Wong Fu Productions screens new movie, discusses Asian-American representation in media

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Source: Lauren Fan

Philip Wang (left) and Wesley Chan smile as they talk about the filmmaking process for their first movie, “Everything Before Us.” The YouTube celebrities came to Northwestern on Saturday for an advance screening hosted by the Chinese Students Association and Asian Pacific American Coalition.

Matthew Choi, Reporter

YouTube celebrity and filmmaker group Wong Fu Productions visited Northwestern on Saturday for an early screening of its first feature-length movie, “Everything Before Us,” and a Q&A session with about 300 students.

Wong Fu, which comprises Wesley Chan, Philip Wang and Ted Fu, is known for its YouTube videos and short films often starring Asian-American actors, including its members. Wong Fu has more than 2.4 million subscribers on YouTube and began making short films more than 10 years ago.

“Everything Before Us” centers on a fictitious system of scoring individuals by an “emotional integrity score,” which is determined by individuals’ dating histories. The concept is intentionally analogous to standardized test and credit scores, Wang said. The movie follows the narratives of two couples as they struggle to maintain relationships, navigating issues of long distance dating, work pressure and school, to maintain a high score.

The emotional integrity scores in the movie embody how often mistakes are negatively viewed, particularly among young people, Wang said.

“Don’t feel pressured to have it all figured out right after graduating,” Wang said. “The 20s are a long time. A lot changes, believe it or not.”

NU was one of four schools at which Wong Fu released a pre-screening of its movie, which will be officially released next month.

The event, hosted by the Chinese Students Association and the Asian Pacific American Coalition, featured Chan, Wang, writer Chris Dinh, producer Christine Chen and actress Victoria Park (Communication ‘10).

The movie followed the production company’s styles of humor and cinematography, and also featured appearances from other prominent YouTubers, to the cheers of audience members.

“It’s about relationships. It’s about love. There are some laughs, and there’s a twist,” Wang said. “Sounds very Wong Fu.”

During the Q&A, questions focused on the actors’ and writers’ careers, representation of Asian-Americans in media and the themes that inspired the movie.

When asked about the largely Asian-American cast, Chan and Wang said the movie was not meant to be a commentary on Asian-American issues.

“These (themes) are universal,” Chan said. “If you’re watching ‘Avengers,’ and you’re following non-Asian (actors), no one questions that.”

The choice to cast lead Asian-American actors was intentional, Chan and Wang said, as there are few opportunities for Asian-American actors in media, particular in lead roles. Wang recounted a story of when Wong Fu tried to produce a movie through mainstream media and producers told them a large cast of Asians was “bad business” for attracting audiences.

“This is why it’s really important to share this movie,” Wang said. “To show those companies: No, there is an audience.”

The event began with an introduction by CSA internal president Jonathan Lo, a Weinberg junior, and APAC internal president Jeanne Hou, a SESP junior. Donations to the Nepal Red Cross Society were also collected during the event for Nepal disaster relief.

Wong Fu has visited NU in the past to discuss its production company.

“It’s great to be back, and we cannot say thank you enough to everyone here,” Chan told The Daily.

Organizers said they were pleased with the event.

“It was amazing,” said CSA’s programming chair Kimberly Chow, a Weinberg freshman. “We spent so long organizing and preparing for the event. Now that it comes to fruition, it’s larger than life.”

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified where the money collected at the event will be donated. It will be given to the Nepal Red Cross Society. The Daily regrets the error.

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Twitter: @matthewchoi2018

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