Phillip Tang

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Hi my name is Phillip and I don't really know what I'm doing.


This was one of the most stressful and painful 48 hours of my life. I was literally awake for 50 straight hours. 

I wrote a lengthy post about the experience and what I learned from it.


So we had to make a short film in 48 hours with the theme “zombie karaoke”, a rube goldberg device as a prop, “Marvin the Magnificent” as a character name, and the line “Well, Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”. 

Fricking ridiculous, right? What do you do with that? How do zombies karaoke?

This short was made by Jamila and I. It’s our second year doing this contest. The first time we did the contest, we made the most horrible and cringe inducing piece of crap we have ever made in our entire lives. 

We did a lot better this year. I know that. We’ve learned a lot and improved a lot over this past year. But this short did not live up to my expectations  It wasn’t good enough. It isn’t very good. I know. I know. I know. But we tried and we’re getting better.


This is us, eating gyros. We are clearly an unstoppable film making duo.



Once we got our theme, we went to Temple and started working on it. Once we hashed out the basic story, we went home and wrote it all out and did some basic storyboarding. 


We stayed up all night. The next morning we had to go to the party store to buy make up and the thrift store for the costumes. We made blood and messed up the clothes ourselves. This was the most effort and money we have ever invested in a short. 


The day of the shoot was a mess. We had 6 actors in total, the largest cast we’ve ever worked with. We did not know how to handle it. 

We started with makeup and decorating the set. We got a lot of the props from a friend who had a haunted house last Halloween. We got lucky. The makeup was pretty good on the main actors, but wasn’t so good on the other extras.


These are the stars: Zac, Daffodil, and Jorge.

"The camera looks both ways"

An actors performance is not only based on their own abilities, they are also based on the abilities of the director. I can honestly say that neither Jamila or I directed our actors. We gave them a script and let them have at it. The reason we did this was partially because we have no idea how to direct. Directing is actually very difficult. Another reason was that I was the camera operator and that made it difficult for me to really focus on the acting. I have trouble multitasking. The acting isn’t so great. Not only that, but the emotions were not exactly what I had in mind either. 

At this point, we had been up all night and had been running around in the morning and were pretty stressed out. It was stressful. 


I tend to lose myself when I am shooting, but I realized that that is not an entirely good thing. I should have been more present. I should have been more direct, but also more friendly and positive. But when you have all these things to do and to keep track of, you get kind of lost.


Shooting took about 6 hours. It started off very slowly. Our actors were having a bit too much fun and weren’t very focused. I don’t know how to direct people.

I shot the first part inside the house. I used a shoulder rig the entire time. Jamila was on boom.


The last scene was shot entirely by Jamila! 

We shot it right before the sunset so the colors are richer and more saturated, but they’re supposed to be zombies, aren’t they? I don’t know. We were confused.

The line at the end, “you’re way cooler than he is”, wasn’t supposed to make it into the actual short. It’s ridiculous. Needless to say, the script needed a lot of revision. 


In my opinion, the biggest problem with the short was pacing. It was way too fast. We were worried the short would be too long and as a result, it was too short. Everything was too fast and we didn’t give each scene enough time. 

The story is very simple and straight-forward. When you’re watching it and it reaches the end, it’s kind of like, “oh, that’s it?”

It is our fault.


Look, she’s drinking from a heart. That is so hilarious. That is Sasha, by the way.


Editing was the worst part. Jamila had work so I had to edit by myself. Then when she got off work at like 4AM we edited together. And we edited through the night until about 10AM.

It was ridiculous. I have never been so sleep deprived in my life. I almost fell asleep standing up. Jamila fell asleep in the shower. I was seeing things and colors. Jamila got frustrated and angry. We were delusional. I swear there was a point in the night, around 6 to 7 where we were both in collective exhaustion but we were still awake, or barely conscious, and we didn’t say a word to each other.

In retrospect, we really should have slept. The reason we were up so late editing was because we got stuck on one thing, the rube goldberg machine. 


This was it. We totally bull shitted it. This took us hours to think of. Hours. I don’t understand.

Another thing we forgot was to add background/ambient party music to the background. Who has quite karaoke parties?


Last week, on the 20th, we went to the Crocker art museum and watched our short premiere on a big-ish screen. This was the first time, besides high school stuff, that our work was on a big screen. Afterward, we stood on the stage and we were collectively awkward. The host made fun of us.


During the contest, I shaved for the first time.


I think this may be the last time I participate in the 48 hour contest. It is ridiculous, well at least Sacramento’s 48 hour film is ridiculous. The only good thing that came out of it was someone at the premiere saw it and contacted us and now Jamila and I are going to be interviewed for some asian pacific film festival. 

Also, we won some award. But that doesn’t matter.

A few more things:

- The actors decided to have normal voices
- I decided on zombie-esque singing
- The make up was done by Jamila’s sister
- Jorge sang an Alicia Keys song and Zac sung “I Believe I can Fly”
- Jorge’s joke toward the end, “That singing was so bad it almost brought me back to life”, is super hilarious to me for no reason.


I’m done.

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  1. potatoislike posted this