William Lu is the captain of Comfort, a wonderfully enchanting rom-com now available on VOD.
How did you come up with the idea of “Comfort”?
“Before Sunrise” is often cited as an influence on this film, but I was actually more inspired by a John Landis film called “Into the Night”. I always liked the basic premise of that film in which Jeff Goldblum’s character, an insomniac, drives out one night and meets Michelle Pfeiffer and together they go on an adventure. As a night owl myself, that idea always intrigued me – two characters meeting randomly one night and seeing where they go from there.
Is it a personal story? if so, how and why?
It’s a personal story in the sense that I tried to put forth characters that reflected my values and beliefs. Cameron’s the kind of guy who always tries to help out others. Jasmine experiences the clash of American culture versus traditional Asian upbringing. I’m also a big believer of equality in relationships; Cameron and Jasmine each bring change to the other, and they are both better for it.
Was it difficult to get off the ground? privately financed?
I had written a rough first draft of what would become “Comfort” over 10 years ago and just let it sit on a shelf. When Chris Dinh reached out around 4 years ago, he really accelerated the process. In terms of financing, we did try to crowdfund via a Kickstarter campaign and that failed spectacularly, but like all experiences, I was able to learn a lot from it. Thankfully, I was able to find a generous benefactor who financed the project.
The film did the festival rounds before release, right? How important are festivals to indie films?
I’ve always viewed film festivals for independent filmmakers as the equivalent of what art galleries are to artists. Festivals are the venue in which we can showcase our films; and theatres really are the place in which many of us intended our films to be displayed and enjoyed. There’s something magical about experiencing a film on the big screen with an audience. Lastly, because we didn’t have any huge A-list stars in our film, we really had to rely on getting into as many prestigious film festivals and winning awards to appeal to distributors.
Had you worked with any of the cast or crew before?
Chris and I knew each other as friends, but this was our first time collaborating on a film project. Chris was the one who suggested Julie Zhan for Jasmine. I had worked with Kelvin Han Yee before and he was really the only person who I had in mind to play Martin. In terms of the crew, I hadn’t worked with any of them before and I really have to thank my producer Mark Heidelberger for assembling such a fine group of people; he really wanted to put me in good hands, since this was my first feature.
Does the film resemble that very first draft of the script you wrote?
No, it’s very different. I went through over a dozen drafts of “Comfort”. The early drafts were much more action oriented. I remember having one draft in which Jasmine gets kidnapped. There was another draft with this huge Fast and the Furious-styled heist/chase scene. The early drafts of the script really didn’t have much of an arc for the characters.
Where did you film? Require you to relocate?
We filmed all across Los Angeles, with a focus on the San Fernando Valley, what was cool was that we filmed a majority of the film on practical locations with only a handful of days on studio sets.
How long of a journey has this been for you – from script to release?
It’s now been four years since Chris emailed me asking, “Hey Will, what ever happened to that story about that guy who’s allergic to sunlight?”
What do you hope audiences get out of the movie?
I know having a primarily Asian American cast makes this a niche film, but I hope audiences of all colours can see some of their personal experiences reflected in what Comfort’s characters experience. Hopefully it’s a good date film.
Is there a message in the movie?
Yes, don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams.
What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
I’m currently working on a detective story in the vein of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “The Nice Guys”.
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