Synopsis:
A man comes to terms with a critical part of himself — and his Asian-ness.

Shot on 16mm black and white film.


This was a short I made my first year in film school. Back then it was a mandate in the program to shoot and edit on 16mm. So what I did was get the dailies transferred to digital and then I edited it on Final Cut Pro.

I then did some quick math to match the frame rates and painstakingly edited the cuts on a Moviola flatbed — I wasn’t a Steenbeck kinda guy. It took a while but I’ll admit I had some fun because it was a challenge. It was probably a bit nerdy, but I was determined to match every single jumpcut. And as you’ll see in the film, IT’S ALL JUMPCUTS.

The film itself is satire, a parody of a lot of the inner-focused short documentaries I was seeing at the time. The ones where filmmakers explore something deep in their psyches that end with a surprising resolution or reveal. In a lot of ways it was an exercise in mixing tones, building anticipation, and playing with expectation.

An instructor had once told me that a short film is a just setup and a punchline, and at the time I took that to heart. But in a way, even though this short was a bit tongue-in-cheek, it still actually works as one of those pieces I was satirizing.

By the way, this 3 1/2 minute film cost me around $3,000 back when 16mm cost about $1,000 per minute. Crazy.

Spunk is the last film I ever made on 16mm. I still have some leftover rolls laying somewhere in storage. They’re probably dust by now.

We shot this film in my bathroom in San Francisco way back when. It was a blast.