Where do I begin about this project? Let’s just say it’s been a long time coming.

Back in October of last year, Phil, Christine and I went to London for the YouTube Music Awards. We were asked to make something inspired by music (yes it was a really really general prompt). We ended up making a fun lip sync video with some of our friends to promote the awards show. But that wasn’t the only thing we shot there. Since we had a full week in London, we found some time to create some personal passion projects.

My original idea was about a couple separated by long distance. I was thinking the short would be a narration of thoughts and feelings while one of them was traveling through the city and listening to a song. It was meant to be a super low-key and simple short. I wanted to capture the sights of London and use the narration to string a loose story together. At the time, London was experiencing a beautiful autumn and everything looked lovely. I spent a few days invested in this idea and even went searching for props with Christine. We went all over in search of a vintage cassette player. In the end, we weren’t able to find one. Oh well. The prop was the least of my concerns.

I remember thinking about the story and asking myself how I could make it more interesting– how I could make it different. To be honest, I didn’t have much. I knew I wanted the two characters to be separated by an outside force. I decided it would be work or school of some sort. It would be mutual but still heartbreaking. I wanted to express the reservations and doubts about the decision to separate. I knew wasn’t going to try to tell their whole story. It would be more of a glimpse into their thoughts in one particular day. That’s pretty much all I had. Not much.

Context and framing is everything. Deep down, I was aware the story concept lacked a unique setup. That’s when it occurred to me that a long distance relationship can exist anywhere. It can span cities, states, countries, or even planets. Two people separated living on different planets. With just that adjustment, the story became so much more engaging to me. Then I got really excited. There were questions to answer: Why are they on different planets? What is the other planet? How would I portray a different planet while in London?

THE BACKSTORY:

In the future, because of climate change, contamination, war, and disease, Earth is unable to sustain human life. As a result, an artificial planet (roughly the size of the moon) is created to support mankind. This planet is called Icarus. Icarus is meant to mimic Earth’s most populous cities. One of the stages of it’s construction includes “the mirroring phase” which describes how everything is perfectly replicated on Icarus. Through a mass migration, everyone on Earth eventually inhabit Icarus as their new home.

For the most part, life on Icarus is good. It’s meant to feel the same as Earth– so life goes on, unchanged. However, this is a select group of people who have their eyes and hopes still set on Earth. This group is called ARC: the Adapation and Revival Corps. ARC is dedicated to restoring Earth as place to live and thrive. Their work has already seen success. A number of ARC teams have returned to Earth and set up livable revival base stations. One of them is the park where Doug reflects to himself. 

THE CHARACTERS

Doug and Hilarys’ characters separated because of the distance. There was an understanding that sustaining the relationship across planets would be unlikely. Doug’s character joined ARC and left for Earth because he felt it gave him a higher calling– a purpose. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t still think of her. Hilary’s character is also facing certain realities. In the short, we see her acknowledge that she needs to let go of the idea of them.

We met Doug at the YT Music Awards. He was really fun to work with and has some entertaining vlogs on his channel too! Plus, he was definitely helpful in production since he was a local. We met Hilary through some tweets about casting that we made after arriving in London. She was also a pleasure to work with and even suggested some amazing locations for the short.

LOCATIONS

We shot all around London. The park with the fountain (Postman’s Park) serves as an anchor for the characters and the short as a whole. Even though both characters are in what looks like the same location, it’s important to remember they are actually on different planets. The park exists on Earth and on Icarus as a “mirror” of the original. The memorial wall located at the park was an unexpected bonus that tied nicely into the story. After seeing Primrose Hill, I knew I wanted to see a wide shot of ships launching into the sky from there. Doug’s living quarters was actually the apartment room I stayed. It was such a cool,compact, modern space that it just begged to be put in the short.

POST PRODUCTION

This being our first science fiction based short, I’d say I might’ve gotten a little ambitious with the world and futuristic elements. Thankfully, Kenson was just as enthusiastic as I. Like me, he’s always wanted to do something in this genre. I’m pretty sure this is the most visual effects shots we’ve had in a short of this length. This short is was brought to reality largely through Kenson’s skill and dedication. On top of the elements created from scratch, there’s a lot of small details that were created to show this a future world. One of my favorites is the “Dream Capture” wall projections. You might notice Porter Lynn is also featured in the cast. This is because I had her record the voiceover of Hilary’s character after returning from London. Originally, I did record with Hilary while I was there, but I changed some of the lines significantly. It was more practical to redo the lines completely.

GUPPY SHIP + ICARUS DESIGN

One of the highlights of creating this short was being able to design the spaceship and planet, Icarus. I knew from the beginning, I wanted the ship’s shape to be inspired by a whale. I feel like the best designs often come from the natural world around us, so this was a chance to explore that. While I had some elaborate ideas in my head, my drawing ability is unfortunately limited. I ended giving my brother, Brian, some really rough/primitive sketches and a silhouette of the ship. He came back to me with beautifully detailed drawings and also the nickname Guppy Ship (even though it’s supposed to look more like a whale). Since my brother knows my tastes pretty well, I didn’t have many adjustments to make. Next, he modeled the ship in 3D and sent it back to me. I spent a solid week texturing the ship with Kenson. After that, we placed the final ship into shots I had taken in London and mapped out the exact movements. The last step was adding particle effects like flames and dust to make the whole thing convincing.

Creating Icarus was challenging because I couldn’t figure out how to create something that would look enough like Earth but unique enough to differentiate right away. It was important for Icarus to have a very particular silhouette so that it could be recognized at first glance. After a lot of concepts, I liked the asymmetrical ring the most. My brother added some nice intricate details to really sell it too. This was the most 3D work we’ve done. A lot of it was learned on the spot but ultimately I’m pleased with how everything looks.

MUSIC

Many people have said the theme in this short reminds them of Cloud Atlas. That might be because I told Kenson I love the way that piece sounds. He managed to compose a beautiful score that is definitely unique but gives the same hopeful energy.

EXTRA NOTES

  • Everything was shot in one day– much like our One Days HK shorts
  • Doug and Hilary are always solo in their shots because we were pressed for time and couldn’t schedule them together
  • The shot of the “launch lift” is actually passing lights in a tunnel. I got it while we were in a taxi between locations.
  • Certain shots of sky and clouds were grabbed on my flight from Singapore back to the states!
  • The desert-looking shots were shot at the dry lakebed while were filming Wong Fu Weekend – Desert Racing Edition!
  • Simon and Melvin were two local photographers that were extremely helpful in making this short. Thanks guys!
  • The reason this short has taken so long is because it was only worked on in between our regular projects
  • Choosing the acronym ARC wasn’t a mistake. I did want it to loosely reference Noah’s Ark
  • I called the planet, Icarus (Greek mythology) because I believe even though it serves as a temporary home, it will fall and people will eventually to return to Earth.
  • It’s ridiculously difficult designing sci-fi elements that haven’t been seen before!
  • I’m totally aware of other shows/movies with a similar premise. Voices of a Distant Star by Makoto Shinkai is a breathtaking piece of work and I can only home we captured something that matches it in live action. There’s also similarities to Elysium and Oblivion which I also love!
  • I hope this shed some light “A WORLD AWAY” and how we created the short. Thanks!

PERSONAL THOUGHTS (UPDATED MAY 6, 2014)

At Wong Fu Productions, there’s a few different types of projects. Most of what you see is a collective effort in terms of how the final product is crafted. And on the other hand, there are passion projects. These are usually shorts that Phil or I have written independently.

I’m a slow writer. I’ll sit on an idea for months before anything actually gets put on paper. For that reason, the output of my projects has typically been one or two per year. That’s totally fine with me. There’s plenty to do at WFP so it’s not like my creative outlet isn’t being fulfilled.

Phil and I have different styles– in writing, shooting, directing, and editing. That’s just natural because we’re different people. And I think it’s beneficial for WFP to have these different perspectives. I believe our distinct styles are most evident in our personal projects.

“A World Away” is the most recent personal project of mine to date. And just looking at the YouTube stats, it’s also the most disliked. The initial response was interesting to me but not a total surprise. I understand as an artist I’m in the position to be critiqued. And that’s wonderful. The feedback is definitely welcome and helpful in my own creative growth, so I thank you for it. I am not offended by any of the comments. And what I’m writing isn’t a defense of the work (although it may sound like it haha). I just wanted to offer some of my thoughts. I’m not trying to argue or change your mind about the work.

“The plot is lacking. There’s no character development. It’s boring.”

Different people like different things. It’s that simple. I think I announced “A World Away” had science fiction elements, everyone imagined an epic story. Let’s be honest. I’d love to do something on a grander scale but that’s not for this project. The plot is lacking if you’re looking for something more. And I can understand a lot of people were. This is not the most compelling character-driven drama WFP has created.  But then again, it’s not trying to be. It really is a stream of consciousness of two people in a futuristic setting. I think some people are expecting some big emotional release when watching something I’ve written. I can say while true in the past, that wasn’t my primary intention with this piece. I had only a few hours with the actors separately, so I decided to tell their story in narration. The goal was to let the two character’s emotional thoughts guide the exploration of the worlds. I was very much interested in trying new visuals by working with Kenson and my brother. And to be totally honest, in a way, I just wanted an excuse to play with spaceships and such. As for how boring it is, well I’ll just say yes, it does help if you’re in a certain mood to watch something like this.

“It’s too cheesy.”

This will always come up with emotional/dramatic material. Similar to what I said earlier, different people have different tolerances to what is too over the top for them. Even I have a threshold for cheese. You could say AWA is cheesy and “nobody talks like that” and I agree. But it’s the internal thoughts we’re hearing– not actual dialogue. To me, there is some liberty there. What we think and feel is sometimes many times stronger than what we say.

“The concept/theme is overused.”

It never claimed this was a completely original idea. I was always very transparent that this has been indirectly influenced by other great works. Many amazing films, series, and anime have touched on the idea of a separate but similar world to our own. AWA is not an imitation. Yes, it’s a similar concept but it’s also something we’ve never done at WFP. And that’s what excited me the most.

“It’s not science fiction, it’s just another typical WFP drama.”

This is a relationship story framed in science fiction. The choice to make this a relationship story was because I’m aware that that’s what resonates well with our audience. I was hoping it could be a bridge into a new genre. But again, I’d like to emphasize it’s a very loose dramatic short. Don’t expect crazy plot points and twists. I understand viewers enjoy stories that are relatable. I think some of the themes of AWA are pretty universal. But this was not meant to rank high on the “relatability scale” in the scope of WFP work. Lastly, it’s funny to me because the whole idea of this short was to try something different (with the limited resources I had at the time). Yet, the criticism has been that it’s the same thing. I understand the sentiment, but I am consciously trying to progress the type of content we make. Just understand that it’s being done with baby steps. I’d love to tell a science fiction story that involved space battles and alien lifeforms, but not in this short. People have different ideas of what qualifies as science fiction.

“This isn’t your style.”

This seems almost contradictory to the previous statement. Do our viewers determine what our style is? Or is that something the creator puts on themselves? All I can say is, yes it’s different, and it’s not going to resonate with our entire audience the same way. Ultimately, this was an enormously time and energy consuming project and I’m very happy it was finished. It wasn’t made for the sake of being different. It was made because it interests me and it excites creativity in me. The critiques have helped me learn, and more importantly, further inspired me. Thank you everyone for watching, regardless of whether you enjoy our content or not. I also want to encourage other creators (or aspiring) to make what stimulates your own creativity. It’s all a process. And it never ends. But you know what, that’s probably the best part.

 

  • Kenson

    Hey there!

  • Applejuice

    I loved the video. The design and the effects especially superb.
    However I do feel like you have had some better storylines. To name something, why couldn’t they keep contact through, say, a mobile phone? But maybe I’m just being dense/nitpicking here.

    Awesome work guys.

    • Wes

      Thanks! Appreciate the comment! It’s true they could have used mobile technology to keep in touch but even that can only go so far in sustaining a relationship :( -Wes

      • sardiuswinter

        I agree on the point about the storyline. I feel Wong Fu really pushed the boundaries in terms of graphics with this short – awesome work there – but the storyline feels very familiar and kind of similar to previous videos. Some pushing of boundaries on the storylines is needed.

        • Seansterfu

          Here’s what I feel is missing in the storyline. There isn’t a reason why we should care that this couple is seperated. There is nothing these characters are doing that is actively getting us invested in their story. Through-out the whole video, it’s the two characters “telling” us how they feel about the whole situation. Frankly, when that happens, it turns into a bore.

          As an outside viewer of the whole situation, I want to “see” what they’re feeling. How is this situation effecting them? The video should be more of a general guide to the directors vision for the audience rather than a step-by-step recipie.

          Now compare this to “Somewhere Like This” (specifically concentrating on Wes’s work). While, the theme of the video is something similar, it does a much better job at making us care about the characters. We were able see why Scott was so invested in trying to respark an old romance. You let us see the whole relationship fall apart.

          Maybe it was the fact that you were doing something new with one of your videos, that you kind of pushed the storyline to the side. This in turn also kind of effected the whole look of the short too. While the shots were framed beautifully and looked cool, there was no driving force behind what you were trying to show us.

          This is something that I feel like Wes always struggles to execute. The idea and theme of a couple seperated by long distance is nothing new (and that’s a problem). The idea just lacked the driving motivation and forces and never really took off.

          Hopefully, Wes, you’ll see my comment and disregard the youtube comments. It’s kind of hard to convey what you’re trying to say in 1000 characters or less.

  • http://saucyfbaby.tumblr.com/ saucyfbaby

    i really loved the dream capture element . if only we could record our dreams & play it back .

    i enjoyed this alot & i hope you guys delve into more sci-fi/fantasy projects in the future .

    —- nicole

  • Haruka Ishimoto

    OMG….this is soooo awesome…can’t believe this is actually your first try with sci-fi and 3D stuff…it just blew my mind! Loved it :) You should make another one!!

  • Christine Lee Chen Ee

    Love the script, particularly this one, “A gift to say goodbye, something that I was never good at doing.” Overall, really love the short film! Good job, wongfu!

  • Anon

    Wes, I’ve always liked your shorts. They’ve always given a warm and fuzzy feeling after watching them but there’s something lacking in this particular short of yours. I’m not saying that it isn’t good. The graphics and scenery are great, amazing actually, there’s no doubt about that, but the storyline though. There’s just something missing. I felt as if it needed more detail. And I wished that the narration and acting could have been more natural. The cast did a great job but I couldn’t really feel the emotions they were trying to show in the video. It could have been a great sci-fi/romance if the video explored more on the life on Earth and Icarus. Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to more of your shorts. :D I still love your productions no matter what. Don’t let comments discourage you!

    -xoxo

    • Aleš Máca

      I must fully agree with Anon. What I would like to say is no matter what original intention was I like the little melodrama in. Yes, there is a bit of overstatement inside, but it makes it sooo romantic. Actually it somehow fits with lyric aspects of this movie and genre of “intergalactic tragedy”, too. Anon is right that some text parts are not perfectly natural but that is what makes whole movie more distant and universal, somehow timeless (and also romantic :-D ).

  • Anthony

    I have been a long time Wong Fu fan and to be honest I sadly have to join the bandwagon. This was definitely a triumph of visual effects, however, while all of that is great and dandy, you’ve fallen short in regards to story. I never thought I’d say this but I actually found this short a bit boring. If you could combine the two with equal efforts then maybe something great could come of it. But sadly, the whole science fiction scene is overly saturated already.

  • esthertch

    Awesome graphics! The whole time I was thinking “How did you guys do that!”. Storyline, pretty loose but I don’t dislike it. It’s a very different genre for Wongfu.

  • Adrienna

    Thank you Wes for taking the time to write up the commentary and for giving us a glimpse of the thought processes, behind the scenes and what you did / had to do to produce this short. It has definitely been a labour of love, especially for you and Kenson. You guys should be very proud of this :) Love your videos as always. Keep it up!

  • Fane

    I’m amazed with Guppy Ship & Icarus and it managed to take my attention to the details of the story. And the most important part is that the distant-love element is still there to keep the story alive. Good job!

  • T-Flip

    You guys really made this one with a lot of heart, everything just matches up together. The music, the theme of distance, and the photography reminds me of Makoto Shinkai’s work, and you managed to capture all of that while still being original. Nice work Wong Fu.

  • Sarah

    This short was shot so beautifully, everything was eye candy. Especially the scene at Primrose Hill. Storyline and concepts are great, but I think maybe your audience needs a dose of interaction here and there in order to not stray from all the dialogue. That being said though, I can’t imagine a more amazing end product lended from just 1 day of shooting. Bravo :)

  • Kan

    ‘I’ve been a Wong fu fan for about a one and threebquarters year. Before that I watched a few videos but wasn’t full in it. Now , I’ve seen a lot of great works of yours but I’ve seen a few cliches as well ( just like away we happened- I know you guys do that together ) .

    This one does also have great points and points to work on. The graphics were amazing, shots taken were great and background music is suitable. Considering that the shots were done on one day, I can imagine why more engaging scenes couldn’t be fitted in.
    Though I still think if you want the viewer to FEEL the situation and understand how this distance between those two characters is something I should take notice of instead of just letting the viewer SEE that this is happening, then you have to change the story or the way it’s put together.

    I’m saying this because I know you can do better and that you have potential. When I write a story, I go over it or let it get beta read at least five to ten times and I’ll make sure opinions are not biased. Once correcting it, I send it off. In your case I can tell that you just put that simply together, either way it would be helpful to that. I know you like it simple but how about increasing more emotion in the narration and lines, how about a twist for their relationship to awake the viewer?

    Either way it’s good.

  • Oblivious

    Wes, I’ve already met you in person many times before and am amazed by your work as well as that of your co-workers. The cinematography was absolutely superb! While the general comments here were talking about viewers not FEELING for the characters, maybe I can give you a storyline idea that has already happened to me personally. I started out in a mutual “love at first” situation at work. After we dated locally, it turned into a long distance situation. 2 years later it resulted in a marriage. The marriage broke up because my husband did not support me emotionally during a crisis I was facing personally and career-wise. We spent too much time arguing about the situation we couldn’t “agree to disagree on”. Our love for each other died. I was with him 10 years total, including marriage. 10 years after our divorce, we’ve dated other people and got used to a life without each other. I recently contacted him after his mother saw me. When I read his email back to me, it reminded me of the very first letter he sent me when he wanted to date me at work (in terms of the formal tone before you get to know someone intimately). I just started bawling when I read it. Why? Because it was (is) too late. I no longer feel any passion or excitement for him the way I had when we were together. I only feel feelings of “friendship”. We both have not found a long term partner. I am sad that had we not broken up we would have been together for 20 years. He would have been the person I could feel comfortable, growing old with and spending the rest of my life with but he and I didn’t nurture our relationship when we had the chance. The irony is that the same year we got divorced, I found out I had cancer. When I tried calling people who were unavailable, he was the one who answered and came over to sleep with me to comfort me not be physically intimate with me. That was LOVE. I recently heard this song “Call and Answer” by the Barenaked Ladies. There’s a line about “You think I’m only here to witness the remains of love exhumed.” When I heard the song, it reminded me of my broken relationship that could’ve been something great but never reached it’s potential. Now I feel so dispassionate about the love we once had that was once buried and now exposed for the flaws it carried. (Sorry for the long post but I had to let an artist know to draw inspiration from my story.)

    • ME

      reading this … I started to cry and I don’t understand why. Maybe it’s when you started to say “it was too late… I only feel feelings of ‘friendship’…” up to the part about you calling everyone and he was the only to come over and be there for you. I think because I’d been thinking about someone I dated and ended things because of distance and other reasons. It was the right route for us, but it somehow still hurts but for reasons I didn’t really understand until now. I know I care very much still about him, and I’d like to think he does me. I don’t know where I’m going with this… I think I just needed to not feel so alone in how I feel and somehow your post and video resonated with me…

    • Vivian Kwan

      That is a beautiful yet sad experience. Sad because you no longer have each other, and yet, beautiful because it’s been recognized how special he is to you, despite no longer being a main part in each others’ lives. I hope that all is going well for you healthwise, and all the other parts of your life, since you said you’ve yet to find a long term partner. The idealistic romantic in me hopes that one day the two of you will reunite, but realistically it doesn’t seem like you will. Although, remember that everything happens for a reason, whether that reason was good or bad is subjective. You separated for what I will conclude from your words as a good reason, so I hope you don’t continue to feel upset thinking back to those days and of the days that “could have” been. Have hope for the future, because humans without hope are humans without drive and motivation. All the best to you!

  • Viet Hoang-Tran

    Icarus and ARC… sounds like the perfect setting for a game and a story.

  • Dr. Jay-Dub

    Wes, I’ve been watching your videos since 2006 and I can’t believe how much you’ve grown as an artist. It’s amazing! This short was in line with the style and quality that are just classic Wes Chan, and that’s exactly why I love it! Will be rewatching it again and again to pick up some of the finer details, but I have to say I am so impressed with your work, as always. Please keep on living the dream!

  • mel

    i really needed this commentary. there were really good lines in the short. great quality video, but it was so vague. there wasn’t the amazing sense of relatability to the viewer that wong fu is so amazing at doing– that “stranger” and “the last” had.

  • Adila

    I’m truly impressed with every little thought you had put in the details of the this short. I’ve to say that this is really different from all the shorts you guys had done!

  • Meg Locara

    I actually liked this video based on this perspective:

    Everything is the same yet it’s not. I like how Icarus offers us a source of conflict. It’s the same reality she used to live in but it’s not the reality she grew up knowing. It’s more like a facade, a false hope, a temporary refuge but it’s not what it appears to offer.

    When the girl entered the scene, I tried to look at how she tries to tell the story. She’s a woman who is in conflict. Her heart wants to hold on to the past yet she knows that she needs to let go of the past and live in the now.

    Then we meet the guy who clearly sees that there is no ‘now’, rather, only the future can tell. He has moved on yet his heart longs for a bright future with her. He’s conflicted with how sad his present is and how he wants to prepare a better future for her.

    This is a different approach to story-telling and I like excerpts like these. It’s like zooming in on the thoughts of two conflicted people and how they feel towards their current situation. They don’t need to establish what’s happening, snippets would do (it’s up to you to fill up the holes) but the main emphasis here is the emotion and the desire to hold on and the desire to let go. :)

    It’s not a personal favorite but I love it :)

  • Michelle H

    Wow, I love the music, the effects, the way you presented London.. everything! Although many said that the story lacks substantial plot, I personally think that it’s not a bad thing. I feel that it gives realism to the story and the emotions that the characters are trying to portray (despite the sci-fi elements) because life doesn’t need a dramatic storyline. Life goes on. :)

  • Veronica

    I really appreciated the new perspective that was presented in this short. I love how this short allows me to use my imagination to explore the new world and I recognize that given resources you did not have the time to further develop the piece. I really hope we can see more like this.

  • Manon

    I think both the short, and your attitude to the comments and critiques are lovely.

  • MS

    i FINALLY watched AWA yesterday, and it’s EXACTLY what I expected. It was you exploring a new genre and pushing your boundaries. Bravo!
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts and commentary. It’s very insightful and inspiring.

  • Sarah

    I agreed at first that the feel I got from the script was awkwardness and that’s why the whole work felt lacking at first. But I watched it again without looking at the video and found that it wasn’t really the script or story/plot that was lacking but rather the voice acting. Doug was great and through his words he was able to capture that emotion. But Hilary’s (Porter?) voice acting didn’t convey it as well or didn’t match/blend with the mood most of the time. Since the only dialogue is a voice over, the subtle differences I think make a big difference. However the script and the visuals were phenomenal. I loved it! :D Thanks again for your hard work. I really love seeing your stuff :]

  • Offcialbamber

    I guess I don’t agree with most of the audience cuz I really enjoyed this short. It has a laid back aspect to it and I enjoyed watching it. I love how you took your relationship idea and put it in a futuristic setting!

  • Shiau Suang

    Well this is your art-piece, it totally depends on the main purpose of the whole project … as a new media graduate … I always remind myself to identify the objective of our project, due to we could not fit everything in one-piece (most of the time)

    If you’re trying to experiment on something new (which I think no harm trying, you’re putting it on youtube not cinema though) You should be happy due to you know yourself the best what you’re doing as the cinematography and the story blends so well! well if this is an experimental, you did really well…

    On the other hand, if you’re trying to convey some messages through your art-piece, from the comments and my personal opinion, yes, there’s really something lacking in terms of story-line~ well, nobody is perfect, we do love wong fu’s art-piece, and people might just expect more from you guys as you guys had did so well before this! =) cheers! We still love you guys~

  • bigmightyfaith

    FIRST, the style. I see Miyazaki in all these. Same as Left on Shing. And I am guessing this might certainly be the development (or formation) of Wes’s style.

    SECOND, the collaborators. I really like your brother’s craft (as shown in All 4 walls-the travelling windmill plant). Needless to say, I also enjoyed his input in this project very much.

    Third, the ending. Sometimes the end product of a matter or a human life is not how he dies, rather in that little dash between the years. Sometimes, I find people so concerned about the end result, money earned, the type of house and cars bought, the tangibles, and forgot (neglect) the intangibles… A lot of things are done these days to achieve results fast and sometimes all integrity, workmen’s pride in a job well done are sacrificed.

    I agree on not having a definite end or even an ending. That’s life.

    Just keep trying new things and Yes, I am so glad that you are taking in (or filtering out) all negative or non appealing feedback. I think (&hope) WFP can mature into something beside the narrow boundaries of love btw 2 young persons. Although such (puppy) love stories can generate the much needed (millions) views, it would be nice (for fans & kindred spirits) to see what is really stirring and brewing in your mind.
    PS: Disclaimer: At this point in writing, I haven’t watched the short. I find the thought process behind the making very interesting and adding on my views..

  • Ianna

    I must admit when I first watched the video, I thought it was really just an abstract and it was missing some detail. However, after reading what you’ve written here and watching the video over again, I suddenly have a more undestanding of the video. It is a 7minutes film but it feels like I’m watching a 1-hour long movie because of all the little details in it. I must admit this is really a good science fiction video with awesome audio and visual effect as well as having a perfect story plot. For those who only watched it once and thought it wasn’t as good as other WFP videos, perhaps you should watch it again and notice the little things being done in there. Then, perhaps you would see something different in it and feel the same as me. I just want to congratulate you Wes, for composing such an interesting storyline and all the others involved in the production of AWA for making it possible for us to watch it. Good work and I look forward to watching more of your shorts! =)

  • Victoria

    I enjoyed reading this blog, especially the Personal Thoughts section. I have not watched A World Away yet, but after reading this I am even more inclined to watch the short and look for certain elements within it that are discussed in this blog. I think this is an incredible venture into a style of writing unique from other productions by WongFu. I am eager to see what you all will think of next!

  • Grace Barrato

    Wes, it’s true that each of us (your viewers) has different perspective in the way we interpret your shorts but I salute you! For taking that leap of faith to do what you love and sharing this to us, whatever the response might be. Your brave enough to explore and work outside of the norm. Your response showed what kind of artist you are and we in return should grow smarter. Keep on doing what you love and we’re here to support you all the way.

  • anywool

    I actually think to come out with something like that within a day of shooting (minus all the work thereafter) is SO amazing. Incredible attention to details and crazy use of metaphors to pass a heartfelt message. I don’t think there is anything to be sad at all if both of the leads go on to put their purposes in life first because we will never truly be happy/satisfied from within if we put love first. It’s nice to see all the heated discussions on a short because I feel if a creative can be fully used up in life this way, his life will be truly well-lived. We can never please 100% of the people, we only need to be proud of what we have put out there, making sure we have done our best in putting the creative vision forward. Awesome job! Will be exciting to see what lies ahead for the community as WFP continues to push forward with their purpose and endeavours. Best of luck!

  • Vivian Kwan

    I’ve picked the perfect timing to watch this. Just this afternoon, I’d watched the latest Star Trek. And, I’ve never really been a sci-fi person, but that definitely got me in the mood for some sci-fi. True as you say, perhaps a certain mood is required to appreciate this short, but I know that I would have been even more impressed with the graphics had I not just seen Star Trek. And yet, it is because I just saw it, that I am impressed at how well the graphics were done in this short. As not a sci-fi aficionado, obviously I do not necessarily know what great sci-fi graphics are like, but I really liked the ones in this short and I think that’s what counts. It doesn’t have to be better than nor match existing sci-fi genres, standards are standards but they are also fluid, constantly changing with the evolutionary landscape of technology. Given the new territory and unchartered ground you guys were exploring, this is an amazing job. The Guppy Ship was a thoughtful design, I liked how its movement resembled that of a fish.

    My favourite parts of the short included the design of the futuristic elements, the blue and cool tones added during post-production, and ‘feels’ cinematography characteristic of your style, but most of all, I think I liked the music the most in this one. I don’t know why, but I really like Kenson’s musical pieces. There’s just something about it that really resounds with me.

    As always, you pay so much attention to every single detail, Wes, and that is what I love most about your works. This was a unique production, and another winner in my books. Keep on challenging yourselves! It’s always great to see what amazing new things come out of that.

  • Happy Musings

    As I watched, I knew that this was a beautiful film and I appreciated the capture of beauty that you (Wes) are so great at. The feelings didn’t come until a little later. We all have mental dialogues and feelings that may not be extremely, visibly, dramatically painful. After all, time has passed and we of course should move on. But they exist, those subtle reminders, musings and missing of other people. People fight, separate, break up, leave each other for a multitude of reasons and after that, they’re just left with keepsakes and memories.

    As others have mentioned, the details are very interesting (ie: Arc, Guppy Whale (it is so cute!)). The “mental capture” of all that is behind a person’s expressionless exterior fascinated and touched me. It also reanimated a lot of nature that I tend to forget and helped me appreciate more. My thoughts are scattered and i’m finding trouble expressing my enjoyment of the artistic vision and subtleties. I love these “passion projects” though and so just keep doing what you do Wes! :)

  • Qiqi van Beethoven

    Thanks Wes, for letting us have a peak inside the creative process behind this short! My main issue with A World Away is that it felt like a 3-hour movie condensed into 7 minutes. Mirror planet, semi-apocalyptic atmosphere on Earth, couple separated due to conflicting views on happiness and purpose… the premise sounds very interesting, but really, 7 minutes? I understand that the short was meant as a glimpse inside the fleeting thoughts of the characters, but the almost-fantastical setting distracted us from the core of the story – the relationship between the two leads. In short, there were too many things happening at once for the viewer to fully immerse themselves in the experience and leave with a feeling of satisfaction.

    I’d like to point out that the visuals are breathtaking and the cinematography is superb. Love the shots of London. And from what I’ve understood, this short is a) taking risks as an artist concretized and b) an exploration of visual effects and the creation of spaceships from scratch… so I guess in the future, we might see more of those? :)

  • clio

    Just watched the new short & WOW did not expect to see the comments section so divided. I don’t think I’ve seen such debate in a WFP video before. After watching the short, I found the commentary, and Wes, I know you addressed this, but you honestly don’t have to explain anything to anyone. If they get it, they get it. If they don’t, they don’t and that’s fine. I think, especially with something as delicate as A WORLD AWAY, explaining too much or giving too much backstory would actually kill what’s wonderful about it. Whatever there is to appreciate about A WORLD AWAY is tied intimately to the finding the beauty in the ordinary, in the face of the abnormal or the extraordinary. I don’t know if the sci-fi aspect of the short created a certain kind of expectation, but I found A WORLD A WAY to be provoking and enchanting beyond just the visual effects. I enjoyed the “quietness” of the short–I like to believe in the drama happening in all the silent moments existing in a person and between people. So thank you for another great short :)

  • Casy Alvarez Aguilar

    I disagree with the last statement: This short has your name all over!! This kind of stories are nice to have. I have to say that I have hard times trying to understand the whole idea, but that exactly what I like about the personal shorts you and Phil do.
    Congrats for the amazing music and visual effects!! :D Something I’ve always admired is that you can film the (almost) full short in one day. *Hands Down*

    Keep doing the shorts that you feel!! :D #WF4L

  • Ken ji

    I agree that are a few things missing here, Honestly If I were to watch this video I would say some of the money has gone to waste because compared to those videos you guys have created this one was kind of boring to a extent many details were missing and I have no clue what so ever it what it was suppose to be about. To the viewers I am confuse on what this video was trying to accomplished lets just say the goals are not set straight and the story line itself was not as polished and I believe that the negative comments are actually the best because you can take those ideas and make something good of it. You could of had a better idea or better story line because this story line doesn’t apply to me and to many out there they may feel the same way as well no convey of emotions and what was the emotions about? It lacks a realistic story in which is memorable like most other videos out there. If you run out of ideas ask for help don’t just randomly assume people like it make sure that its something that can be shared and loved by all. Do some test runs on what peoples would like to see gather ideas and information then make those ideas realistic. That was what I saw of your videos but now it’s turned into a money making film more like it and from of a popularity top view and bragged about films of the story of friends becoming famous. Remember your goals and what you are. Hopefully this helps; I myself wanted to be a script writer and a video director but due to lack of money I could not make such a dream and could not provide anything to get there but ideas I do have and would like to encourage to you guys. Hopefully this proves some use. I may not be the smartest but I believe this wongfu can be great it just lacks ideas and those who are talented to help it grow. If I were to create something like your guys it would be up to your standards and would definitely try to do great things like you guys.

  • Kiwi

    The expectation of the plot didn’t meet up with the CGI. I found myself more interested in looking at the graphics, like it was some kind of red herring to distract people from really bad plot execution. I think the story could have been told without the New Earth concept. Like a lot of people said, it was pretty cheesy. Grated, many Wong Fu shorts are cheesy, but I tend to ignore it if the whole video was overall interesting…I’d have to say I found myself skipping to the end. Also, since there has been a lot of criticism, I think it’s within WF’s interest to take them in instead of refuting it and coming up with justification why there is nothing wrong with the short…

  • Ahtnes

    I really enjoyed watching this and think that you were very brave to step out of your comfort zone to do something so out of this world ( excuse the pun). Cinematography and the visuals were a treat, as I am a fan of sci-fi. The only shortfall for me was that I was not convinced by the acting. Overall fantastic effort, keep challenging yourself and surprising us – your viewers and fans!

  • Josephine

    I really really liked this short!

  • Howie

    I found the sci-fi to be a nice add on to the idea of a long distant relationship. It really hits home with regards to how the distance, no matter how far, will feel like the other is a world away. (Very literal there). I think this particular work has so much potential, in terms of evoking feelings and enabling us to connect with the characters.
    We can’t cater to everyone; however, the quality of the connection really depends on the last 10 feet.
    I really enjoyed your work none the less so thank you Wes!

  • DankenDisqus

    Hello Wes! Just want to let you know that your piece ‘a world away’ is really beautiful! What you did was art! Totally fell in love by the carefully stringed profound lines. I couldn’t agree more with you that one has to have a certain mood to better appreciate the film. I believe the process is similar to listening to classical music or viewing a painting from the renaissance era. It requires listening and perceiving, not just hearing and listening. I honestly think that this short will pass the test of time. And when future generations dig through the videos of Wong Fu Productions, they will definitely find this gem.

  • J

    Hello Wes! I just wanted to say that this short actually did serve as an emotional release for me. Having just gone through a break-up, I’m now at a stage where I’ve accepted that our lives are separated, almost worlds away. I’ve made the realization that there is no longer anything to say or to do. I’m simply left with the ambiguity of the future, left to wonder that when we finally figure out our individual ‘worlds’; whether there will be an “us” or if our story is meant to be left in the past. To me, this short captured those emotions of wistful thinking, careful contemplation, of missing someone you still care for but can no longer be with, and of passive curiosity for the future.

    I understand how it can be easy for a lot of people to feel that this short is lacking because frankly, people don’t like ambiguity. In this world that tells people to chase what they want and to always take action in response to a problem, it’s not easy to realize that sometimes, life puts us in situations where we are simply left to feel and to think. There’s no impulsive midnight call to be made, no spontaneous drive to the airport, not even a sudden epiphany to let go of the past. Although it’s hard to accept for some, the truth of the matter is that there is not always a resolution to satiate our desire for emotional closure. This short perfectly captures that surreal emptiness I can only hope to describe; the period of time in which you can only remain in your own thoughts during the lingering aftermath of a relationship ended by circumstance. Wes, you’ve always been brilliant at capturing thoughts and emotions that cannot be put into words, and you’ve remained consistent in doing so with AWA. For that, thank you.

  • Sara Su.

    Wes, your work is amazing- as always, and the way you take your shots is just creative, I support you for life. :)

  • Maiv

    I liked this piece for a few reasons. 1-Wes tried something and expounded his vision for film and film projects maybe in more ways than we the audience will ever understand. Bravo for the courage as well as the continuous push to exercise your creativity. 2-it garnished negative feed back, which is great for self growth both as a writer, director, artist, and as Wes the human being that encompasses all that. 3- beautiful cinematography and CG! Breath taking. While watching, I had this feeling that it was trying to capture some of the magic that anime has for which live action can’t completely replicate- those moments where it’s completely okay and possible in anime but not in actualality(yet). I don’t know how to explain it, but it goes beyond scifi and CG…

    I also didn’t like this short as an actual short itself bc I did not find it engaging enough, both emotionally or intellectually. Thoughts can be very private and wordy. It was a brave attempt to capture a little bit of that, but the continuous narration made the short too busy. At least that’s how I felt, thus it was a little boring. But superbly animesque…if that makes sense.

    It’s very intriguing and made me wonder about what kind of creative storyteller and work Wes wants to be/explore. And he is correct in that he and his work need not be type-casted by audiences or himself bc that can be too restricting for a creative mind. But realistically typecasting will still occur, so suckitup. Once you’ve created something and put it out there(verbally, physically, which ever medium you like) it is no longer solely yours. Your intentions may/may not be felt/understood. The piece may have been intended for one thing but has suddenly gained it’s own identity/purpose/intent/etc via the interaction btwn audiences and creator. THAT’s what I find magical!

    I look forward to Wes sharing his growth and creative mind with us via film and media. It will be interesting to see how he grows as an artist as well as how the growth will impact wongfuproductions work. This is not bc I am a Wes fan, but bc I am fascinated by the human ability to create something/things that might change the human worldview(in ways all of which is not always known nor intended)! And it’s not always one invention or one specific thing but a cascade of things(yes it’s as broad as this word is vague) that buildup via impacts that are going in multiple directions.

    Wongfuproductions itself, as a YouTube originally-based project, has already put these guys in the pioneering front of a new film-media-audience culture, most of which we haven’t fully understand bc we are busy living it. So exciting!(both this time period we’re living in as well as whatever little glimpse of something in this short).

    Thanks for the hard work as well as the tough attempt to do what you love and redefine work/job lifestyles for the future!