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Hello my dear friends,
SO MUCH has happened since my last blog post on February 24, 2014 titled “Update on my dance/filmmaking journey!” If I didn’t write it all down, I don’t know how I would keep track of everything that happened. Time continues to pass and I continue to work step by step, one at a time towards my film dream. Of course, I want to share it with you all because it makes it all the more meaningful to me if I can share my experiences, both good and bad, because either way, we all learn from our experiences!
Soooooooo, I’m now 20 years 4 months and 21 days old, barely starting my twenties, the best decade of my life, yet it feels like so much has happened! I feel excited and happy inside when I think of the potential of making a film to change the world.
During my last post “update on my dance/filmmaking journey” from February 24, 2014, we left off with me talking about how I started to abide by a series of new year’s resolutions and about what I did since I turned 20 on November 22, 2013. December passed, January passed, and february was nearly over, and I spent those three months (my first three months of being 20) on four SMART goals, on participating in Entertainment Networking Night (on 1.29.14), Non-profit Networking night (on 2.19.14), and on embarking on a visit to the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television (on 2.20.14).
I guess by now, I should tell you what my new year’s resolutions are, because now you can hold me accountable, and also because I hope they can help you in your journeys too!
My 2014 New Year’s Resolutions are:
0. Be on time to class and all appointments.
1. Work on being mentally strong.
2. Try to make a reputation for myself and establish myself before or by age 21.
3. Be nicer to everyone, even people who dislike me. Treat everyone equally.
4. Try not to fall for temporary gratification
5. Keep busy everyday, leave no open hours.
6. Read daily.
7. Find some mentors who are older and wise than I.
8. Take care of myself and my body. Love myself unconditionally.
9. Review life hack for the twenty year old (I have a binder devoted to life hack). Review my tumblr posts and yellow notebook agenda (also consisting of tips and goals personal to me) often.
P.S. #6, 7, and 9 have been hard to do consistently, but I promise I’ll work on them harder!
Great, now that I’ve revealed to you my 2014 new year’s resolutions, I will continue telling you what’s been happening with me since we last left off on February 24, 2013!
FROM HERE ON OUT (as it has been since my 20th birthday and since the new year 2014), my primary focus in life is constructing my film, “World Peace Dance” (title has been changed to be shorter and more appealing) — from writing the script to gathering a following through youtube videos and teasers to actual dance performances/shows, and to selling the script and getting the film produced and shown in theaters internationally. Sounds like a lot of work right? But to me it’s actually very simple because all of the work boils down to this — getting “World Peace Dance” released in theaters (both domestically and internationally) to create an impact on the world.
End of February 2014
1. On February 24, 2014 (in midst of winter quarter 2014 at UCLA), I went to audit a class at the UCLA school of Theatre, Film, and Television in order to learn more about screenwriting so that I could better know how to construct the script for my film. The name of the class was Film TV C132 Screenwriting Fundamentals.
2. On February 25, 2014, I was invited by my friend Nate Boyd, MFA screenwriting student at UCLA, to audit one of the classes he was in, Film TV 298A Special Studies in Film and Television. There, at the beginning of their class, I asked the professor if I could make a short pitch to recruit screenwriting collaborators for “World Peace Dance” (named “A Dance to World Peace” at that time). I had little luck in this feat, but told myself I was going to be okay and that I would keep searching.
3. On February 26, 2014, I embarked on the mission of starting SMART goal #5, which consisted of revising my treatment based on Feedback Group #1 (Linh, Ziying, and Cynthia) and testing it on a new feedback group, which happened to be a screenwriting group in LA (see #4).
4. On February 27, 2014, I attended the very first meeting of a screenwriting group hosted by Meera Peermohamed, a member of the facebook group Berkeley Film Friends (BFF which I am part of). This was a great opportunity because it allowed me to test my treatment draft #2 (that had been revised based on the feedback I received from Linh, Ziying,and Cynthia) to the writer’s group so that I could begin to draft treatment draft #3. The writer’s group was a fantastic experience because I got to meet new people and receive quality feedback on my treatment draft #2. Thank you Meera for hosting the very first meeting of this screenwriting group!.
5. On February 28, 2014, I attended the event “Entertainment That Matters: A Conversation with OSCAR-nominee Steve McQueen” at UCLA. I was super stoked because Steve McQueen was at that time, nominated for Academy Awards for his film “12 Years a Slave”. The thing that I remember most remotely about this event was when an African American told Steve McQueen during the question and answer period of the event that sometimes he felt as if he were the only black in the room and asked Steve McQueen how he dealt with being an African American filmmaker. Steve McQueen responded that he didn’t let it bother him. No matter who was around, he would do HIS job no matter what and stay focused to finish his job. It didn’t matter if he were the only black in the room or not, he did HIS job. At that moment, the crowd cheered and clapped.
6. During the evening of February 28, 2014, I attended “II”, a dance show featuring Laurel Jenkins Tentindo and Kevin Williamson, MFA students in the department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA. This show was really inspiring and beautiful because it showed me the power of creating exquisite, meaningful, and moving dances from personal stories near and dear to oneself! After the show ended, the performers received a standing ovation!
1. On March 2, 2014, I watched the Oscars, the 86th Academy Awards ceremony. How could I not?
2. This was crunch time for me! I was at weeks 9 and 10 in my winter quarter at UCLA. I found it hard to balance both school work and film work. I felt like there was not enough time in a day. I was tired from being sleep deprived, which led me to have a sleep schedule of abnormal hours. It was like I was staying up during the night trying to finish all of my work, and then spending my days napping for long hours. Thus, I was advised to focus on schoolwork for the rest of the quarter, and then when the whole winter quarter is over, work on my film.
4. So on March 19, 2014, the winter quarter finally ended for me and it was time to go home. Unfortunately, that day I had a packed schedule and didn’t have enough time to pack before I went on my bus ride home to the Bay Area, so my bus ride home was delayed for a day, and I went home on the morning of March 20, 2014, just in time to see my sister during her last day in the United States before she embarked on a journey to Japan on the morning of March 21, 2014. It was clearly an incident of bad time management on my part, but I learned my lesson to always devote substantial time to packing before leaving to anywhere.
5. I spent the first few days of Spring Break sleeping for long long hours. I didn’t know why my body felt so tired all the time. It was probably because I had an irregular sleep schedule during winter quarter 2014 finals week at UCLA. This made it hard for me to be productive, but I found time to work on my collecting and organizing files for my acting/dance/film reel (to show film producers), as suggested by Sunny Tripathy, a UCLA alumni whom I had met at Entertainment Networking Night in January 2014 (for more info about my experience at Entertainment Networking Night, see blog post from February 24, 2014 “Update on my dance/filmmaking journey!”).
6. On Saturday, March 22, 2014, I revisited all of my SMART goals and even came up with my 6th SMART goal: to revise my treatment draft #2 based on Meera Peermohamed’s BFF screenwriting group and come up with treatment draft #3, which I would then test on a new feedback group. SMART goal #6 is my most recent SMART goal, which I am working on to this day :).
7. Guess what happened on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 9:00 PM? I created “Mei Sze Phung’s Plan for the last 2/3 of her year 20 AND beyond for the next few years”. This crucial document has my plan for the progress of my film as it runs from pre-production to post-production and marketing (as of today, this document is taped on my closet door in my dorm at UCLA for me to see and review on a consistent basis) :).
8. On March 25, 2014, I watched “The Pianist”(2003). Loved this movie! I had also watched “A Beautiful Mind”(2001) on March 10, 2014, and “12 Years a Slave”(2013) on March 12, 2014.
9. On March 26, 2014, I heard back from Ken Rudnick, a fellow UCLA student who had expressed interest in collaborating on writing “World Peace Dance” (at that time named “A Dance to World Peace”). I was really thankful to get a new perspective on “World Peace Dance” because Ken had provided me with detailed notes on how I could improve treatment draft #2 to create treatment draft #3 based off of Feedback group #2, Meera Peermohamed’s screenwriting group.
10. During the evening of March 26, 2014, thanks to Tyler Smalls, I started thinking about garnering a following for “World Peace Dance” through creating cultural dance youtube videos for the purpose of spreading awareness about global hunger alleviation. Thanks Tyler! This would be a great method to complement my theatrical film with methods of social action and intervention in the real world.
11. Even later that evening of March 26, 2014 (around midnight), I finished watching the entire video portion of Stephanie Palmer’s online course “How to Be a Professional Screenwriter in Hollywood”. Definitely super helpful! It gave me an overview of how the film industry works, while also providing me with details, tips, and tricks on how to thrive in the industry as a writer.
12. On March 28, 2014, I watched the films “Noah” (2014) and “Precious”(2008) with Ziying.
13. On March 31, 2014, spring break ended and it was BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!!!!!!!! I couldn’t wait to start getting productive again! 🙂 🙂 :), especially after a long sleepy spring break.
1. On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, I met Ken Rudnick for the first time in person. It was the second day back at school. Ken and I went through his original comments on Treatment draft #2 of “World Peace Dance” (named “A Dance to World Peace” at that time) and my notes from Meera’s screenwriting group in detail in person. It was a great time being able to discuss my film in detail and the possibilities. I was really starting to feel that “World Peace Dance” was beginning to come to life!
3. Brace yourself!! From April 11 to April 14, 2014, I am participating in the Online Hollywood Pitch Festival. If you don’t know what that is, it is a monumental milestone in my film career because it basically means that I get to pitch my film idea to FILM COMPANY REPRESENTATIVES!!!!!!!!!!! This means that if the representatives like my idea, they might decide to set up another meeting to talk more with me or even buy my project.
FRIDAY, April 11, 2014
I pitched to the VIPs from three film companies. I’ll jump to the good news: During my second Skype pitch meet, which was with the film company Eclectic Ent., I got to speak with Conor Charles (Sr. VP Production) and Kyle Cooper (Development). It started off pretty well because I felt like I had a bond with them when we build rapport prior to my pitch. They both seemed fairly young too!
I pitched my log line: “World Peace Dance” is drama with dance mixed with thriller and action feature film about a daring teenage girl named Daisy who is on a mission to alleviate world hung through cultural dance to create world peace, but she ends up starting WWIII.
We the continued and I walked them through my film. They told me that my film was perfect for them because they were looking for female leads. We were really excited talking about my film, but then I was told that my film, because there was so much dance in it, might be better suited for theatre/stage. BUT, Conor told me to give them a call at the end of this summer/beginning of the new year do update them when I have made a play or a multi-video project and gotten a following started. I was asked to invite them to my performances!! I was told that I had a kernel going (that could grow). I was also told that I would be remembered and that they would buy my idea in heartbeat, but my film was too big-budgeted at this moment and was also a RISK project. I was really really happy after this Skype meeting because I felt that there were people who believed in my film idea and that they were excited to see my idea grow. It made me feel really good and happy. I could see my whole film play out in real life and I couldn’t wait for it to happen. I felt so much hope and ambition because it seemed like my dream would actually be coming true. Do you know what I mean?
So that’s my gist of the Online Hollywood Pitch Festival, I have one more meeting with a film company VIP this Monday, so stay tuned!
MY NEXT STEPS for the rest of April:
1. Make my own “cultural dance against global hunger” youtube/dance movement(s) in real life (collaborate with the UCLA dance department and UCLA film department).
2. Turn my “World Peace Dance” film treatment into a script.
3. Understand the importance of SLEEP
4. Appreciating solitude – I’m really starting to like my alone time, do you know what I mean? I enjoy being around people, but I also really appreciate when I have time to think to soothing, beautiful music and to utilize my creative juices to come up with something phenomenal.
My remaining 7 months and 9 days of being 20 years old will consist of:
1. The Online Hollywood Pitch Festival – my last meeting with a film company VIP
2. Applications to a variety of prestigious screenwriting competitions (thanks to the suggestion of my Film Producing III professor Hans Liebing, as well as Weiko Lin and Rocco Pucillo (both of whom I met at Entertainment Networking Night).
3. REALLY excited for this! — making actual “cultural dance movements against global hunger” in real life to garner a following.
4. Turning my “World Peace Dance” treatment into a script.
5. A summer trip to China with my family (looking forward to meeting people of the major film studios there!)
6. Selling “World Peace Dance” to film companies.
My year 21 will consist of…
Hopefully, pre-production, production, post-production, and marketing of “World Peace Dance”!
Thats it! I’m so glad that you were able to read through my post. I hope that I have inspired you to follow your dreams too!
Cheers and with peace, love, and compassion,
Mei Sze Phung
P.S. Have a great year 2014. I hope that your dreams come true — transcend all limits and boundaries. I believe you can do it.