BY Adrienne Stanley | Jun 30, 2015 02:06 PM EDT
Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg star in the romantic indie flick, "It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong." Directed by Emily Ting, the film examines the concept of emotional cheating and the parameters that define exclusive relationships. Jamie Chung is Ruby, an Asian American woman whose visit to Hong Kong is shaped by a random encounter with an expat. Bryan Greenberg portrays Josh, an American expat who leads Ruby on a seemingly romantic journey through the streets of Hong Kong. After spending the entire night strolling through the cityscape, Ruby discovers that Josh is in a committed relationship with his Hong Kong-based girlfriend. KDramastars spoke with the real-life couple and Director Emily Ting, during their press junket at the New York Asian Film Festival.
KDramastars: What was the casting process for "It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong?" How did you choose the lead characters?
Emily Ting: The film was always envisioned to have two great, strong actors in the lead roles. I had worked with Bryan, as a producer on the 2012 film, "The Kitchen." After "The Kitchen" premiered, he reached out to me to see what I was working on, next. I told him my screenplay which was about an Asian Amerian girl who goes to Asia. It just so happened that his girlfriend met the description.
At the time, I had envisioned Jamie Chung in the role, but I didn’t have any connections with her and had no idea that Bryan was dating her. I sent the script to Bryan and asked if she would be interested. The two of them read it together. Two weeks later, I received a response that they were willing to do the movie. I was really lucky in casting my first film. It usually isn’t so quick.
KDramastars: Jamie, why did you decide to participate in the film?
Jamie Chung: I think these types of roles are extremely rare for Asian American women. What we found so interesting about this screenplay was that the Asian American girl was the fish-out-of-water, in her parent’s country. The expat is the one who totally embraces this culture and identifies with it.
Personally, I was a bit terrified to do a movie with Bryan. I knew it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, it can be risky to do something like this with someone who you are in a relationship with. I was just fearful that the chemistry wouldn’t show on-screen and it would be a direct reflection of our relationship.
In all fairness, it was a really good project to do. We took advantage of shooting in a foreign country. It was the first time either one of us had traveled to Hong Kong. It was really a memorable experience.
KDramastars: What inspired the script and how long did it take to create the film from its initial conception?
Emily Ting: I previously lived in Hong Kong, for five years, as an expat. I know the city intimately and wanted to film a movie there. The film was directly birthed out of Hong Kong. It wasn’t like I randomly chose the city. I specifically wanted to write a love story that was set in Hong Kong. While I was living in Hong Kong, I waited for someone else to make a film like “Before Sunrise,” a walk-and-talk romance set within the city.
I thought the city was beautiful and cinematic. On a personal level, I met an expat in Hong Kong, someone who was similar to the character of Josh. We spent the entire night talking and singing karaoke until sunrise. I thought we were building a connection until I discovered that he had a girlfriend. That experience served as the premise of the film.
I originally wrote the screenplay as a short, which concluded with the first half of the film. However, after showing the screenplay to a friend, she expressed an interest in wanting to know what happened to the lead characters. From writing the short to creating the feature, was a three-year process.
KDramastars: You provided the voice for Go Go Tamago in “Big Hero 6.” What are your thoughts on the success of the film? Would you provide the voice for an animated character, the future?
Jamie Chung: I would definitely take on another voice acting role. It provides the luxury of timing. I had a year to create a wonderful character. That is a rarity and a unique experience. One of the other differences is that you don’t get to work with any of the other actors. Everyone comes together in post production. You feel like you know everyone so well, but you may not have met them before. There was a great sense of camaraderie because we went through the journey together. The result of the project was something so wonderful and eclectic. It is a great representation of modern-day society, minus the robots.
KDramastars: Bryan, does your music career and creative process with music affect your acting roles?
Bryan Greenberg: They are both different creative expressions that feed off of each other. I feel like my acting is more of a career and my music is a passion, that I do on the side. I had to make a choice, a long time ago. I could have gone down the musician path and signed with a label. However, I had to turn down so many acting jobs and I was further along with my acting career than I was with my music career. I wasn’t willing to do that.
Now, it’s hard to make time for the music. With music, you need time to set up shows and you can’t cancel tour dates. Now, I just make music for fun. I just released an album, last month. Sometimes, I will play a character that will help inform a song. I can get into a character’s mind set through a song I wrote.
KDramastars: What are some of the challenges of working as a female director in an industry that is male dominated?
Emily Ting: I am often asked this question. In the context of this film, the fact that I was a woman and a minority didn’t factor into anything. That is a primary reason to turn towards independent films. You don’t have to ask for permission or wait for anything. It gives you the opportunity to create something unique.
“It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong” just premiered at LA Film Festival. It was one of the films that they showcased for having a female director; the festival really prided itself on having a group of movies directed by women. The same situations are not available in Hollywood. I think independent films are where female directors can have a voice and have representation. It hard to know whether this will translate to Hollywood.
KDramastars: Do you think there has been a positive increase in film or television roles for Asian and Asian American actors? If so, why do you think this is happening now?
Bryan Greenberg: I think there is an increase and it’s not surprise. Hollywood is finally taking notice of the rise of the Asian film industry. There is so much money being generated and Hollywood is trying to break into the Asian market. I think Hollywood sees the potential in Asian actors, which is well overdue. Personally, I’m sick of seeing the same actors and types of people in the majority of roles. I’m all for more diversity.
Jamie Chung: I think the movies that are being released are becoming more of a reflection of today’s society. I certainly would like to see new actors and types of roles. I’m personally quite bored of seeing the same 10 actors, filming in the same locations. There are great casting directors and I appreciate them so much. It is an uphill battle. It only feels better when you land a role that isn’t written as the oppressed, Asian American college student.
”It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong” screened at the New York Asian Film Festival on June 28. The festival will continue through July 8. When she is not acting, Jamie Chung provides commentary through her blog, What the Chung? Bryan Greenberg recently released the album, “Everything Changes.”
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