Asian American fitness model Kevin Kreider has spent his whole life trying to answer the question: "Can Asian men be sexy?" This film examines the paradox of the handsome male model who feels unattractive, ashamed and emasculated because of his Asian ethnicity.
Asian men have historically been portrayed as weak, unattractive and never getting the girl (or boy) they desire in Western film and media. We will debunk these myths by finding out how these stereotypes came about in order to dispel them. We hope Kevin’s personal story sheds more light on this topic and can help others who have struggled with shame and feeling less than no matter what race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality they may be.
5/9/18 *UPDATE: We have reached our first fundraising goal in 9 days! Our Kickstarter and trailer has been shared over 60,000 times on social media! We now have a STRETCH GOAL of $40,000 which we have until May 30th to reach.This will enable us to to finish shooting and complete the post-production of THE UGLY MODEL. Please see below for a breakdown of what that will be used for.
5/28/18* UPDATE: As of yesterday 5/27 we have reached our first stretch goal of 30K! We still have 2 days to go until the finish of the campaign. Help us give one last push to achieve our super stretch goal of $40,000! Please continue to contribute, share, tweet and post us right across the finish line! Kickstarter Link: http://kck.st/2JDh3Db
See you on the other side of the Finish Line!
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Read more about the film, the team, the production process and how you can support below!
WHO IS THE UGLY MODEL?
From the outside, Philly based Korean American adoptee and fitness model Kevin Tae-jin Kreider seems to have it all, Looks, Muscles, Chutzpah, Confidence and Charisma. He has a popular Instagram and vlog and has modeled around the world for the likes of Men’s Health, Gillette, Reebok and Abercrombie & Fitch. Yet since childhood, he has always felt ugly and second best as an Asian male in America. This film examines the paradox of the handsome male model who feels unattractive, ashamed and emasculated because of his Asian ethnicity. Why does Kevin then choose to be a male model where validation is based his physical appearance?
Kevin was born in South Korea and adopted by an American family from Philadelphia and was the only Asian kid in his predominantly white neighborhood. At the time, there were no role models of Asian men being attractive or desirable in media or around him. As a child, Kevin felt ugly and different to white kids who would constantly bully him for being Asian. That led him to believe that being Asian was second best to being white. Kevin’s parents and his brain was white, but his exterior wasn’t. It was the start of a big conflict within himself. Like his own role models Asian American top model Daniel Liu, and basketball star Jeremy Lin whom he interviews, Kevin wants to be a role model for young people that might have felt ugly or invisible like he did as a child. Kevin sets himself on a personal quest to change America’s standard of male beauty.
ABOUT THIS FILM PROJECT
Kevin’s story will be told through the lens of what Asian masculinity means for him and other Asian male role models that he looks up to. The story will be structured to present Kevin’s current personal and professional situation as well as his emotional state in a cinema vérité style. The film revisits parts of his childhood using old photos, family and friend's memories using self-reflexive voiceover and interviews with visible Asian men in American television, film, media, sports and academics in the field of Asian American studies and more.
WHY IS THIS FILM IMPORTANT?
There is a dearth of positive representations of Asian men in film, television and media. Historically in American film and media, Asian men are portrayed as weak, unattractive and never getting the girl (or boy) they desire. We will debunk these myths by finding out how these stereotypes came about in order to dispel them. We hope Kevin’s story sheds more light on this topic and can help others who have struggled with similar issues of shame and feeling less than no matter what race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality they may be.
In Kevin words:
“I was always angry because I felt like my voice wasn’t being heard. Asian men are viewed as humble, quiet, and smart, but at the same time not sexually attractive or having personalities. We were seen as second best and having secondary options. I spoke about this, but was seen as an angry Asian man and told not to take it personally. After talking with Jeremy Lin at the Sixers game about Asian masculinity, I realized I wasn’t the only one with this experience. I decided to help others who had felt the same way with their confidence and self-esteem, and in return, I received confidence and self-esteem.”
In July 2017, my friend and former colleague Bianca Kuijper (and now producer of this film) mentioned to me she had met another Korean adoptee called Kevin Kreider. Kevin was a successful fitness model in New York and had all the qualities to be on the cover of Men’s Fitness but was being rejected by casting agents for modeling jobs because he was Asian. Despite his apparent hotness he was never swiped right on Tinder and was always being stood up on dates. We thought Kevin’s life and experiences might be an interesting basis for a film about Asian Masculinity because we both strongly felt there was a need for more accurate representations of Asians and specifically Asian men in film and media.
When I met Kevin in New York last summer, I wondered why this super hot and attractive model couldn’t get a date on Tinder or get on the cover of a magazine? As I talked more with Kevin, I realized his story mirrored my own growing up as the only person of color in my suburban San Francisco community. Kevin's story was the story of any kid who has ever been bullied or made to feel less than for being different. A story of a young person so ashamed of himself and how he looked that he went to drastic measures to change himself to be accepted and loved.
STATUS OF THE PROJECT
So far we have developed the story, gathered footage and completed about 75% of the filming in our production phase. To fully complete this important film we need your help to finalize the post-production to be able to send the film to film festivals and distribute the film to a wider audience.
Our team felt so sure that Kevin’s personal story would make a compelling film about Asian Masculinity that we used our own funds to develop the story and start the filming and footage gathering. Now we need additional funds to complete filming and have a quality post production. Our team is passionate about the story and are doing our utmost to keep costs as low as possible while maintaining quality. A minimum of $20,000 will be used to complete the editing of the documentary. This means that all the hours of footage will be converted into a 70-minute documentary. With $20,000 we will complete the film with basic post production in order to release the film.
Additional funding above $20,000 will enable us to add more budget to our post production to make an even higher quality film.
Our STRETCH GOAL of $30,000 will enable us to engage professionals in proper editing and color correction which will add to the production value and make the film pop and look more visually cohesive. Sound design and music will give depth to the image and will help create another layer of emotional connection with the audience.
OUR SUPER STRETCH GOAL of $40,000 and above will enable us to shoot more material and obtain more interviews which will further enrich and make a fuller and even more dynamic film.
But Kickstarter is more than about money. Kickstarter helps build a community of support around a project. Through this platform we hope to build a community of people who care about more accurate representations of Asians in film, television and media.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
- Pledge and get great rewards! Any amount, no matter how small, helps to fund the completion of THE UGLY MODEL and allow the film to reach its full potential!
Regardless of whether you are able to donate, please share our project with your social networks. Your tweets, posts, emails and conversations about THE UGLY MODEL can help raise consciousness about the film and the topics it explores. Thank you for using your voice to spread the word!
WHO ARE WE?
Director - Doris Yeung is an Asian American filmmaker from San Francisco, Bay Area. She has written and directed films in the US, Asia and Europe and has studied at UCLA, American Film Institute and Beijing Film Academy. She directed her first feature film, MOTHERLAND (2009) set in San Francisco, starring renowned Chinese and Canadian actors, Francoise Yip and Kenneth Tsang . It was named one of the 10 best Asian American Films of 2009 by Asian Pacific Arts Magazine and her a “filmmaker to watch” by the Hollywood Reporter. Her second feature film TAXI STORIES (2017) has screened in over 30 festivals around the world and will be released in 2018. She founded CinemAsia Film Festival in Amsterdam
Producer - Bianca Soo Ran Kuijper was adopted from South Korea and grew up in The Netherlands. From 2011-2016 Bianca was general manager at CinemAsia Film Festival, the Asian film festival in the Netherlands. In 2016 she moved to New York and her passion remains in using cinema as medium to broaden horizons and create mutual understanding. THE UGLY MODEL is her first project as a documentary producer.
Creative Producer - Bing Wang is a documentary filmmaker and educator who adores cinéma vérité and loves to investigate family, communication and identity topics. His feature debut, “The Ability Exchange”, explores disability, inclusion and empathy in an intimate classroom and beyond. He edited Lynn Zhang’s powerful labor rights exposé “Complicit” and Fusion’s TV documentary “The Naked Truth: China Queer”. Bing associate produced Ursula Liang’s award-winning film “9-Man” and is currently developing a new project titled "Loud Love" about gay deaf parenting.
Director of Photography & Editor - Martijn van Veen is an Amsterdam based editor/DP who has worked with numerous commercial and governmental clients exploring all different aspects of media productions; from conceptual to post-production. Martijn’s strengths are his fast, instinctive and rhythmic editing skills and a keen eye with camera and camjo work. Martijn has a Masters in Media & Culture from the University of Amsterdam. His latest feature film was “Taxi Stories” (directed by Doris Yeung) where he was DP and editor.
Risks and challenges
The Production of THE UGLY MODEL is 75% complete and we are confident that we have fewer risks than a project that is just an idea. The biggest risk we face is not engaging in proper post-production and not being able to convert the footage into a film because of a lack of funds. With your help, we will be able to complete this important film and take it to as wide an audience as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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