Wong Fu Productions first started making videos in 2003 in college at UC San Diego. Starting out as friends and dormmates Wong Fu Productions is now headed by Philip Wang (left), Wesley Chan (center) and Ted Fu (right).
As a growing independent production company they work full-time on various parts of their business. Primarily known for their YouTube channel with over 1 million subscribers and 200 million views, they create short films, music videos and vlogs for their large and loyal fanbase. They also started a successful merchandise brand of apparel, Nice Guy Design, and a plush toy line, Awkward Animal. They’ve spoken at over 100 events while touring internationally, and also started the concert series ISA (International Secret Agents) with Far East Movement.
As emerging artists and filmmakers, they hope to continue to improve their craft, grow as a company, and reach people with their work.
Their creative work has been recognized for their high quality and depth, attracting major corporations like Subaru, JC Penny, and AT&T, but also bringing in honors and praise from organizations like CNN, NPR, the 2008 Cannes, 2011 Sundance, and 2011 LA Asian American Pacific Film Festival, and even the White House when they met President Obama in 2011.
“We never had the intention of making Wong Fu what it is today, but we know we’re very lucky and will do our best to deserve it. We believe we can have a positive influence in this industry, and on our audience…and if we can do this, then we know we’re doing something right.”
Wong Fu Productions started making videos in 2003.
Many people think that we started on the date that’s listed on our YouTube channel, in 2007, but the reality is, we’ve been making videos and posting them online since 2003, before YouTube even existed. Over the years, our fanbase has grown gradually, strictly by word of mouth, and when YouTube came along, we were given a whole new platform to share our work on.
2003-2006 – The College Years
The first official “wong fu video” was released on June 5, 2003. It was a lip sync video that Philip made with his dormmates to Justin Timberlake’s “Senorita”. The video was shared around the college and soon spread to other college campuses. Over the rest of their time in college, Philip and his friends periodically made lip sync videos solely for fun and whenever there was time. Philip met Wes and Ted in 2004 through a visual arts class they were taking. Together, the 3 started making short films in addition to music videos, and even did some simple client work. During the final year of school, the 3 decided to venture into a larger project, a full length feature movie. They spent their entire 4th year of college working on this film, on top of school and jobs, and premiered the finished product, “A Moment with You”, just weeks before graduating.
2006-2008 – The Transition Years
After graduating in June 2006, Wes, Ted, and Phil decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue the prospects of filmmaking. This was no easy task, as the realities of the real world soon hit them. Thankfully they still had the support of Wong Fu fans which was still growing. For the first time WFP went on tour, initially to screen their movie “A Moment with You”. The “AMY Tour” took them to over 25 schools around the continent and was also the first time they got to see fans and supporters face to face. The 3 knew that WFP was truly something special and could not just be tossed aside of given up. As a result they continued to make new short films and music videos to keep WFP going. In addition they took on freelance video jobs for tv stations, small businesses, and even weddings.
In 2007 WFP made and released a short series called “Just a Nice Guy”. This series marked the beginning of the “Nice Guy” brand, as Phil wore a shirt that Wes designed in the short, and soon, thousands of fans were asking where they could buy the shirt. Ted started making a online store and the “AreYouANiceGuy” online store was launched. As the brand grew with new products and more customers, WFP was able to have financial freedom from freelance work and could now completely focus on WFP work. It was during this year that they guys also began working with Far East Movement. Their first project together was a short film called “You’ve Got a Friend”, made to promote their single of the same name. This was the beginning of a long term partnership of projects and endeavors together, primarily the “International Secret Agents” Concerts.
In 2008 WFP spent most of the year working on the prospect of a new full length movie. After being approached by a couple producers and a manager, they began work on a new script and story that was intended to be their next film. With various meetings with studios and independent production houses, and even a trip to Cannes to promote, the project was soon losing focus and WFP was losing control of what they originally wanted; even worse, people were trying to change them as a group. In late 2008, the guys decided to shelve this project, “The Sleep Shift”, and to bring things back to the way WFP was originally created and run.
2009-2010 – The Collaboration Years
Though WFP had had their work on YouTube for years already, they had never really gotten involved in the community or tried to push their online presence. Starting in early 2009, through meeting David Choi and working on his first music video, WFP began meeting and opening up to the online “youtube” community. From a project with David, to meeting Christine “Happyslip”, then Kevin “KevJumba”, Cathy Nguyen, AJ Rafael, Ryan “NigaHiga” and so on, WFP was now plugged into this network of extremely talented and good people. From there, projects developed and through these collaborations, WFP’s online presence expanded rapidly, even better, they made new friends.
2011-Present – Expansion and Bridging the Gap
Since becoming one of the top YouTube channels, and mainstream media finally catching on to the new media industry, Wong Fu Productions is now finding itself in another, new transition period. With more commercial and mainstream opportunities, WFP now balances producing major projects with large companies like AT&T (Away We Happened) and Subaru (Company Car), and continuing the independent spirit by always making time to do personal, “for fun”, projects the same way they started years before.
No doubt this is an important time for WFP as the industry they started in is quickly changing, and they too must adapt. Outgrowing their first office, building a small but solid team, and producing at a rate they’ve never done before, are all steps in the direction of growth and finding a way to be successful in both the commercial and independent worlds.
What programs do you use? We currently use Final Cut Pro for video editing. For graphic work we use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. This is not implying, however, that you need these super expensive and professional programs to make videos. We started off using Windows Movie Maker (does that even exist anymore?). If you have a Mac, iMovie is great. Don’t let the software hinder you.
What equipment do you use? We currently use the Canon 5D, 7D, and 60D. However, the camera is not what makes a video great, it’s how you use it. WFP started on a simple Sony Handycam and Canon ZR10 (I don’t think they even make those anymore). DSLRs weren’t invented yet! Most point and shoot cameras these days are waaay better than what we started on. So find a camera and start shooting!
Where did we go to school? What did you study? The 3 of us went to UC San Diego. We were in the visual arts program. However, this was definitely NOT film school. UCSD is a bio-engineering school, you can imagine how much the art dept was given, so I’ll just leave it at that. Most of what we learned in terms of shooting, cameras, editing, we taught ourselves. UCSD taught us theory, which is useful too, but we took it upon ourselves to learn on our own and push ourselves to get better. You can too.
Where do you get your inspiration? Life! Everyday life, friends, family, you! The experiences we go through mold and shape us, and it shows itself in our work.
How do I become famous on YouTube? If you’re asking that question, you’re already off on the wrong foot. Make videos because you love to make them, or you love to tell stories or make people laugh, not because you want to be popular or “famous”. We started WFP because we loved to shoot and edit and share our projects with our friends, we never had the intention of becoming “famous” online. If you are looking for a formula to get popular, you might want to ask a different YT personality, because we’re still wondering why we are popular ourselves. haha
Can I work or intern for you? We currently don’t have any openings for internships but keep up to date with us through this website or our twitter and we’ll announce when we’re having another open call for help.
How do you find your actors? Can I be one? We go between using real actors or our friends who aren’t pros, but we know will be able to do it. Sometimes we have casting calls using casting websites. If you are actually serious about wanting to act for us, email us with a photo and resume and we can keep it on file.
Why is Ted’s hair gray?! As he explained in this video, he’s had gray hair since he was 14, and he was dyeing it since then. Just recently he decided “no more lying with the dyeing” and to just let his hair be its natural color. We think it looks awesome
What are your future plans? People always expect us to have some specific answer, but it’s impossible to tell the future. Sure, we want to make bigger movies, or TV shows, or more Awkward Animals…but ultimately, we just want to stay creative and be happy. Whatever way this can be accomplished we’ll go with. If we are so lucky we can make movies forever, then awesome! No matter what, we’ll always want to create good work and tell good stories.
Can you please visit [insert city/country]?! We wish we could go to every country and city to see the fans and supporters there. Unfortunately, there is not enough time. While it’d be awesome to just go around the world, we’d get really behind on our work, and don’t you want us to keep making videos? If you are serious about bringing us to your city, email our bookings address with logistics and a plan and who knows, maybe we really will be able to go to… Dubai, or Norway, or wherever!