Maui!

Abe and I spent a lot of our holiday season working on “I Will Make You Mine,” and then entertaining out-of-town guests. So we decided to take an impromptu vacation to Hawaii. We went to Kauai last year and decided to try a different island this time.

We stayed at Lumeria Maui, which was pretty magical. Honestly, we chose it because it was much cheaper than other hotels in the same area and loved how removed it was from everything. Plus, there were free yoga classes (and a sound bath!) and a pretty solid breakfast buffet.

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I followed pretty much the exact itinerary that my friends (and Maui locals) Lily Diamond and Alana Kysar had on their blogs (Molly Yeh had a great guide too). It’s really fun to read Susan Orlean’s Maui Surfer Girl article (that the movie “Blue Crush” was based on) too.

Highlights included The Road to Hana, Ululani’s Shave Ice, Coconut Glen’s and our favorite tiny little town, Makawao. We also ate pretty much exclusively from the Mana Foods Grocery Store in Paia.

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You can watch the highlighted InstaStories @mslynnchen!

Holidays at Disneyland (2018)

Disneyland provided complimentary passes for this visit.

Remember when I visited Disneyland after hours and watched them put up the Christmas tree? The beginning of December is my favorite time to visit the park - right before the crowds start, and just in time to be filled with the holiday spirit.

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The bow on my Minnie Ears faded to gold sequins in the sun - I kinda like the vintage look, and now it's one-of-a-kind!

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Both parks were fully decked out with the Fa La La spirit, and so were the snacks. We wound up having lunch at the new Lamplight Lounge at Pixar Pier. We didn't make a reservation, so we waited 10 minutes to be seated at the bar, where you can order appetizers and drinks rather than their full menu. I loved that they had so many allergy-friendly options.

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Lobster Nachos for me and Potato Skins for Abe.

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It was raining when we went (just like our last visit) so the line wait for rides were short. It was a perfect day, even though I was cold!

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December!

Already! I can't believe it!

I'm feeling the spirit! Kicked off December with my dear friend Dawn McCoy's birthday on the rooftop of Louis Vuitton on Rodeo Drive.

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Lady knows how to put together a cheese plate...

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...spent all of Saturday morning decorating veterans' homes with my favorite volunteer organization, Big Sunday...

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...and visited an old favorite - Clementine - where the Hannukah goodies were plentiful.

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I had a vegan roasted veggie salad, and Abe got a bowl with egg salad, couscous, and brussels sprouts. It's been so long since we've visited this place, and we still love it - even though it's not the most convenient to find a seat/parking spot.

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Thankful.

We wrapped production on the second half of "I Will Make You Mine" just a few days ago.

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A lot of what you have seen on this blog over the years is in the movie - from a funeral scene using my dad's photo, to food bloggers at my favorite neighborhood restaurant, Vernetti.

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You can see more behind-the-scenes on the @IWMYMfilm Instagram Stories. It was a lot on me emotionally and physically so I took a day to get off the grid in the desert with Abe...

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...ultimately I decided I would rather be home in my own kitchen, working on my movie. I roasted a Kabocha Squash, threw together a quick corn/zucchini/tomato salad, and roasted some cauliflower with a ready-made curry sauce.

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Hoping your Thanksgiving is full of love and exactly what your heart needs.

Prepping for Thanksgiving, the Holidays, and (oh yeah) My Movie

I cannot believe it's almost 2019. This year has flown by so quickly that I've barely registered it's almost my favorite time of year - Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hannukah and MY BIRTHDAY!!! The only thing reminding me that we have a seasonal change is the fact that all I want to wear are sweatshirts and drink soup.

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The above is by Rebecca Minkoff (I rented it via RTR) but I actually created my own design for my movie (which we start filming on Friday). I plan to give a lot of these as gifts this year.

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Speaking of holiday presents, I received this special delivery of gluten-free assorted treats from Popcornopoils. When I lived in NYC I used to inhale their bag of chocolate-covered popcorn on the subway ride home. Now they come in all sorts of flavors - from a classic Kettle Corn to Buffalo to  Unicorn!!!

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I plan on sharing my sweet holiday present with the cast/crew of my movie. In preparation to finish directing, I've been watching a lot of movies (I left Moviepass and have been loving the AMC A-list). "Burning" is an unfortunate title for what's going on in LA right now but it was one of my favorite films of the year, and had us seriously craving some Korean food afterwards. (This Seafood Pancake at Western Doma Noodles is NOT GLUTEN-FREE.)

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The day after I wrap, it's turkey-time! We plan to hole up for a few days by ourselves (no internet, no TV, no family, no friends) for Thanksgiving. Instead of bringing an entire pie which I can't eat anyways, we'll stock up on some mini pie holes and quiches from one of my favorite bakeries, The Pie Hole.

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Follow along @mslynnchen and/or the movie @IWMYMfilm on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter for all the behind-the-scenes!

Cabbage Night

I know most people call Halloween Eve "Mischief Night" but where I grew up (in Bergen County, NJ) we called it "Cabbage Night." I haven't been eating many vegetables lately though, I'm sad to say. Though my recent dinner with Leslie Durso was a perfect Halloween meal - beet risotto. You could probably whip this up in December too, because the flecks of spinach were very Christmas-y.

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Last year I tried to be the singer Cat Power as my costume - I was going to put on cat ears, have an electric wire as my tail, and wear a homemade shirt identifying myself. But things didn't go so well...

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...so this year, I did a little more careful planning. I still don't love dressing up for Halloween but I did have a costume-required party to attend. Melanie Maras and I went as our favorite Netflix documentary this year. My entire outfit was from Rent the Runway, and I loved rocking the pieces separately the rest of the week.

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Things have been super busy with work - aside from acting in another movie, I've been getting ready to film the second half of "I Will Make You Mine." Here we are location scouting at a funeral home/mortuary, which was pretty appropriate for the season...

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...we are looking for voluntary extras next month - if you're in LA and interested, contact us!

Brewery Art Walk - DTLA

I've been going to the Brewery Art Walk since the beginning of this blog. It's probably my favorite thing about living in LA - just walking around the artist's lofts is inspiring. I love seeing people's homes and how they organize things/work.

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I take this photo pretty much every year.

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Afterwards we drove to Highland Park to check out Triple Beam Pizza. I couldn't eat anything there because of my gluten allergy but the report is it's amazing. I picked up a pint of Halo Top nearby and we ate it in the car together. I freaking love eating in the car.

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Thanks to everyone who donated to the "I Will Make You Mine" Kickstarter! I'm happy to report that we reached our stretch goal - really excited to finish this movie and show it to the world.

Scout to Shoot at Mama Lion

Before "I Will make You Mine," I had never been on a location scout before. I didn't know how much fun they are - kinda reminds me of house hunting for an imaginary friend. You go to all the potential locations you'll be filming with your production team and map out all of the scenes that take place there. One of my favorites was Mama Lion.

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I've been hearing about this Koreatown Supperclub since they opened. Or, should I say re-opened - Mama Lion was actually a night club/cabaret back in 1978 before it was bought out and morphed into different incarnations. But now it's back, and it's beautiful. They've got a strong music/art presence which is why we're so grateful they supported us by letting us film there during the day - one of my favorite music scenes from the movie, actually.

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But best of all, I got to direct my friend of over 20 years, John Newman. John has mainly been working as a screenwriter but in college he was known as THE actor everyone wanted to cast. Well, he's out of acting retirement for my movie, and he did not disappoint.

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When we have more time I want to go back to Mama Lion for a night out - Chef Michael Hung is actually responsible for one of the best brunches I've ever had, so I'd be excited to try his bar bites. Until then, I've got a movie to edit! Check out the behind-the-scenes video below.

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Stuff'd Dumpling Shop

Being gluten-free and Chinese is difficult. All my comfort foods are now off-limits! It's been forever since I've had a dumpling, so when Stuff'd, an entirely celiac-friendly restaurant offered to treat us to a meal, I WAS SO EXCITED.

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The menu is made of - you guessed it - dumplings! All kinds of things that are stuffed. Their's are inspired by Eastern Europe, though I did see a couple on the menu with Asian influences.

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We got a whole bunch to sample, plus salads too. There are meat options, but our favorites were the vegetarian ones - particularly the Spicy Sweet Potato with spicy sage and garlic oil.

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Dessert comes in dumpling form too! Stuffed with fresh fruit and topped with ice cream and pecan crumbles.

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P.S. They have really cute shirts for sale.

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How I Prepared to Direct My First Movie

Yesterday, we wrapped the first half of my directorial debut, I Will Make You Mine. I am still in shock. Like, how did that happen? There is no doubt I could have done it without the guidance of Dave Boyle - my mentor/producer/1st AD/stand in/EVERYTHING.

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But here are some other tools I used to get ready, for those of you gearing up for a film who don't have a Dave Boyle on your crew.

MASTERCLASS

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These online classes are taught by the masters (not just a clever name) - everything from cooking with Wolfgang Puck to Fashion Design with Marc Jacobs. I was introduced to the Samuel L. Jackson course on acting via some friends and loved how thorough it is - that's why I wound up using their All-Access Pass to take directing classes with the greats: Martin Scorsese, Judd Apatow, and Ron Howard (above). Each instructor has a different style, covering everything from rehearsal to scene deconstruction to editing and set design. They're very visual, but in the weeks of preproduction I didn't have time to sit in front of my computer to watch and began listening to them as podcasts in the car, which also worked. Once I'm done with this movie, I want to go back and look at the lesson material, which is a goldmine of resources (see below). The directing class with Spike Lee just launched, and I am really excited to hear what he has to say before we begin filming the second half of our movie.

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Just Shoot It Podcast

This podcast is hosted by Matt Enlow and Oren Kaplan - all about filmmaking, directing, and storytelling in general. I actually discovered it via an acting podcast, That One Audition (also great) and started binge listening to downloaded episodes while I was in Alaska and had no access to the internet. I found them to be really practical - and they made me feel less alone, especially the interviews with people I've worked with before like my Go Back to China co-star Anna Akana and Maggie Kiley (my director on Caring). Check out their latest one with my friend from college, Jessica Sanders!

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Like Brothers Book

I've been a longtime fan of the Duplass brothers - maybe it's because I also come from a micro-budget film background, and they inspire me to believe you don't need money to tell a good story. At any rate, I didn't spend any money on their book, Like Brothers - I borrowed it from the library - and a few weeks ago, I happened to be at a party where Mark Duplass himself was. I went up and told him how I had just finished his book, and that I was about to direct my first feature. He was enthusiastic and incredibly nice, but before I could really go into it, JON FREAKING HAMM interrupted us. Jon Hamm apologized but I wasn't about to continue schmoozing with Don Draper standing there. Maybe one day I'll write another movie about that whole experience.

CineScout Viewfinder App

Dave suggested I download this app to take pictures for our location scouts which would match the lenses we were using. They really helped me visualize the film - and in black/white EVERYTHING looked better. Even my empty living room floor!

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Studio Binder

I have been in front of the camera for almost two decades now but don't know much about camera angles. Watching these Shot List Videos and downloading their Shot List Template forced me to quickly learn how to identify the look of handheld, tripod, wide/medium/close up shots. I'll admit that I spent a day making a shot list and didn't end up looking at it once when we were actually filming - but preparing this way helped me quickly visualize what I was imagining and communicate it with my DP, Bill Otto.