Wearing Hollywood's Double Hat With Actor & Producer Kevin Chua
Q & A Session With Kevin
Hi Kevin, It’s truly an honor to meet you both and I admire your work. I hope everything is well you both today.
KC: Thank you for coming out to meet me, Danny. It's a huge pleasure to talk with you today.
Before we begin talking about your career so far, can you please tell the readers about what inspired you to become an actor and producer?
KC: I never imagined myself initially as an actor or a producer. As with every stereotypical Asian parent, mine expected me to have been a doctor. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite spell right and ended up as an actor instead. On a more serious note though, Singapore runs by a very stringent education system in if you can't quite fit in the norm, you're out of it as they would say. My mathematics and sciences were terrible so that left me in a strange state where I couldn't really enter a technical college or do much else. A friend suggested I try an Arts college due to my immense love for story telling and video games; thus everything gradually fell into place.
What has been the hardest thing you’ve had to encounter as an actor so far?
KC: Definitely the family. First thing when you tell them you want to be an actor, they'll think you're terminally ill. Then the questions of, whether you can survive and start a family start to surface. Also, one of the hardest thing as for an actor is him or herself. There is a constant struggle of having a sense of belonging in the industry we work in.
Do you think acting for you comes out naturally or do you look current or past actors in Hollywood as a guide to refine your talents in way?
KC: Oh I definitely had lots of inspiration on the way here, I grew up with a lot of British actors, Gary Oldman, Sir Ian McKellen, the late Sir Christopher Lee. Despite that, I still follow several notable Chinese Actors from Hong Kong as well, such as Stephen Chow of Kung Fu Hustle fame, Sammo Hung, close friend and senior of Jackie Chan, Of course, since I come from Singapore, I do observe a lot of the local actors as well, the notable ones would be, Gerald Chew, Marc Chia, Ebi Shankara, Jo Tan, Adrian Pang, Matt Grey, Justin Lee, Dean Lundquist and Andrew Mowatt.
What projects would you love to work on as an actor?
KC: I would absolutely love to work on any fantasy based projects, Lord of The Rings, Game of Thrones, you name it I'll be right on it!
Now as a producer, what have been the most difficult obsticles or problems that you’ve encountered since coming to Hollywood about getting projects that you would like to do financed and greenlit/in-production?
KC: Pitching has always been my weakness and I have been told many times that I usually don't give the project enough justice when telling others. It's usually difficult as hell to get a project financed because you need the people to believe in the work you do but you aren't recognized enough to get people to notice you too.
Which of the two jobs is the most rewarding, being a producer or an actor?
KC: Definitely an actor for sure. I have also taken up writing these days and I find that a joy in equal measure too.
Would you ever consider directing?
KC: I actually am an ADR/Voice director for the Youtube Channel, “Starship Kanonbomb”!
Now let’s talk about your film “Chef” which you wore both hats as producer and actor. Talk about the film from your point of view and why did you want to do it?
KC: Chef was a pet project of mine, my mother and I run a bakery during festive seasons. So it's something that's a little closer to home for me.
When you’re working on a film, is casting very important to you and why?
KC: Absolutely. The goal is to bring the character to life from the script. And besides! I want to know if the person is nice to work with too.
As shooting went along during the film, did that give you more and more confidence to make the film you wanted as a producer was going to be something special?
KC: While we encountered a huge amounts of problems with the pre-production of the film, but it eventually came together and that itself was a special feeling. I knew that it had a special touch to it from the beginning.
Co-stars are very important for a film, how did the cast get along during the shoot?
KC: The cast and crew are personal friends of mine, so while we had a hard time with the long hours of the production, everything went like clockwork and I'd like to give them a shout out here for their patience!
Do you feel that it is important that everyone involved in the production have a strong comraderade?
KC: Absolutely! While we are working on the production together, we're like a family. I came from a long theater background while studying back in Singapore and London. I've always felt strongly about being a family with all the cast and crew in whichever productions that I do.
Talk about your Director on the film and how do you feel about the work he’d done on the film?
KC: He felt good about the film. Kuang Jun (The Director) and I had a very similar vision of the script and the collaboration worked out well between us! The director and I have previous experience working with each other, so there was already a strong sense of familiarity between us with our work ethics. For him, it's another one right under the belt in his works.
Was there a scene or a piece of footage that just made you go “Wow” and make you feel as if you arrived in Hollywood?
KC: I can't specifically say that there was a specific footage that made me feel that way. It was more like the arrival to Burbank and looking at the studios like Warner Brothers, Universal Studios, Disney, Cartoon Network all in the same neighborhood itself was the sensation that told me, this is a one in a lifetime experience. I'm in Hollywood at long last.
Let’s talk about the editing process for the film. Was it as difficult to put together the seemingly endless amount of material that you had to work with as you were viewing it from the producers’ standpoint?
KC: It's definitely tricky to sieve through all the material that you have and to pick out the things that you like. The main idea is to serve the story and to tell it. Being a producer for the production meant that I had to be extremely judicial about the things I chose even though I loved a lot of the footage.
What was your favorite part of the editing process?
KC:Most definitely the part when I saw the final cut of the film. It's kind of like watching a child grow up. I was hesitant to part with it, but I proud of the work that the team had achieved.
How long did it take to get the film ready to be previewed?
KC: Surprisingly, it took it 5 days. The editor, Takafumi Sakabe, was very efficient with his work.
When you finally saw the finished film, what was your reaction after you finally saw your creation on screen in front of a large audience?
KC: Secretly, I kept giggling like a schoolgirl behind closed palms. But on a more serious note, I was incredibly elated by how many people smiled and laughed at each moment in the film.
If you each had to choose a very favorite moment from the film, which one would you choose and why?
KC: I would definitely choose the moment where my co-actor, Juan Pablo Medrano and I were looking down at the sugar soaked curry and had no idea how to solve the problem. The bottom up camera shot was hilarious.
In looking back at your work so far, what would be the biggest goal that you both would love to accomplish in your future films?
KC: The biggest accomplishment I would want to make is to create films that provide opportunities for a diverse community of people. We are living in a world increasingly growing closer with information technology and social media; I firmly believe that with this growing globalization, we have to open doors for more people because there's a huge wealth of untapped talent in the world and we can definitely make use of that.
Do you look back at your work after you’ve finished with it. I know for most including actors and directors, it’s a very difficult thing or they just simply don’t want to look back and move forward onto the next project. Does it give you inspiration to take what you’ve learned right or wrong to use that to make a better film the next time around?
KC: Oh most certainly. A friend and mentor of mine, Christopher Cass, told me, “Next!”; he taught me to move on constantly with my work and not to dwell too deeply on it. Of course, I do always look back objectively to review what went wrong, and what went right so that we can minimize the issues that might surface in the future. Besides! Prevention is always better than a cure!
You also work on Lei Gong: Chronicles of the Sword currently doing voice over work. Please share your experiences on the series.
KC: It is a wonderous experience! I cannot describe how fantastic it is to be able to work with the people who are attached to the project. I currently work as the Writer, Actor and Co-producer for the production. This production is a multi-cultural love letter to Kung Fu movies and the people of the 90s who loved cartoons like Jackie Chan Adventures.
Having the Voice Director of Final Fantasy XI, Carol Stanzione and Elliot Herman, Sound Designer and Dialogue Editor for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is absolutely amazing. Our voice cast, so far, consists of Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt of Ben 10 fame in Nickelodeon. We have a wonderful Art team dedicated to bringing the characters from words to picture. Jameson Bryant serves as the Conceptual designer for the project.
Is acting behind the scenes and film all that different than what you’ve done so far in front of the camera?
KC: There are some minor differences. In the case of voicing for an animation, the experience feels more intimate and personal. Especially since you're usually working alone with the Director and Engineer. That said, I find greater expressive freedom when doing animation. The characters are never restricted by time or space, they're so incredibly free and that translates to when I'm working in the booth itself.
Has working as voice over actor added something to you as a filmmaker in terms of both experience and the behind the scenes work that goes on?
KC: I think it has given me more liberty to play and to express with my work. Coming from a non-theatrical conservative family made it tricky for me to find the freedom to explore, play with the story and the characters or their relationships. Also, it definitely did help with my writing. It is absolutely amazing to see how far Video games have come with their stories, they're like a whole new cinematic experience in itself.
Was it tough for you to make an adjustment going there coming from Singapore or didn’t quite bother you as much?
KC: Strangely, while it was comfortable change from Singapore. Los Angeles felt very much like a more liberal version of Singapore, only sparser and everyone seems to like to smile a lot more. It was the most peculiar sensation for me at first. But right now, L.A is like a second home to me.
What film or films are your personal favorites that make you go, I want to direct something like that?
KC: Oh don't get me started! You'll never hear the end of it from me. Personally, I would kill to direct or even act in movies like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the upcoming Doctor Strange.
Even animation or video game projects like, One Punch Man (Which I am planning to ADR with a small team of mine), Avatar the Last Airbender, Final Fantasy XV and more. These projects would be an absolutely dream of mine to work on. I could totally harp on till the cows come home with that.
Name an actor or actress you would love to work with?
KC: Tom Hiddleston. Sir Ian McKellen. Most definitely Troy Baker from the Voice Over world, there are a huge bunch of actors I'd love to work with!
If there’s something you would love to act in, producer or direct at this moment, what would it be and why?
KC: One Punch Man the animation for sure. The concept of the show itself, a blatant spoof on Superheroes and the culture around it just sells itself to me. And besides, the Japanese dub for it was absolutely amazing and I would move mountains to see a Western dub for it.
There many aspiring actors and producers in this world and I’m still personally growing as one, what advice would you give to those trying to succeed?
KC: Keep going. Don't lose sight of your goals. Jim Carrey said it best during a graduation speech for the Maharishi University, 'might as well fail at something you love doing than to fail at something you hate'. I see people around me succeeding all the time and I am truly happy for them. For the those trying to succeed, if you put in the work and effort, seeds will grow from it. Even if you're not part of the majority, even if the odds are stacked against you. Persevere and create.
Let’s talk about your upcoming future projects, if any.
KC: Besides working on the Lei Gong: Chronicles of the Sword. I am currently working on my first Martial Arts short with Li Yang, as a Chinese Tai Ji master and we're hoping to go to festivals with it. Besides that, I am currently working on a Horror script titled, “The Hundred Candles” which I hope to bridge the Western and Eastern culture more here.
What do we expect from Kevin Chua actor/producer in the future?
KC: Most definitely more animation projects! We have several works in the making once Lei Gong takes off!
Kevin Chua Bio
"Born in Singapore, Kevin Chua began his acting training at the age of 16, he started at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, where he trained in Theatre with industry professionals from Singapore and London.
His first professional acting experience was with the World-in-Theatre company within Singapore where he performed, "Yukio Mishima's: Hanjo" as Yukio. Kevin would eventually move on to various other productions like, "A Beautiful Country" and subsequently "Othello" which would run for 3 seasons within Singapore and be performed in the Clifftown Theatre and Studios at London. Kevin also worked with the Okto Channel in Singapore as Ollie, mascot for the channel itself.
Hungry for greater experiences, Kevin left to pursue his M.F.A in Acting for Film in Los Angeles. He wrote, produced and acted in the film, "CHEF!!" and subsequently did other works, "Cinemattie" which was nominated in the "North East Film Festival 2015". He also did the Mandarin Chinese Narrator for “Thomas the Tank Engine Video game.” He also worked on "So you want to be a Gangster?" in a supporting role which went to the Cannes Film Festival. He works with the Americanadians, Youtube channel for comedic shorts."
"I am currently producing, staff writing and voice acting for Lei Gong: Chronicles of the Sword which features Sound designer, Elliot Herman who just won the Golden Reels award for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Voice actors, Yuri Lowenthal of Ben 10, RWBY and more; Tara Platt of Hero Lass and Temari from the Naruto Franchise.
Also, there will be a release of GoTA, a video game webseries which I starred as one of the principle characters. Featuring Bonnie Gordon, who did R. Mika of the Street Fighter V. William Sterling, of the Superman Go-Pro fame. And Ana Gavlak who's a model for the James Bond mobile game. It will be released on the 06/02/2016.
Has recently done, Shadow, another web series which he supports as the corrupt Laughing Buddha."
© 2016 DANNY GONZALEZ