In 2011, writer-director Dave Boyle introduced audiences to the mellow vibe of San Francisco musician Goh Nakamura in Surrogate Valentine, a disarming indie comedy in which the singer-songwriter played a fictionalized version of himself. Their collaboration continued in 2012 with the sequel Daylight Savings, which followed Nakamura as he juggled career, friendships, and romance. Here’s a quick recap.
Aside from their amiable leading man and Bill Otto’s captivating black-and-white cinematography, this pair of micro-budget charmers also featured Lynn Chen, who played Nakamura’s unrequited high school crush, Rachel. Which brings us to the Kickstarter campaign for I Will Make You Mine.
Taking over with Boyle’s blessing, Chen is serving as writer and director on I Will Make You Mine, the concluding installment in the trilogy. Once more using Nakamura’s bittersweet music for its soundtrack, the film will see the return of musician Yea-Ming Chen, who played a fictionalized version of herself in Daylight Savings, and will again be shot in black-and-white by Otto to maintain the look of the previous entries.
However, Chen’s increased creative involvement promises to add new layers to this engaging series as the story will now be told from the perspective of the women in Nakamura’s life. As she explains at the project’s Kickstarter page,
Asian-American women are only now appearing on screen as fully formed characters – but there’s usually just one part for us. This movie puts several front and center, each unique and complex, without apology or excuse for their race or gender or why they belong in the limelight. Watching them breathe and live on screen, each telling their own love story, is something I believe we can all relate to. It’s my mission to cast my fellow Asian-American actors – and not one of us has to compete over being the “token Asian.”
Since her breakthrough performance in Alice Wu’s romantic-comedy Saving Face (2004), Chen has appeared in Quentin Lee’s The People I’ve Slept With (2012) and Raymond C. Lai’s Dying to Kill (2016), while her first collaboration with Boyle was the dark comedy White on Rice (2009). She also co-wrote, produced and starred in the short Via Text (2011), produced and co-starred in the web series Nice Girls Crew (2012-2013), and narrated the Crazy Rich Asians audiobook, while carving out a niche as a food blogger. The multi-tasking Chen insists that she never harbored directorial ambitions but nonetheless felt a yearning to further explore the characters established in Surrogate Valentine and Daylight Savings.
I never set out to become a writer, director, or producer. But somehow this film, about growing older and re-examining our past relationships, called out to me. And I could not have told this particular story at any other time in my life.
The completion of the ‘Surrogate Valentine Trilogy’ would make this study of characters over time a cinematic cousin of Richard Linklater’s celebrated ‘Before Trilogy’, but it also has a greater cultural purpose. Following the watershed moment of #AsianAugust which saw Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians achieve blockbuster success and Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching starring John Cho become the first mainstream Hollywood thriller headlined by an Asian-American actor, backing I Will Make You Mine is an ideal way to keep momentum going for diversity on the screen. As Chen enthuses,
We believe we have created a movie that is unique in the realm of Asian-American cinema. We are hoping the third installment will continue the legacy and re-introduce audiences to our deeply talented community.
Chen is currently raising funds through Kickstarter to finish I Will Make You Mine. Having already shot footage in August, Chen is aiming to pick-up production in November, with funds also going towards post-production expenses, then bringing the film to audiences via the festival circuit, theatrical release, and home media.
Head over to the project’s Kickstarter page to check out the rewards for backers which include a link to stream the completed film, the chance to be an extra, a music bundle, and professional advice from Chen herself.