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I think it’s important to make clear first and foremost, “To Those Nights” is not a short about whether drinking is right or wrong, or cool or bad for you. It’s strictly about the emotions and situations that might arise when you allow yourself to get to these inebriated states. There is no underage drinking, and there is absolutely no drinking and driving. I really hope people don’t get caught up on the alcohol side of this story, but instead focus on the characters and what they are each going through.
It’s probably safe to say that this is one of the most honest shorts I’ve done. Not only am I indirectly admitting that I’ve been drunk enough to have these thoughts, I’m also bringing you into those thoughts, the ones that you, when you are drunk, keep to yourself, or within your car, or within your texts. But I don’t mind, because I don’t think it’s really a secret. I think everyone at some point in their drinking life has or will go through these emotions regarding an lost love, an ex, or someone they’re head over heels with. So while being very exposing, it’s also very intimate. I’m not saying that I went through each of these 3 stories literally (I’ve never cheated), but the ingredients are things we are all familiar with.
WHY THESE 3 STORIES?
Each story was created very specifically. There are many drunk dialing stories out there (some crazier than others I’m sure) and originally I was going to give this project the title “The Drunk Call Chronicles” or something like that. Decided I didn’t want to make the focus on the drunk calls, though, so that was tossed out. These stories were chosen because I wanted to represent several emotional states, but with equal significance. Even the genders of the protagonists were important. For example, I don’t think a lot of guys want to admit that they get sad and think about their past mistakes when they’re drunk, so I wanted to represent this in Justin Chon’s character, Elijah. Likewise girls are typically assumed to be the ones that get taken advantage of when drunk, so Karalynn’s character, Jessica, was placed in a situation where she was in control and she makes the first move. In terms of story lines, I wanted to balance out the short with these 3 stories. Bryan and Courtney’s drunken proposal story was important to lighten the mood. If there were 3 sad/depressing stories, that would’ve just been too much, plus I think it’s important to show that drinking can (and should) bring joy and light hearted stories. It doesn’t always have to be dark and moody. Hopefully the viewer felt this balance or dark and light.
ONE WEEK FOR MUSIC
Jesse Chui has long been providing amazing music for some of our favorite projects. He helped us all the way back in college, and over the last few years with music in “At Musing’s End”, “When Five Fell, and “The Places We Should Have Gone”. It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to link up with him, but this was a perfect time. He worked extremely hard to create all the music and go back and forth with me to fine tune things, in just a little over a week of time. Despite this time constraint, he did an amazing job capturing the ethereal feelings, tension, and hope through the project. Certain scenes, however, were purposely left without music, not because we didn’t have time, but because we wanted to leave them “raw” in a sense. Adding music always draws some attention to the fact that you are watching a produced video, and it typically leads the viewer to feel a predetermined emotion for a scene. But something like, the final hallway between Jessica and Eddie, we wanted to keep untouched, so the viewer could allow themselves to interpret their feelings completely on their own and feel like they were sitting right there with them.
LOW KEY PRODUCTION, WHAT’S NEW?
Unfortunately, just like with The Last, there isn’t really any BTS to share the process of this production. Even though we had about 7 shoot days, they were all usually very quickly organized or squeezed in between some other work, plus with these “personal” projects I always tend to keep the shoots and crews very small, so capturing BTS was always a last minute thought that we didn’t really have the personnel for. We have some photos this time at least! haha
HOW’D YOU GET THIS AMAZING CAST!
We were very fortunate to have some incredible people play the roles of these characters. The first person we confirmed was Justin Chon. While he’s known for his crazy antics on his youtube channel and 21 and over, I saw a short film he did a couple years ago called Jin that was very dramatic so I wanted to give him another opportunity to show this side of him. Justin knew Janel Parrish (Mona on Pretty Little Liars) and he talked to her to play opposite him in that scene. She was very sweet and fun to work with. Honestly I was quite nervous working with her since we hadn’t known each other before and she’s probably used to bigger productions, but she was totally down for everything. Thanks Justin for making that happen. After that we locked in Graham who we met a year ago on the project “The Wan Percent”. I had always remembered him and the fact that he’s a Jersey Boy (the musical) in Las Vegas. I was definitely excited to work with such a professional theater actor. Justin James Hughes was next and he, like Justin Chon, is more known for his comedy on youtube, but I wanted to explore another side of him. When I first asked him if he’s ever done anything dramatic he said the most dramatic role he could refer me to was a music video he did for Nickleback. DONE. We thought of Meghan because we knew Jimmy Wong from working with him, and I wanted to bring in more “youtube” friends. Karalynn was someone Chris met briefly in an acting course. She stood out to him, and he was absolutely right. This whole cast was such a blessing to work with, and I’m really glad the project could be Janel’s dip from TV into youtube, Meghan’s first time acting, Justin Chon and Hughes going outside of their character.
WHY THE SWEARING??
Wong Fu has never had uncensored swear words in our content. We never felt the absolute need for it, or a bleep would always suffice. However, with a short like this one, I wanted it to be authentic. And what usually happens when people drink? Their tongues get a little looser and yes, they cuss. I thought about using other words in place, but it just seemed too unnatural. It didn’t seem that necessary to censor considering the subject matter was already somewhat mature, and it was more important to me to be truthful to these environments. And in regards to Jessica and Eddie’s story involving cheating, to be honest, I’ve wanted to shoot that final hallway scene for many years, but I just never had the proper story to fit it in. While I personally have never done anything like that, cheating is something that many people unfortunately give in to, and it’s a scenario I’ve always wanted to try in a short. By no means am I endorsing it, and hopefully with the closing monologue emphasize that.
ABOVE ALL, ENCOURAGEMENT
That closing monologue is really the ultimate message I hope people will take from this short. Sure the video had some drama, sure it had some drinking, but the realization that the Bryan expresses at the end (while drunk, sure) is really important. I’m nearing the end of my 20s and have been through and around enough scenarios to see many people including myself, lost and wondering about their lives, love, or lack of fulfillment in these areas. As someone, just like you, who’s felt extremely low and lonely, I understand those feelings, the fear and discomfort. But amazingly enough, with time I’ve made my way out of that period and can look back, finally understanding why all of it had to happen. I hope the viewers can see this as my encouragement to them. That while there will be difficult times ahead, or there are difficult times now, it won’t last forever. You’ll learn from it, and grow, and eventually… “we’ll all get there, happy”.