PHILIP W. CHUNG is a writer for film, TV and theater and was the co-founder/co-Artistic Director of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, an acclaimed Asian American theater company. He co-founded the blog YouOffendMeYouOffendMyFamily (YOMYOMF) with film director Justin Lin and co. in 2009, and helped the launch of the YOMYOMF Network in June, one of YouTube’s new premium channels, where he oversees the creative content. In its debut launch, YOMYOMF ranked 9th out of 95 YouTube channels. Philip does not like long walks on the beach.
Was there a specific event or circumstance that served as the impetus in creating The YOMYOMF Network? Was there a lack of momentum in the traditional studio method of content creation?
As many folks probably know already, YouOffendMeYouOffendMyFamily (YOMYOMF) was a blog started by director Justin Lin back in 2009 and the spirit of the blog was just mutual friends and colleagues getting together and working on passion projects. We were already developing various projects under the YOMYOMF banner, in film and video, so when this opportunity came up to pitch for one of the new YouTube premium channels and partner up with some of the most popular YouTubers — Ryan Higa, KevJumba and Chester See — it made sense for what we were already planning. So it wasn’t necessarily a lack of momentum on the studio side — I don’t think we even considered that. It was more a desire to create the type of work we’ve always wanted to see and make, and the idea of bringing together someone like Justin, one of the most successful Asian Americans on the Hollywood side, and the top YouTubers, who also happen to be Asian American, seemed like it could produce some interesting results. Luckily, YouTube got what we wanted to do and, so far (knock on wood), it seems like the audience is getting it too.
What was the process like in transforming YOMYOMF from a blog to a YouTube Channel, and how did you go about it? What are some of the milestones you hope to achieve in the first full year of The YOMYOMF Network?
In terms of the approach to our content, that transition was not difficult at all. At the end of the day, for both the blog and the channel, it’s about finding collaborators and projects that excite us and that we’re passionate about. But YouTube is its own world with its own set of rules and etiquette and I think we would’ve been lost had we been on our own to navigate all that, but luckily we had our experienced YouTube partners to help us make our way.
I think that’s the big reason why our channel has been successful — it’s a true collaboration between Hollywood and the YouTube worlds. We’re trying to bring the best of both worlds together and hopefully we can create something new and exciting out of that. In this first year, we really want to lay the groundwork for what we hope will become a fill-fledged network like you would see on TV. Now, our budgets are just a tiny fraction of what a TV network would get so it’s been tough and it will continue to be tough. But luckily we’re working with an amazing group of talented artists who are committed and resourceful and are taking our small budgets and producing some high-quality content. If by the end of the year, we’re able to create a diverse and interesting body of work, it’ll put us in a really good position to build for the future. Oh, that and it will also take us one step closer to world domination which is the end goal. Asian Americans already rule YouTube, it’s about time we used that power to take over the world.
What advice would you give to nascent media makers who have produced short films and web content, but don’t know exactly where to go from there?
Make friends with Ryan Higa who has 5 million+ subscribers on YouTube and is currently the second most popular personality on all of YouTube.
Philip Chung (left) with YouTube celebrity Ryan Higa (Photo: The YOMYOMF Network)
If that’s not possible because Ryan refuses to reply to your numerous tweets, the idea of collaboration is still key. Whether you’re making videos for YouTube or short films for the film fest circuit, there’s just so much content out there that it’s becoming harder and harder to break out of the pack and be noticed. I’ve seen a lot of great work get buried because of this. That’s why I think it’s important to find other passionate artists who share your goals to collaborate with. There’s strength in numbers and it just makes it easier to get noticed when you have a community of artists supporting you. Frankly, it’s great to have that community for many different reasons — it’s your artistic family which is what YOMYOMF is. Of course it does help when one of your family members also happens to have 5 million+ subscribers on YouTube or is responsible for directing one of the biggest blockbusters out of Hollywood.
In all your time at YOMYOMF you’ve worked with a wide spectrum of personalities. Who’s been the best the most “interesting” to work with, and why?
I guess I should say Jessica Alba because she’s a big star and the fact that she’d come out for no money and basically wash a car for us in our Bananapocalypse promo video was pretty cool.
Jessica Alba (left) hosing down Parvesh Cheena (Photo: The YOMYOMF Network)
But I’m going to have to cheat on the question a little and go with Gary Busey. It’s cheating because we didn’t actually get to work with Gary (yet), but came really close. We were talking to him about being a guest on our show KEVJUMBA TAKES ALL where he would’ve challenged Kevin to do something interesting. Let’s just say he came up with some bizarre ideas about what he wanted to do including a challenge that would’ve involved a blow-up doll, mashed potatoes and a relay race. I still have no idea what that was all about, but I am firmly convinced that every crazy story you have heard about Gary Busey is probaOh, and I can’t forget Sung Kang in a dress which is memorable because it’s Sung Kang in a dress. I still remember the wardrobe person asking him what kind of dresses he should pull for him and Sung replying that he’d just bring one of his from home.
What Asian-American feature film do you wish you would have made and why?
I’m going to cheat with this question too so instead of picking an Asian American film, I’d like to take John Hughes’ 1984 teen comedy SIXTEEN CANDLES, which featured the infamous Long Duk Dong aka the thorn in the existence of many Asian American males of a certain age, and remake it except all the characters in it would be Asian American except the one European foreign exchange student who would talk in a faux French accent, eat German sausages and the British national anthem would play every time he entered a room because all Europeans are the same, aren’t they?