WONG FU PRODUCTIONS
By Sue Van Phan
I remember back when I was still in middle school, it was my first time coming across an online video sharing platform called YouTube. From there, I began browsing beauty channels to short movie channels. One day a video by Wong Fu Productions suddenly popped up and I gave it a click, and since then I’ve been interested in all of their short movies. Thinking back, what really caught my attention was probably the fact that I could relate to some of their short movies in one way or another, which in my personal opinion stands out from the everyday teenage American shows that I grew up watching. That is because, I found Wong Fu Productions works to be much more raw and true based on people’s daily lives and experiences.
Wong Fu Productions is an Asian American filmmaking group co-founded by Ted Fu, Wesley Chan and Philip Wang during the year of 2004. The Wong Fu Productions idea officially debuted while the trios were all an undergraduate in University of California, San Diego. Prior to 2004, Philip already had an idea about Wong Fu Productions during the year 2001 in his junior year at Northgate High School. During that year, Philip used his parent’s digital camcorder to film projects that he did with his classmates just for fun.
Little did he know, during his freshman year of college he officially filmed his first music video of Justin Timberlake’s song “Señorita”. At that time YouTube channels didn’t even exist, so their video went viral due to his classmates passing it along to one another. Although, each of them majored in different fields, the fact that they were all passionate about the idea of filmmaking brought them together as a one unique and talented team.
As mentioned before, I became interested in their videos because I could genuinely relate to the stories they were telling. The stories might not be dramatic, but the fact that I can relate to the stories show that Wong Fu Productions really put all their heart and soul into making quality stories with strong storylines. Not to mention, most of their short movies are between five to ten minutes, which is not that long. The fact that they were able to make short stories within that time frame, and at the same time were able to connect with the audiences, really is fascinating. Most of their videos may be based on love, relationships and friendships, but there is always something new and raw that Wong Fu Productions is trying to tell through those topics.
For example, one of their short movies that I remembered watching was, “Strangers, Again” which was written and directed by Philip Wang. It was about how Josh met Marissa while noticing her shoelaces came untied while jogging. As the story progressed they went from being strangers to friends to being a couple officially. Although the stages that both of the characters went through were brief, at the same time it also portrayed a lot of strong emotions as if I was in that exact moment with them. Even if it didn’t end in a happy ending, the stories did open doors for me to think about the concept of a relationship between people.
Another wonderful short movie that I remember watching was, “Komorebi” which was written and directed by Wesley Chan. Throughout the story, it talked about how two students were
relieved after finishing their entrance exam. They then wander around the park and come to a realization about how the certain languages people use can tell so much about the other person’s culture or what they value most in life, including those little feelings and moments that people experience and are just indescribable with words. To quote the conversation between the two characters, “It doesn’t matter in the end. What’s important is how you see the world. Not how the world sees you.” The girl might be worrying about whether or not she’ll pass the entrance exam, but her guy friend reassures her that it doesn’t matter as long as she still has faith and confidence in herself.
Both of the short stories talked about two completely different topics, but at the same time both of them are interconnected in one way or another. Maybe that is why I’m so interested in Wong Fu Productions work because they touch and show the raw and real experiences of the lives that some of us are dealing with. I also found that they don’t tend to dramatize the stories just to enthuse the audiences, but rather deal with raw emotions and situations. At the same time it also opens doors for audiences to think beyond what they see in the short movie and how it is interconnected with certain stages of life that they are in. Moreover, as a dedicated fan of Wong Fu Productions, I hope one day I can produce such inspiring and meaningful works of arts that tell vivid stories.