City of Hong Kong
How did the idea for the film come about, and do you have any personal connections to the city of Hong Kong that inspired you to write and make the film?
I had lived in Hong Kong for 5 years as an expat prior to moving back to the US, so I know the city quite intimately. I have always found the city to be really cinematic and wanted to make a “Before Sunrise” type romance that really highlighted the city. The idea sat with me for a long time until one night, I actually met a fellow expat, and we spent a night wandering around the city and talking together. I thought we were building a connection, but then, I found out later that he had a girlfriend. I felt like a fool for making this flirtation up in my head and ended up channeling my frustration into the screenplay that eventually became this film. I will say though that this film is much more romantic than the real life encounter that inspired it!
Can you describe the writing process in coming up with, and eventually writing the screenplay?
Like I mentioned, the screenplay is based on a real life encounter I had with an expat I met in Hong Kong. Originally I had written it as a short, thinking that it may be fun to shoot it over a weekend in Hong Kong or something. I showed it to a friend and she said that she really wanted to know what happens to these two characters and that I should really consider developing it into a feature. And with her encouragement, I spent the next week writing the screenplay. The first draft took only a week to write, since it was so dialogue heavy and it just poured out of me. But then it took me another two years to continue developing and re-writing the script, incorporating notes from others and eventually the actors when they signed on.
Your stars Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg (who also serve as executive producers on the film) are fiances in real-life. Can you describe the process in which they got attached to the film? And how this dynamic influenced your filmmaking process?
I was so lucky to be able to attach my dream actors for my first film! I had worked with Bryan Greenberg on a film called “The Kitchen, ” which I produced for director Ishai Setton. I had been a huge fan of Bryan’s for a long time, way before we even worked together on “The Kitchen.” And while I was writing the script, I was always picturing Jamie Chung in the role. But I had no idea how to get her interested in the script. After I finished with the script, I ran into Bryan and he passed it on to Jamie. Two weeks later, he wrote to me to say that both him and Jamie are in. Casting your first film really doesn’t get any easier or luckier than this!
Chemistry is something you just can’t engineer, and these two exuded so much chemistry on screen by just being two people already in love with each other.
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