Here at Wrapal, we love supporting our filmmakers, especially when they have a powerful message to tell. Wong Fu Production’s latest webseries ‘Yappie’ features all that and more.
Indeed, viral video hitmakers Wong Fu Productions have done it again.
You’ve probably heard of them. Since the early 2000s, Wong Fu Productions has been synonymous with viral videos. With more than 3 million subscribers and over 500 million total video views, they are easily one of the undisputed champions of YouTube and their new hit series show us how filmmakers can produce outrageously funny, viral content while still retaining a high-quality, socially relevant edge. Written and Directed by Taylor Chan and Philip Wang, Yappie is a single-camera comedy that explores the social and racial issues related to the contemporary Asian American experience from the perspective of Andrew and his bubble of friends who are all “yappies”. Being an often overlooked minority, and Wong Fu’s new show seeks to question the Asian American model minority mythos as well as the largely unspoken African – Asian American social and dating dynamic.
Though founded and created by Asian Americans, Wong Fu’s content over the years has never been overtly politicized or racialized since their mission statement was always about humanizing the everyday experiences Asian Americans go through rather than championing or galvanizing causes. Here at Wrapal, we’ve been huge fans of Wong Fu and have enjoyed their past work all the way from Yellow Fever, Strangers again, She has a Boyfriend, to the entire Just Another Nice Guy series. Their Asian Bachelorette video in particular has also been a guilty pleasure of ours. In the past, Wong Fu had often filmed in whatever locations were in their network; often friends and family who were nice enough to lend their property for filming. However, these film locations were often dependent on erratic the personal schedules and good will of the owners who’s businesses sometimes took precedence over the film’s. In the case of Yappie, the production team wanted to take things to the next level and use professional filming locations that were not only easy to film in and allow them the 12 hour day they needed, but also reflected either some of the subtle nuances of the characters or the seriousness of the show’s themes.
Indeed, serious themes require serious filming locations. The filmmakers themselves put it best:
“The biggest challenge for a production of any size or budget is finding locations. You can have all the cast, crew, and equipment set, but that’s all useless without a filming location. For Yappie, we had around 18 total locations at all times of the day/night. Finding locations through Wrapal saved us so much valuable time that we were able to put back toward pre-production. We wear many hats at Wong Fu Productions so added responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming for a small crew like ours. Wrapal made it quick and efficient to contact property owners or managers who were already familiar with film shoots. Without this resource, we would have had to dedicate weeks of pre-production to cold call and coordinate with each location. We were able to skip right to the tech scout phase as each listing already provides photos and specific details relevant to production. Using Wrapal felt like having the support of a whole other crew member in the vital stages of pre-production. “
Benson Quach, Producer, Wong Fu Productions
Together with Benson, we worked up a short list of locations, as seen in this Behind the Scenes featurette:
Using Wrapal, the production team found locations that would not only look cinematic for Cinematographer Christopher Yang, but also speak volumes about the characters who inhabited the spaces. For instance, one of our Wrapal filming locations was an apartment building that doubled up as a home for several of the main characters, such as onscreen couple Brad Gage and Victoria Park who live in this contemporary, Scandinavian-inspired loft that’s just oh-so-yuppie.
We then transition to Phil visiting Jamie Oda‘s studio where they proceed to *ahem* hang out in the corridor. Being a dance instructor/artist in the show, Jamie’s apartment is far less glamorous and reflects a much more bohemian, artistic sensibility. The corridor outside her studio is arguably even a little gritty and industrialized – Thus making the character’s genuine affection and love for one another (despite being from vastly different economic and racial backgrounds) stand out and shine through. While it may appear like they’re two separate locations, they’re actually adjacent apartments for filming in the same complex; thus providing the filmmakers a convenient, easy-to-use ‘backlot’ or standing set of sorts. Although they take place at two very different times in the episode, they were actually filmed back-to-back on location.
Check out the Yappie Episode 4: “Homeostasis”
In the next episode, Phil and Jamie go to a house party where things get a little tense and it’s up to Dante Swain to diffuse the situation. Envisioned as a casual BBQ/kickback, the suburban house filming location used was picked primarily because it had a unique ‘transitional’ interior design that was neither too modern or too traditional and had an ‘everywhere Americana’ feel to it’s decor. Also, as the exterior scenes were a pivotal moment for Phil’s character Andrew, it was also conveniently located away from any major sources of loud noises such as freeways and airports.
Check out the Yappie Episode 5: “Finale”
These days, it’s extremely rare for a show to raise critical, powerful social messages and have high production value (lighting, sound, cinematography, and of course – locations), but Wong Fu have pulled it off. Though each episode is 15 to 20 minutes long, it felt like it went by in half that time and left us wanting more. In fact, the only thing we’re disappointed about the series as a whole is that there are only 5 episodes. Where are the rest?
Needless to say, all of us here at Wrapal were truly honored to have been a part of it. As filmmakers ourselves, we love supporting other filmmakers like Wong Fu execute their filmmaking vision; especially when important social, economic and political themes are at stake. There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing a show come to life thanks to our filming locations, and we can’t wait to do it again for an equally successful Season 2!
Until then, be sure to check out the pilot and rest of the episodes on YouTube HERE.
That’s a Wrapal!
*All images, YouTube videos and content herein are used with permission from Wong Fu Productions and its photographers and videographers. Copyright 2018.