Local Filmmaker, actor writes a screenplay for the short film, ‘With You, I Found Me,’ based on true events
My Do coped with his oldest sister suffering from addiction through jotting down notes on his phone.
During one of his writing sessions, he drafted them in dialogue form, which led him to reworking scenes into a screenplay for his latest featurette, “With You, I Found Me.” He’s participated in the local film scene for years, but this story showed promise to reach beyond his expectations.
With an all-Asian cast and crew, “With You, I Found Me” is a family drama depicting the story of Minh (My Do) losing his fiancé, Ian (JD Charisma), reuniting with his estranged family and his sister Lin (Abby Rey) who’s returned home after rehab.
Through his featurette, Do conveys the complexities layered in an Asian-American family household in an intimate way, which he hopes resonates with viewers from all backgrounds. The story also features LGBTQ+ representation through Minh and Ian’s relationship.
The cast and crew are a mix of Los Angeles and Las Vegas creatives coming together to breathe life into My Do’s vision. What began as notes in his phone has blossomed into a picturesque production.
For a 20-minute movie, the impassioned trailer accompanied by a tender film score sets the tone for a compelling narrative. Glimpses of striking cinematography and delicate close-ups hint at emotionally gripping pivots throughout the feature.
Over the phone and through emails, I chatted with Vegas-based filmmaker My Do, director Brylle Gaviola and cast member Ashley Park about creating the short, collaborating together and how the story deeply inspired them.
From Page to Production
Although the story borrows inspiration from My Do’s own life experiences, he says the film isn’t autobiographical.
“It could be autobiographical, but it really isn’t. It’s more so an Asian story touching on topics that we don’t really get to see quite often,” explains My Do. “My sister is completely sober now and thriving. I actually showed her the final screenplay of the script and she loved it.”
My Do wasn’t seeing a range of opportunities in the Vegas indie film scene for Asian and queer talent, so he decided to take action.
“As far as film goes in the [Vegas] indie scene, the reason why I started writing was because there wasn’t enough Asian roles or gay roles,” he says. “A lot of people wouldn’t cast me in certain things because they didn’t think I would be able to play a certain character because I’m queer.”
My Do expresses gratitude towards everyone who contributed to this featurette. He credits his fellow cast members, cinematography team, executive producer Frances Rose Padunan, production manager Vanessa Ann Martinez and director Brylle Gaviola for “putting their heads together” to create a meaningful movie.
“The first time I watched it, I had tears welling up in my eyes,“ he says. “So much came together for this project. And that’s mainly because of Brylle. I asked him to read the script and he said let’s do it.”
Directing and Connecting to The Story
Brylle Gaviola, a Las Vegas-based director, read the script and immediately connected to the story.
“It just seems so universal. I think everyone goes through loss and grief just like anybody else,” says Brylle Gaviola. “It was his story and I just wanted to help tell it.”
Storytelling through the lens of an all-Asian cast with LGBTQ+ inclusivity, he hopes the film inspires audiences to not feel alone in the world and reminds them that their stories are valid.
“Every character has [an] imperfection,” he continues, “and you know, they kind of hash it out in this movie, I think it was really cool to see that come to life.”
Getting into Character
Ashley Park, a Los Angeles-based actress starring in the film, plays Joy, the family friend. She was drawn to the story because it was inspired by true events, well-written and very touching.
“I think the role of Joy felt like a natural fit,” says Park. “For Joy, I concentrated on the emotional spirit of the piece. We made the film in the pandemic era, so connecting with her optimism was a challenging but welcome experience.”
Park says that creating backstories for Joy while sharing laughs on set was fun and fulfilling. What she loved most about starring in this film was getting to know the cast and crew between scenes.
“Working with a supportive group of actors and filmmakers while doing what you love always makes for great memories,” she says.
Why Representation Matters
“We wanted to make sure that we touched on certain things that Asian families go through that’s not always talked about like we do have arguments and we do have different opinions,” says My Do. “And the core of the film was just really to reunite the family and make sure they have this conversation whether it’s tough or not. Asian stories like that need to be told and not everything is always taboo.”
Before the short is released to the public, it will be submitted to several film festivals. The premiere of “With You, I Found Me” is slated for 2022, but an official date has not yet been determined.
For updates on “With You, I Found Me,” follow My Do on Instagram.