UPDATE: New goal of $30,000!
Your generous support has given us courage to strive higher. We thank you for the push, as we boldly dare to dream even bigger than before. We want to set a new goal of $30,000!
Here's our campaign below:
Koreatowns exist all across our country. They are nestled in major cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas, and of course, our beloved New York City. As Korean-Americans, we have called this country our home for over 100 years. However, we have never really felt like true members of the family, but mere guests in someone else’s home. Our stories remain untold. What do you know about us? Who are we? How will others know about us? We are here to unapologetically tell those stories.
We want to provide a snapshot of “that” life, “that” voice, and “that” narrative - “that” which the broader population might not know about. Through this film, we want to be the voice of the Korean-American community and act as a conduit in telling its story. In doing so, we are memorializing our presence and our importance in this country.
Happy Cleaners is about the Choi Family living and surviving in Flushing, Queens. We observe the day-to-day lives of the Choi Family members as they navigate through their respective struggles, cultural clashes, inner angst, all while trying to keep the family dry cleaning business afloat.
When families immigrate to the United States, their instinctual goal is survival. The dry cleaning business, is one that is relatively easy to get into and provides immediate income for store owners. The monetary investment is not as much as other type of businesses. This is similar for green grocers, nail salons, as well as beauty supply stores -- all types of businesses ubiquitous in the Korean-American community.
The dry cleaning business is a nod to our parents. Our first generation parents work hard and support their children’s dreams and aspirations to the detriment of their own. They resort to menial labor, hoping it was all worth the journey across the waters.
We're close to finish!
We spent 21 days in the summer of July 2017 for principal photography. Since we have wrapped, we've clocked several hundreds of hours of editing. We now need to work with artists, musicians, sound professionals and translators to finish post-production. We are running our last lap, but we still need your partnership to help us cross the finish line!
The Choi family apartment is filled with paraphernalia reminiscent of the homes that many of us grew up in. It’s crowded, it’s cluttered, and it’s filled with stories. The traditional, yet borderline gaudy mismatched furniture and church calendars scream Korean families. The sturdy Corelle dishware holds all the meals over which passive aggressive conversations takes place.
The film is also full of humorous allusions to Korean-American culture; jokes that are nods to our lives but also a warm invitation to those on the outside to digest these cultural nuances. For example, our characters speak a mix of Korean and English and will often jump between the two languages. This is what we warmly label as ‘Konglish.’
The film also highlights the importance of the meal, or the “bansang” (array of side dishes in a Korean dining table) in a Korean family. The orchestra to our aural senses, provided by the chomping of meats, crunching of vegetables, and slurping of stews, will leave you craving for Korean food even in the midst of the tense atmosphere of the Choi Family.
The most notable aspect of the film is authenticity. We are not modifying or diluting any recollection of Flushing life to cater to a non-Korean palette. We are displaying truths and sharing personal experiences in every scene. The reality is that Konglish is the language we speak at home. We swear at our parents. We wake up disheveled, unkempt, and even smelling like garlic. We do not want to hide who we are. This film is unapologetic, real, and raw.
As a contributor, not only will you get a chance to watch the film, you will be receiving opportunities for an authentic Flushing experience. You can get a personal tour of Flushing with the filmmakers and get to hear what inspired them, made them laugh and made them cry as you join in walking down the streets of Flushing. Also get to try out some Flushing snacks and good Korean food approved by Flushing natives. Take a look at the rewards below!
You will also be receiving many production perks such as physical copies of our entire screenplay, a fun yet useful one of a kind laundry bag, and our iconic HYPHEN HAT.
What is the significance of the “hyphen” you might ask? The hyphen hat is freshly adorned by Kevin Choi, one of the principal characters of the film and you can see the filmmakers rocking it on set. The hat has been particularly designed by the filmmakers and the “hyphen” symbol represents the Korean-American generation; those that have to make harmony between the Korean and American cultures as children of immigrants.
Julian is born and bred in New York, pursued a career in the arts at an early age despite the Korean-American norm. An animator-to-be turned Filmmaker, Julian always felt passionate in telling moving and creative stories. His quirky compartmentalizing work ethic comes as no surprise to his colleagues as he enjoys long walks inside the Container Store, Muji’s packaging aisle, and building his legos in a very linear manner.
Peter grew up in a blue-collar, immigrant family in Flushing, Queens. Watching families survive in the New York hustle gave Peter a personal understanding of social and financial struggles. Realizing the lack of representation in mainstream media, Peter found his calling in creating a platform for telling stories of the invisible and the marginalized. He has helped create numerous narrative short and feature films, documentaries, and several film and TV projects telling the stories of undervalued Americans. In his free time, Peter enjoys adventures and spontaneous road trips with his wife.
Kat is a Flushing, Queens girl from her first breath to her eventual last. Although her professional training is in law and has been working as an attorney for seven years, she believes that representing a voice for her ethnic and gender community is more effectively executed in her role with Jebby Productions. Through her struggles or triumphs, Kat will always land on her feet. She enjoys comedy, boxing, and having things in order. She is also not-so-secretly writing up her own quirky biopic sitcom.
KoreanAmericanStory.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to capturing and preserving the stories of the Korean-American experience. As Executive Producer, the organization seeks to empower those within the Korean-American community whose voices have not traditionally been heard before by bringing stories like Happy Cleaners into the limelight.
Risks and challenges
Korean-Americans and our stories are generally not prominent in mainstream media. Thus, making a film about Korean-Americans is a challenge. Even further, because the film is not backed by major studios or notable names in the industry, proper film distribution will pose another hurdle. That is why we strongly encourage our community to get involved. We are proud of its grassroots movement involving our very own community - but we still need all of your voices in order to reach its full potential. With your help, we can expand the depth and breadth of our reach - we want many people to watch our film and learn our personal American narrative.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)