Short 'Amazing Asian' movie long on laughs
By Moon Yun Choi
Special to The Advertiser
But in "Amasian: The Amazing Asian," budding filmmaker Gerard Elmore punches up his new superhero flick with zany gags and colorful characters.
Comedian and radio personality Paul Ogata stars in his first movie as "underappreciated superhero" Amazing Asian. Our caped wonder waits idly in his office for "the call." But he has a ditzy secretary (comedian Cathy Tanaka), who doesn't give him his phone messages.
When she finally does, the Amazing Asian learns there's a big meteor heading toward Earth. His nemesis, Wai'anae Man (comedian the Hawaiian Guy from Moloka'i), is behind it. Wai'anae Man a burly guy who needs Haole Boy (Brian Lentz) to translate pidgin into English wants to create a tsunami so big that when the meteor hits Earth, only he can surf it and everyone else dies.
Local comic legend Andy Bumatai makes a cameo appearance at the end of this 25-minute short film as the Chief Inspector who takes all the credit away from the Amazing Asian. Brian Lentz and Moses Goods round out the dynamic cast.
"The story is unique because not only does it have a lot of humor, (but) the characters are really colorful, and there are a lot of (special) effects," says Elmore of the film he directed and played a supporting part in.
Elmore, who's an actor and standup comedian as well as filmmaker, credits his comic ability to the generation of local comedians before him, namely Bumatai and Ogata.
"It's so funny with Gerard ... he's at that stage where he's so talented that he's exploding out at every pore," Bumatai said. "I think one of these days we're going to be sitting around going, 'Remember when Gerard was making them silly little things shot with a handheld?' He really is someone who I think is going to grow into a good filmmaker because of his commitment."
Ogata has known Elmore since he started getting into standup comedy over a year ago. "There's a certain type of person who's going to be willing to do it... (Those) missing a certain part of your head that says, 'Don't do that.' I like to help people with (the) same mental problem," says Ogata. "Playing Amazing Asian was fun. I'm not really an actor. It was fun doing comedy in another medium besides onstage as a standup."
Elmore shot the short film last December using a mini-DV camera and outlined the script from which the cast of mostly comedians filled in with jokes and lines. The movie is in color and was made on a shoestring budget of $600.
Ethnicity: Hispanic and Caucasian
Birthplace: Galesburg, Ill. Moved to Hawai'i in the 7th grade.
Education: Bachelor's degree in management information systems from University of Hawai'i, Manoa. Holds a day job as a computer specialist.
Profession: Actor, comedian and self-taught filmmaker. Directs, produces, writes and does his own camera and editing work.
Film credits: Directed and acted in the short films "Making of a Karaoke Video" and "Inverse Reasoning," which screened at the Hawai'i International Film Festival 2003.
Standup comedy: Studied under Andy Bumatai for a year in his standup comedy workshop and became his assistant during second year of the class. Elmore has opened for Augie and Lanai at the Comedy Shack at Dave and Buster's and Brew Moon, and has been a regular at the open mike events at All Star Hawaii and Hank's Café.
A live comedy show with many of the cast from "Amazing Asian," followed by the premiere of "Amasian: The Amazing Asian," will be held at Dave and Buster's on Thursday. All money from the event will go toward paying for film festival fees and promoting the film.
After the preview screening, Elmore plans to submit "Amazing Asian" to several film festivals on the Mainland.
He also plans to release the "Amazing Asian" on DVD.
"The Making of the Karaoke Video," a spoof on movie directors and actors, is one of many short films made by Elmore. Scenes from "Karaoke," starring Elmore and Tanaka, are set to air on Oceanic Channel 16's "Hawai'i's Reel Stories" in August.
After making about 25 short films, Elmore wants to tackle directing his first feature film. He's chosen "Tender," a screenplay written by local playwright Eric Yokomuri. It's a dark comedy about a boy with an imaginary friend that's a cow named Moo. The boy pursues a girl, but he's conflicted mainly because his imaginary cow friend has issues. Elmore is seeking to raise $10,000 to make the movie.
As for being a young actor and aspiring filmmaker, Elmore says it's a struggle. "The reason I'm a filmmaker today is because I was frustrated as an actor and (needed) to find something else to do. Nowadays I get offered a lot of roles from first-time filmmakers and I feel honored. I usually didn't even get considered a few years ago, but now people are willing to take a chance on me."
Does he ever want to quit? No way. "What makes me refuse to quit is that I love making movies and love acting. ... Nothing, even rejection, will change that. So all I can do is move forward, watch the movies that inspired me to do what I'm doing, and get back to the basics before attempting to step it up."