Interview with Chris Woon, Director of Hella Man-Man and “Moving Train” by Blood Moon Orchestra
1. What do you think is missing from current representation of Asian American’s in media?
I think Asian Americans just need representation, period. We need enough representation where we don’t have to worry about who/what is representing us as much as we do now. One day we can just have weird stuff like Hella Man Man out there and it doesn’t phase us at all. We need to be at the point where we can imagine Asian Americans as literally ANYTHING, which isn’t the case now. If we’re not playing the ideas of what “mainstream America” aka white America things we should be, we play roles where we have to be everything and represent so much. There’s too much at stake and we need to have enough representation where each character or show doesn’t have the pressure of living up to a certain standard of being.
2. Who are your influences?
My influences are all over the place, when it comes to music videos I’ve watched a lot of Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry over the years. Stuff on youtube, from Kendrick Lamar’s videos, to Beyonce’s I find amazing and really inspiring as well. For documentaries there’s so many amazing documentary filmmakers a lot of my peers/contemporaries/friends are very inspiring. I used to watch a lot of Criterion on Hulu as well for “classic” stuff. And just the openness of Youtube and the great web. So many people are trying to make films and media it’s quite daunting how many people just make what they want and don’t give a f—-.
3. How did you come up with your concept for this music video for”Moving Train” by Blood Moon Orchestra?
The video for the song Moving Train started very organically in a sense, because I’d worked with PC Muñoz and DEM ONE before, for the video “One Voice One Drum” which played at SAAFF 2013. It was a performance video like this one, and that’s what this initially was going to be. I went in and documented their studio recording session. I began editing the performances together with the completed song, but the more I listened to the song the more I felt the need to do more. I felt like it was a call to action to address problems of the world we live in, whether they are about concerns about capitalism, false media, or advertising messages. It very much reminded me of the cult classic starring former WWF wrestler “Rowdy Roddy Piper” where he finds a pair of sunglasses that kind of “decode” the world he lives in, and it reveals hidden messaging by an alien invasion. I started creating illustrations on my iPad around it, and started to integrate those into the video. I animated everything myself, frame by frame.
4. How did you come up with your concept for Hella Man Man?
Hella Man Man is based off of my former roommate and the star of this short film, Hung Van Lam. He’s a guy who especially at the time of filming, really thought of himself as a kind of superhero for Asian American men, “fighting stereotypes” and going against the grain. He was scared of nothing – so he said. It was also inspired by He-Man Masters of the Universe. I started to imagine his superhero for Asian American men (who he called Hella Hung in real life) but what would be an extreme version? Hella Man Man – his name is manlier than man. I imagined what would happen if he was stuck in the “regular” world, trying to survive. This was initially imagined much further than what we shot, and he was supposed to have a roommate. Kind of a He-Man meets “Perfect Strangers” if you know your oldFriday night sitcoms.
5. What drew you to working with Blood Moon Orchestra?
Besides having worked with two of the members before, I was really drawn to the unique sound they were creating and this one of a kind ensemble performance. It was great to see the way they could bring their different sounds and experiences together to make a really meaningful (and really great) Hip Hop track.