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Jimmy Dinh’s comedy feature You Have A Nice Flight Will Get its New Jersey Premiere at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday!
By Al Nigrin
originally published: 10/04/2017
Jimmy Dinh’s comedy feature You Have A Nice Flight will get its New Jersey premiere at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, October 6, 2017!
Here is Part 2 of my interview with You Have A Nice Flight Director Jimmy Dinh:
Nigrin: All the lead actors were really great and so were the character actors. Tell us about some of these wonderful performers and how you decided to cast them?
Dinh: Oh Boy! this question could take us a whole day for John and I to tell you. Our movie planned auditions and shooting in 2014. Two days before shooting, we postponed the movie. All talents, agents and crews were upset. We paid almost 50K to the crew, producer in full, and director in full. We found out that our producer wasn't ready yet with many issues, including locations with higher rates, food, and other departments. The director was very mean and a bully to the talents and me. He took about 15 of our auditioned talents out and replaced these actors with his friends and talents who were in his previous movie. He changed the script and told me “don't touch the script” because I was a horrible English writer. After the postponement I asked him to send me back the modified script. I was shocked that the script was so racist to other minority people including Chinese and Vietnamese. It was lucky that we didn't make my movie with his version of the script.
Before I answer your questions, let me go back the characters I wrote and created. I have found the Hollywood airport is where there is a wide variety of different kinds of the people who come from LA and all over the world. I took advantage of that and organically created the characters to have their own personalities, lifestyles, languages and cultures. As a result, there are a wide variety of cultures represented in the movie. It was a good opportunity for new actors from other counties to show their talents in my movie. You can find 7 different languages in this movie. Plus, Shelley Dennis, who played the lead, Jesta, told me that the odd couple of 4'11” Dong Hung and 5'11” Jesta opened the door for her acting career since she has been rejected from many roles because she was too tall.
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It was the first time I wrote a feature script without going to school for writing a feature film. I didn't do the homework like other writers did. They watch many movies and read many books, so they copy or get the hints of their characters from there and create their characters. To me it was easy and organic to create stories and characters in detail with deep, layers and full colors using the real people in my life.
Based on the talents’ audition clips, their demo reels, their headshots and the conversations with them at the auditions, I instinctively matched them personally to people who I met in my real life. Of course, Dong Hung looks like me. LOL. Ashley, a mean person, looked like 2 people - my eyelash client's assistant and another girl working at the "Actor Key" workshop. Blondie is a Hollywood lady who is so much like some of my VIP eyelash clients. Mrs. Hansen is one of my VIP generous eyelash clients who wants lashes all the time, gave me a lot tips, and flew me in her private jet to Aspen, CO. Bob and Tina were copied from John Belcher's sister and brother-in-law, Kathy and Joe, who live in Virginia and have a southern accent. Jesta came from my many tall, pretty eyelash clients who also have pretty hearts like Julie, Cindy, and more. John and I were very impressed by Shelley Dennis who played Jesta.
From 2014 to 2015, we had 2 auditions with different groups of talents from different talent agents. There were many actresses who auditioned and wanted to get the Jesta role. They promised and made the deal. But, Hollywood is a small world. People talk. The previous director and crews had been talking bad of us. "Yeah, this movie had to postpone last year.” “Jimmy Dinh is a first-time director.” “It is hard to understand him with his broken English.” “They won't pay you....” Ten actresses for the lead role Jesta that we said yes to, backed out one-by-one. Fourteen hours before the first day of filming, we didn't have the lead actress, Jesta. We cried out to talent agents all over Hollywood for help. Finally, we got the headshot of Shelley Dennis. The moment I saw her headshot, I yelled out and jumped "Yes, she is the one" and she was 5'11", which was perfect. Yes, my eyes and my instincts are good. She signed our deal 10 hours before the first shooting. She is charming like my Jesta, did a great job with her role, and memorized all her 96 pages of the script. Amazing!
Nigrin: Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you can rely to our readers?
Dinh: I don’t believe in superstitions, but it’s hard to explain some things happening. After we postponed in 2014 and we wouldn’t hire the director again. He was upset. He went to our movie IMDb file and hacked it to make fun of me. We had the notice that showed he did it with his name. He added fake credits to Jimmy Dinh file as a Director, Editor, Music composer… I was embarrassing to see that because these jobs were impossible for me. I never thought I did these things. I didn’t earn them yet. But you never know! That became a good curse. LOL. After an exhaustive interview process without success, my friends in the TV and film industry and John tried to persuade me that I was the best choice to direct the film. After all it was my story, my first baby. I thought of it every second and knew exactly what I wanted from each scene down to the smallest details. Finally, I agreed to be the Director.
During the post-production, I sat long hours next to the editor, Mark Newton, learning editing skills on Adobe Premiere Pro. After 8 months, I took over and edited the final versions by myself. I found editing to be synergistic with writing and directing, and key to making a beautiful, artistic story. I also discovered that the music was a powerful enhancer that enabled the audience to deeply feel the story’s emotions.
I earned 12 IMDb credits including Director, Screen Writer, Executive Producer, Producer, Editor, Music Supervisor, Foley Artist, and Location Manager. I learned not only about the importance of hard work and creativity, but also about the importance of believing in yourself and bringing out your heart to put positive messages into your movie that will help others.
"Use Other People’s Money" to fund your movie from Indiegogo and I also directly funded from my friends and family. I got 15% of my budget totally. Since it was my first movie and I was in a busy eyelashes business, not many people gave me money, not even my wealthy VIP eyelash clients. They said "there are so many good producers who have produced the movies with big name stars for 20 years, and they still couldn’t make money, sometimes. You’re trying to do the Paramount job, Jimmy. There are tons of independent filmmakers who fail and file for bankruptcy. It's hard to make people watch your movie." People asked me to wait a few years to get enough funding. I might wait for 10 years or more. I don't want to change my script so that Dong Hung becomes 50 then 90 years old when we have enough budget. Others asked me to make a short film. Others asked me to go back to Vietnam and make movies and get famous then come back USA to make a career since I don't have my own famous name yet. Finally, I decided to use my own money and filmed it in Hollywood.
"Use my money for the movie like I use it for my wedding party." I tried to calm my family and friends as they told me "Jimmy, you should buy a house. If your movie doesn't make it, you will lose all of your money." I said, " I won't get married. The crew comes to sets for my movie like my guests come to my wedding party. We have good time. My wedding video or my baby is "You Have A Nice Flight." I used my own money and began shooting in July 2015.
"Use my lost money for my experiences and forgiveness." "Every culture has good and bad people." Some "Vampire” crews knew that it was the first time I made a movie. They were hungry to suck my money and ready for their tricks. First, in 2014 when Bob Daly and Carole Bayer Sager tried to help me and found out the movie had issues with the producer and director, so they asked me to postpone. We paid in full for the producer and director and others with 50K. I felt crazy and unhappy, but when Bob Daly told me, "That's a blessing", my pain was gone. Yes, what if we were still making the movie, it would have cost me more to increase the producer contract rates and locations, and the movie may not have ever been completed. And if it was done, I wouldn't watch it since the version of the first director was very racist and had mean characters, including Dong Hung. In 2015 during the production period, some our crew stole almost 10 thousand cash from us as they grossly inflated in their invoices and our petty cash keeper gave it to them. Some of the crew stole our film equipment and didn’t return it to the rental places - that cost us 6 thousands.... I complained to our casting director, Sherrie Henderson, about what we lost. She said, "Jimmy, you're a survivor. You finished shooting your film” All my negative energy was gone and I looked up at my pretty movie that I was going to finish.
"Use my good money for good things." Charity is my habit. The first year I settled in Minneapolis, MN, USA I started to volunteer to work at the nursing homes to help elderly people and went to the Phillips neighbors to help the kids after school. My brother and I have attended to several charity events around LA since 2006. Every year John and I come to Vietnam to visit friends and family for 17 years. We habit to visit and give money, food and school supplies for seniors and children.
I now own 90% of the movie budget, so I decided to give the money to charity legally. After the film festivals screenings are completed, 10-20 percent of all theater ticket sales going to Vietwins Productions will be donated to charity organizations located in the same cities, states and countries as the theaters.
Two really funny short films will precede You Have A Nice Flight. Here is more info on this screening:
Stowaway – Kenneth Anderson (New York, New York) In this short comedy, a woman secretly embarks on a voyage at sea. 2017; 5 min. With an introduction and Q+A session with Director Kenneth Anderson!
Swiped Right – Dana Marisa Schoenfeld (New York, New York) Ava, a successful woman over forty who hasn’t found love, decides to join an online dating service to satisfy her libido, until she meets Angelo, who doesn’t quite meet up to his provocative profile name. 2017; 21 min. With an introduction and Q+A session with Producer/Director/Writer Dana Marisa Schoenfeld, Producer//Writer/Actor Lydia Fiore, and ActorsAnthony Grasso, Stephanie Weppler, Kisha Barr!
You Have A Nice Flight – Jimmy Dinh (Los Angeles, California) If you have ever sat down into your airplane seat, and found yourself grimacing as the flight attendant cheerily wishes you a nice flight, while you try, without avail, to find an extra scintilla of legroom, then this is the feature-length comedy for you. When a young man from Vietnam takes an international flight that goes awry very quickly, the cultural clashes that ensue is guaranteed to have you rolling on the floor—and maybe in the aisles--with laughter. 2017; 97 min. Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers)!
Friday, October 6, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University
71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey
$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends
Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick will be providing free food prior to this New Jersey Film Festival Screenings!
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