Tomorrow night’s episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow finds our heroes and villains return to where they began…at Star City. But, home is not where the heart is as they encounter thieves, destruction and mayhem. And, for White Canary (Caity Lotz), she slowly uncovers what happened to Star City’s resident hero and old friend…Oliver Queen / Green Arrow. Stephen Amell guest stars.
Read my exclusive interview with one of the writers of tomorrow night’s sixth episode titled Star City 2046 of the hit television show, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Executive Story Editor Ray Utarnachitt!
Edwin Santos: Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us what you do? Tell us a little bit of your journey?
Ray Utarnachitt: My name is Ray Utarnachitt and I’m an Executive Story Editor on “Legends of Tomorrow.” Before this I co-wrote a freelance episode of “The Flash” and also wrote on “The Tomorrow People” and “Person of Interest.” I’m originally from Michigan and studied Film at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I, of course, thought I was going to be a doctor for many years and I was even a Biology major for most of my college years. But to the dismay of my parents, I switched tracks and graduated in Film!
Edwin Santos: Utarnachitt?
Ray Utarnachitt: My mother is Filipina and my father is Chinese born in Thailand. Thus the Thai surname!!!
Edwin Santos: Have you ever wanted to be a writer?
Ray Utarnachitt: As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a writer.
Edwin Santos: What is your first piece you ever wrote?
Ray Utarnachitt: The first thing I really remember putting a lot of effort into was a story I wrote for a class competition in elementary school. My story took place in the future and the entire Earth was covered in water — and these three scientists had to explore the deep ocean in a futuristic submarine because of reports of a sea monster. Of course, it was terrible and I didn’t win. Haha. But I was pretty drawn to genre storytelling at a young age.
Edwin Santos: Other than a script coordinator, it seems you have held other positions in film and television such as a visual effects assistant in 1999’s “The 13th Warrior.” Were you figuring out what you wanted to do or were you already focused on becoming a writer as those varied positions were just the means to get to your current position?
Ray Utarnachitt: When you move out Los Angeles and you have no real connections to the film industry, it’s incredibly difficult to figure out how to get started. There are no signs pointing you where to go to be a writer. And because there is no one clear path to get to where you want to go, you kind of just pick one and see where it leads. Most of my film industry experience is actually in Film Production — I started as a production assistant (PA) on set working on commercials, music videos, and infomercials. Then I worked as a PA in Visual Effects for a short while before working in the production office as an Assistant Coordinator. But throughout all that time I kept working on my writing trying to get better. Eventually, those jobs I had which had nothing to do with writing actually led me to people who would eventually hire me as a writer. So, it was a matter of staying focused and always keeping your eyes on the prize. It wasn’t always easy but you have to believe in yourself and keep figuring out how to get what you want.
Edwin Santos: What is your daily writing process when developing scripts for “Legends of Tomorrow?”
Ray Utarnachitt: On any given day, we could be doing any number of things in the writers’ room. It all depends on where we are in the schedule. Sometimes we’re generating ideas for the next episode on the slate or we’re further along in the process and actually detailing specific beats for scenes which will be in the episode. What’s exciting about working in a writers’ room is that every day is different.
Edwin Santos: With such an ensemble show as “Legends of Tomorrow” is, how would you describe your process in fleshing out characters as well as balancing the characters and their story arcs?
Ray Utarnachitt: With every episode we usually try to uncover whose story we’re trying to tell at this point in the season. And once we do that, we try to find another character who could be a good foil for that person in order to express the story. Once we’ve figured that out — we then try to come up with interesting character combinations for the other characters. That’s been the most fun about writing for such a huge cast, with each pair-up you get different results because each character is so unique.
Edwin Santos: This Thursday’s show,”Star City 2046″ is your first written episode for “Legends of Tomorrow.” Are you excited to see something you’ve written on the page to now share it on the small screen? Or, are you very professional and soft spoken about the experience that it is nothing really exciting anymore?
Ray Utarnachitt: It is always exciting to see something you’ve written finally broadcast for everyone in the world to see. So much work goes into each episode from the inception of the idea for the story all the way through post-production. It’s nice to see the outcome of all that hard work.
Edwin Santos: Who is your favorite character in “Legends of Tomorrow” and why?
Ray Utarnachitt: I think my favorite character is Ray Palmer. I like him because of his undying optimism. And he always finds humor even in the darkest of situations.
Edwin Santos: As a Filipino American, do you feel there should be more FilAms (or POC) television writers in the writers’ room to give voice and tell stories about our experiences? Even in the fictional fantasy world “Legends of Tomorrow” thrives in?
Ray Utarnachitt: Yes, of course. I feel there should be more diversity in general in writers’ rooms. It’s essential to get other points of view that are not typically represented in stories on television. The good news is that in the years I’ve been in the industry I have seen some improvement in this area — but we could always do better.
Edwin Santos: And, last question… Currently, DC Comics has Asian American superheroes in their canon but they all have been sidekicks. Which one of them do you feel should appear, hop on the Waverider, join the “Legends of Tomorrow” cast and make a name for himself / herself?
Ray Utarnachitt: I’m not completely familiar with this character, but I read somewhere that there’s a new version of Captain Steel who has Filipino origins. I think that would be very cool to have someone like that on board the Waverider!
Edwin Santos: Thank you for your time.
Ray Utarnachitt: Thanks!
After my interview with Ray, I did some research. I remember a Captain Steel when I used to collect comic books when I was a boy but he was not Filipino. Until I remember about DC’s New 52 comic book canon. In “Earth 2” #13, the character known as Captain Steel was revealed to have Filipino origins.
The New 52 version of Captain Steel was created by writer James Robinson and illustrated by Yildiray Cinar. Robinson told the media he was including a Filipino superhero to add diversity to the book.
Thus, “Earth 2” #13 had the World Army’s Commander Khan describing Captain Steel this way: “Although an American citizen, he’s native Filipino—born in the Philippines. His father—natural or adopted, we’re still unclear—wanted the best for his son.”
Another CW show, The Flash is currently visiting multi-dimensions and parallel universes where their first stopover was Earth 2. But, then again, the Legends of Tomorrow on the Waverider can also make a pit stop at Earth 2 . So, who knows where DC’s first superhero from the Philippines could turn up? Though, I have to agree with Ray. It would be cool to have Captain Steel turn up in Legends of Tomorrow.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow / Episode #6 / Star City 2046 written by Marc Guggenheim and Ray Utarnachitt airs tomorrow night, Thursday, February 25 at 8pm ET/PT on The CW. Check your local listings.
Watch my interview discussing about my career, creative life as well as tips and advice to millennials when working in the entertainment industry with Alexia Anastasio at Sqeegee here: https://sqeeqee.com/streaming/history/uOTIkUQCPvfWImAD
Television history was made last week for Filipino Americans. But, did you know it occurred twice? Last Monday night on the CW, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" introduced Josh's family in the episode, 'My First Thanksgiving with Josh!' where the character Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) spends Thanksgiving with a Filipino family.
Watch the episode on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/watch/871002
This past Friday, I watched the NBC comedy, "Truth Be Told" for the first time. I already knew that Vanessa (Minnillo) Lachey was in it. I knew of her when I was with E! Entertainment when she was a finalist in E!'s competition to replace Brooke Burke as host of "Wild On" in 2007. I didn't know she was an actress so I was curious in this new formula, yet diverse sitcom.
As much as I was celebrating "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," the episode of "Truth Be Told" was a long time coming. In that, I never saw the subject presented on television before -- and it was a subject, a personal subject where I spent most of my life denying being a Filipino.
I don't speak for those who came to the U.S. as children and decided to deny who they are because, in my opinion, that is an impossible task. They speak Tagalog and carry traits that are specific to the culture. Not me. It may have begun when my parents only spoke and taught us English to my siblings and I when we were born in Chicago, Illinois. Our only language is still English. And, even though, I spent twelve combined summer & Christmas vacations and lived one year in the Philippines, and joined Filipino Clubs from childhood to college, I still didn't accept my Filipino culture. I only saw it as a novelty. It was just there when I needed it. Through those years, I got used to the denial and created a monster. To the point, being an "American-Filipino" or a "Vanillapino" was to my benefit. Every corporate employment or job I had, I was promoted 100% of the time because the promotion required I speak to clients. But, truthfully, I knew my skills and my experience got me those promotions.
I remember back in the late 1990s to the early 2000s, there was this popular wave happening that anything Filipino was trendy and hip. It all started with "The Debut" directed by Gene Cajayon. And, even though that was the first time I saw a Filipino character rejecting his Filipino heritage against his immigrant parents on celluloid film, the episode below was a first for TV but, this time, it's a first generation American-born Filipina mother, the parent, who has rejected her culture her entire life -- only to embrace it later when her daughter rejects her Filipino Barbie doll down to stereotypical and almost derogatory societal terms. That hit below the belt...to even hearing a kid say that. I'm pretty sure I said it myself when I was ignorant.
Since the last decade, I have embraced the culture...but that doesn't mean I will sit down and learn how to speak Tagalog again... I mean how do you speak the language without developing stuttering and drool? I tried it. It was messy.
Watch the episode on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/watch/874150#i0,p0,d0
SAMURAI COP 2: DEADLY VENGEANCE opened in Los Angeles at Laemmle NoHo 7 Cinemas; Friday, October 9, 2015 with a 7:20pm Premiere with Cast and Crew Q&A. It garnered the following screening to another sell out crowd.
And, at the Martial Arts History Museum, the Cast & Crew made a Special Appearance for the Unveiling of the Flying Guillotine and Celebration of Bai Ling's Birthday; Saturday, October 10, 2015 before heading out to another sold-out evening screening of the film at the theater.
FilAm Creative Hosts Edwin's Hollywood Actors Panel for Actors; Saturday, September 19, 12:00pm at the Clubhouse
SEATING IS LIMITED!! PLEASE RSVP at: email@example.com **
Created and produced by Edwin A. Santos, FilAm Creative hosts the Hollywood Actors Panel for Actors -- a panel discussion and networking event featuring our special industry guest panelists who represent the craft of acting across the board.
Hear the panelists discuss about their explorations of the process and profession of acting; their reflections on personal experiences and artistic influences that informed and shaped their careers; their discussions of past and current projects and share valuable insights into the craft and the industry.
Get a chance to ask the panelists questions, learn about open opportunities, and build your network.
INDUSTRY PANELISTS INCLUDE:
- Billy DaMota (casting director, CSA). He has cast more than a hundred of films, TV shows, plays, music vides, commercials, "God's Not Dead," "America's Most Wanted," "Above The Law."
- Janet Tscha (talent agent at Arlene Thornton & Associates). She is also Head of the On-Camera Department. She loves working with performers and takes pride in seeing her clients in the media everyday.
- Tess Paras (actress / writer) known for her viral videos “Typecast” and “What If Catcalls Were Cheeseburgers?” She is currently recurring on The Disney Channel's "Girl Meets World" and most recognized for her role as “Dana Tomas” on NBC’s hit drama, "Grimm" - introducing the first Filipino-American storyline on primetime television.
- Eugene Cordero (actor / comedian) who teaches long-form improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles. He regularly performs as a member of THE SMOKES - every Monday night - as well in Toledo Rep and ASSSSCAT at UCB, too. He has appeared in various films and television shows including "Kings of Summer," "Drunk History," "Kroll Show," and "Silicon Valley." He currently plays Officer Michael Newman in Paul Feig's Yahoo Screen original show, "Other Space."
The panel will be moderated by Edward J. Mallillin (co-founder of FilAm Creative and serves on its Board of Directors. His credits include "Brown Soup Thing" [writer/director] and "Flipped Switch" [host/producer]. An outspoken advocate for education, he is the creator of "Rumor on the Playground," a multimedia assignment).
Saturday, September 19, 2015
From 12pm to 2pm
THE CLUBHOUSE IMPROV
1607 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA. 90027
* (between Hollywood & Sunset, inside and next door, right of Jons Marketplace. Free parking available inside the Jons Marketplace parking lot).
FREE ADMISSION -- but donations welcome!
FilAm Creative (FAC) is an all volunteer community organization dedicated to the advancement of Filipino-Americans in entertainment and media.
Newsletter subscription: firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen To Edwin's 1st Guest Spot On "Topless Robot Live!" Podcast Show: D23 Reactions, Roddy Piper, Tommy Wiseau and Samurai Cop 2
This past Sunday, Edwin A. Santos did a guest spot on Episode #13 on the podcast show, The Robot's Voice (formerly Topless Robot Live!). Along with TR Editor-In-Chief, Luke Y. Thompson and his cohost & actress-wife, Julia Boyd (Shameless, No Regrets), he talks about the upcoming cult sequel Samurai Cop 2 including working with Tommy Wiseau, the death of Roddy Piper and their reactions to the D23 Disney Expo announcements.
To listen to the show, click the link here: http://bit.ly/1ED4qir
On Monday, June 29th in the Toluca Lake area, Edwin took part of FilAm Creative's campaign appearing (and later, editing) video promos for the non-profit organization's soon-to-be-launch online channel, BIDYO.
FilAm Creative is a community organization dedicated to advancing Filipino Americans in entertainment and media, and BIDYO will feature original content created by Filipino Americans. Below is the finished product that premiered online earlier today. This is the first of three video promos airing the month of July, 2015.
BIDYO is putting out a call for project proposals. The first season will focus on low-budget video projects. Each video will be five minutes or less, and can be a standalone project or part of a series. All genres are welcome.
Content must strive to fit the pillars of our channel:
– A Filipino-American voice: the subject matter, onscreen talent, or creators
– Enlightening: we learn/experience something new
– Compelling: it’s unique and interesting
To qualify, email your name to email@example.com with “BIDYO proposal” in the subject line. You will be emailed back with submission instructions.
For more information, click here: https://filamcreative.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/filam-creative-launching-2-online-video-channels/
Deadline to submit back your proposal is Friday, July 17th at 11:59pm
“I'm like a fine wine. I get better with age. The best is yet to come.”
― Richelle Mead, Blood Promise
“I'm like a fine wine..."
Having seen the laugh-riot action comedy Awesome Asian Bad Guys written by Milton Liu, starring and co-directed by Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino (National Film Society) and executive produced by Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man) at the 30th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in 2014, watching the film again with all of my friends and colleagues was an experience!
"I get better with age."
The National Film Society and Angry Asian Man along with Visual Communications presented a Special Screening of Awesome Asian Bad Guys, a Kickstarter-funded, web based series turned feature length film starring Tamlyn Tomita, Randall Park, George Cheung, Dante Basco, Yuji Okumoto and Al Leong at East West Players' David Henry Hwang Theater in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles last night to celebrate the film's DVD & VOD release that same day. And there were a few things I got out of it.
(1) When was the last time you saw a mainstream American film where the filmmakers and high profile leads are Filipino Americans?
(2) At the afterparty at Far Bar in Little Tokyo, I was hanging out with not just the co-directors of Awesome Asian Bad Guys but also with filmmakers Gene Cajayon (2000's The Debut) and Patricio Ginelsa, Jr. (2003's Lumpia). While Gene and Patricio were directing films about varying Filipino American experiences, I was producing films about other people's experiences such as my first produced film, 2002's Soap Girl). So I felt a kindred spirit among them. However, until I acted in Edward J. Mallillin's 2008 Filipino American film, Brown Soup Thing that I decided that if I do another project, Asian Americans, but specifically Filipino Americans, will be prominent. And, that began with my web series, 2014's No Regrets where the leads were Filipino Americans with a universal appeal. I will do other Filipino American themed projects later this year. With Filipino Americans as the second largest Asian American group in Los Angeles, I don't see why not. In a way, Gene, Patricio and other FilAm filmmakers who made an impact a decade ago have paved the way for Stephen, Patrick and others of this millennial generation of filmmakers to carry on and reach higher than ever before (thanks now to the tools we have that are accessible as well as social media to reach a hungry audience looking for new voices...and, in turn, become the "Voice of the Voiceless" themselves). Asian American representation in film and television has gotten better since the 1990s (i.e. Fresh Off The Boat) but it has also hit below the belt (i.e. Aloha).
(3) There was this running joke in Awesome Asian Bad Guys where Stephen and Patrick would repeat names of movies and TV shows in the 1980s and 1990s of where both saw George Cheung and Al Leong in. And, the joke would end with Stephen exclaiming the CBS TV show, Simon & Simon starring Gerald McRaney and Jameson Parker with the maddening look of an Overly Attached Girlfriend...
I'm a bit older than them when I say that I have seen George Cheung on prime-time television shows since the mid-1970s or when my Dad thought I was old enough to watch Mannix. In fact, my Dad loved action movies especially the Rambo and Die Hard films. He was with me in spirit last night meeting these two iconic actors.
And, the only time we saw these two legendary actors were only once every prime-time television show and / or blockbuster movie. This was hilariously addressed during the Q&A when my friend asked "has all Asian American actors appeared in Simon & Simon? One of the leads in Awesome Asian Bad Guys, Dante Basco jokingly mentioned that every year, all Asian American actors are called in to various TV casting offices to audition for that TV show's one Asian-themed episode. This is true. One audition I was called in for was a costar role for the Matthew Perry show, Go On -- and there I saw Dante Basco...and James Kyson...and so on.
Here is a fun fact. The first film I ever worked on was in 1992's Rapid Fire starring Brandon Lee, Nick Mancuso, Dustin Nguyen, Powers Boothe, Kate Hodge, Al Leong, Raymond J. Barry, Tony Longo and Tzi Ma (in the summer of 1991). I just finished my third year at California State University, Northridge and wanted to start making money to pay back my student loans so I did background work only that summer before beginning my final year at CSUN. Thanks to my best friend who was studying at UCLA at the time who saw the ad. Al Leong is the second actor I met from Rapid Fire and I remember seeing him on-location at the UCLA campus. Nick Mancuso was the first actor I met from that same film when I co-executive produced 2011's Violent Blue (in 2010).
Indeed the gathering last night was a different experience for me compared when I first saw it last year at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival...and I could right now type a much lengthier critique as to why it is -- the lack of Asian American representation in Hollywood to this day despite making still small stepping stone strives. But, during the Q&A session after the screening, Dante Basco put me at ease when he said...
" [Awesome Asian Bad Guys] is a cool way for us...celebrating our history as Asians in Hollywood...not complaining about stereotypical things that happened in the past but, a funny way for us and our community to comment about the past and celebrate about the past without complaining about it..."
The best is yet to come.”
To which, I'd like to add, let's keep this momentum going by creating original content, producing projects and create & accept roles that best represent who we are as Asian Americans.
In the meantime, get your hands on the Awesome Asian Bad Guys movie right here:
A possible sequel - Awesome Asian Bad Girls -- could come next!
I just wrapped my new film, SAMURAI COP 2: DEADLY VENGEANCE starring the actors from the original 1991 Amir Shervan film -- Matt Hannon, Mark Frazer, Cranston Komuro, Melissa Moore and Joselito Rescobar. Also in the sequel are Bai Ling, Kayden Kross, Tommy Wiseau, Laurene Landon, Mel Novak, Mindy Robinson, Jesse Hlubik, Joe Estevez and Kristine DeBell.
I was originally scheduled to work on the film with Robert Z'dar between late March to early April but, sadly, he passed away. Earlier today, filmmaker Matt Cimber ("Butterfly," "Hundra," "GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling") was guest director. Below is my photo collage from earlier today.
Representing community co-sponsor FilAm Creative (FAC), Board of Director (and music director), Rex Sampaga, member Robert Cajudo and Leadership Team Member (and filmmaker), Edwin A. Santos (2006's "Mad Cowgirl," 2011's "Violent Blue") co-presented last night's premiere of the Philippines' award-winning film, "Hari Ng Tondo" ("Where I Am King") at the CGV Cinemas in Koreatown Los Angeles.
Catch the photo gallery from last night's event from Pacific Rim Photo Press: