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Based on a true story. A short film about a Korean store owner struggling to protect his market during the 1992 Los Angeles race riots.
Based on a true story. A short film about a Korean store owner struggling to protect his market during the 1992 Los Angeles race riots.
223 backers pledged $34,500 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

APRIL'S WAY | a 1992 L.A. riots film project video thumbnail
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$34,500

223

www.aprilsway.com
www.aprilsway.com

Update Video #1 - First-Hand Account of the L.A. Riots

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Update Video #2 - The True Story of the April's Way Filming Location

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Update Video #3 - Meet the Cast of April's Way

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Update Video #4 - Why We Shot on 35mm Film

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You may have read about us on these news outlets:

Synopsis

Based on a true story. When faced with rampant looting, a Korean-American store owner struggles between protecting his wife and young daughter or taking a stand against rioters who threaten his business and livelihood. April’s Way follows Sung-Min as he navigates racial and moral boundaries, ultimately uncovering the humanity within us all. Taking its name from the brutal month of April in 1992, April’s Way offers a glimpse into the often-overlooked hardships that many Korean-American merchants suffered during the civil unrest.

Why Now?

The concept for the film spawned years ago, but it wasn’t until the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and the public outcry following both, that inspired me to make this script a reality. 

This project, meant to focus attention on social discrimination, speaks from my perspective as a new voice seeking to inspire a better world. With this film, I hope to illustrate that violence is not the answer. Now is time to stand up and speak out against social injustices, police brutality, and gun violence. April’s Way is a jumping-off place for continuing these necessary conversations.

Historical Significance

In the early 1990s, racial tensions were high in Los Angeles amidst economic downturn. Following the killing of a young African American girl, Latasha Harlins, by Korean Merchant, Soon Ja Du, relations between Korean Americans and African Americans were beginning to boil over. Cultural barriers and low social statuses only further fueled the fires for Korean-Americans. 

Following the controversial verdict of the Rodney King trial, rioting led to the deaths of 53 people, and nearly $1 billion worth of property damage. Korean businesses were believed to be targets of looting and arson by violent protesters. In the widespread absence of law enforcement support, people were forced to take up arms to defend themselves and their families against the civil unrest that was exploding onto the streets of LA. 

More than 2,000 Korean owned stores were destroyed and accounted for almost 50% of the total damages. Iconic news broadcasts villainized a handful of Koreans whom took up arms to protect their stores. Sadly, the majority of Koreans were victims who saw their sole source of income and subsistence burned to the ground. Only a small portion of Koreans were fortunate enough to ever see their markets rebuilt.

The Market

One such success story comes from Betty and the late Buddy Lee of the Advance Food Market. The Lee Family endured much heartache as they watched their market burn to the ground on the second day of the riots. The family battled insurance companies, and rallied the community, in a two year journey of perseverance to rebuild their market. 

Through outreach within the Korean community, the Lee Family, and Brian Lee (current owner of the market) we were able to discover and secure this authentic filming location. Although the story of Betty and Buddy Lee's market is similar to that of the April's Way storyline, it is different, and just one of many examples of the suffering experienced from the 1992 riots.

Filming inside a Korean-owned business that had been impacted so severely by the ’92 rioting was so vital to the success of telling this story honestly.

Why We Need You

Even with the blood, sweat, and tears that we’ve all put into this project, April's Way is NOT finished.  We have a lot of work ahead of us to make this project complete. Contributions collected through this Kickstarter will be used to cover the production expenses, from pre-planning all the way through the final stages of post, including:

  • 4k Film Scan
  • Digital Intermediate 
  • Colorist/Color Grading 
  • Digital Cinema Package (DCP) 
  • Theatrical Sound Mix
  • Festival Submissions 
  • Marketing & Public Relations
 
We’re ecstatic to have already received recognition at the Montreal World Film Festival, where we screened a working cut of the film. However, it’s important that April’s Way looks and sounds its best because we want to take it to more festivals and reach bigger audiences and use it as a tool to promote awareness and advocacy against the discrimination that people many people experience everyday. 

Films are an amazing way to transcend boundaries of gender, race, culture, age, and reach the community with an important message.  

We cannot do this without your help.

35mm Film

All of the reference images we researched were shot on film, so we knew from the beginning that shooting on 35mm film was the best way to recreate the look of the early 1990s. A large part of the aesthetic found in 90’s cinema is due to the inherent qualities of film itself and anamorphic lenses. 

Using film is time consuming and more costly than shooting digitally, but since April’s Way is such an important cause-piece, we wanted to stand out from the crowd with pure authenticity.

Production Crew

PRODUCER Matt Hardman has produced a number of award-winning short films and music videos. Most notable are, Death of the Cool, which won Best Short at the 2011 Sacramento International Film Festival, and Brady, which earned a Vimeo Staff Pick and was a Short of the Week. Matt’s practical set experience on televisions shows such as Ray Donovan, and Parenthood, as well as movies such as Lincoln, and The Lone Ranger, have helped him to advance his creative endeavors. He has also worked extensively in production, and post-production, on commercials for clients like Redbull, Toyota, Blue Origin, Rhapsody, and Samsung.

WRITER & DIRECTOR Robert Nyerges started working in the industry on the production staff of Hollywood feature films such as Lincoln, The Lone Ranger, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Interstellar. Robert cites that seeing the masters of cinema exercising their craft first-hand, the likes of Spielberg, Scorsese, Mann, Nolan, and Fincher, was a motivational and an awe-inspiring blessing. Since his time in production, Robert has produced a number of award-winning music videos and short films. Deciding to take his own directing career to the next level, Robert began studying with famed acting and directing coach, Judith Weston. Since then, Robert has directed a number of music videos and commercial spots. 

DIRECTOR of PHOTOGRAPHY Nicholas Wiesnet has filmed feature films, music videos, shorts, and has been nominated for an American Society of Cinematographers Heritage Award. Check out his amazing narrative cinematography reel below:

COMPOSER: Christoffer Franzén, of Lights & Motion, is a Swedish musician, producer, multi-instrumentalist and composer from Gothenburg. Listen to his incredible work:

Cast

Our fantastic cast has been featured in tons of movies, such as Rush Hour 3, television shows including Teen Wolf, Criminal Minds, My Crazy Roommate, and Punk'd, as well as commercials for companies like Disney, USAA, and DIRECTV.

Awareness Bands

What better way to help spread awareness and equality than to show your support every single day?

Printed Photography

For helping support our art and our cause, we're giving you art from our crew and the director's family of acclaimed professional photographers. You can select your favorite image then we'll print it and have it shipped straight to your door. Check them out HERE.

Signed Limited Edition Albums 

These signed albums from our composer are completely SOLD OUT but for a LIMITED TIME ONLY they are available EXCLUSIVELY through this campaign. 

Signed 'Directing Actors' Books

I learned a lot from Judith Weston's books and from taking her workshops. She is an amazing instructor and I thought that sharing the same knowledge that I used to get to where I am today, with a personalized copy of her book,  was the best way to reach out to other up and coming filmmakers. 

Thank You!

We appreciate all of your support through this process. With an outreach campaign like this, Likes and Shares are just as important as contributions. We know that not everyone will be able to join in financially, but please please please take 30 seconds to share this campaign with your friends on Facebook, talk about it on Twitter or Instagram, make a phone call, or simply send it to a few of your friends via text or email. In whatever way you know how, please help us spread the word. 

Thank you for believing in this cause, sharing the message, and starting a conversation about bettering the world we live in.

Risks and challenges

A film is worthless without an audience to watch it just as much as a cause is nothing without people to support it.

I hope you will join in to help promote peace and equality. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • No. Although extremely similar to the events depicted in April's Way, Betty and Buddy's story of the Advance Food Market stands alone. Their story, and the first-hand accounts of their story seen in our Update Videos are merely used to illustrate the history of the market that was used as the April's Way filming location. The memorial seen at the end of our Pitch Video is a display of our gratitude and appreciation for the help and support that the Lee family has shown us during the creation of this project.

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Thank You!

    You helped make this project possible and we want to let the world know! We will give you a personal shout-out on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Early Release Film Screener!

    This is your personal movie ticket. You will get to view April's Way before anyone else does! When the film is complete you will receive a private viewing link to watch at your convenience and as many times as you want!

    You will also receive the previous perk level.

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    Social Injustice Awareness Bands!

    Take your support to the streets! With this unique and customized awareness band, you can show your support for social equality in your everyday life.

    #LeadTheWay for April's Way by promoting peace and love.

    You will also receive the previous perk levels.

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    Personalized Copies of 'Directing Actors' Book!

    Filmmaking knowledge! For all of the aspiring filmmakers out there, get your own autographed copy of the absolute best book on directing from famed acting & directing author/instructor, Judith Weston. Judith has worked with directors like Alejandro Iñárritu (Birdman), Ava DuVernay (Selma), and Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave).

    You will also receive the previous perk levels (Excluding Limited Edition Perks).

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    Signed Albums from the Composer of April's Way!

    Music to our ears! Get a signed copy of Christoffer Franzen's (of Lights & Motion) 1st Album 'Reanimation', or his 2nd Album, 'Save Your Heart'. These items are listed as SOLD OUT and are available for a LIMITED TIME ONLY and EXCLUSIVELY through this campaign.

    Please specify which album you would like. We have 4 of each. First come, first serve. So, act fast!

    You will also receive the previous perk levels (Excluding Limited Edition Perks).

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    Official April's Way Film Canisters!

    Memorabilia straight from the set! Get a LIMITED EDITION of the actual canisters that our Kodak 35mm Film arrived in. Commemorated with a specialized 'April's Way' plaque, these are perfect souvenirs.

    We have two versions:

    (9x) 400' Rolls (appx. 7" in diameter)
    (9x) 1000' Rolls (appx. 12" in diameter)

    *Please specify and add $50 for 1,000' version*

    You will also receive the previous perk levels (Excluding Limited Edition Perks).

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Official April's Way Film Canisters!

    Memorabilia straight from the set! Get a LIMITED EDITION of the actual canisters that our Kodak 35mm Film arrived in. Commemorated with a specialized 'April's Way' plaque, these are perfect souvenirs.

    We have two versions:

    (9x) 400' Rolls (appx. 7" in diameter) (SOLD OUT)
    (9x) 1000' Rolls (appx. 12" in diameter)

    You will also receive the previous perk levels (Excluding Limited Edition Perks).

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    Sponsor a Frame from April's Way!

    A picture is worth a thousand words! Choose this reward to receive a unique still frame from 'April's Way' that's just for you. PLUS we will have it matted, framed, and delivered to your door!

    See the examples listed below.

    (Approximate size: 5x7)

    Signed available by request!

    You will also receive the previous perk levels (Excluding Limited Edition Perks).

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    Photographs from the April's Way Crew!

    Art for art! Our talented Director, Producer, and Cinematographer want to offer you some of their photos taken abroad. Pick your favorite from a selection of their work and we will have it printed, matted, framed, and shipped direct to you!

    (Approximate size: 9x12)

    You will also receive the previous perk levels (Excluding Limited Edition Perks).

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    Printed Photography!

    You're contributing to this project in a BIG way and we want to show you BIG thanks! Choose from a variety of selected photography from Alex Nyerges and Paul Nyerges - acclaimed professional photographers whose work is displayed around the world. We will have your choice of an original print matted, framed, and delivered to your door!

    (Approximate size: 13x19 printed, 18x24 framed)

    These photographs retail for $1,000 and up by themselves, but you will also receive the previous perk levels (Excluding Limited Edition Perks).

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    Producer Credit!

    Want to produce a movie? Now you can! See your name on the big screen in the ending credits of April's Way, in all promotional materials, on the poster, and you will also get credited on IMDb! Plus, get a VIP invitation to our Los Angeles Premiere! (Travel & Lodging - Not included)

    You will also receive the previous perk levels (Excluding Limited Edition Perks).

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    Executive Producer & Presented By Status!

    You are the Hollywood Exec that makes it all possible! You will see your name, or your company's name, at the beginning of the film, at the very top of all promotional items, including the poster, and on IMDb.

    Ex: "Jane Doe Presents: April's Way"
    Ex: "Diversified Industries Presents: April's Way"

    In addition, you will get a VIP invitation to the Los Angeles premiere of April's Way and we'll cover the lodging expenses!

    You will also receive the previous perk levels (Excluding Limited Edition Perks).

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Funding period

- (31 days)