In “White Frog,” a new independent film from director Quentin Lee, character Nick arrives at The Firehouse and says, “This doesn’t look like a community center place.” Well, it’s not! In real life the interior of The Firehouse is Visual Communications, the Asian Pacific American media arts center in Little Tokyo where I worked as a summer intern last year. (And actually, it does look more like a community center than an office. At least until they painted over that orange and blue stripe — a remnant from another film shot there.)
During that time, I spent three days as a Production Assistant for the film. My duties? Drive to Burbank to buy special electrical tape. Keep the set on “lock down.” Make passerby stay away by telling them we’re shooting a mayonnaise commercial. Guide the actors from trailers to set. Help keep “craft services” (the snack table) stocked. Yell, “Rolling!” Tote around a walkie-talkie, and keep one ear attuned to my head-set at all times, or else. And at the end of the shoot, wrap up infinitely long coils of cords, and pry up pieces of thick black tape.
I had so much fun. The production was small enough that I could observe almost all aspects of the filming — lighting and set design, makeup, wardrobe, rehearsal, and the shoot itself. I got to know the crew, and admired their enthusiasm and dedication.
Now, “White Frog” has finally premiered in L.A. at Outfest, and I was in the audience. My biggest news? That my name — all three pieces, spelled correctly — was in the credits! Woo hoo! (No, this does not mean I make it onto IMDB. I checked.)
As for the film itself? “White Frog” follows a typical dysfunctional family story line. Nick, a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome, looks up to his older brother Chaz and is devastated by his sudden death. His parents are out of touch with reality. They struggle to cope with Chaz’s death, and seem clueless about relating to their younger son. Nick starts to hang out with his brother’s friends, and — spoiler here — eventually discovers that his brother was gay. The realization rocks the family, but ultimately brings them closer together. I thought the film was pleasant and interesting, but not especially moving or profound. I’ll leave a more thorough review to the critics. Mostly, it was hard to get caught up in the film. I couldn’t help but imagine what was going on behind the scenes.