Who hasn't had this experience: There's you. Then there's your mother. She says just the right thing to get under your skin. Resist the urge to roll your eyes! But do you two talk about it? No. You let it lie there, unspoken. Perhaps you will never talk about it. But at the end of the day, you still sit down to a meal together and somehow time and eating seems to fill the silence enough for that tension to become bearable.
Eat With Me is a feature-length, dramedy film that explores that issue of communication gaps between parents and their adult children. Emma is our middle-aged mother, who is struggling to come to terms with her son's gay identity. Elliot is our Generation X son who is just trying to find his place in the world. He's no longer the boy that Emma once knew yet can't seem to really talk to his mother as an adult. Both don't know how to break the ice, but they don't have to because she lives in comfortable suburbia and he lives in the city.
Their two worlds collide when one day, having enough of her stale marriage and insensitive husband, Emma packs a bag and runs away from home. With nowhere else to go, she turns up at Elliot's doorstep. In their odd couple living situation, Emma begins to discover her zest for life again. She comes alive through her accidental friendship with Elliot's eccentric neighbor. With no choice but to see her son for who he is, she learns how to love him just the way he is.
And what about Elliot? His whole life, he's been playing it safe, cooking the same dishes at the family restaurant, staying under the radar, and avoiding relationships that require real emotional vulnerability. When an intriguing man enters his world, he finds himself torn between exploring this chance for love and the fear of disappointing his mother. Just as Emma must find her way, so too must Elliot transform from boy to man.
Eat With Me is not just a journey of a middle-aged, Chinese woman's to "grow up." It's also a creative journey of our own writer and director, David Au. David's first exploration into the story of a tenuous mother/son relationship started with his thesis film from film school, Fresh Like Strawberries. In the 8 years since that short film, David's own identity as an artist and as a man has matured. Along the way, he has uncovered new understandings and fresh perspectives about his mother and their parent-child relationship. As David has matured, so too has the story into what is now the Eat With Me story. This film, in many ways, is David's tribute to his mother.
Despite the personal nature of David's story, he has galvanized an entire community around the universal themes of this film. All three of the original cast from Fresh Like Strawberries are excited to reprise their role in the feature film. Eat With Me has garnered fans from across the globe, from countries including Indonesia, Taiwan, China, Japan, Egypt, Mexico, Australia, the U.S. and even Afghanistan. The project has gained support from members of PFLAG (Parents, Friends, Family and Allies of LGBT) and our cast and crew have marched in solidarity with API-Equality (marriage equality) in the West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade.
- EMMA - Sharon Omi (50 First Dates, Spiderman 2)
- ELLIOT - Teddy Chen Culver (Law & Order: LA; The Event)
- MAUREEN - Nicole Sullivan (MADtv, The King of Queens & Wendell and Vinnie)
- RAY - Ken Narasaki (Judging Amy, Chicago Hope)
- JENNY - Jamila Alina (The Young And The Restless)
Eat With Me is truly a passion project from our cast to everyone behind the camera. With an ultra low indie budget like ours, no one in the team is making big bucks from it. Seriously, many of our crew will be paid in dumplings! Everyone is participating for the love of the story and the "family" that we have built throughout the years.
This is a collaborative team in which everyone brings their amazing talents and creativity.
- Producer - Joyce Liu-Countryman
- Producer - Michelle Ehlen
- Executive Producer - Terry Lin
- Writer/Director - David Au
- Director of Photography - Amanda Treyz
- Illustrator - Ellen Wong
Lights! Camera! Now we need your Action!
We're asking you--our community--to help us make this film come to life so that we can bring it back to you. Make a monetary pledge online now and enjoy the thank you gifts as well as the gratification of knowing that you are giving a voice to a whole generation of parents and the gay children that they strive to love.
What Your Pledge Buys
We watch films to see our stories told and to open our minds. They transport us to places where we can vicariously experience the life lessons and emotional truths that we don't often get access to in our daily existence. The experience is priceless...but the process of making those films do come with costs.
We are planning a 16-day shoot, with an all-hands-on-deck attitude for our small crew. We won't have a lot of money but we don't want to compromise on the quality of our vision, our storytelling, or the look of the film.
Even with our ultra low-budget production, there are still tangible costs that we, as independent filmmakers, need your help with.
Here's the conversion rate of Your dollars to "Eat With Me" dollars:
- $5 = 1 Starbuck's Latte for You OR Bottled Water for Our Entire Cast and Crew for 1 Day
- $15 = 1 Lunch at the Olive Garden Restaurant for You OR a Costume for 1 Actor
- $25 = 1 Spray Tan Session for You OR Copies of the Shooting Script for the Cast and Crew
- $50 = 1 Bottle of Cologne/Perfume for You OR Supplies and Groceries for a Cooking Scene
- $100 = 1 Ski Lift Ticket for You OR Location Fees for 1/2 a Day of Shooting
- $250 = 1 Second-Hand Kitchen Aid Mixer for You OR 1 Brand New External Hard Drive to Store Footage
- $500 = 1 Small Gucci Purse for You OR 1 Day of Meals and Craft Services for Entire Cast and Crew
- $1000 = 1 Weekend Stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel for You OR 1 Day of Camera and Lighting Equipment Rental
Our STRETCH Goal
$50,000 may seem like a lot but it's actually only 1/3 of our total budget. We are still raising the remainder through other ways but if you find that you can help us surpass the $50,000 mark in this Kickstarter campaign, we'll be able to redirect our time and energy towards making the film NOW.
How You Can Help
As you can see, every contribution helps and we have pledge levels from as little as $5 to as much as you can contribute. Each pledge level has its own unique set of thank you gifts that we believe give you back value and that you will enjoy. If we don't reach $50,000 in pledges by 11:59 p.m. PDT, Monday, April 15th, we get NONE of the money that's already been pledged. That's right, it's all or nothing!
Eat With Me is a very personal story but one that is also the story of many. You'll see reflections of yourself, your parents, even your adventures in love in this film.
Please spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, email and any other social media that you use to reach out to your friends and family. Then join the conversation at www.facebook.com/dumplingmovie or @eatwithmemovie on Twitter!
Risks and challenges
There is always the risk with any film production that a film may never be completed or distributed. We want you to also understand those risks and assure you that we have contingency plans to address them.
To ensure that our film has a real shot at being distributed and seen by our audiences, we currently hold a Letter of Intent for First Right of Refusal from one of the largest LGBT media distributors in the U.S. That means that when the film is done, we already have a film distributor who has committed to reviewing our film for distribution. We are also planning a series of events to showcase the film at film festivals across the world and through community-based screenings for LGBT organizations.
As with any workplace, there is always the risk of workplace injury that may sideline a production. Not only will we carry full insurance coverage to support our cast and crew in the event of a mishap, we pledge to practice a "Safety-First" policy on set where all department heads are responsible for ensuring the safety of their team at all times. We may be low budget but we refuse to bypass safe practices for the sake of saving money or time.
Finally, if the film ultimately cannot be completed due to uncontrollable, unforeseen circumstances, the unused funds that have been donated through this campaign will be donated in equal shares to the San Francisco and Los Angeles Regional Food Banks, and the National PFLAG organization.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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