Wong Fu Productions: Movies, milestones and motivations


The team behind Youtube sensation Wong Fu Productions came to the Illini Union on Nov. 18 to screen their new movie and answer questions from students.

By Janet Kim

After seven years, YouTube sensation Wong Fu Productions, known for their sketches, short films and video blogs, came back to the University on November 18 to screen their new movie, “Everything Before Us,” released last April.

Hosted by the Asian American Association, Philip Wang and Wesley Chan, two of Wong Fu’s co-founders, came to the Illini Union to meet and greet students, screen their film and answer questions. Christine Chen and Taylor Chan, two of Wong Fu Productions team members, also attended.

The Daily Illini spoke with Wang and Chan to discuss their movie tour and what it is like to make major milestones since their conception 10 years ago.

Daily Illini: In a previous video, I heard you say that “Everything Before Us” was based on things that happened in your personal lives. What particular events sparked this idea?

Philip Wang: As we get older, we go through a lot of different relationships. What if people actually knew what your history was? If they could just look at you and know. It kind of stemmed from that. It was originally going to be this much more serious thing, like love trials and love crimes, but we decided to lighten things up. We wanted to do a story that covered both young love and a more mature love because that is the kind of our experiences in life. We had those high school and college moments, and we grew from that, so we wanted to have a movie that gave both perspectives.

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DI: What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of pursuing what you guys wanted to do?

Wesley Chan: The rewarding aspect is probably being able to influence and affect people in the world. The challenging aspect is probably just trying to figure how it’s going to keep going, like how Wong Fu is going to continue to grow and evolve into creative storytellers. Because we’re pretty old, not just in age, but also for this industry and this field that is emerging. We were here in 2008. To come back here is a good checkpoint because it means we are doing something right. But it is really hard, trying to figure out how to satisfy everyone’s expectations of what we’re supposed to do in the community but also being creators and artists and how to satisfy our own passions too.

DI: Was there ever a point where you felt that this was the right path for you guys? Did you ever have a specific feeling come to you in your career?

PW: I think we’re still getting that feeling. We are still discovering it and just kind of going back to how I said there’s no real path ahead of us. We’re kind of just figuring it out as we go along, so every step that we take is like, ’‘Oh yeah, this feels really good, and oh yeah this feels like what we’re supposed to do.’’ Growing our team and expanding to work with people that believe in us and also have the same kind of like-minded goals and style is really encouraging for us “Hey, this Wong Fu thing brand or voice or style goes beyond just Wes, Ted, and myself, like it wasn’t like some kind of weird fluke.”

WC: There wasn’t one moment where it was like ‘light bulb.’ There might be something close to that, like when we finish a really big project or when we go out to events like this. Also, when we finished our movie that was a big moment — when we made a movie with the fans, and it is done. Now, we’re on tour with it, and that’s a big reason to believe that this is what we should be doing, and it’s fun. It’s definitely fun. Then, you hear these stories from a fan that they’ve been following (us) for so long. Because we’ve definitely been touring for so long that we remember certain fans; we see them grow up, and they still stick with us. So certain moments like that, it’s like wow. It’s a reminder of how long we’ve been going and what a crazy journey it’s been.

DI: Do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue similar paths as yours or pursuing something that isn’t what there parents want for them?

PW: I would definitely encourage them to not be afraid. If they really are interested in this, first of all, do it for the right reasons. If you really are passionate about either art or writing music, you’re going to want to do that regardless if that’s your job or not. It’s going to be that one thing you think about at the end of every day, and the first thing you think of when you wake up. I’m not saying this to discourage people, but the work is part of the journey. We’ve been doing this for 10 years, and we’re still going. If you just want to get famous real quick then don’t do it. It’s not worth the trouble; it’s not worth fights and arguments with your parents. Acknowledge the amount of work and really get serious about it.

WC: In regards to parents, they grew up in a different time, so for them to understand and try to reason with their children about a career that they have no idea about, it makes sense. All they know is that being a doctor makes sense, and it’s prestigious. It goes the same with being an engineer or a lawyer. You’re exercising your intelligence in a very tangible and very apparent way. The arts are always something risky, so I think first is to respect the parents because you wouldn’t even have a choice if it weren’t for them. Just because you have a passion for music, but you’re studying finance, it doesn’t mean that you can’t ever do both. Study finance and get your degree; get successful. You can always go back to music. I feel like a lot of people think like this is my one chance to chase my passion.We definitely took a big leap and just went for it, but if we were to have other jobs and eventually find ourselves here, it would be good too. Many people put a lot of pressure on themselves, so that shouldn’t be the discouraging element.

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