Designed to be both an engaging, self-contained short film as well as an enticing proof of concept for a feature film that I wrote, Logan Lee & The Purple Optics is a coming of age, sci-fi, stoner, dramedy that, much like a great DJ, blends sights, sounds, and genres into an intoxicating tale of love, music, and weed. It tells the story of Logan Lee, an Asian-American DJ who finally decides to profess his love to his best friend, only to find out he's too late and she's already seeing somebody else. Unfortunately for her, that somebody isn't exactly who he says he is. In fact, he's a time traveling cyborg bent on downloading human souls and stealing humanity.
Motivation (Or Why?)
Our cast is almost entirely Asian-American. This is no accident.
Growing up in West Virginia and Orange County California, I watched a lot of movies. I still do. But as I got older I realized that if I wanted to see a hero who looked like me but, like myself, didn't know much kung fu, I had to look pretty hard. Like, really hard. And I don't have great eyes. I always assumed this would change by the time I grew up. Yet here we are, decades later, and it's still just as difficult.
So I took it upon myself to make some small change and I wrote a feature. People liked it. A lot. It got some attention. But I kept hearing the same thing at every turn: "No one's going to make this with an Asian-American lead."
This broke my heart.
But, instead of letting myself get defeated, I'm taking it straight to the community to help create a proof of concept that will demonstrate the viability of this idea, this story, and these faces.
After all, representation matters and I want to help foster a world in which future generations like my son can grow up and see faces like their's doing run of the mill things like, going to parties, falling in love, and dispatching cyborgs. It's not world peace, but it's better than nothing.
Inspiration: (Or why like this?)
This project draws inspiration from a variety of sources. On the film side of things, I am a big fan of coming of age and science fiction films. So, like the amateur DJ that I am, I pulled elements from films like They Live, The Blob, and The Terminator and blended them with elements from films like Better off Dead and Dazed and Confused to create a new spin on something familiar.
On the music side, I was chiefly influenced by turntablism (scratch DJ culture) and the works of great Asian-American hip-hop artists like Dan the Automator, Kid Koala (Asian-Canadian, but whatever), and DJ Qbert. By centering the film on an Asian-American DJ, I hope to cast a small light upon the immense influence that Asian-Americans have had on hip-hop from behind a fader. After all, with albums like Wave Twisters, and Deltron 3030, these artists have helped to redefine the hip-hop concept album by interweaving boundary pushing, cinematic sonic experimentation with science fiction storytelling. Don't believe me? Take a listen:
In fact, you can check out a recut/remixed version of my thesis film At Your Convenience, featuring all new music by Dan the Automator and DJ Qbert as Dr. Octagon, commissioned by Dan the Automator himself. Check it out here.
These works planted the seeds of this project, but it was nourished by, let's call it "collegiate experimentation" and reaped by my burning desire to make a coming of age movie about a hero who looked like me. After all, how many more coming of age movies starring straight white men do we need?
Writer/Director - Raymond C. Lai (IMDB)
Producer - Laura Allen (IMDB)
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Laura Allen moved to California to attend Cal Arts and has been working in TV production ever since. Her credits include shows such as Robot Chicken, Camp Lazlo, SuperMansion, and Blark and Son. Laura is currently a line producer at Titmouse, in addition to being co-owner of Lethal Amounts gallery in downtown Los Angeles.
Cinematographer - Adam Habib (IMDB)
Adam is a highly sought after cinematographer of both live-action and computer animation, working on projects that range from low budget independents to big budget blockbusters, some of which you've definitely seen.
Creature Designer - Huy Vu (IMDB)
Huy is an incredibly talented creature and production designer who has worked with some of the most renowned production companies and directors in the world, including Guillermo Del Toro, Tim Burton, and Wes Anderson.
Composer - Too amazing to announce yet.
Because this project places such an emphasis on music, we knew getting the right composer was vital, and we believe we did just that. Unfortunately, we can't quite announce who that is at this time, but trust us when we say he's amazing and that you might want to get your hands on one of those 7" records. (If you've been paying attention to this page...)
You can join the team by:
- Contributing - Please check out our nifty incentives, and contribute what you can. Any amount helps, and we'd be grateful for it.
- Sharing - the Kickstarter link with your friends, family, whomever you feel might like to join the team too.
- Social-ing - You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram to help boost our signal and spread the word.
Risks and challenges
Every production faces a torrent of challenges that could hinder its progress and completion. (Just ask Terry Gilliam.) In the past, oftentimes the biggest roadblock for my productions has been a simple lack of resources. As director/producer/ and often times editor/Post-Production supervisor, wearing so many hats can be taxing. Even more so when you're working with little to no budget. This has often resulted in delay after delay, and is exactly why this page and campaign exists.
Beyond a simple budget deficiency though, the most prominent challenge for this production is definitely bringing our Purple Person to life. Being a mix of practical, in camera effects work and post-production magic, the Purple Person is not easy or cheap to bring to life. But thankfully we have a team with both the practical effects and CGI experience to get the job done in a quality manner. And with your help, we'll have the budget to do it a timely one as well.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)