If you frequent YouTube, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Wong Fu Productions, a group of talented filmmakers who gained recognition and a loyal fan base by posting videos online. The founders, Philip Wang, Ted Fu, and Wesley Chan, have done a variety of short online films and sketches, from satire to drama to mockumentary.
In June 2015, Wong Fu released its first full-length feature film, Everything Before Us, complete with a tour across the country and a screening at our very own Ward Theatre in Hawaii! The film is set in the near future, where the Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI) issues all individuals in romantic relationships a publicly-accessible “relationship score” – similar to credit scores – that keeps them accountable for their daily choices. The film follows an older couple and a younger couple as they navigate their relationships.
I sat down with Wes and Phil at the screening to ask their thoughts on the movie and relationships.
Below -- Left to right: Phillip Wang, me (!!), and Wesley Chan
Q: How was this idea of the DEI created?
Wes: “We thought about how emotional injury is almost like physical injury. When you go through heartbreak, it can be very hard to concentrate, to get simple things done – your everyday life is at a standstill when you’re heartbroken. The DEI’s thought is that if people are less heartbroken they’ll be more productive.”
Phil: “We all have relationship histories of our own – different experiences. What would happen if everyone knew about them? How would they judge us? How would we act differently if we knew that stuff was going to be public? How would society be different?”
Q: What do you want your audience to take away?
Wes: “We want to offer different perspectives with this movie – show that people play different roles throughout their relationship history. In one instance you may be the person that gets heartbroken and in the next one you’re the one that’s doing the dumping. In a relationship, no one is entirely blameless and no one is entirely bad.”
Q: Drawing on your own personal experiences, what qualities or actions make a relationship last?
Phil: “Communication and honesty are extremely important, and being open-minded when you’re communicating. If your significant other brings up issues and you’re not willing to listen to why it’s hurting or affecting them, that’s when problems happen. I think pride gets in the way sometimes and, if you really want to make it work, you have to put your pride aside.”
Q: How did you guys take care of your own well-being throughout the making of this movie?
Phil: “One of the things that helped me through the project was that we had an end destination in sight. I was able to go ‘OK, I’m going to buckle down and commit, because I know there’s a finish line that I’m sure to attain.’ That helped me push through any hard times.”
Wes: “Thankfully, we’ve had 10 years of experience leading up to this feature film, but there were definitely long hours, late nights. When we were stressed, we relied on each other and took breaks when we needed to. We still had weekends, which were very important – we didn’t want to burn ourselves out. We always took one or two days to recharge and come back refreshed.”
Want to learn more about relationships and its effect on your well-being? Look for the Winter 2016 issue of Island Scene magazine, coming out in January!