In case anyone actually is still visiting this blog, I thought I’d add the latest news about my new film “4 Wedding Planners” (aka “Knots“). The film is now available nationwide (and in Canada) on VOD and the web. Taking a virtual vacation to Hawai‘i with our little film is as easy as a mouse click.
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4 WEDDING PLANNERS
a film by Michael Kang
written by Kimberly-Rose Wolter
featuring Kimberly-Rose Wolter, Illeana Douglas, Sung Kang, Janel Parrish and Mia Riverton
Lily Kim returns to Hawaii in order to escape an engagement trigger-happy boyfriend in LA. Once home, she reluctantly joins her dysfunctional family’s wedding planning business. Her mother and sisters have very different ideas about what marriage means and for Lily it means only one thing – divorce. As the family’s newest wedding planner Lily learns about love, life and floral arrangements.
About The Film:
In the UN-romantic comedy “4 Wedding Planners,” matriarch Miriam (Illeana Douglas) is three times divorced, with one daughter born from each husband. What ensues is a recipe for comical family strife as the daughters finally reach the breaking point of addressing feelings repressed thanks to mom’s poor choices in men.
When eldest daughter Lily (Kimberly-Rose Wolter) rejects her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, she decides to return home to Hawaii for family support. It turns out the family is having troubles of their own — their wedding planning business is being run into the ground by Lily’s two half-sisters Twinny (Mia Riverton) and Hoku (Janel Parrish). It’s left to Lily to get things on the right track. If things couldn’t get worse, Lily’s ex-boyfriend Kai (Sung Kang) enters the picture, as does a surprise reveal that makes reconciliation no easy matter.
With “4 Wedding Planners,” director Michael Kang (The Motel, SDAFF ’05; West 32nd, SDAFF ’07) vibrantly interweaves multiple storylines together in this brisk, delightful film.
– Eric Lallana, San Diego Asian Film Foundation
Below is a little essay I wrote about the film. Enjoy:
Why 4 Wedding Planners Is The Edgiest Film I’ve Ever Made
by Michael Kang
If you are familiar with my other films (“The Motel,” “West 32nd”), you probably can surmise that I like to take on stories that have some bite to them. Whether I’m talking about a kid in the throes of puberty stuck in a world surrounded by the clandestine affairs at an hourly rate motel or two men from different worlds both driven by blind raw ambition in the gritty crime underworld of New York’s Koreatown, I never shy away from challenging subjects (both for me and the audience). I’m sure that for most that my moving on to a comedy about a dysfunctional family business of wedding planners in Hawaii may not have seemed like the natural next step. But I want to explain why I think this new film may actually be the edgiest of the trio.
I have always been attracted to the stories that I don’t get to see on the big and little screen. When I first got a hold of Kimberly-Rose Wolter’s script, I was immediately struck by how unique the story was. This was a Hawaii I’d never encountered before on screen. It was not centered around a tourist experience where Hawaii was simply used as an exotic backdrop and nice place for the production to spend a couple months a la “50 First Dates.” Nor was the story filled with over-exoticized local flavor like a pupu-platter of heavy-handed pseudo-spirituality and too essoteric to have a decent pop culture reference.
“4 Wedding Planners” is a story about people — real people with real problems. The people in the film are folks that deal with things that we all do – family, relationships, home-life, professional life, and did I mention FAMILY? They struggle the ways we all do, just trying their best to find happiness. But what makes this story unique is they are struggling with these problems in the middle of paradise.
And here is why “4 Wedding Planners” is probably the edgiest film I’ve ever made. Spike Lee said that the most controversial thing we can do is be ourselves. That is what lies at the heart of this movie – it dares to show people just being people. The film embraces both its Hawaiian-ness and its universality. By being very culturally specific it in fact becomes more universal.
The film centers the story around the kinds of people who are usually relegated to the sidelines of mainstream stories (if given a place at all). They are also the kinds of characters who put off most indie filmmakers because they are so, well… normal — these are the people those filmmakers are probably desperately trying to hide from in their own lives. I recognized immediately that these were characters I never get to see on screen.
I could easily latch on to certain aspects of the race identity politics of the film like: having a story about the Hapa (half-Asian) experience (a minority within a minority). Or having an unconventional Asian American male romantic lead (Sung Kang) who is a fully charged sexual being. Or having a story that gives a wide swath of representations of women in three dimensions. But if you know my style, I don’t like to get didactic in my storytelling and it would be misleading to tell you I made the movie to lead the charge on any of those fronts. To me, all of the aforementioned were the fruits of putting together a very sweet simple story about unique characters in a unique place.
The film is not dark and gritty enough to be a film festival darling. But on the converse, we still shot this film on a shoestring indie-sized budget (in fact the lowest budget I’ve had to work with to date which is only a testament to the great aloha spirit of the cast and crew for pulling off such an ambitious and beautiful film). We don’t have the resources to give the film the Hollywood studio- sized pomp and circumstance it deserves. Regardless, I think there is an audience for this film. I think it is an audience of people that want to be entertained and introduced to new experiences. An audience that is daring and edgy enough to handle a story about wedding planners. And I hope you are part of that audience.