The Paper Tigers. A rousing underdog story about three out-of-shape Kung Fu fighters who have to avenge their master, except they've got day jobs and kids to feed. Help us finish this independent action feature film.
Hello, I’m Bao Tran. A writer, editor, and director. It is my pleasure to beg for your help so I can direct my first feature film, an independent action-comedy-drama called The Paper Tigers. A dead-beat dad, an insurance scammer, and an MMA coach find themselves in the middle of a gang war when they must avenge their Kung Fu master’s death but first... they need to call in sick at their 9-to-5’s.
With this year's astounding success of big-budget studio films like Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther and low-budget independent hits like Searching and Sorry To Bother You, the audiences are hungry for high-quality stories made by people of color and starring a diverse cast. We know the demand is there and we need passionate supporters like you to fill it.
Thanks to our first crowdfunding campaign, we were able to shoot the beginning portions of the film (where our heroes are youngsters), but we still have a ways to go to shoot the rest and finish the film (when our heroes are much older adults).
WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT
I’ve had great mentors/teachers/sifus in martial arts and film that have made me who I am today. As my mentor, the legendary action director Corey Yuen taught me, “Story most important. No good story, no good action.” It has led me to an obsession to make great action movies with compelling characters and stories. In ALIENS or DIE HARD we find heroes tried and tested in the most entertainingly violent ways.
Everyone knows what a promise is, but we’ve forgotten the cost of breaking one. With The Paper Tigers we're not just making a martial arts film, we’re telling a story about family, both born into and adopted, and what you owe to keep those families together.
Imagine Bruce Lee in his 40s, out of shape and divorced, estranged from his kids, trying to figure out his place in the world. Then imagine that same Bruce Lee’s comeback. Family, career, and life might have consumed us, but there will always be a part of us that is dying to do a few spin kicks in the backyard. This movie is dedicated to those who are one kick away from pulling their hamstrings... one lap away from a smoke break...
I want this to be a grounded film. Literally. No fantastical wire-work, no high-flying acrobatics, but true down and dirty Gung Fu. If you're familiar with Hong Kong cinema, we’re going for Shaw Brothers in a street fight.
Our proof-of-concept prequel, The Challenger, demonstrates classic Hong Kong-style action. We were trying to imagine what our main character Danny would have fought like in the prime of his youth, at his best. On the other hand, The Paper Tigers will find Danny at his worst. He’s now a shell of his former self, an athlete beyond his time. His fighting is sloppy, uncoordinated, and rusty. The Challenger is a composition of classical keys and chords, The Paper Tigers is bebop jazz.
EXCITING ACTION AND TALENT
We were able to cast great young actors for the beginning segment of the film and we hope to continue the search. There are so many unsung actors of color that Hollywood has overlooked or erased over time. Audiences are hungry for heroes that resemble them, and we want to do our part in stoking that fire.
Along with our pitch video you'll find our sneak preview with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage featuring Roger Yuan (Mulan, John Wick 3, Shanghai Noon), Yoshi Sudarso (Buffalo Boys, Power Rangers), Peter Sudarso (Power Rangers), Gui Da Silva-Greene (Captain America: Civil War, Pacific Rim: Rising), Kieran Tamondong (Justin Lin’s upcoming Warrior), Mark Poletti, Bryan Kinder, and Malakai James. The time for great movies starring people of color and made by people of color is here!
THE RETURN OF ZEROGRAVITY STUNTS
In the beginning, there was ZeroGravity Stunts. A stunt team comprised of martial arts actors and filmmakers, ZeroGravity was making independent action movies just as everyone was starting to get online. Before there was even YouTube, martial arts fans all over the world avidly shared ZG videos on web forums, BBS, and newsgroups.
Their talented members have gone on to do stunt work with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Corey Yuen, 87eleven Action Design and on major productions like Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Avengers. Basically any big action movie out there, most likely someone from ZeroGravity had a part in it.
I’m excited to announce that ZG’s original members Ken Quitugua and Kerry Wong are returning to their indie roots to design the action choreography and coordinate the stunts on our passion project. They’re going to bring their years of industry experience and take it back to the world of low-budget filmmaking, where creative control trumps big bucks.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1) Fund our Kickstarter campaign!
2) Check us out and follow:
- Our website: http://thepapertigersmovie.com
- Twitter: @_ThePaperTigers
- Facebook: @ThePaperTigersMovie
- Instagram: @_ThePaperTigers
3) Retweet or share a link to this Kickstarter Campaign on your own social media!
WHAT WE WILL DO WITH THE MONEY
We had the exclusive honor of presenting early footage at the Frontières Platform at the Cannes Film Festival, where international distributors and major film festivals have already expressed interest in the final product. This is a chicken or the egg scenario we (and many indie films) find ourselves in, so we need money to finish our film!
Our team is uniquely skilled in making high-quality action films on a low budget. We come from immigrant families and know how to stretch that dollar! We are going to use every trick in the book from our decades of film experience relying on favors, donations, and the community that we’ve built up over the years.
Here are examples of what we can spend it on:
- Ensure our shoot schedule. One of the major costs to making a film is the amount of shooting days. The easiest way to cut down on the budget is to cut down days, which means less time to shoot and less time to rehearse. Jackie Chan spent months shooting the last fight scene for Drunken Master II. Of course, we’re not going to have that much time, but on an indie, every minute counts and an extra couple of days is the difference between a good movie and great film.
- Casting a wide net. We’re going to look high and low for great actors of color and martial artists, but they might live in different cities from where we’re shooting. We’ll need to provide transport and lodging for out-of-town talent.
- Locations/Insurance/Permits. Of course, we’re going call in every favor we can from family and friends, but we still need a budget for a few key locations that will give the story the right look and not feel like everything was shot in our basements.
- High speed camera. An important part of the script is our hero’s ability to calm himself and slow down time in his mind. We’ll need to rent a specialty camera that can shoot cool slow motion images at a high enough quality for added visual effects work. Otherwise it will look really lame.
- $100 rents us a genny for a day. “Genny” meaning portable generator, as in you will be giving us The Power.
- $500 gets us craft service non-food supplies for the entire shoot. Without these, everyone would have to eat lunch with their hands while sitting on the ground and their laps as plates.
- $1,500 buys “miscellaneous” gear for our stunt team. We’d ask them to be more specific except they scare us a little.
- $20,000 covers the cost of production insurance. This will protect our talent, crew, and equipment. Remember all those free items and locations that our friends will lend us? Those will be covered too.
It’s an uphill battle making an independent film, but with your support in funding our Kickstarter and sharing the project with your friends we can make it a reality!
ABOUT OUR TEAM
Tran Quoc Bao | Writer/Director/Editor
Mentored by master action director Corey Yuen, Bao’s approach draws on spectacle through story and character. Screen Anarchy praised his written-and-directed short Bookie for its “flawlessly realized world driven by a compelling narrative and brought to sumptuous life.” His editing credits include Cho Lon, one of Southeast Asia’s highest-budgeted action blockbusters, and Jackpot, a heartfelt comedy selected as Vietnam’s official entry to the 2016 Oscars for Best Foreign Film. The Paper Tigers will be his first feature film as director. Ain’t It Cool News enthusiastically declared Bao as “a director I expect to see big things from.”
Michael Velasquez | Producer
Michael has over 20 years of experience working in video and post-production. As a Creative Producer, Michael’s purpose is to make sure every individual’s needs are met and to help shepherd the director’s creative vision through all levels of the production. He can be a sounding board, yes man, or devil’s advocate as the situation demands. A content creator in his own right, Michael has screened dozens of his short films both nationally and internationally, while his visual effects work has been featured in several award-winning documentaries. Though he began training in martial arts at the age of four, much like the heroes of our film, it’s been decades since he won his last challenge match.
Al’n Duong | Producer
Al’n harbored great passion for martial arts films and NBA basketball from a young age. After reaching the staggering height of 5 foot 7 inches, Al’n put all his energy into making backyard Kung Fu films in high school using home video cameras. He continued his education in Seattle at the University of Washington, focusing on post-modern cinema and martial arts films. Al’n began his film career directing and producing Number 5ive, the Grand Jury Prizewinner at the 2005 Wazzu International Film Festival. Al’n is currently a video producer in the video game industry and director/producer of the pilot travel show, Casting About with Thao Tran.
Yuji Okumoto | Producer
A veteran actor for over 35 years with nearly 100 productions under his name, Yuji is best known for his breakout role in The Karate Kid, Part II as the iconic villain Chozen. Younger generations may know him from Disney hits such as Johnny Tsunami and Johnny Kapahala. With a rare ability of understanding feature film production from the front of the camera to behind the scenes, Yuji has written and produced several television and film projects such as Out, Black Thread, and Katana. Yuji co-produced the feature film Beta Test, starring Manu Bennett and Larenz Tate, which released in U.S. theaters in the summer of 2016. Outside of the film industry, Yuji is a successful proprietor of Kona Kitchen, a Hawaiian-American restaurant and Seattle landmark for 14 years.
Dan Gildark | Producer
Thrust into drama at twelve by a copy of Unabridged Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Dan’s life has been motivated by storytelling. Moving to Seattle in the 90’s to focus on writing he fell into the world of fringe theatre. The Balkan conflict called next and Dan went to investigate and document the war. In 2007 he directed and produced his first feature Cthulhu, winning ‘best of festival’ at both the Eerie and H.P. Lovecraft Film Festivals earning Dan a nomination for The Stranger’s Genius Award.
Ken Quitugua | Action Director / Fight Choreographer
An original member of the ground-breaking indie action team ZeroGravity Stunts, Ken has over 20 years of achievement in martial arts, earning a senior instructor rank in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu and four Grand Championship titles. He has gone on to broaden his knowledge with Wushu, Capoeira, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has served as action director/fight choreographer on several key independent action films of the last decade and recently starred in Unlucky Stars, which was hailed by Kung Fu Kingdom for its “balance of blazing action, laugh-out-loud comedy, and wince-inducing stunt work.”
Kerry Wong | Stunt Coordinator
As co-founder of the independent action group ZeroGravity Stunts, Kerry’s exceptional talent and professionalism has earned him respect throughout the industry. With over a decade of experience, he has worked stunts on various films in the U.S. (Black Dynamite, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) as well as internationally (Battle of the Damned, The Faith of Anna Waters).
Shaun Mayor | Cinematographer
Blending a classic film sensibility with a sophisticated eye for shooting action, Shaun’s long-time collaboration with Bao has proven a critical success. Film School Rejects lauded his sharp visual style on Bookie, “Steeped in the sleek saturation of a 1960s R&B club, it’s soulful and dangerous all at once.”
Yumi Takada, CSA | Casting Director
Yumi started out in the entertainment industry in 1982 as an agent for European fashion models at the Society of Style Model Agency in Tokyo. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and began a 20-year career as an independent casting director for more than 2,500 projects including Ninja, Bunraku, Letters From Iwo Jima, and Suicide Squad. She works closely with her teams in New York, Hawaii, and Tokyo with a specialty in casting Asian actors.
Risks and challenges
There are risks inherent to any independent film project, chief among them “will they even finish?” and “will the film turn out how they promised?” These questions can never be fully answered without taking the plunge first.
What I can say is we’ve had offers to fully fund the film if only we change our main characters to Caucasians. We’ve had offers to fully fund the film if we shoot in China. We’ve had offers to sell the script and shop it to more famous directors. But this is a distinctly Asian and American story and we have consistently stuck to our guns to make the movie we want to make.
We’ve already started this journey by shooting the beginning scenes of the film, which were also the most logistically complex portions of the script. We are driven, experienced, award winning artists with our professional reputations on the line to finish what we promised. You can watch my previous work and decide for yourself if I’m a filmmaker who can get things done or not.
Thank you for your consideration. Have no doubt that my team and I will put it all on the line to finish this movie and make it great. I leave you with words from my Bookie producer and crowdfunder from our first campaign Nick Risinger:
“Bao is the most stubborn person I know. If you can trust anyone to get a movie made, it’s this guy.”Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (36 days)