After attending the Cinequest premiere of “God is D_ad” (pronounced God is Dad), I had a chance to sit down with the director and writer, Abraham Lim, to discuss the film, his past, and what advise he would give to young film makers, such as myself, coming up in the business. Totally approachable but unsurprisingly down to earth, I caught Abraham as he was scrambling to catch a flight to his next premiere….
Amadeuz: Thanks for your time, its an honor. How did you get started?
Abraham: I actually started out really doing hip hop videos. I’m originally from Kansas but went to NYU for film and left there doing music videos, which was a great experience. I did videos for a lot of artists, including The Roots, and Lords of the Underground. That was key for me because, you know with music videos you can bend the rules a lot and you get to be creative a lot more so than film. It was fun actually thinking of different ideas, writing the treatments and storyboards, and actually bringing that to life. My mother told me I was an idiot for taking the money that I made from shooting music videos and investing that into film, but making movies is my passion.
Amadeuz: How was the process of shooting “God is D_ad?”
Abraham: Well, first it was filmed in two different locations, here in the U.S we filmed the main part of the film, while the flashback/comic-book based scenes were actually shot in Korea. The scenes we did in Korea were shot first, and it took a while for us to secure the financing for the rest of the film. The total budget was about $15,000. When we finally figured out how we were going to finance the film, we shot the U.S and got it going. Since the main story of the movie didn’t require any special costumes or particular staging, it was relatively easy compared to the Korea shots.
Amadeuz: I noticed that you wrote, directed, produced, and even edited the film. How was that process?
Abraham: A lot of work man. If you don’t have the passion and drive to really do this, I wouldn’t recommend that you get into film. Yea there are people that have the resources, through family ties or something, to have the luxury of just making a film and putting it out there just to make money, but that is rare and unrealistic for people like us. We have to starve and sleep on couches, but to me its worth everything. This film was a lot of fun to work on…we actually shot it on the Canon HV20 with a Letus 35mm lens. One thing that people probably wouldn’t know is how hard the animation flashback scenes were to produce. People think it was just an effect that I threw on there. No way. I had to animate it with a cartoon comic book effect and literally go frame by frame to adjust it in order to make sure the colors matched. That is the dedication I’m talking about (laughs). When you’re doing it yourself, you have to spend weeks…months at a time on things like that.
Amadeuz: What is your goal with this film?
Abraham: I’m not totally convinced that this is very commercially viable…maybe it is. This film was definitely an experience for me and since I produced it myself, I can do whatever I want with it as far as distribution, which with this new distribution is very exciting to me. There is no better time for young film makers than now because all the tools are in our hands now. We don’t need the big studios anymore. I remember, I think it was Martin Scorsese who said that the future of film is a 12 year old girl standing there with a camera, and I totally believe that. Now we can shoot and edit our own movies, and distribute them directly into the hands of the consumers without the middlemen. I make a lot of money just selling DVD’s hand to hand at premieres and while on tour. A lot of directors think that they are above trying to sell their projects directly, but hey….to each they’re own.
Amadeuz: What is advise to upcoming film makers?
Abraham: Just get out there and do it man. Shoot. Get out and meet people, do other work, odd jobs, anything you can….you just have to show up. Trust me, there’s plenty of work to do, anyone who’s ever worked on or at least been to a set knows that. When you can’t secure actors or financing, know that your greatest asset is your time. When you have no money, usually you have a lot of time….use that to your advantage, and write for what you have. It makes no sense to write a high budget action film when you lack to money to finance it. Look for strengths and positives. An independent film has the advantages of working directly with actors, because of course with bigger budgeted films, you are relinquishing control, at least in some aspects. Do not have an ego, that will get you nowhere fast. My advise is to find a niche and fill it. It was hard for me to try to make an Asian-American film because its been done so many times and often in the same ways so its less likely to get the exposure. The African-American audience however really supports their own when it comes to film, they really get out there and support so you know you have a base. My niche I think will be the Sci/Fi kind of content because that’s what I like but you never know. Camera’s are super cheap now. You can get the Canon EOS 550d for under $1000 now and the picture is amazing. The future is really in our hands.