Stew-y Weather

I went to Chicago for the first time recently! It was a quick trip. I mean, quickity quick quick. Arrived on Friday late afternoon for the opening night screening of “Go Back to China” at FAAAIM. Then left the next morning just in time to celebrate my 16th wedding anniversary back with my husband Abe in LA. I did squeeze in a quick morning walk to play tourist, though.

Lynn Chen Chicago
Go Back to China Sloth

Speaking of celebrations, I recently threw a little dinner party in honor of Abe’s birthday. Drake on Cake!

Drake on Cake

I made “The Stew” - Alison Roman’s viral Coconut Chickpea Turmeric concoction. I’ve been meaning to make it for months, since I read about it in the NY Times.

IMG_7965.jpg

Here’s a video of me cooking it. It’s been forever since I cooked, let alone filmed myself doing it.

I’ve been super busy with acting work lately, and also editing my movie “I Will Make You Mine.” The latter has been a real test for my emotions. Did I rent a sweatsuit just so I’d feel psyched to keep going? Yes, yes I did.

D228E140-02BB-4ED9-AD89-823F642C0B0C.jpg

Next up is a lot more travel - I’ll be going to San Diego this weekend, followed by Bentonville, AR and San Francisco for more “Go Back to China” film festivals. And we also have an LA Premiere as the Centerpiece Film at LAAPFF on May 4th - tickets just went on sale. I hope to see you there!

Thankful.

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

IMG_5364.jpg

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.

IMG_0001.jpg
IMG_0016.jpg

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...

IMG_4965.jpg

...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.

IMG_5584.jpg

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

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.

IMG_4555.jpg
IMG_4553.jpg
IMG_4556.jpg
IMG_4563.jpg

I take this photo pretty much every year.

D7B059C3-8035-4A97-850F-B5104AF3C0B4.jpg

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.

IMG_4575.jpg

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.

Mama-Lion-Koreatown-I-Will-Make-You-Mine.jpg

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.

Mama-Lion-Koreatown-I-Will-Make-You-Mine-2.jpg
Mama-Lion-Koreatown-I-Will-Make-You-Mine-3.jpg

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.

Mama-Lion-Koreatown-I-Will-Make-You-Mine-1.jpg
Mama-Lion-Koreatown-I-Will-Make-You-Mine-4.jpg

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.

Mama-Lion-Koreatown-I-Will-Make-You-Mine-5.jpg

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.

Lynn-Chen-Dave-Boyle-I-Will-Make-You-Mine.jpg

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

Masterclass-Ron-Howard.png

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.

Masterclass-Judd-Apatow.jpg

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!

Just-Brothers-Duplass-Book.jpg

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!

Cinescout-App.jpg

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.