May 2, 2013 — Collaborating With Shadow Creatives

I knew when I saw the stun­ning shad­ow visu­als designer/animator Chris Do did for a GAP cam­paign that I want­ed to use the same tech­nique for FINDING KUKAN.  I envi­sioned Do’s ani­ma­tion being brought to the genius shad­ow scenes that Lar­ry Reed devel­ops for Shad­ow­Light Pro­duc­tions as the per­fect way of car­ry­ing the emo­tion of espe­cial­ly inti­mate or har­row­ing scenes in the dra­mat­ic nar­ra­tive of Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott’s lives.

 

 

So it was thrilling to have both Chris Do and Lar­ry Reed in the same room with me today in San­ta Mon­i­ca at Chris Do’s BLIND design stu­dio office space.  Lar­ry joined us by SKYPE and con­fer­ence call from San Fran­cis­co (SKYPE can drop out on you when band­width is scarce).

Chris Do and Robin Lung SKYPE Larry Reed from the BLIND offices in Santa Monica

Chris Do and Robin Lung SKYPE Lar­ry Reed from the BLIND offices in San­ta Mon­i­ca

After our meet­ing I real­ized that I had found two cre­ative genius­es who were also prac­ti­cal pro­duc­ers with years of expe­ri­ence in how to ACTUALIZE a visu­al idea.  The prag­mat­ic, step-by-step path to bring­ing a new way of visu­al sto­ry­telling to the screen in FINDING KUKAN, just got a whole lot clear­er thanks to Lar­ry & Chris.

Chris Do helps Robin Lung lay out a plan of action for creating FINDING KUKAN's shadow scenes.

Chris Do helps Robin Lung lay out a plan of action for cre­at­ing FINDING KUKAN’s shad­ow scenes.

 

I invite you to check out their work HERE and HERE.  If you are as wowed by it as I was, please con­sid­er con­tribut­ing to the col­lab­o­ra­tion process at our Post-Pro­duc­tion GIFT REGISTRY.  If you have any cool shad­ow ideas or images you think would work well in the film, please post on our Face­book page at http://www.facebook.com/kukandocumentary and write “Shad­ow Idea” in the com­ments sec­tion (and don’t for­get to LIKE us while you’re at it)!

 

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April 25, 2013 — Major Archival Discovery Starts with a Party

It was my hus­band Paul who con­vinced me that I should have a fundrais­ing par­ty.  So last Octo­ber I got many vol­un­teers togeth­er to throw one.  Ter­ry Lehman Oli­val helped by send­ing press releas­es to the local media and got the atten­tion of Star-Adver­tis­er reporter Mike Gor­don.

 

Mellanie Lee, Debra Zeleznick, Robin Lung and Terry Olival at "A Night in Old Shanghai" fundraiser

Mel­lanie Lee, Debra Zeleznick, Robin Lung and Ter­ry Oli­val at “A Night in Old Shang­hai” fundrais­er

That might be the coolest sto­ry I’ve heard in a long time,” Mike said, and promised to write an arti­cle on it.  The more Mike found out, the more he want­ed to know.  His arti­cle grew and grew.  My fundrais­ing par­ty came and went; my Kick­starter cam­paign came and went.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Mike Gordon signs his support  fpr KUKAN with a "K"

Hon­olu­lu Star-Adver­tis­er reporter Mike Gor­don signs his sup­port fpr KUKAN with a “K”

Final­ly the opus turned up – a 3-page spread on the film, com­plete with col­or pic­tures, showed up in the Sun­day news­pa­per and drew response from peo­ple as far away as Ken­tucky!

Mike Gordon's article "Reel Obsession" appears in the November 18, 2012 Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Mike Gordon’s arti­cle “Reel Obses­sion” appears in the Novem­ber 18, 2012 Hon­olu­lu Star-Adver­tis­er

DeS­o­to Brown, cura­tor at the Bish­op Muse­um, also read Mike’s arti­cle and some­thing clicked.  He remem­bered a dona­tion of lantern slides made to the muse­um by Bet­ty Li, Li Ling-Ai’s old­er physi­cian sis­ter, back in the 80’s.  In fact the slides were marked as being relat­ed to KUKAN!  Ear­ly in my research I had read that KUKAN’s direc­tor Rey Scott lec­tured with a group of slides, but no one in his fam­i­ly remem­bered see­ing them or hear­ing any­thing about them.  I had giv­en up on find­ing them.

Lantern slides of 1937 Nanking taken by Rey Scott during pre-production for KUKAN

Lantern slides of 1937 Nanking tak­en by Rey Scott dur­ing pre-pro­duc­tion for KUKAN

So I was on pins and nee­dles last week when I final­ly con­nect­ed with DeS­o­to at the Bish­op Muse­um and had a chance to exam­ine the slides myself.  They didn’t dis­ap­point — 97 images of 1937 Nanking, includ­ing some with Rey and Bet­ty Li, brought Rey’s first trip to Chi­na to life for me in a thrilling way and helped answer some of the mys­ter­ies that had been plagu­ing me for years.

1937 Nanking bomb shelter.  Dr. Betty Li and Rey Scott (far right) with Betty's son Andrew Li

1937 Nanking bomb shel­ter. Dr. Bet­ty Li and Rey Scott (far right) with Betty’s son Andrew Li

Bishop Museum curator DeSoto Brown becomes a fellow investigator on FINDING KUKAN

Bish­op Muse­um cura­tor DeS­o­to Brown becomes a fel­low inves­ti­ga­tor on FINDING KUKAN

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April 21, 2013 — Looking Forward; Looking Back

 

Editor Shirley Thompson takes notes on Li Ling-Ai Interview -- Yes, Shirley is a Rangers fanatico

Edi­tor Shirley Thomp­son takes notes on Li Ling-Ai Inter­view — Yes, Shirley is a Rangers fanat­ic

 

We are Editing!!

Three fourths of the way through pro­duc­tion with over 4TB worth of raw footage and an amaz­ing sto­ry that con­tin­ues to unfold in the present as well as the past, I real­ly need­ed help to put some reins on this film. Good thing I had Shirley Thomp­son (edi­tor of the online fundrais­ing teas­er) sched­uled for four weeks of pre­lim­i­nary edit­ing (fund­ed in part by all the gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tions of our Kick­starter back­ers and Indi­go par­ty atten­dees). 

In four weeks here are the major things I learned:

1)    We have an INCREDIBLE three act sto­ry that reads like a major Hol­ly­wood movie script!!!

2)    We still have a long way to go and lots of fundrais­ing to do to give you a final film that can do jus­tice to this incred­i­ble sto­ry.

3)    So many of the things I’ve learned and expe­ri­ences I’ve had and great peo­ple I’ve met will not make it into the final film.

4)    It’s all part of the process

As a response to #3, and inspired by the recent blog posts of fel­low Asian Actress/Actor his­to­ry detec­tive Duri­an Dave, I have made a pledge to blog about my FINDING KUKAN encoun­ters and adven­tures as often as I can in the next few months.  It may only be to assist my aging mem­o­ry cells, but if you’re inter­est­ed in shar­ing a lit­tle of the jour­ney I’ve been on, please drop a line or a com­ment to let me know you’re out there.  And stay tuned for more about #1, 2 and 4 in future posts.  There are plen­ty of sur­pris­es in store.

 

Over 4TB of FINDING KUKAN footage is being cloned on these two drives -- named "Derek Holland" and "Yu Darvish"

Over 4TB of FINDING KUKAN footage is being cloned on these two dri­ves — named “Derek Hol­land” and “Yu Darvish”

 

The real Derek Holland takes the mound for his first game of the season.  The editing process, like the baseball season, is a long one.

The real Derek Hol­land takes the mound for his first game of the sea­son. The edit­ing process, like the base­ball sea­son, is a long one.

 

Shirley Thompson announces the editing room chocolate of the day.

Shirley Thomp­son announces the edit­ing room choco­late of the day.

 

All those post-its represent FINDING KUKAN sound bites

All those post-its rep­re­sent FINDING KUKAN sound bites

 

Act One of FINDING KUKAN begins to take shape.

Act One of FINDING KUKAN begins to take shape.

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December 13, 2012 — Seeing The Light

Today hav­ing just arrived home after a long trip, I decid­ed to take a break from doing the laun­dry and catch­ing up on emails to open up a box from Gren­del Books on 18 Ire­land Street — even the address sound­ed mag­i­cal. I found a beau­ti­ful­ly wrapped lit­tle book, padded in bub­ble wrap and tis­sue paper as if it was a pre­cious object. It was a small lit­tle paper­back that fel­low film­mak­er Stephanie Castil­lo rec­om­mend­ed I read and that I had ordered before my trip.

Bringing poetry into the filmmaking process.

Bring­ing poet­ry into the film­mak­ing process.

Some pas­sages in the first few pages felt as though the author were talk­ing direct­ly to me — address­ing my fear of nev­er catch­ing up with things, my guilt at lay­ing aside bill pay­ing to dis­cov­er a lit­tle gift. I’m sure the whole book is full of wise lit­tle gems and I will refer to it often.  Here are a cou­ple:

” If you are too choosey about the spaces you vis­it, you may miss Inspi­ra­tion Point.”

Every film is a voy­age into the unknown.  You set out for great India and arrive at a very small island in the Caribbean.…I have nev­er begun a film, how­ev­er well pre­pared, that did not prove to have a life of its own and lead me to a region where I did not expect to go.  What safaris!  What nar­row escapes! The maps can lead direct­ly to quick­sands and the jaws of drag­ons.  Yet some­times the end of the trail may be quite near King Solomon’s mine.”

Thanks to Stephanie Castil­lo (vet­er­an Kauai film­mak­er) for rec­om­mend­ing I read this.  It comes at a time when I feel a lit­tle buf­fet­ed by the winds and, hav­ing just giv­en up my part-time job, fac­ing a future full of unknowns.  It’s heart­en­ing to know that it’s part of a process every film­mak­er faces.

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November 7, 2012 — A Presidential Trivia Quiz

With an his­toric Pres­i­den­tial re-elec­tion just com­plet­ed, we want­ed to treat you to a lit­tle Triv­ia Quiz (cre­at­ed by our Pro­duc­tion Intern Mag­gie Bar­rett and fea­tured as part of our recent “Night in Old Shang­hai” ben­e­fit in Hon­olu­lu)

 

Presidential Trivia Slide 1

Close your eyes and try to guess at least 3 before scrolling down.

 

Can you guess at least three things?  They were both from Hawaii is a give away.  Try to think of three oth­er things.  Here’s the sec­ond slide to help you.

Presidential Trivia Slide 2

 

Presidential Trivia Slide 3

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma grad­u­at­ed from Puna­hou School in 1979. Li Ling-Ai was a 1926 grad­u­ate of Puna­hou.

 

Regard­ing Answer B:  Ques­tion­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship may be polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed, but for Li Ling-Ai and many oth­er Chi­nese Amer­i­cans it was a part of dai­ly life dur­ing the days of the dis­crim­i­na­to­ry Chi­nese Exclu­sion Laws. Read more about it HERE.

Regard­ing Answer A:  Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott showed a rough cut of KUKAN to Pres­deint Roo­sevelt at a pri­vate White House Screen­ing late at night on Jan­u­ary 1, 1941 — 5 days before FDR’s famous Four Free­doms Speech, 6 months before KUKAN would open in the­aters and almost a year before the Japan­ese attack on Pearl Har­bor.  To see proof of the White House vis­it, make a tax-deductible pledge to FINDING KUKAN on Kick­starter and view “Back­ers Only” exclu­sive videos and pho­tos from the doc­u­men­tary.

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October 8, 2012 — KUKAN Moves from the ER to the Operating Table

Many of you know by now that my doc­u­men­tary FINDING KUKAN revolves around my dis­cov­ery of the “lost” 1941 Oscar-win­ning col­or film of war-torn Chi­na called KUKAN. Many of you might also be won­der­ing, where in the H… is KUKAN? If it was found, then why can’t we see it? Well when I tracked down the only full copy of the film it had been sit­ting in a Fort Laud­erdale stu­dio for a few decades and then a Geor­gia base­ment for a cou­ple more. Heat and humid­i­ty had done its work.

AMPAS documentary curator Ed Carter opens up the can containing KUKAN for the first time.

AMPAS doc­u­men­tary cura­tor Ed Carter opens up the can con­tain­ing KUKAN for the first time.

 

When AMPAS’s Ed Carter and Joe Lind­ner opened the rusty met­al can that con­tained KUKAN they winced. “Vine­gar,” they both said, wrin­kling their noses. I learned lat­er that that is a sure sign of dete­ri­o­ra­tion. As Joe exam­ined the 2 reels of film that rep­re­sent­ed 90-min­utes of invalu­able col­or footage of Chi­na in 1939 and 1940, he detect­ed both shrink­age and brit­tle­ness (more bad signs of dete­ri­o­ra­tion). Joe said he’d seen films worse off…but not many. Things looked pret­ty grim. If we were in the Emer­gency Room, this would be time for triage.

For­tu­nate­ly a dete­ri­o­rat­ing film takes longer to die than a bleed­ing human. Two years lat­er, KUKAN has been sta­bi­lized but is still in pret­ty bad shape as you can see by the pho­tos I took of it last week at Col­or­lab in Mary­land where AMPAS sent it to have major restora­tion work done.

One of the film cannisters that holds the only known full copy of KUKAN

One of the film can­nis­ters that holds the only known full copy of KUKAN

 

Close up of the shrunken 16mm film that contains some of the first color footage of China.

Close up of the shrunk­en 16mm film that con­tains some of the first col­or footage of Chi­na.

Parts of it are so curled that they will nev­er be able to be re-plas­ti­cized (a sort of Botox process for film that hydrates it enough to allow it to lay flat in the scan­ner with­out break­ing).

 

The part of KUKAN that can't be salvaged

The worst part of the 2 KUKAN reels was so curled it looked like the plas­tic straws you drink out of.

A par­tial copy of KUKAN that I locat­ed in the Nation­al Archives (NARA) will be used to fill in those parts that are unsal­vage­able. The NARA copy was kept in a tem­per­a­ture con­trolled envi­ron­ment all these years and is in fair­ly good shape. But even that has to go through a frame by frame scan­ning process to pull both image and sound­track from the 16mm strip.

DP Frank Ayala shoots the scanning of a partial copy of KUKAN

DP Frank Ayala shoots the scan­ning of a par­tial copy of KUKAN on the mon­ster machine at Col­or­lab

 

DP Frank Ayala, 2nd Cam­era Mia Fer­nan­dez and I arrived at Col­or­lab to film the ini­tial frame by frame scan­ning of the NARA print and learned a lot about the care and effort need­ed to bring a film back to life.

 

A.J. Rohner, project head on the KUKAN restoration, threads the NARA print through the scanner.

A.J. Rohn­er, project head on the KUKAN restora­tion, threads the NARA print through the scan­ner.

 

A.J. Rohn­er, head “sur­geon” on the KUKAN restora­tion process, assured me that “my patient” could be saved despite its hor­rif­ic appear­ance. He gave us a tour of the mon­ster machine that does the scan­ning – an inven­tion of Col­or­lab engi­neer Tom­my Aschen­bach.

Threading the NARA partial copy of KUKAN through the scanner

The scan­ner doing all the work is a fas­ci­nat­ing con­trap­tion that blinks and whirs and beeps — just like some­thing out of Startrek.

I was entranced by its gor­geous parts, blink­ing lights and robot­ic move­ments — so much more tan­gi­bly sat­is­fy­ing to see at work than watch­ing the lit­tle gray line creep across your com­put­er screen as your dig­i­tal footage down­loads.

 

Frame by frame scan begins on the opening scenes of KUKAN

Frame by frame scan begins on the open­ing scenes of KUKAN

 

Rey Scott in one of the opening scenes of KUKAN

Rey Scott in one of the open­ing scenes of KUKAN

 

I also learned how the sound from the film will be lift­ed from the scan, VISUALLY cor­rect­ed before turn­ing into sound waves and then cleaned and scrubbed to get all the ticks, and hiss­es out. I was sur­prised to learn that those lit­tle hor­i­zon­tal lines on the edge of the film are what make the sound come alive through the pro­jec­tor – a mag­i­cal phe­nom­e­non when you think about it.

Tommy Aschenbach demonstrates the magic involved in restoring sound on a film

Tom­my Aschen­bach demon­strates the mag­ic involved in restor­ing sound on a film

 

Examining color loss on 2 different versions of KUKAN

If you look care­ful­ly you can see the sound stripes on one edge of the film. The top strip is the bad­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ed copy of KUKAN I found. Notice the col­or loss.

From the pho­to below A.J. iden­ti­fied the cam­era Rey Scott was using in Chi­na as a 16mm Bolex.

Publicity photo of Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott

Pub­lic­i­ty pho­to of Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott tak­en in 1941

Col­or­lab tech­ni­cian Lau­ra Major just hap­pened to have one in the office that she still shoots with.

Laura Major demonstrates the workings of her 16mm vintage Bolex

Lau­ra Major demon­strates the work­ings of her 16mm vin­tage Bolex

Hold­ing that cam­era in my hands, look­ing through the tiny viewfind­er, and learn­ing that the cam­era could only shoot 100 ft of film at a time (rough­ly 2 min­utes) gave me a much greater appre­ci­a­tion for Rey Scott’s hero­ic accom­plish­ment in film­ing the epic scenes con­tained in KUKAN, espe­cial­ly the 15-minute sequence at the end of the movie that depicts the mas­sive bomb­ing of Chungk­ing and the fiery destruc­tion of the city.

Chinese boy looks into Rey Scott's Bolex on location for KUKAN

Chi­nese boy looks into Rey Scott’s Bolex on loca­tion for KUKAN

 

FINDING KUKAN Producer/Director Robin Lung looks through the viewfinder of a 16mm Bolex camera

You can’t believe how tiny every­thing looks through this viewfind­er — no won­der Rey had a hard time focus­ing in places.

I am more deter­mined than ever to reach our $16,000 Kick­starter goal so that we can keep fol­low­ing the mag­i­cal resus­ci­ta­tion of KUKAN and track the amaz­ing sto­ry behind its cre­ation. Please join me on this jour­ney, it’s going to be an incred­i­ble ride!

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October 15, 2012 — FINDING KUKAN Makes it on The Oscar’s Most Wanted Site

What a dif­fer­ence four years makes.  When I first read a men­tion of KUKAN in Li Ling-Ai’s mem­oir LIFE IS FOR A LONG TIME, I looked it up on Wikipedia  only to find that no known copy exist­ed.  Ed Carter, the Acad­e­my Motion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences Cura­tor had been search­ing for KUKAN at that point for 6 years.  Now thanks to my dogged attempts to iden­ti­fy a Chi­nese Amer­i­can hero­ine in a vin­tage detec­tive nov­el, KUKAN is now on the Found list on Oscar’s Most Want­ed web­site.  Want to know more of the sto­ry?  Back us on Kick­starter now until Novem­ber 17 to help get the rest of the sto­ry told in FINDING KUKAN.

Screen shot of the the FOUND section of Oscar's Most Wanted website

Screen shot of the the FOUND sec­tion of Oscar’s Most Want­ed web­site that fea­tures KUKAN and FINDING KUKAN.

Have a lost and found trea­sure sto­ry your­self?  Please share.  We’d love to hear it.

 

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October 3, 2012 — Michelle Scott Delivers a Knock Out with her KUKAN SERIES

When I first made con­tact with Rey Scott’s grand­daugh­ter Michelle Scott and filled her in a lit­tle about the sto­ry behind KUKAN, she felt a need to trans­fer that sto­ry into paint and shared with me a vision she had for cre­at­ing a whole room of paint­ings ded­i­cat­ed to her grand­fa­ther and KUKAN.  It seemed like a far-fetched dream back then.  So I was more than a lit­tle excit­ed to go to Atlanta to wit­ness the open­ing of Michelle’s solo show — THE KUKAN SERIES.  Michelle hadn’t shared any images of the new work with me, so I wasn’t pre­pared for the visu­al sweep and emo­tion­al pow­er of the work.  It lit­er­al­ly brought me to tears.  Here are a few choice pieces from the show.  WARNING — these pho­tos do not do the pieces jus­tice.  The real pieces have an almost three-dimen­sion­al qual­i­ty that allows the view­er to enter into the scene and expe­ri­ence a lit­tle of  Rey Scott and Li Ling-Ai’s world back in the late 30’s.

Michelle Scott with "Start of a Journey" from the KUKAN Series

Artist Michelle Scott with “Start of a Jour­ney” the exclu­sive pre­mi­um avail­able for a $5,000 Kick­starter pledge (par­tial­ly tax deductible).

 

The 36“X36” piece that Michelle cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly for our Kick­starter fundrais­ing dri­ve is dis­played right in the front win­dow of 2Rules Fine Art in Mari­et­ta. Casu­al strollers walk­ing down the side­walk can’t help but be pulled in to find out with the imagery is all about.  For close up details of this paint­ing go to our Kick­starter home page.

 

"The Story of Kukan" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

The Sto­ry of Kukan” 48x84 is the sig­na­ture piece of the show

 

The KUKAN Series con­tains a few gor­geous trib­utes to Li Ling-Ai the Chi­nese Amer­i­can author who was the uncred­it­ed co-pro­duc­er of KUKAN with Rey Scott.

"On a Dream on a Dare - Part 2" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

On a Dream on a Dare — Part 2” 48x36 fea­tures Rey Scott and Li Ling-Ai

 

The work below con­tains images of Li Ling-Ai from three dif­fer­ent decades and three dif­fer­ent loca­tions (the old Hon­olu­lu Acad­e­my of Art, Bei­jing Chi­na, and New York City)

"Heroine (Miss Li Ling Ai)" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Hero­ine (Miss Li Ling Ai)” 60x34 is a gor­geous trib­ute to a remark­able woman

 

There are also fab­u­lous pieces that pro­vide a visu­al mon­tage of the Chi­na wit­nessed through Rey Scott’s cam­era.  He took both stills and 16mm col­or movies.  Some of his old cam­eras are on dis­play too with the orig­i­nal stills.

"Chungking Burning" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Chungk­ing Burn­ing” 48x25

 

"Rise" Mixed Media from Michelle Scott's KUKAN Series

Rise” 60x34

 

"What about the Children?" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

What about the chil­dren?” 40x40

Rey Scott trav­eled all the way to Tibet and filmed some of the first col­or footage of prayer rit­u­als there.

Michelle’s take on the orig­i­nal KUKAN lob­by cards for the Unit­ed Artists ver­sion of the film.

 

"Rules of Engagement" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Rules of Engage­ment” 24x36

 

"Guerillas" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Gueril­las” 24x36

 

"The Miaos Tribe" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

The Miaos Tribe” 24x36

 

"Burma" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott for the KUKAN Series

Bur­ma” 36x36”

Rey Scott also filmed the famous Bur­ma Road as it was being built.

 

"Shui" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott for the KUKAN Series

Shui”

A reminder of the British influ­ence in Hong Kong which fell to the Japan­ese in 1941.

"Lone Ranger" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott for the KUKAN Series

Lone Ranger” 32x50

 

 

"The Panda Man" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

The Pan­da Man” 34x60

A whole movie could be made just about the baby giant pan­da bear that Rey Scott brought from Cheng­tu to the Chica­go Zoo. Orig­i­nal­ly chris­tened “Li Ling-Ai” by the for­e­ing jour­nal­ists in Chungk­ing, it was lat­er named Mei Lan when it was iden­ti­fied as a boy pan­da bear.

 

"Portrait of a Lady" and "For Him" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Por­trait of a Lady” and “For Him” are the first two pieces that Michelle Scott made in the KUKAN Series

 

There are many more gems in this show. But the emo­tion­al high­light for me was being able to see the first two por­traits of Rey Scott and Li Ling-Ai that Michelle did. I first saw them on her web­site before we even knew each oth­er and before she even knew who Ling-Ai was. This was the first time I was able to see them both in per­son. Since the pieces had been sold to dif­fer­ent col­lec­tors sev­er­al years ago, this was also the first time they were reunit­ed in the same room for quite some time — a sym­bol of hope for me as I con­tin­ue to seek fund­ing to fin­ish FINDING KUKAN.

If you are in the Atlanta area make an effort to see this his­toric show — up only until Octo­ber 26, 2012

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September 25, 2012 — 7 Tips for Nervous Public Speakers

I am about to embark on one of my least favorite occu­pa­tions — Pub­lic Speak­ing.  Although I jumped at the chance to get more expo­sure for my film by pre­sent­ing FINDING KUKAN at sev­er­al upcom­ing events, I am not a nat­ur­al speak­er.  In fact mak­ing any kind of announce­ment to a room full of strangers nor­mal­ly makes me break out in hot flash­es that are NOT menopausal-relat­ed.

So I’ve been col­lect­ing pub­lic speak­ing tips from friends and col­leagues.  I thought I’d share some of the best ones here.

Vintage underwear ad.

Could this tip apply out in the gar­den too?

1)  Pic­ture the audi­ence wear­ing just their under­wear (I know this is sup­posed to make you feel less intim­i­dat­ed, but I’m afraid I might just break out laugh­ing and nev­er recov­er).

Vintage underwear ad

Busi­ness­men man­age to look seri­ous even in their long johns

 

An ad from Miss Fancypants

Miss Fan­cy­pants the retro under­wear mak­er shows that women know how to have more fun, even in their under­wear.

 

2)  Prac­tice your speech in front of a mir­ror (could be dan­ger­ous depend­ing on your self-image)

Over­com­ing a neg­a­tive self-image is a part of the bat­tle.

cat looking in mirror

I need to take lessons from my cats.

 

 

 

 

3)  Act like a Diva, you’ll sound bet­ter.  (A hint from my won­der­ful singing instruc­tor Blos­som Lam Hoff­man)

Diva cartoon from Dorie Ratzlaff

The tal­ent­ed car­toon­ist Dorie Rat­zlaff illus­trates my Diva prob­lem.

 

4)  Warm up your voice with a Car­ol Bur­nett Tarzan call.  (Anoth­er hint from my singing instruc­tor)


5)  Use lots of visu­als so the audi­ence doesn’t focus too much on you. (But be care­ful of visu­al over­load and the LSD effect).

color block swirl

Visu­al over­load in the brain might look like this.

 

 

6)  Ask for divine inter­ven­tion and just wing it.

light ray in clouds

What I imag­ine Divine Inter­ven­tion might look like. (pho­to by Hei Astrid)

 

7)  Go online and get some prac­ti­cal tips from the pros.

In the next month or two I will prob­a­bly try out most of these.  I’ll report back which ones worked best for me.  What do you do when put in front of a crowd?

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September 15, 2012 — A Fresh Take on Fundraising

Writ­ing grant appli­ca­tions is a lone­ly busi­ness, and receiv­ing rejec­tion let­ters from grant­i­ng foun­da­tions is depress­ing to say the least.  Don’t mis­take me.  Grant monies have been very help­ful to this project.  And since we need more grants to get this film fin­ished, we will con­tin­ue to apply for them and be over­joyed if/when we get them.  How­ev­er, sit­ting back and wiat­ing to hear if some unknown pan­el of judges will deem your project wor­thy of X,Y,Z’s sup­port, can leave a film­mak­er feel­ing pow­er­less and deject­ed.  What to do?

 

Kickstarter Logo

Kick­starter — makes grass­roots fundrais­ing online pos­si­ble

 

Sev­er­al months ago I decid­ed to take a part of fundrais­ing into my own hands with the help of  KICKSTARTER — an online crowd­sourc­ing plat­form that cre­ative types from first-time inven­tors to vet­er­an film­mak­ers like Char­lie Kauf­man have been using to raise funds for their projects.  The idea is that even with small dona­tions, you can raise a decent chunk of mon­ey if enough peo­ple get behind you.  As some­one who was raised to be inde­pen­dent and stand on my own, it feels uncom­fort­able to ask for help, espe­cial­ly mon­e­tary help.  But as soon as I start­ed telling peo­ple about my plans, Voila! a major shift occured in the ener­gy around my film.  I soon had offers of help from friends, col­leagues and com­plete strangers who got excit­ed about get­ting involved in a cre­ative project and help­ing it come to fruition.  Here are some of the amaz­ing vol­un­teers who’ve joined TEAM KUKAN recent­ly.

Several Members of TEAM KUKAN's Volunteer Corps

Anna Guerin, Deb­bie Buc­ci­grossi, Robin Lung, Pam tong, Mag­gie Bar­rett, and Ter­ry Oli­val at a fundrais­ing sum­mit for FINDING KUKAN

 

There are many more peo­ple not pic­tured who have offered goods, ser­vices and morale sup­port.  Sud­den­ly fundrais­ing doesn’t feel like a lone­ly, depress­ing busi­ness any­more.  It’s still not easy.  It’s been chal­leng­ing, time-con­sum­ing, and stress­ful at times.  It’s also a lit­tle scary.  The way Kick­starter works is  that if you don’t raise ALL of your goal you get NOTHING.  So I expect the Kick­starter cam­paign (sched­uled to run from Sept 29-Nov 17) will run me more than a lit­tle ragged before it’s all through.  I also expect it will be an exhil­i­rat­ing ride that many new friends will join me on.  I hope you’ll be one of them.

 

The Sign Language for the letter K

Sign K to Sup­port KUKAN on KICKSTARTER!

 

Here is a sneak peek at a cou­ple of pre­mi­ums we are offer­ing to our Kick­starter pledgers. 

 

Collectible Full-color Posters for FINDING KUKAN

Col­lectible Full-col­or Posters for FINDING KUKAN are just a cou­ple of our amaz­ing Kick­starter pre­mi­ums.
(Images cour­tesy of Holl­wood Chi­nese Col­lec­tion & Michelle Scott Art)

 

Want to join the effort?  Kick­starter is admin­is­tered through Ama­zon.  If you shop on Ama­zon, donat­ing is easy.  If you’ve nev­er shopped on Ama­zon, con­sid­er set­ting up an account to make the Kick­starter dona­tion process go smooth­ly.  Hate the idea of doing any­thing finan­cial on the inter­net?  Don’t wor­ry, we are giv­ing peo­ple the old-fash­ioned option of putting a check in snail mail too!

 

birds nest in mailbox

We love to find presents in the mail too!

 

So what am I learn­ing on my lat­est fundrais­ing ven­ture?  To FACE MY FEAR, EMBRACE NEW FRIENDS, and HAVE FAITH that things will work out.  Have expe­ri­ence fundrais­ing on Kick­starter?  Please share by com­ment­ing.

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