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Jimmy Dinh's hysterical feature You Have A Nice Flight will be getting its New Jersey premiere at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, October 6, 2017
By Al Nigrin
originally published: 10/03/2017
Jimmy Dinh’s hysterical feature You Have A Nice Flight will be getting its New Jersey premiere at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, October 6, 2017!
Here is Part 1 of my interview with You Have A Nice Flight Director Jimmy Dinh:
Nigrin: Your really funny feature film You Have A Nice Flightis about a young man from Vietnam who takes an international flight that goes awry very quickly. Please tell our readers more about your film and why you decided to make it?
Dinh: I entertained my eyelash clients with my funny life stories (Note: Jimmy works in the Beauty Industry as well). They loved my stories and encouraged me to try acting and comedy. So in 2006, I started taking acting classes around LA and going to auditions. I soon discovered that Hollywood writers didn't create many roles for authentic Asian characters in their movies and TV shows. My talent agents told me that my roles are limited. I had only 2-3 auditions a year with roles for stereotypical mean, bossy, or flamboyant Asian men. In 2011, I decided to take control of my own destiny and write a script for a feature film. Instead of creating the bad Asian characters like Hollywood writers, I started to write a feature script and created a good-hearted and lovable character, Đông Hùng, which means "Hero" in Vietnamese. He's short with a strong accent.
I chose this movie as an airport movie for several reasons. Some bad, funny and interesting incidents happened to me at airports during that time. The security at airports is a dangerous place for foreigners who have different languages and cultures. Dangerous, ridiculous and innocent troubles were happening to people because of the cruel airport rules. That can raise the stage higher. Airports have become a hot topic in the news. Every day we hear new airport stories about how badly airport and airlines staff use their rules to mistreat passengers. I collectively used these stories and transferred them to my script. Also, the airplane scenes I did on the Chelsea Lately Show inspired me and gave me a hint about making an airport movie. Although there are negative, cruel airport stories, in my film the scenes move from negative to positive, from hateful and revenge-filled to loving and forgiving, from painful to painless, from hopeless to hope, from losing to winning and ultimately, provide a happy ending.
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Nigrin: There is a scene in your film where Jimmy gets dragged off of the airplane by the airline officials. It reminded me of the recent event were a man was deplaned by United Airlines personnel in a similar way. Did you get inspiration from that event or did yours pre-date it?
Dinh: In 2012, One of my script editors and I discussed and wrote about making the scene where they dragged Dong Hung out of the airplane. But we didn't feel it was realistic since it didn't happen for real. That made airlines look bad. Plus, an airplane rental would cost more money. Therefore, we decided to take the dragging scenes out of the script. Then we saw the news of the United Airlines and Dr. Dao in April 2017, John and I decided to put the scene back in the original script. Therefore, the dragging scene was inserted into the movie perfectly, organically and logically matching the story.
Nigrin: Jimmy, as director and lead actor, did you find it difficult to direct yourself.
Dinh: Yes, it was more difficult for me as a virgin filmmaker and first-time director with multiple production duties. Plus, I have "a slight accent". I speak English very fast and I try to tell 1000 stories in a minute. LOL. If I was planning to do all these things earlier in pre-production, I wouldn't have made this movie because it would have been impossible. I had many problems during the process of making the film. I had to be strong while I was tearing up trying to find the right people to help me. To survive, I had to jump in to do new things with the belief in myself that I could make them right. I didn’t initially plan on directing, but after firing our first director and interviewing several potential replacement directors, my advisors convinced me that as the writer, I should be the director. I just had to believe in myself and my instincts.
I worked with Dream Big Casting and watched over 200 talent audition clips for 37 speaking roles. I called it my first director rehearsal with the cast. In the ‘Call-Back Auditions’, I spent 2 whole days at the casting office directing the actors (my second director rehearsal with the cast). Finding the most talented actors made my directing much easier on the set. The audition process and reading table (my third director rehearsal with the cast) took me to another level of directing and made me feel more comfortable and believe in myself. To foster creativity, I directed all the actors to do improv as much as they wanted, but keep the main dialog.
People in Hollywood told me that it's all about "Time and Money." That's very true. I felt "Time and Money" is our "Life and Death" situation. I wouldn’t recommend an airport movie for low budget films. Airport locations are very expensive. To save money we built an airport gate set and filmed sparingly at the Burbank Bob Hope Airport. We shot 96 pages in 15 days at 3 locations in Los Angeles. As the lead actor, I was in front of the camera most of the time, so I didn't have time, like other directors to look at the monitors to see my acting and other talents acting, so that I could direct them for the next takes. I had little time to look at replay footage of the shoots to decide to shoot another take. Instead of watching the monitor, where I could find a mistake or make it better while other roles and my role reacted and interacted with each other in the scenes. I always separated my director duty and actor duty in my head at the same time. I jumped in as the actor - acting and dealing with my scenes’ over objects. After a scene was done, the actor jumped out to let the director jump in. Some of our raw footage showed that when I was playing sad Dong Hung in the scenes and then I suddenly yelled "CUT"… people laughed. When I directed the actors, I wanted them to act like I was the writer, director and producer, not the character Dong Hung. I’m sure it was sometimes difficult for the cast and crew to separate the director from the characters I was playing. I trusted our Producer, John Belcher, the script supervisor and our DP. If they told me the takes for the scenes were good, we moved on to other scenes. I felt like I was the father of the movie and we didn't have enough time. I wanted to sacrifice time for my children. I was okay with many scenes of only one take for my angles and close-up since other talents had 2-4 takes of their angels. Lucky, my only one-take scenes were not bad. LOL
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 (Nutley, New Jersey) 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 Weepier, 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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