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May has become an excellent time to celebrate — May flowers, Mothers, NBA playoffs, allergies… and more recently this month helps us focus on two extremely important things to this Laundroteer — AAPI Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. For a whole month the nation shines a light on many of the overlooked stories and facts around these topics.

Being from Los Angeles, I have had incredible access to resources on my community’s history and culture, as well as the variety of mental health services offered, but across America ignorance surrounds one subject, while stigma surrounds the other. If you get a chance this May, go ahead and represent! Let the internet know that discussion of these topics doesn’t end in May (I definitely won’t stop being Chinese American on June 1). 😉

So with the excitement of education and awareness in the air, I’d love to update you on what’s going on with The Laundromat.

First, this is me. This is me with my DVD for my VERY FIRST FILM FESTIVAL EVER as a director.

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Bluray for 10th Annual Houston Asian Pacific American Film Festival

Yes, the excitement is palpable.

I’ve been invited to screen at the 10th Annual Houston Asian Pacific American Film Festival, which is hosted by OCA-Greater Houston on June 20-22 and 27-28. Their stated purpose is “to entertain and educate Asian American youth and young professionals, to reach out to the community, and to support Asian Pacific Islander artists and filmmakers. Through partnerships with community organizations, the film festival brings attendees together to appreciate the diversity of the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) community and the commonalities shared by the groups.

Sounds like my kinda fest. But here are the deets for my screening if you’re out there or know anyone who lives out there:

Saturday evening, June 21, 2014between 6pm – 10pm @ Brilliart Films (10905 Bellaire Blvd., Suite C, Houston, TX 77072) –> EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Anyway, go if you can! Talk it up if you can’t.

 

The SECOND fun update is that The Laundromat has been PODCASTING. With my excellent partner in crime, April, I’ve been able to continue the conversations she and many of my friends have started. Part of my excitement about the podcast is due to our exploration of a wide range of topics and our aim of accessibility. If I could sum up this experience in one sentence, it would be that we are breaking down the stigma of mental health one laugh and one shared experience at a time. The other great part of the pod is having more voices participate in the dialogue – new friends, old friends, and yes, Kristina Wong of Reparations for Yellow Fever all went on mic with us. We’re eternally grateful for their time, because they brought insight and examples for us to chew on… and very soon you can chew along with us!

The podcast has not yet been posted, but when it does go live, you’ll be the first to know. Seriously, April and I can’t wait to share it with you.

But in the meantime, go engage in your favorite Asian Am cultural activity and learn some new facts on mental health. I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and watch Joy Luck Club on repeat everyday until June.

Suyuan: That bad crab, only you tried to take it. Everybody else want best quality. You, your thinking different. Waverly took best-quality crab. You took worst, because you have best-quality heart. You have style no one can teach. Must be born this way… I see you.

 

**In my next post, I’ll share about the various college groups where I’ve had the privilege to show my movie. Get ready for some deep reflections y’all…

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Someone recently asked me, “Vanessa, what are you going to do once your movie is done??”

I responded in half-jest, “I’ll probably have an identity crisis.” …Oh, irony, you certainly have my number.

Yet the truth of the matter is, what will I do with my evenings if I’m not rushing off to a meeting or an edit? What could I possibly fill my weekends with if not this long-due project/child/monster? Probably a MILLION other things. But after you have lived with something for so long, it’s hard to imagine your life without it.

At the same time, I am not kidding myself. The work is never over, and in some ways, the hard part begins now. I understand the process of writing, shooting, editing, sound mixing, coloring, but the thought of showing this film to the world is a teeny bit terrifying. Every artist needs to take that risk, yet how can I be strategic about my approach AND strong in my conviction that this film needs to be seen? What are my next set of goals and when do I get to take a break? All these questions creep on me as the post purgatory comes to an end and the hell of festival submission and exhibition begins.

Still, I’ll try not to cheat myself of the satisfaction of completing something, of taking this idea that was so vitally important to me and bringing it to life. I’ll also try not to stop being grateful for those who have helped me along the way. This includes my newest collaborators: Lucas Mireles, my amazing post supervisor; Different by Design, my online facility; Battiste Fenwick, my post sound supervisor; Mike Simpson, my re-recording mixer; and Jason Knutzen, my colorist. Without the patience and talent of these folk, I would not be mere centimeters away from having a finished film. (If it sounds like I’m preparing for my Oscar speech…I promise that was NOT intentional.)

Either way, The Laundromat may be coming to your faces so soon. If you have any ideas on how to do one big Thank You screening, I’d love to hear them. For now I want to leave with you some magnificent imagery that Ms. Akemi and I have been working on for the the film.

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Oh yeah, bumper sticker fun!

One year ago I started shooting my thesis, The Laundromat Documentary.

Two years before that I teamed up with the endlessly talented Judy P to shoot what would be the initial seedlings of The Laundromat feature. In May 2011 Sun K agreed amidst her busy schedule to be my Story Consultant (aka Story Crisis Counselor). Then in August 2011 I teamed up with Akemi H, Chris D, and April B to create AtTheLaundromat.com; and with their powers combined, they helped me make a beautiful, streamlined, eloquent little community site. Frances C joined the party in January 2012 powered almost exclusively on passion to help me seek grants and audiences. By March I had recruited Esther S to be my editor because of her experience and sensitivity to my film.

And now a year after I launched the Kickstarter, my movie is about to be picture locked. This means I am that much closer to being able to proudly show off what many have supported through verbal affirmation, financial resources, and/or their time and skills. I’m so grateful for everyone’s support whether we met only a year ago or if they’ve been supporting me my whole life (THANKS MOM & DAD!). I’m also thankful for the patience everyone’s shown in watching the film evolve.

Please expect more updates more often. We’ve come a long way and I can’t wait to share more of this journey with all of you out there.

Thanks, everyone!!!!!!!

So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are.
– R. Frost

Working on TLD I have gotten a chance to hear a lot of heart-wrenching stories, news articles, and statistics. So when I heard this line from the poem, “Revelation”, it stopped me in my tracks. It immediately gave form to half-finished thoughts I had on my own experiences during my darkest times in college.

Probably one of the things I regret the most was how much I expected people to reach out to me and/or read my mind. “Didn’t they get it?” I would ask myself. “I sent very clear signals that I am NOT doing well. What do I have to do to get people to be concerned about me the way that I think they should be?”

Yet even when someone did ask, I evaded or brushed it off or minimized. At some point I was thoroughly confusing myself:

“Wait, don’t you want someone to ask if everything is alright?”

“Well, yes, but I don’t like looking weak.”

“What?”

“Yeah, it’s a thing. Look, I’m fine now.”

“…ok.”

“Ahhhhhhhhh, why won’t someone understand me???”

It’s kinda humorous now. At the same time, I sometimes futilely wish that someone had (compassionately) explained to me something along the lines of that poem.

“You know, nobody’s a mind reader. You can mope and exude auras and send up silly white flags a la angsty blog posts, but until you say the words, nothing will change.”

“Nothing?”

“Not too much, no.”

“Oh…well, then…I’m scared and I feel so alone. I kinda hate myself and sometimes it feels like it’d be better if I could just cut off all emotions…”

But it’s much harder to get to that place. You begin to get so good at sending mixed signals to a busy, careless world that you trick yourself into believing that hiding deeper is the right thing to do. Besides, who are you burdening when you do that? What do you put at risk when you hide?

“Possibly everything.”

“…I think I need help.”

Speak and tell us where you are.