A Bit of History
After living and working in China for almost ten years, we've grown to love the Chinese culture and language. The adaptation to such a foreign environment, although exciting and meaningful for the most part, is still often fraught with challenges and frustrations. Westerners and Easterners have very unique cultural backgrounds which leads to weird and wonderful perspectives on this thing we call life.
We wanted to create a sitcom that would address these cultural discrepancies, but also convey the idea that although culture is important, sharing the same culture is not paramount to getting along with each other. Yes, we are all different, but it's these differences that make us interesting and unique. Failing to bridge the cultural gap is inevitable, but it's how one tries to breech the gap that is important. Cherishing the similarities and relishing the differences is the theme of our sitcom.
In the pilot episode, Melvin and Larry, having just arrived in Beijing, are on the hunt for a suitable apartment. They find the perfect place but not the perfect landlord. Mr. Lee is not only grumpy and stubborn, he has also never met a foreigner before. Convincing Mr. Lee that they are worthy of his humble abode will be no mooncake walk. Fortunately, Lingling, Mr. Lee's daughter agrees to help the hapless duo. But can they chinesify themselves enough to win Mr. Lee over? Time will tell.
Larry (Murray Clive Walker) comes from South Africa, but was studying in the U.S. before deciding to move to China. He's a notorious skirt chaser who thinks of little else. Loyal most of the time except perhaps when there is a girl in the mix. Can be irresponsible and impractical about life in general – basically just likes living for the moment without thinking of the consequences. He thinks himself cooler than he really is.
Melvin (Scotty Cox) is an American, who is, for the most part, quite level-headed and responsible. He is a bit on the heavy side and has lost his confidence with women, struggling to regain it. This makes him a lovable-loser in this respect. He is sensitive and often takes things too personally. He likes to be organized. He has no fashion sense, yet is quite proud of his sense of fashion. Him and his ever-so-useful fannypack are inseparable.
Mr. Lee (Fu Hongjun), at the start, is weary of foreigners but begins to realize their worth later on. He comes across as abrasive at first, but he has a kind heart and is able to appreciate the good in others. A single father, he loves his daughter more than anything in the world. He runs a noodleshop in Beijing called Journey to the West. He is proud to be Chinese, of Chinese culture, Chinese heritage, and, above all, to be from Shanxi.
Lingling (Kara Wang), Mr. Lee's daughter; is pretty, intelligent but a bit stuck-up. She hates working in her father's noodleshop, because she thinks it's beneath her. Her dream is to study fashion in France although her father will never allow it. She is straight-talking and, at times, a bit crass. Much smarter than her father, Melvin, and Larry; Lingling is able to manipulate them as part of her master plan. Unfortunately, she is not match for Larry and Melvin's capacity for creating chaos.
The Production Team
Victor Muh (director/co-producer): Victor is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, award-winning director who has created content for Saab, Salomon, Quiksilver, the Austrian Government, Audi China, Peugeot China, Citroën China, Yahoo! Sports, Split Works and Swire Properties. His work has been seen on movie screens around the world as well as on Fox Sports, Fox Sports Asia, Star Sports, MCM International & MCM France, CNBC, Eurosport, Current TV, Surf Channel, and M6 France.
Murray Clive Walker (writer/co-producer/"Larry"): Murray is South African born but did his acting training in Vancouver. He has spent the last 10 years in Taiwan and China learning the language and working as an actor. He mostly acts in Chinese TV shows but has landed roles in movies such as Legendary, an English-Chinese co-production and Dragonblade, China's biggest budget movie.
"Wok In Progress" already has Youku (China's Youtube) lined up to distribute our series in China and WebTVAsia promoting us to the rest of the world on Youtube. In the U.S., we have local networks in L.A., San Francisco, and New York ready to broadcast "Wok In Progress" as well as a VOD aggregator waiting for us. "Wok In Progress" will also have it's very own VOD channel. Every day brings new opportunities and possibilities to bring "Wok In Progress" to a wider and wider audience.
Why We Need Your Help
We were able to self-fund the pilot thanks largely to the support we got from Jun and Tavey of 4corners, and our industry friends and their camera and lighting equipment. Unfortunately, these favors are not of an infinite nature.
That's where you guys come in. We have written the scripts for the next four episodes and are working towards writing and producing a total of thirteen episodes. Please help us by donating whatever you can so that we can keep this series alive and kicking. There's so much more to come. You'd also be participating in China's first fully bilingual sitcom series. And we would like to think that there is something special and even historic about that.
Where Your Money Would Go
- We know what you're thinking, and you're right; this is a lot of money for a handful of sitcom episodes. To make a television-quality production, though, isn't cheap, and it takes a lot longer than most of us would like, too. Here's why we're asking for $30,000.
- Each episode's pre-production stage will consist of writing, storyboarding, casting, breaking down the script, planning and scheduling.
- Building of sets and location access: The location where we shot the restaurant and apartment scenes in the pilot, 4corners, has been partially reclaimed by the landlord. 4corners looks totally different now, so we can longer use it as a set. We will rent a studio and recreate the real locations we filmed in as well as other locations in the script. We will also need to rent some filming locations as well as pay for permits to film in places like parks. Not everyone is as awesome as Jun and Tavey from 4corners for giving us access to their fine establishment. And yes, a park features into an upcoming episode.
- Basic crew and cast wages: The concept of just 'helping out' on a project for the sake of getting experience and exposure is not common in China. We were fortunate enough to get a lot of help for the pilot, but this generosity is not everlasting. People still need to eat and be rewarded for their contributions. Running a film crew is like running a small army; without the weapons and with a lot more sarcasm.
- Lighting and camera equipment: We are shooting with 3 camera crews at once. The pilot was shot with 5Ds, but we'd like to upgrade for the next episodes. We also need to rent lenses and other camera-related equipment as well as lights and other nerdy stuff like scrims. This will also include vehicle rentals.
- Food and board: We obviously need to keep everybody well fed and two of our actors require accommodation because they don't live in Beijing.
- Post production: Once we've filmed everything, it's not over. The "auntie" in the park hasn't sung yet. We still need to edit all those shots together to tell a cohesive and hilarious story; refining and refining until the final result is polished to perfection. Then, we have to sweeten and mix the audio; while at the same time, color correcting and color grading the image.