About this project
JOIN THE COMMUNITY!
It's really important to me that we involve members and supporters of the LGBTQ and Asian-American communities in the making of SPA NIGHT. This film only comes alive when people create dialogue around it. Through Kickstarter, we hope to share stories, inspire ideas, and build community both before and well-after the film is made!
Follow our progress on our SPA NIGHT Kickstarter Facebook page! Click on the rainbow banner below! We'll let you know when this coming out film comes out!
David Cho is an 18-year-old Korean-American teenager, living in Koreatown, Los Angeles with his first-generation parents Jin and Soyoung. David helps out at the family tofu restaurant, but business is slow and the restaurant is forced to close.
Instead of going to SAT classes, David secretly takes a job at a Korean spa to help pay his family’s bills. At the spa, he discovers an underground world of gay sex that both scares and excites him. As he explores his sexuality at the spa, his family life crumbles, and David is left to weigh his own desires against his parents' hopes and dreams.
WHY THIS FILM IS IMPORTANT
I have always associated Korean spas with my childhood, my family, and my Korean identity. As a kid, I would go to the spa with my dad. It was a cultural ritual; we would clean ourselves.
A few years ago, I discovered that Korean spas in Los Angeles are used as a space for underground gay sex. As a gay Korean-American man, this discovery felt strange, thrilling, and very wrong! It’s very easy for me to separate my identities. I can either be Korean or gay. But here is this place where I have to deal with my identities at the same time. I’m forced to be whole.
I knew immediately that a Korean spa would be the perfect setting for a film about a gay Korean-American identity. There aren't enough films out there about Asian-Americans, let alone LGBTQ Asian-Americans. It's important to me that I share this story so that people understand that we exist and that our community holds a diversity of people, voices, and experiences.
SPA NIGHT is not your traditional coming-out film. My main character David never comes out to his parents in the film. Instead, he comes out to himself. So much of the coming out process happens on the inside and we so rarely get to see this important step. By the time I could say the words, “I’m gay,” I had already come to terms with my sexuality. I think the internal realization is harder and lonelier than any other step. But when it’s made, it’s huge. It’s an accomplishment. It deserves to be praised.
SPA NIGHT is about growing up. It's about understanding who you are as a person. This is a process everyone goes through, no matter your race, gender, or sexual orientation. How do we block out all the expectations, pressures, and noise to find our true and authentic selves? This is something I have struggled with and will continue to struggle with for the rest of my life. In SPA NIGHT, David doesn't figure it all out. But by the end of the film, he finds the strength to try.
ANDREW AHN (Writer, Director) is a Korean-American filmmaker born and raised in Los Angeles. His short film “Dol (First Birthday)” premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has screened at numerous other festivals and venues around the world. The film received the Outfest Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Short Film. Ahn participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab, and the Film Independent Directing Lab with his feature screenplay SPA NIGHT. The project also received a Sundance Institute Cinereach Feature Film Fellow grant. He graduated from Brown University and received an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts. (Bio photo [top left] by Jimmy Sianipar)
Read Andrew Ahn's Huffington Post piece The Sundance Diaries: I Made This Film To Come Out To My Parents
KI JIN KIM (Cinematographer, Producer) is a filmmaker, cinematographer and producer, working and living in Los Angeles. He moved from his native Korea to Los Angeles to attend the Film Directing Program at the California Institute of the Arts, where he now teaches Film Production. Ki Jin's films have screened internationally at numerous venues, including Sundance, Rotterdam, BAFICI, the Amiens, Tampere, SXSW and Slamdance among others. In 2012, he co-founded Nonetheless Productions, an independent production company dedicated to helping its talented collective of diverse directors in the production of motion picture content across a wide variety of media platforms. His work as producer includes the feature film AURORA NOTTE which premiered at BAFICI 2014 and the MTV Other web-series MYRNA THE MONSTER. He is also a Sundance Producing Summit fellow with the narrative feature SPA NIGHT.
DAVID ARINIELLO (Producer) Winner of a 50th Annual Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, David Ariniello wrote and co-produced ARCADIA LOST starring Nick Nolte and Haley Bennett, which premiered at the Oldenburg Film Festival in Germany in 2010 and went on to play festivals worldwide. Ariniello also co-wrote and directed “The Incident,” a branded entertainment short for the Lincoln Motor Company and Vanity Fair. A member of the WGA, SAG, and IATSE, Ariniello holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of California and BA from Columbia University in New York.
GIULIA CARUSO (Producer) Born in Italy, Giulia Caruso is now based in Los Angeles, where she collaborates with the independent production company Nonetheless Productions as producer and director. Her first feature, AURORA NOTTE, screened at BAFICI 2014 and her latest short film, PROXIMITIES, was executive produced by James Franco as part of the feature film HOLYLAND – currently in post-production. She has produced the MTV Other web-series MYRNA THE MONSTER and hybrid documentary PRESERVES (dir. Norbert Shieh/ Creative Capital 2012, CCDF CNEX Taipei 2013). Giulia holds an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts, for which she was awarded the Hollywood Foreign Press Scholarship. In January 2013 Giulia was selected for the Berlinale Talent Campus as writer/director.
KELLY THOMAS (Producer) has more than 10 years of experience producing independent features and is VP of JuntoBox Films’ Incubator Initiative. Prior to JuntoBox Films, she was the Producer in Residence for Film Independent’s Artist Development programs and in that capacity managed and curated labs for writers, directors, producers, and documentary filmmakers. Kelly also produced branded entertainment for Vanity Fair and Lincoln Motors. She started her film career with Mockingbird Pictures and later co-founded Extraordinary Renditions. Kelly has worked with acclaimed directors Rodrigo Garcia, Phedon Papamichael, Robin Swicord, and Brad Silberling. She holds an MBA from the University of Virginia and a PhD in English from the University of Michigan.
JULIA KIM (Casting Director) is an independent casting director in Los Angeles who specializes in unearthing new talent. STARLET won the Robert Altman Award for Best Ensemble Cast at the Independent Spirit Awards. Cam Archer's SHIT YEAR premiered at Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and WILD TIGERS I HAVE KNOWN, executive produced by Gus Van Sant and Scott Rudin, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. WASSUP ROCKERS, directed by Larry Clark (KIDS) premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was the Opening Night Selection at Slamdance. Back in the day, Julia cut her chops on beloved classics like BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER, SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS, THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS, and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.
ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAVE SUPPORTED THE FILM!
LABS AND WORKSHOPS: Sundance Screenwriters Lab (2013), Film Independent Screenwriting Lab (2013), Film Independent Directing Lab (2014), Sundance Screenwriters Intensive (2013)
GRANTS: Sundance Institute Cinereach Feature Film Fellow Grant
The story of SPA NIGHT is tightly focused around its characters, keeping the budget low and lean. There are no transforming robots here! However, if I've learned anything over these past few months, it's that everything costs money!
The $60,000 that we raise here will get us through pre-production and into production! This is the hardest part -- getting started! That's why we're on KICKSTARTER! With this money, we can get our actors (finishing the casting process, renting audition/rehearsal space), secure crew (art department, location manager, AD, etc...), and secure locations (Korean spa, karaoke, Korean BBQ, golf range!). This film is not something that we can finance on our own. With your help, we can bring David's story to life.
Risks and challenges
SPA NIGHT will not be an easy film to make. The subject matter is controversial. I need the community's help, but many members of the Korean-American community may not be ready to discuss these issues. However, it is my hope that people will watch this film and understand who David is as a human being. I know that our focus on the film's humanity will help us create a film that can engage a wide audience.
As with any other independent film, there are financial risks involved. It is impossible to predict if the film will make money in distribution. For this reason, we have kept the budget ultra-low and garnered support from institutions like Sundance and Film Independent -- we want to give ourselves the best opportunity to make this a financially viable venture.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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