robot 
Penny Dreadful 
Rectify 
The Knick 
The Leftovers 
UnREAL 

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Hugh Dancy – Hannibal 
Rami Malek – Mr. Robot 
Clive Owen – The Knick 
Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan 
Justin Theroux – The Leftovers 
Aden Young – Rectify 

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Shiri Appleby – UnREAL
Carrie Coon – The Leftovers 
Viola Davis – How to Get Away With Murder 
Eva Green – Penny Dreadful 
Taraji P. Henson – Empire 
Krysten Ritter – Jessica Jones

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Clayne Crawford – Rectify
Christopher Eccleston – The Leftovers 
Andre Holland – The Knick 
Jonathan Jackson – Nashville 
Rufus Sewell – The Man in the High Castle 
Christian Slater – Mr. Robot 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Ann Dowd – The Leftovers 
Regina King – The Leftovers 
Helen McCrory – Penny Dreadful 
Hayden Panettiere – Nashville 
Maura Tierney – The Affair 
Constance Zimmer – UnREAL 

BEST GUEST ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Richard Armitage – Hannibal 
Justin Kirk – Manhattan 
Patti LuPone – Penny Dreadful 
Margo Martindale – The Good Wife 
Marisa Tomei – Empire 
BD Wong – Mr. Robot 

BEST COMEDY SERIES
black-ish 
Catastrophe 
Jane the Virgin 
Master of None
The Last Man on Earth 
Transparent 
You’re the Worst 

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson – black-ish 
Aziz Ansari – Master of None 
Will Forte – The Last Man on Earth 
Randall Park – Fresh Off the Boat 
Fred Savage – The Grinder 
Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent 

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Rachel Bloom — Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Aya Cash — You’re the Worst
Wendi McLendon-Covey — The Goldbergs 
Gina Rodriguez — Jane the Virgin
Tracee Ellis Ross — black-ish
Constance Wu — Fresh Off the Boat

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine 
Jaime Camil – Jane the Virgin
Jay Duplass – Transparent 
Neil Flynn – The Middle 
Keegan-Michael Key – Playing House 
Mel Rodriguez – Getting On 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik – The Big Bang Theory 
Kether Donohue – You’re the Worst 
Allison Janney – Mom 
Judith Light – Transparent 
Niecy Nash – Getting On 
Eden Sher – The Middle

BEST GUEST ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ellen Burstyn – Mom 
Anjelica Huston – Transparent 
Cherry Jones – Transparent 
Jenifer Lewis – black-ish 
Timothy Olyphant — The Grinder
John Slattery – Wet Hot American Summer 

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
Kathy Bates – American Horror Story: Hotel 
Kirsten Dunst – Fargo 
Sarah Hay – Flesh and Bone 
Alyvia Alyn Lind – Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors 
Rachel McAdams – True Detective 
Shanice Williams – The Wiz Live! 

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
Childhood’s End 
Fargo 
Luther 
Saints & Strangers 
Show Me a Hero 
The Wiz Live! 

BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
Wes Bentley — American Crime Story: Hotel
Martin Clunes —Arthur & George 
Idris Elba — Luther 
Oscar Isaac —Show Me a Hero
Vincent Kartheiser — Saints & Strangers 
Patrick Wilson — Fargo

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
David Alan Grier – The Wiz Live! 
Ne-Yo – The Wiz Live! 
Nick Offerman – Fargo 
Jesse Plemons – Fargo 
Raoul Trujillo – Saints & Strangers 
Bokeem Woodbine – Fargo 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
Mary J. Blige – The Wiz Live! 
Laura Haddock – Luther 
Cristin Milioti – Fargo 
Sarah Paulson – American Horror Story: Hotel 
Winona Ryder – Show Me a Hero 
Jean Smart – Fargo 

BEST ANIMATION SERIES
Bob’s Burgers 
BoJack Horseman 
South Park 
Star Wars Rebels 
The Simpsons 

BEST TALK SHOW
Jimmy Kimmel Live 
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 
The Graham Norton Show 
The Late Late Show with James Corden 
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 

BEST REALITY SHOW – COMPETITION
Chopped 
Face Off 
MasterChef Junior 
Survivor 
The Amazing Race 
The Voice 

BEST REALITY SHOW HOST
Ted Allen – Chopped 
Phil Keoghan – The Amazing Race
James Lipton – Inside the Actors Studio 
Jane Lynch – Hollywood Game Night 
Jeff Probst – Survivor 
Gordon Ramsay – Hell’s Kitchen 

BEST STRUCTURED REALITY SHOW
Antiques Roadshow 
Inside The Actors Studio 
MythBusters
Project Greenlight 
Shark Tank 
Undercover Boss 

BEST UNSTRUCTURED REALITY SHOW
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown 
Cops 
Deadliest Catch 
Intervention 
Naked and Afraid 
Pawn Stars 

FILM
BEST PICTURE
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Sicario
Spotlight

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston
Trumbo
Matt Damon
The Martian
Johnny Depp
Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio
The Revenant
Michael Fassbender
Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne
The Danish Girl

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett
Carol
Brie Larson
Room
Jennifer Lawrence
Joy
Charlotte Rampling
45 Years
Saoirse Ronan
Brooklyn
Charlize Theron
Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Paul Dano
Love & Mercy
Tom Hardy
The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo
Spotlight
Mark Rylance
Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon
99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone
Creed

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh
The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara
Carol
Rachel McAdams
Spotlight
Helen Mirren
Trumbo
Alicia Vikander
The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet
Steve Jobs

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Abraham Attah
Beasts of No Nation
RJ Cyler
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Shameik Moore
Dope
Milo Parker
Mr. Holmes
Jacob Tremblay
Room

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
The Big Short
The Hateful Eight
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton
Trumbo

BEST DIRECTOR
Todd Haynes
Carol
Alejandro González Iñárritu
The Revenant
Tom McCarthy
Spotlight
George Miller
Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott
The Martian
Steven Spielberg
Bridge of Spies

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland
Ex Machina
Quentin Tarantino
The Hateful Eight
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
Inside Out
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
Spotlight

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
The Big Short
Nick Hornby
Brooklyn
Drew Goddard
The Martian
Emma Donoghue
Room
Aaron Sorkin
Steve Jobs

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Carol
Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight
Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road
John Seale
The Martian
Dariusz Wolski
The Revenant
Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario
Roger Deakins

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Bridge of Spies
Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo
Brooklyn
François Séguin, Jennifer Oman and Louise Tremblay
Carol
Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
The Danish Girl
Eve Stewart, Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road
Colin Gibson
The Martian
Arthur Max, Celia Bobak

BEST EDITING
The Big Short
Hank Corwin
Mad Max: Fury Road
Margaret Sixel
The Martian
Pietro Scalia
The Revenant
Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight
Tom McArdle

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Brooklyn
Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Carol
Sandy Powell
Cinderella
Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl
Paco Delgado
Mad Max: Fury Road
Jenny Beavan

BEST HAIR & MAKEUP
Black Mass
Carol
The Danish Girl
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Ex Machina
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
The Walk

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Furious 7
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Sicario

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Daniel Craig
Spectre
Tom Cruise
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Tom Hardy
Mad Max: Fury Road
Chris Pratt
Jurassic World
Paul Rudd
Ant-Man

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Emily Blunt
Sicario
Rebecca Ferguson
Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation
Bryce Dallas Howard
Jurassic World
Jennifer Lawrence
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Charlize Theron
Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST COMEDY
The Big Short
Inside Out
Joy
Sisters
Spy
Trainwreck

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Christian Bale
The Big Short
Steve Carell
The Big Short
Robert De Niro
The Intern
Bill Hader
Trainwreck
Jason Statham
Spy

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Tina Fey
Sisters
Jennifer Lawrence
Joy
Melissa McCarthy
Spy
Amy Schumer
Trainwreck
Lily Tomlin
Grandma

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE
Ex Machina
It Follows
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Assassin
Goodnight Mommy
Mustang
The Second Mother
Son of Saul

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Amy
Cartel Land
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
He Named Me Malala
The Look of Silence
Where to Invade Next

BEST SONG
Fifty Shades of Grey
“Love Me Like You Do”
Furious 7
“See You Again”
The Hunting Ground
“Til It Happens To You”
Love & Mercy
“One Kind of Love”
Spectre
“Writing’s on the Wall”
Youth
“Simple Song #3”

BEST SCORE
Carol
Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight
Ennio Morricone
The Revenant
Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto
Sicario
Johann Johannsson
Spotlight
Howard Shore

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachang.com

BD Wong, Aziz Ansari, Randall Park, Constance Wu, Oscar Isaac and more nominated for 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards

Congratulations to BD Wong, Aziz Ansari, Randall Park, Constance Wu and Oscar Isaac on their 2016 Critics’ Choice Award nominations in the Television category.

The Critics’ Choice Awards are the newly combined honors from the Broadcast Film Critics Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association. The winners of the 21st annual Critics’ Choice Awards will be announced at the Sunday, January 17th awards gala, hosted by T.J. Miller at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. It will broadcast live on A&E (8/7c), Lifetime and LMN.

BD Wong as White Rose on Mr Robot. credit: USA Network
BD Wong as White Rose on Mr Robot. credit: USA Network

Wong’s turn as White Rose in the USA Network’s Mr. Robot has garnered him a Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series nod.  Over the summer, he reprised his role as Dr. Wu in the blockbuster Jurassic World, which has been nominated for Best Action Movie, Best Sci-Fi Horror Movie, Best Visual Effects, Best Actor in an Action Movie (Chris Pratt) and Best Actress in an Action Movie (Bryce Dallas Howard) in the Film category. Wong was recently cast in the FOX Bat-prequel Gotham as iconic Bat-foe Hugo Strange, a brilliant professor and psychiatrist tapped to head up Gotham City’s notorious Arkham Asylum.

Constance Wu and Randall Park in ABC's 'Fresh Off the Boat'. Credit: ABC
Constance Wu and Randall Park in ABC’s ‘Fresh Off the Boat’. Credit: ABC

Fresh Off the Boat‘s Randall Park will go head to head in the Best Actor in a Comedy Series with Master of None‘s Aziz Ansari, who also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series-Musical or Comedy Park’s Fresh Off the Boat co-star Constance Wu has been nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari

Oscar Isaac was riveting as Nick Wasicsko in HBO’s Show Me A Hero and has received a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Actor in a Movie made for Television or Limited Series and a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture made for Television.

Oscar Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang
Oscar Isaac. Photo by Lia Chang

The Guatemalan-American actor and singer received his first Golden Globe nomination for his starring role in Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), and is know for his lead roles in A Most Violent Year (2014) and Ex Machina (2015). He stars as X-wing pilot Poe Dameron in the seventh Star Wars film – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), and in 2016, can be seen in the ninth X-Men film, X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), as the titular supervillain Apocalypse.

Peter Sohn's 'The Good Dinosaur'
Peter Sohn’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’

Other nominations of note include Peter Sohn’s The Good Dinosaur  (Best Animated Feature), The Assassins (Best Foreign Language Film), and Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto (Best Score) for The Revenant.

Congratulations to all of the nominees.

TELEVISION
BEST DRAMA SERIES
Empire 
Mr. Robot 
Penny Dreadful 
Rectify 
The Knick 
The Leftovers 
UnREAL 

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Hugh Dancy – Hannibal 
Rami Malek – Mr. Robot 
Clive Owen – The Knick 
Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan 
Justin Theroux – The Leftovers 
Aden Young – Rectify 

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Shiri Appleby – UnREAL
Carrie Coon – The Leftovers 
Viola Davis – How to Get Away With Murder 
Eva Green – Penny Dreadful 
Taraji P. Henson – Empire 
Krysten Ritter – Jessica Jones

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Clayne Crawford – Rectify
Christopher Eccleston – The Leftovers 
Andre Holland – The Knick 
Jonathan Jackson – Nashville 
Rufus Sewell – The Man in the High Castle 
Christian Slater – Mr. Robot 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Ann Dowd – The Leftovers 
Regina King – The Leftovers 
Helen McCrory – Penny Dreadful 
Hayden Panettiere – Nashville 
Maura Tierney – The Affair 
Constance Zimmer – UnREAL 

BEST GUEST ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Richard Armitage – Hannibal 
Justin Kirk – Manhattan 
Patti LuPone – Penny Dreadful 
Margo Martindale – The Good Wife 
Marisa Tomei – Empire 
BD Wong – Mr. Robot 

BEST COMEDY SERIES
black-ish 
Catastrophe 
Jane the Virgin 
Master of None
The Last Man on Earth 
Transparent 
You’re the Worst 

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson – black-ish 
Aziz Ansari – Master of None 
Will Forte – The Last Man on Earth 
Randall Park – Fresh Off the Boat 
Fred Savage – The Grinder 
Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent 

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Rachel Bloom — Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Aya Cash — You’re the Worst
Wendi McLendon-Covey — The Goldbergs 
Gina Rodriguez — Jane the Virgin
Tracee Ellis Ross — black-ish
Constance Wu — Fresh Off the Boat

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine 
Jaime Camil – Jane the Virgin
Jay Duplass – Transparent 
Neil Flynn – The Middle 
Keegan-Michael Key – Playing House 
Mel Rodriguez – Getting On 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik – The Big Bang Theory 
Kether Donohue – You’re the Worst 
Allison Janney – Mom 
Judith Light – Transparent 
Niecy Nash – Getting On 
Eden Sher – The Middle

BEST GUEST ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ellen Burstyn – Mom 
Anjelica Huston – Transparent 
Cherry Jones – Transparent 
Jenifer Lewis – black-ish 
Timothy Olyphant — The Grinder
John Slattery – Wet Hot American Summer 

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
Kathy Bates – American Horror Story: Hotel 
Kirsten Dunst – Fargo 
Sarah Hay – Flesh and Bone 
Alyvia Alyn Lind – Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors 
Rachel McAdams – True Detective 
Shanice Williams – The Wiz Live! 

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
Childhood’s End 
Fargo 
Luther 
Saints & Strangers 
Show Me a Hero 
The Wiz Live! 

BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
Wes Bentley — American Crime Story: Hotel
Martin Clunes —Arthur & George 
Idris Elba — Luther 
Oscar Isaac —Show Me a Hero
Vincent Kartheiser — Saints & Strangers 
Patrick Wilson — Fargo

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
David Alan Grier – The Wiz Live! 
Ne-Yo – The Wiz Live! 
Nick Offerman – Fargo 
Jesse Plemons – Fargo 
Raoul Trujillo – Saints & Strangers 
Bokeem Woodbine – Fargo 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION OR LIMITED SERIES
Mary J. Blige – The Wiz Live! 
Laura Haddock – Luther 
Cristin Milioti – Fargo 
Sarah Paulson – American Horror Story: Hotel 
Winona Ryder – Show Me a Hero 
Jean Smart – Fargo 

BEST ANIMATION SERIES
Bob’s Burgers 
BoJack Horseman 
South Park 
Star Wars Rebels 
The Simpsons 

BEST TALK SHOW
Jimmy Kimmel Live 
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart 
The Graham Norton Show 
The Late Late Show with James Corden 
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 

BEST REALITY SHOW – COMPETITION
Chopped 
Face Off 
MasterChef Junior 
Survivor 
The Amazing Race 
The Voice 

BEST REALITY SHOW HOST
Ted Allen – Chopped 
Phil Keoghan – The Amazing Race
James Lipton – Inside the Actors Studio 
Jane Lynch – Hollywood Game Night 
Jeff Probst – Survivor 
Gordon Ramsay – Hell’s Kitchen 

BEST STRUCTURED REALITY SHOW
Antiques Roadshow 
Inside The Actors Studio 
MythBusters
Project Greenlight 
Shark Tank 
Undercover Boss 

BEST UNSTRUCTURED REALITY SHOW
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown 
Cops 
Deadliest Catch 
Intervention 
Naked and Afraid 
Pawn Stars 

FILM
BEST PICTURE
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Sicario
Spotlight

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston
Trumbo
Matt Damon
The Martian
Johnny Depp
Black Mass
Leonardo DiCaprio
The Revenant
Michael Fassbender
Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne
The Danish Girl

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett
Carol
Brie Larson
Room
Jennifer Lawrence
Joy
Charlotte Rampling
45 Years
Saoirse Ronan
Brooklyn
Charlize Theron
Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Paul Dano
Love & Mercy
Tom Hardy
The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo
Spotlight
Mark Rylance
Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon
99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone
Creed

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh
The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara
Carol
Rachel McAdams
Spotlight
Helen Mirren
Trumbo
Alicia Vikander
The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet
Steve Jobs

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Abraham Attah
Beasts of No Nation
RJ Cyler
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Shameik Moore
Dope
Milo Parker
Mr. Holmes
Jacob Tremblay
Room

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
The Big Short
The Hateful Eight
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton
Trumbo

BEST DIRECTOR
Todd Haynes
Carol
Alejandro González Iñárritu
The Revenant
Tom McCarthy
Spotlight
George Miller
Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott
The Martian
Steven Spielberg
Bridge of Spies

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland
Ex Machina
Quentin Tarantino
The Hateful Eight
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
Inside Out
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
Spotlight

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
The Big Short
Nick Hornby
Brooklyn
Drew Goddard
The Martian
Emma Donoghue
Room
Aaron Sorkin
Steve Jobs

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Carol
Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight
Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road
John Seale
The Martian
Dariusz Wolski
The Revenant
Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario
Roger Deakins

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Bridge of Spies
Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo
Brooklyn
François Séguin, Jennifer Oman and Louise Tremblay
Carol
Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler
The Danish Girl
Eve Stewart, Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road
Colin Gibson
The Martian
Arthur Max, Celia Bobak

BEST EDITING
The Big Short
Hank Corwin
Mad Max: Fury Road
Margaret Sixel
The Martian
Pietro Scalia
The Revenant
Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight
Tom McArdle

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Brooklyn
Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Carol
Sandy Powell
Cinderella
Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl
Paco Delgado
Mad Max: Fury Road
Jenny Beavan

BEST HAIR & MAKEUP
Black Mass
Carol
The Danish Girl
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Ex Machina
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
The Walk

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Furious 7
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Sicario

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Daniel Craig
Spectre
Tom Cruise
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Tom Hardy
Mad Max: Fury Road
Chris Pratt
Jurassic World
Paul Rudd
Ant-Man

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Emily Blunt
Sicario
Rebecca Ferguson
Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation
Bryce Dallas Howard
Jurassic World
Jennifer Lawrence
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Charlize Theron
Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST COMEDY
The Big Short
Inside Out
Joy
Sisters
Spy
Trainwreck

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Christian Bale
The Big Short
Steve Carell
The Big Short
Robert De Niro
The Intern
Bill Hader
Trainwreck
Jason Statham
Spy

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Tina Fey
Sisters
Jennifer Lawrence
Joy
Melissa McCarthy
Spy
Amy Schumer
Trainwreck
Lily Tomlin
Grandma

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE
Ex Machina
It Follows
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Assassin
Goodnight Mommy
Mustang
The Second Mother
Son of Saul

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Amy
Cartel Land
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
He Named Me Malala
The Look of Silence
Where to Invade Next

BEST SONG
Fifty Shades of Grey
“Love Me Like You Do”
Furious 7
“See You Again”
The Hunting Ground
“Til It Happens To You”
Love & Mercy
“One Kind of Love”
Spectre
“Writing’s on the Wall”
Youth
“Simple Song #3”

BEST SCORE
Carol
Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight
Ennio Morricone
The Revenant
Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto
Sicario
Johann Johannsson
Spotlight
Howard Shore

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at lia@liachang.com