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Geo

JustKiddingFilms | 09.22.11
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Bart & Joe

JustKiddingFilms | 09.22.11
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Casey

JustKiddingFilms | 09.22.11
Sep
22

JustKiddingFilms | “To be fearless is the only true way to express yourself.”

Author // TheOtherAsians
Posted in // Blog

What do you get when OA dines at the fabulous JJ’s in Monterey Park with the masterminds powering JustKiddingFilms?  A rowdy table shouting answers to interview questions and cracking jokes into an iPad chilling on a table next to a dish of bomb Hong Kong food. If you think these guys are funny on camera, they are just as hilarious in person! But never fear, aside from an entertaining interview, these talented individuals shared deep stories regarding their upbringing and the underlying message behind their videos. Read on as OA shares one of their funnest interviews, as well as pictures from the silly photo-shoot they had after!

Fun Facts:

What takes up most of your time right now?

  • Joe: JustKiddingFilms takes up most of my time. I’d say about 12 hours a day or more, seven days a week.
  • Bart: Same answer.
  • Geo: I have no life, so exact same thing.
  • Casey: I spend most of my time editing everything.

Guilty pleasure?

  • Geo: I love candy, anything with sugar.
  • Joe: I like to fornicate, fornicate to music and Rite Aid ice cream.
  • Bart: Since I’m fat I should watch what I eat, but I’m addicted to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, pasta, milkshakes, root beer, hamburgers, In-N-Out, macaroni, cheese pizza, carne asada, and king tacos.
  • Casey: Mine would be everything Bart said – food binges.

Relationship status?

  • Joe: I’m ready to mingle like a dingle and a pringle and when I’m hot, it don’t stop.
  • Bart: I’m currently going out with Krispy Kremes.
  • Casey: I’m still editing.

Pet Peeve?

  • Geo: I hate unorganized people, people with no common sense.
  • Joe: I think I speak for the whole team when I say, JK really hates people who are not punctual, who don’t keep their word, who are two-faced, opportunists, who aren’t real, who are fakers and – that’s about it.
  • Bart: Habitual, punctual people who say they are punctual after they’re late.
  • Casey: I hate editing, haha.
  • Geo: No, he doesn’t! He’s lying.

Significance of your tattoos

  • Geo: Haha, I don’t have any – next question.
  • Joe: I tattooed myself and that was the first time I got tattooed. I tattooed my own leg and the design is a skull and snake that my friend drew.
  • Bart: One time, I was reading about Samoan culture and it’s really tight because traditionally, you can tell the males apart from the boys. All men have tattoos and they have their family pedigrees tattooed on their thighs. Once you hit 17 ½, it’s like a rite of passage. Your grandpa would take you to the beach, tattoo your family pedigree to your thigh, and then throw you into the ocean. It hurts a lot, but the ocean kills all the germs on your thighs. I thought it was really cool because it’s a rite of passage and you get to have your family pedigree passed down. For me, since living in America, it’s like a melting pot of all the different cultures so I was like, “I’m going to make that my own” – I made my own kind of Samoan family pedigree, it’s not exactly Samoan, it’s more East Asian type of art. It’s like the zodiac sign of my parents coming together and it has different imagery that represents me. It’s not on my thigh but on my arm because my thighs are ticklish.

What you look for in a guy/girl?

  • Geo: I don’t really have time to think about that stuff.
  • Joe: I like a girl that I can match with.
  • Casey: I think I’m looking for an esotician, a girl who can nurture my fingers and my hands for me after all the grueling hours of editing.

Fun fact?

  • Geo: I really enjoy driving super duper fast with extra loud music and the windows down.
  • Joe: I really like watermelon, a lot. I can eat a whole watermelon to myself, I can’t wait till watermelon season starts because I crave it – it’s so good.
  • Bart: I’m addicted to root beer floats – I’m like a root beer float connoisseur.

OA: Bart and Joe, you have immortalized all these funny characters like Uncle Sam and Parking, so how did each of these characters come about and who is your favorite to play?

  • Joe: For me, all of these characters are just different parts of me and they evolve little by little. First, we were just mimicking people, our friends and close people around us, our classmates. Then they began to have a back story. With these back stories, they started building on different characteristics and they turned into a real life character. I guess I don’t have a favorite because I can use each to convey a different emotion – like Parking can be the crazy, aggressive man; Uncle Sam could be Rico suave totally unaware of his fobness, but he’s super confident at the same time – that confidence gets the ladies. Every part is a part of me so I don’t like one over the other.
  • Bart: Me and Joe grew up in all different parts of LA. While growing up, we observed a lot of different people’s behaviors and that’s how we combined all the ones we could match in one character. Uncle Sam and Uncle Chin have like the big brother-little brother relationship. One’s like a virgin pimp and the other one wants to get married. We try to make all these interesting story-lines. All the characters have this interesting balance. We just kind of take in everything that we observe, the environments they grow up in – I’m kind of like Joe that I don’t choose one character over the other one. It’s like when you feel like dancing, you need dance music; when you’re cruising you might want different music; different characters convey different emotions. When we write stories, we think of the story we want to write, then we pick the character that will best lift the story.

OA: You guys like pouring honey everywhere and walking through the Chinese festival and talking to white men that think you’re Chinese, where do you get the courage to go out and do these things?

  • Joe: We use to do crazier things in high school and now, doing these things are nowhere near what we used to do. We get a little adrenaline rush. We don’t have any shame and we don’t get embarrassed, maybe we’re just weird because we don’t care what people think about us.
  • Bart: The stuff that we do now isn’t going to result in arrest or prosecution. All that really may happen is, “Don’t do this” or “Don’t run in my store again.” Our goal is to create entertainment; if we know we can push the boundaries and the people that watch are that much happier, we do it. If we do a live skit and they don’t show any inclination, we won’t do it again.

OA: You guys are really good about pointing out the little truths in our lives, can you give us an idea of upcoming roles reversals, skits, observations or ideas that you have?

  • Joe: We can’t really expose them because it’ll ruin the skit. The whole point of role reversal is there’s a slight shock factor to it where the part where people don’t expect, that’s funny.  But if we tell people, then they’re going to know what to expect.
  • Bart: The whole thing came about when we thought, “Why is it okay for guys to do this? Or why is it okay for girls to do this but not guys?” It’s funny to point this out to our society today – like if you didn’t [?] something today, it would be considered gay; but 30 years ago, it wouldn’t be.
  • Joe: Most of our skits teach good things in a bad way. With that type of philosophy, we also like to open people’s minds. We feel like a lot of people are stuck on a stereotype or stuck on a certain type of thinking – so, for us, we want to teach something in our skits and help people think outside the box. That’s how we came up with the Uncle characters – most fobs are quiet or shy, so we created our fob characters to be crazy and outgoing with the most confidence ever, kind of to flip the script.

OA: There’s that stigma that Asian men aren’t as masculine as every other race so you guys aren’t scared to talk about sex and curse and do all these crazy things, but had you guys ever gotten backlash for it?

  • Joe: No, it actually works really well because there aren’t any Asian men doing what we do.  A lot of Asians in entertainment are worried about what people think about them. But us, we‘re just us – we don’t go, “Hey, there’s no masculine Asian men out there.” We’re just being us and we didn’t realize we were being that way. It’s just that, when we became exposed to the entertainment world, we realized that the Asians represented in entertainment are the more feminine, suburban, and less aggressive types. Most Asian dudes that are aggressive or are more masculine become military cops, gangsters, sports, other things – they don’t go into entertainment. We’ve never got any hate for being too rude or out of the line.
  • Bart: There might have been a couple of times when people questioned our intent. When people question our intent and we explain what we’re doing, then, all of the sudden, everything clicks. Yes, stereotypically, most Asian males are cast in a certain way but I think we’re blessed to have YouTube because we have full control over our content. Even in entertainment, you might have a masculine, outgoing guy off set but, because of the roles that are available now, they have to play this other guy.
  • Joe: When I used to watch TV, up until recently, I thought, “Where do these Asians come from?” These weren’t the Asians I grew up with – these were the Asians who maybe grew up in white neighborhoods, who had the resources, who had the understanding of how to get into film, how to audition. Now, you see that the Asian community is getting into entertainment.
  • Bart: I watch a lot of foreign films, and what I want to see is the roles that Ken Watanabe and Chow Yun Fat can play in the oversea movies – I want to see those roles here. In Korea, Japan, other parts of Asia, there are masculine guys playing masculine roles – versus here, where there aren’t roles like that. With YouTube, we can bypass that because we have full control.
  • Joe: It’s not necessarily wrong to have Asians who are feminine – that might be how they grew up, they’re just being them. But I feel like there is not a representation of the type of Asians we grew up with.

OA: None of you are sheltered in any way and there are people who cater to a middle school crowd, give us a brief background of where you grew up and where you came to be bad-ass.

  • Casey: Growing up, I came from a middle class family. I wasn’t in the ghetto or anything but I always grew up with that mentality. I experienced bullying at a young age so I made a vow growing up to not let anyone ever talk shit to me and, over the years, I’ve grown a thicker skin and a tougher mentality. I definitely had a more vocal and rough around the edges type of personality than my fellow Asian mates.
  • Geo: I came from first-generation parents and it was like you do as you’re told and you don’t really think. I’m number three of four kids – so with my two older siblings, they were like, “OK, we’ll do as we’re told, we’ll follow this path.” And I was like, “Why, why, why?” I was always questioning things and so I was like the black sheep of the family. It was always because of my curious nature – I never wanted to settle for a verbal answer, I always wanted to seek it out for myself. In doing that, I just did whatever I had to do to make it happen. I guess that’s why I’m not conventional – speaking my mind all the time and having people know where I come from.
  • Joe: I grew up in a city called Gardena. The demographics of the city are around 40% black, 30% Hispanic and the rest was other. It was a lower-middle class, blue collar neighborhood. In my elementary school, kids that come from a bad home – they could be crazy, violent, mean sometimes. If you say the wrong things to the wrong kids, they’ll not think twice to attack you. They’ll bite you, they’ll scratch you, and they’ll do anything. At a young age, I learned to watch what I say to people and think twice before I act. Kids would say, “Can I borrow this?” and not bring it back – you learned not to trust people very fast. That helped me build a thick skin. That lifestyle can lead to something bad – and, from 14 to 17, I did end up with a life of drugs, the party scene, the whole downward spiral into the gangs. Something happened along the way, out of something bad came something good. I was more into the drug dealing lifestyle which got me to stop doing drugs and then from there, some of my friends said if I went to college I would get free money –financial aid. I made slow transition to becoming member of society. Before this, I didn’t know how to conduct myself as an outstanding member of society. I just learned everything off the streets. Where were my parents? My parents were going through a divorce at that time. They didn’t really have any time to look after me. I didn’t really have any adult figure because my mother was under depression; she didn’t have that energy to take charge as a parent. I guess I was running wild, I did whatever I could – that part of my childhood, it made me the person I am today. If you grow up with no rules, then you become a person who does not care about rules or what people think. The whole introduction to college has made me more able to articulate myself to where normal people can understand me. I can bring the past and expose that to everybody else. The transition I made from past to now, that is why I am the way I am and have no shame in what I do.
  • Bart: I grew up in a city called Cerritos. At that time, it was literally completely mixed – if you looked through the yearbook, it was like a United Colors of Benetton ad. It was super duper diverse – you would see like white kids with Asian-style bangs and black kids dressed like cholos, you would have Asian kids spinning on their heads with FUBU gear. My parents got divorced when I was six years old. I was living with my mom during that time. She was like this super OCD type of parent, didn’t want me to get in trouble and so she thought the best thing to do was to lock me up at home every single day. I think that might work in short term, but long term is like jail. You start trying to sneak out during the day, then trying to sneak out at night. When you start deviating, you start hanging out with the wannabes in junior high who become the gangsters in high school. That’s kind of what happened to me. When I got expelled from high school, I went to go live in El Monte with my dad and, over there; I knew I wasn’t one of those kids who had evil intent. I just knew it was the environment, I knew that I wanted to be productive still. I wasn’t able to go to my junior high or high school graduations, but I still cared about my parents. Since I’m the only child, I didn’t want my parents to be like, “The only reproduction we had was a failure.” So I was like, “I’m going to still join a ceremony that my parents can attend and not feel like their child was a failure.” And so I joined the marines. After that [graduated from the marines], I knew I had some discipline in my life, and that I could actually achieve goals that I have set for myself. I started going back to school. With comedy, it’s cool to teach people about the past, what you’ve gone through without directly scolding someone and to share my experience with other people in a positive light.

OA: What is your fan base?

  • Joe: It’s majority males, Asians, teens to early 30s. But it’s surprising when sometime you’ll see white soccer moms from the mid-West adding us on Facebook or dudes on the street who can barely speak English tell us they watch our videos.
  • Bart: Instead of being categorized by age, gender, or ethnicity, our demographic is more about the people that require a little more artistic stimulation. So someone that can’t go watch a high school musical or someone who can’t sit through a chick flick, those are the people who actually like our stuff – I think it’s a little more out there, more conformational.
  • Joe: Maybe someone on the edgier side, someone who won’t cringe when they watch Jack Ass.

OA: You guys have had the question of “What is your ethnicity?” You do the pretty good job of hiding it – what does it mean to be Asian American to you?

  • Bart: I think to be Asian American… your parents beat you, you take off your shoes before you enter your house sometimes but you leave them on when you rush, you use chopsticks, and you eat rice *laughs*. But really, what unites us all is that not all Asian American cultures are that different – doesn’t matter if you’re Vietnamese or Laos or Korean or Japanese or whatever; I think what matters is that it’s all very similar – everything has its root in Confucius philosophy, the kind of respect you have for your elders, it’s all very similar. For us, we don’t want to reveal our ethnicity because we want to unite all the Asians so we can be recognized as one strong group and have more voting power.
  • Joe: It’s not that we deny our race or are ashamed – we still celebrate it but we want to put an emphasis that we’re Americans first and we want our generation, second-generation to think along the lines that we’re here now and how are we going to build a community. We’re not going back to our father’s land, this is our land – think forward, instead of waiting two or three generations for that unity, that we just skip forward and fast forward to have that unity happen now.

OA: Something that separates you is production quality of videos, how much goes into shooting and planning the shoot?

  • Casey: On the production end, I would have to say that there’s not that much production in comparison to some of the other projects I’ve worked on or the standards of media. We don’t delve into the production quality- at least, I don’t put too much emphasis on production. The main emphasis is more so on message and the story line. Being Asian American, it’s a vehicle for change, for cultural awareness, letting Asian Americans feel confident, comfortable, and cool to be Asian American. On a typical film, you would have a lot of people working on it. You’ll have a lot of people on board but, aside from Bart and Joe, our production crew is literally like three people – it would be me, Gio, and Nina. Nina’s our sound crew – she does every shoot with us. We’re operating pretty much grassroots; I think that we do a good job though in replicating a look and replicating a production value for our videos. It would surprise people how primitive our production crew is after they see the final product on YouTube.

OA: Describe the group dynamic of JK Films.

  • Geo: I have to give credit to Bart and Joe – at the end of the day, it’s a business. But the way they do it, it’s very open door, it’s very welcoming even though, they are the writers and they are the faces. It’s always a collective. It’s cool to be part of this group and I give a lot of credit to them.
  • Joe: What comes first is that we’re friends – and they don’t say do business with your friends but I think friends are the best people to do business with because who else can you trust. At the end of the day, when all the money’s gone, we’re still here because we like each other and we try to create a good environment for growth. All of us have grown up through negative reinforcement and that’s not the kind of place that we want to create.
  • Bart: One of the ways we like to think, we try not to say why ideas won’t work – we try to think about how that idea can work, grow it rather than saying it’s a stupid idea.

OA: How have you gone on to brand and market JK films?

  • Geo: In the beginning of JK, it was really all comedy – there wasn’t a set uniform branding for them. It was easier to go out and give them an image but they go out there and brand themselves. Bart and Joe are really easy to do them – what you see is what you get, they keep it real. It wasn’t anything tough or grueling – it was like, “what are they like? What are they about?”

OA: How did the rest of the team, besides Bart and Joe, become involved in JK?

  • Geo: I’ve known them since the beginning of JK – I wasn’t into the whole YouTube thing, I didn’t know about it too much. I was supportive as a friend like, “Show me what you guys are doing” or they would be like, “Hey, check this out – this is so funny.” I would watch it and they were doing this in 2007; I was going to school, they were going to school. I graduated college and did the whole corporate America thing and, cut to 2010, I just hated my job. I never wanted to get involved in JK because of the whole friendship thing but I saw what they were doing and thought I really wanted to be a part of it. I started volunteering in any way I could, slowly it grew on me and that’s it.

OA: Are your parents supportive?

  • Geo: Initially no, but now yes.
  • Bart: My parents are really uptight. At first, it was like, “Hell, no.” Then they started to open up to the concept because we’re teaching good things in a bad way – they understand the lessons to be taught in a non-traditional method. My dad’s a card dealer at a casino and he said that, at the casino, the card dealers and the foremen don’t really talk because there’s like this hierarchy. The foreman came up and said, “Hey, are you Bart’s Dad? I fucking love his shit!” That’s when my dad was like, “Hey, you guys are doing a pretty good job.”
  • Joe: My mom is happy that I went to college and all this other stuff. She and her boyfriend religiously watch every video that comes out of JK. I was tripping out because I was like, “Really?” They watch it like a show, they don’t miss an episode.
  • Casey: When I came on board to help out, I sent a link to my dad and I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve done music videos and other random projects that didn’t match the level of intensity that Bart and Joe had of any sort. I didn’t know what to expect from my dad and he called me the day after and he was like, “Who are those two clowns? You know, those two Stephen Chow’s.” He loves it and I went back home not too long after and one night, we stayed up and I showed him the YouTube channel and he watched every single video, staying up until 4am. My dad loves it, definitely.

OA: Words of wisdom.

  • Bart: For me, if you want to be a producer, writer, director, whatever, the first thing is don’t even think – just do it. I think, most people, the natural inclination is to tell themselves why they can’t do it, how they can’t do it, where are they going to find the money to do it, they don’t have the network. Everyone shuts themselves down first; if you’re thrown in the water and find out how to swim, it’s one of the best methods in entertainment. You just figure out what’s fun; do it first, then you’ll find all the resources.
  • Joe: Don’t do things to just try to be good at it, it’s not a race. When you’re going into the arts, you’re doing it to convey an emotion. People have misconceptions about what art is and what entertainment is; what they see is the fame, the end result. The reason people are so successful and they get real fans is because they produce good art. Good art is when you’re able to package your art through a medium and that medium is the in-between to connect with people. To someone who’s first starting out, think about first, why you want to do – to be famous and have people clap at you. Or do you have a story to tell, do you want people to feel what you feel. Do it because you want to say something, enjoy it, have a good time.
  • Casey: Be fearless and believe in what you’re doing – whether it be poetry, comedy, filmmaking, painting. You can’t be limited in your confidence. To be fearless is the only true way to express yourself.
  • Geo: To have courage to leave a nine to five job is to have a solid foundation. Plan from A to Z, your finances, get every angle covered. This is the poorest I have ever been but this is the happiest and the most fulfilled I’ve ever felt. Plan and do it. On business side, get everything in writing.

OA: How to stalk JustKiddingFilms
Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/JustKiddingFilms
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JustKiddingFilms
Store: www.justkiddingfilms.bigcartel.com/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JKFilms

Interview by Julie Zhan
Photography by Melly Lee

Transcribed by Connie Ho

Just recently, the OA team met up with JustKiddingFilms at the famous JJ’s Hong Kong Cafe in Monterey Park. What was thought be a simple interview turned into an evening of endless fun and laughter around the table. If you think these guys are funny on camera, they are just as hilarious in person! But never fear, aside from an entertaining interview, these talented individuals shared deep stories regarding their upbringing and the underlying message behind their videos. Read on as OA shares one of their funnest interviews, as well as pictures from the silly photo-shoot they had after!

What takes up most of your time right now?
[Joe]: JKFilms (one word) takes up most of my time. I’d say about 12 hours a day or more, seven days a week.

[Bart]: Same answer.

[Geo]: I have no life, so exact same thing.

[Casey]: I spend most of my time editing everything.

Guilty pleasure?
[Geo]: I love candy, anything with sugar.

[Joe]: I like to fornicate, fornicate to music and rite aid ice cream addiction.

[Bart]: Since I’m fat, I should watch I eat but I’m addicted to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, pasta, milkshakes, root beer, hamburgers, In-N-Out, macaroni, cheese pizza, carne asada, king tacos.

[Casey]: Mine would be everything Bart said – food binges.

Relationship status?
[Joe]: I’m ready to mingle like a dingle and a pringle and when I’m hot, it don’t stop.

[Bart]: I’m currently going out with Krispy Kremes.

[Casey]: I’m still editing.

Pet Peeve?
[Geo]: I hate unorganized people, people with no common sense.

[Joe]: I think I speak for the whole team when I say, JK really hates people who are not punctual, who don’t keep their word, who are two-faced, opportunists, who aren’t real, who are fakers and – that’s about it.

[Bart]: Habitual, punctual people who say they are punctual after they’re late.

[Casey]:  I hate editing, haha.

[Geo]: No, he doesn’t! He’s lying.

Significance of your tattoos
[Geo]: Haha, I don’t have any – next question.

[Joe]: I tattooed myself and that was the first time I got tattooed. I tattooed my own leg and the design is a skull and snake that my friend drew.

[Bart]: One time, I was reading about Samoan culture and it’s really tight because traditionally, you can tell the males apart from the boys. All men have tattoos and they have their family pedigrees tattooed on their thighs. Once you hit 17 ½, it’s like a rite of passage. Your grandpa would take you to the beach, tattoo your family pedigree to your thigh, and then throw you into the ocean. It hurts a lot, but the ocean kills all the germs on your thighs. I thought it was really cool because it’s a rite of passage and you get to have your family pedigree passed down. For me, since living in America, it’s like a melting pot of all the different cultures so I was like, “I’m going to make that my own” – I made my own kind of Samoan family pedigree, it’s not exactly Samoan, it’s more East Asian type of art. It’s like the zodiac sign of my parents coming together and it has different imagery that represents me. It’s not on my thigh but on my arm because my thighs are ticklish.

What you look for in a guy/girl?
[Geo]: I don’t really have time to think about that stuff.

[Joe]: I like a girl that I can match with.

[Casey]: I think I’m looking for an esotician, a girl who can nurture my fingers and my hands for me after all the grueling hours of editing.

Fun fact?
[Geo]: I really enjoy driving super duper fast with extra loud music and the windows down.

[Joe]: I really like watermelon, a lot. I can eat a whole watermelon to myself, I can’t wait till watermelon season starts because I crave it – it’s so good.

[Bart]: I’m addicted to root beer floats – I’m like a root beer float connoisseur.

Bart and Joe, you have immortalized all these funny characters like Uncle Sam and Parking, so how did each of these characters come about and who is your favorite to play?
[Joe]: For me, all of these characters are just different parts of me and they evolve little by little. First, we were just mimicking people, our friends and close people around us, our classmates. Then they began to have a back story. With these back stories, they started building on different characteristics and they turned into a real life character. I guess I don’t have a favorite because I can use each to convey a different emotion – like Parking can be the crazy, aggressive man; Uncle Sam could be Rico suave totally unaware of his fobness, but he’s super confident at the same time – that confidence gets the ladies. Every part is a part of me so I don’t like one over the other.

[Bart]: Me and Joe grew up in all different parts of LA. While growing up, we observed a lot of different people’s behaviors and that’s how we combined all the ones we could match in one character. Uncle Sam and Uncle Chin have like the big brother-little brother relationship. One’s like a virgin pimp and the other one wants to get married. We try to make all these interesting story-lines. All the characters have this interesting balance. We just kind of take in everything that we observe, the environments they grow up in – I’m kind of like Joe that I don’t choose one character over the other one. It’s like when you feel like dancing, you need dance music; when you’re cruising you might want different music; different characters convey different emotions. When we write stories, we think of the story we want to write, then we pick the character that will best lift the story.

You guys like pouring honey everywhere and walking through the Chinese festival and talking to white men that think you’re Chinese, where do you get the courage to go out and do these things?
[Joe]: We use to do crazier things in high school and now, doing these things are nowhere near what we used to do. We get a little adrenaline rush. We don’t have any shame and we don’t get embarrassed, maybe we’re just weird because we don’t care what people think about us.

[Bart]: The stuff that we do now isn’t going to result in arrest or prosecution. All that really may happen is, “Don’t do this” or “Don’t run in my store again.” Our goal is to create entertainment; if we know we can push the boundaries and the people that watch are that much happier, we do it. If we do a live skit and they don’t show any inclination, we won’t do it again.

You guys are really good about pointing out the little truths in our lives, can you give us an idea of upcoming roles reversals, skits, observations or ideas that you have?
[Joe]: We can’t really expose them because it’ll ruin the skit. The whole point of role reversal is there’s a slight shock factor to it where the part where people don’t expect, that’s funny.  But if we tell people, then they’re going to know what to expect.

[Bart]: The whole thing came about when we thought, “Why is it okay for guys to do this? Or why is it okay for girls to do this but not guys?” It’s funny to point this out to our society today – like if you didn’t [?] something today, it would be considered gay; but 30 years ago, it wouldn’t be.

[Joe]: Most of our skits teach good things in a bad way. With that type of philosophy, we also like to open people’s minds. We feel like a lot of people are stuck on a stereotype or stuck on a certain type of thinking – so, for us, we want to teach something in our skits and help people think outside the box. That’s how we came up with the Uncle characters – most fobs are quiet or shy, so we created our fob characters to be crazy and outgoing with the most confidence ever, kind of to flip the script.

There’s that stigma that Asian men aren’t as masculine as every other race so you guys aren’t scared to talk about sex and curse and do all these crazy things, but had you guys ever gotten backlash for it?
[Joe]: No, it actually works really well because there aren’t any Asian men doing what we do.  A lot of Asians in entertainment are worried about what people think about them. But us, we‘re just us – we don’t go, “Hey, there’s no masculine Asian men out there.” We’re just being us and we didn’t realize we were being that way. It’s just that, when we became exposed to the entertainment world, we realized that the Asians represented in entertainment are the more feminine, suburban, and less aggressive types. Most Asian dudes that are aggressive or are more masculine become military cops, gangsters, sports, other things – they don’t go into entertainment. We’ve never got any hate for being too rude or out of the line.

Voice memo 46
[Bart?]: There might have been a couple of times when people questioned our intent. When people question our intent and we explain what we’re doing, then, all of the sudden, everything clicks. Yes, stereotypically, most Asian males are cast in a certain way but I think we’re blessed to have YouTube because we have full control over our content. Even in entertainment, you might have a masculine, outgoing guy off set but, because of the roles that are available now, they have to play this other guy.

[Joe?]: When I used to watch TV, up until recently, I thought, “Where do these Asians come from?” These weren’t the Asians I grew up with – these were the Asians who maybe grew up in white neighborhoods, who had the resources, who had the understanding of how to get into film, how to audition. Now, you see that the Asian community is getting into entertainment.

[Bart]: I watch a lot of foreign films, and what I want to see is the roles that Ken Watanabe and Chow Yun Fat can play in the oversea movies – I want to see those roles here. In Korea, Japan, other parts of Asia, there are masculine guys playing masculine roles – versus here, where there aren’t roles like that. With YouTube, we can bypass that because we have full control.

[Joe]: It’s not necessarily wrong to have Asians who are feminine – that might be how they grew up, they’re just being them. But I feel like there is not a representation of the type of Asians we grew up with.

None of you are sheltered in any way and there are people who cater to a middle school crowd, give us a brief background of where you grew up and where you came to be bad-ass.
[Casey]: Growing up, I came from a middle class family. I wasn’t in the ghetto or anything but I always grew up with that mentality. I experienced bullying at a young age so I made a vow growing up to not let anyone ever talk shit to me and, over the years, I’ve grown a thicker skin and a tougher mentality. I definitely had a more vocal and rough around the edges type of personality than my fellow Asian mates.

[Geo]: I came from first-generation parents and it was like you do as you’re told and you don’t really think. I’m number three of four kids – so with my two older siblings, they were like, “OK, we’ll do as we’re told, we’ll follow this path.” And I was like, “Why, why, why?” I was always questioning things and so I was like the black sheep of the family. It was always because of my curious nature – I never wanted to settle for a verbal answer, I always wanted to seek it out for myself. In doing that, I just did whatever I had to do to make it happen. I guess that’s why I’m not conventional – speaking my mind all the time and having people know where I come from.

[Joe]: I grew up in a city called Gardena. The demographics of the city are around 40% black, 30% Hispanic and the rest was other. It was a lower-middle class, blue collar neighborhood. In my elementary school, kids that come from a bad home – they could be crazy, violent, mean sometimes. If you say the wrong things to the wrong kids, they’ll not think twice to attack you. They’ll bite you, they’ll scratch you, and they’ll do anything. At a young age, I learned to watch what I say to people and think twice before I act. Kids would say, “Can I borrow this?” and not bring it back – you learned not to trust people very fast. That helped me build a thick skin. That lifestyle can lead to something bad – and, from 14 to 17, I did end up with a life of drugs, the party scene, the whole downward spiral into the gangs. Something happened along the way, out of something bad came something good. I was more into the drug dealing lifestyle which got me to stop doing drugs and then from there, some of my friends said if I went to college I would get free money –financial aid. I made slow transition to becoming member of society. Before this, I didn’t know how to conduct myself as an outstanding member of society. I just learned everything off the streets. Where were my parents? My parents were going through a divorce at that time. They didn’t really have any time to look after me. I didn’t really have any adult figure because my mother was under depression; she didn’t have that energy to take charge as a parent. I guess I was running wild, I did whatever I could – that part of my childhood, it made me the person I am today. If you grow up with no rules, then you become a person who does not care about rules or what people think. The whole introduction to college has made me more able to articulate myself to where normal people can understand me. I can bring the past and expose that to everybody else. The transition I made from past to now, that is why I am the way I am and have no shame in what I do.

[Bart]: I grew up in a city called Cerritos. At that time, it was literally completely mixed – if you looked through the yearbook, it was like a United Colors of Benetton ad. It was super duper diverse – you would see like white kids with Asian-style bangs and black kids dressed like cholos, you would have Asian kids spinning on their heads with FUBU gear. My parents got divorced when I was six years old. I was living with my mom during that time. She was like this super OCD type of parent, didn’t want me to get in trouble and so she thought the best thing to do was to lock me up at home every single day. I think that might work in short term, but long term is like jail. You start trying to sneak out during the day, then trying to sneak out at night. When you start deviating, you start hanging out with the wannabes in junior high who become the gangsters in high school. That’s kind of what happened to me. When I got expelled from high school, I went to go live in El Monte with my dad and, over there; I knew I wasn’t one of those kids who had evil intent. I just knew it was the environment, I knew that I wanted to be productive still. I wasn’t able to go to my junior high or high school graduations, but I still cared about my parents. Since I’m the only child, I didn’t want my parents to be like, “The only reproduction we had was a failure.” So I was like, “I’m going to still join a ceremony that my parents can attend and not feel like their child was a failure.” And so I joined the marines. After that [graduated from the marines], I knew I had some discipline in my life, and that I could actually achieve goals that I have set for myself. I started going back to school. With comedy, it’s cool to teach people about the past, what you’ve gone through without directly scolding someone and to share my experience with other people in a positive light.

What is your fan base?
[Joe]: It’s majority males, Asians, teens to early 30s. But it’s surprising when sometime you’ll see white soccer moms from the mid-West adding us on Facebook or dudes on the street who can barely speak English tell us they watch our videos.

[Bart]: Instead of being categorized by age, gender, or ethnicity, our demographic is more about the people that require a little more artistic stimulation. So someone that can’t go watch a high school musical or someone who can’t sit through a chick flick, those are the people who actually like our stuff – I think it’s a little more out there, more conformational.

[Joe]: Maybe someone on the edgier side, someone who won’t cringe when they watch Jack Ass.

You guys have had the question of “What is your ethnicity?” You do the pretty good job of hiding it – what does it mean to be Asian American to you?
[Bart]: I think to be Asian American… your parents beat you, you take off your shoes before you enter your house sometimes but you leave them on when you rush, you use chopsticks, and you eat rice *laughs*. But really, what unites us all is that not all Asian American cultures are that different – doesn’t matter if you’re Vietnamese or Laos or Korean or Japanese or whatever; I think what matters is that it’s all very similar – everything has its root in Confucius philosophy, the kind of respect you have for your elders, it’s all very similar. For us, we don’t want to reveal our ethnicity because we want to unite all the Asians so we can be recognized as one strong group and have more voting power.

[Joe:] It’s not that we deny our race or are ashamed – we still celebrate it but we want to put an emphasis that we’re Americans first and we want our generation, second-generation to think along the lines that we’re here now and how are we going to build a community. We’re not going back to our father’s land, this is our land – think forward, instead of waiting two or three generations for that unity, that we just skip forward and fast forward to have that unity happen now.

Something that separates you is production quality of videos, how much goes into shooting and planning the shoot?
[Casey]: On the production end, I would have to say that there’s not that much production in comparison to some of the other projects I’ve worked on or the standards of media. We don’t delve into the production quality- at least, I don’t put too much emphasis on production. The main emphasis is more so on message and the story line. Being Asian American, it’s a vehicle for change, for cultural awareness, letting Asian Americans feel confident, comfortable, and cool to be Asian American. On a typical film, you would have a lot of people working on it. You’ll have a lot of people on board but, aside from Bart and Joe, our production crew is literally like three people – it would be me, Gio, and Nina. Nina’s our sound crew – she does every shoot with us. We’re operating pretty much grassroots; I think that we do a good job though in replicating a look and replicating a production value for our videos. It would surprise people how primitive our production crew is after they see the final product on YouTube.

Describe the group dynamic of JK Films.
[Geo]: I have to give credit to Bart and Joe – at the end of the day, it’s a business. But the way they do it, it’s very open door, it’s very welcoming even though, they are the writers and they are the faces. It’s always a collective. It’s cool to be part of this group and I give a lot of credit to them.

[Joe]: What comes first is that we’re friends – and they don’t say do business with your friends but I think friends are the best people to do business with because who else can you trust. At the end of the day, when all the money’s gone, we’re still here because we like each other and we try to create a good environment for growth. All of us have grown up through negative reinforcement and that’s not the kind of place that we want to create.

[Bart]: One of the ways we like to think, we try not to say why ideas won’t work – we try to think about how that idea can work, grow it rather than saying it’s a stupid idea.

How have you gone on to brand and market JK films?
[Geo]: In the beginning of JK, it was really all comedy – there wasn’t a set uniform branding for them. It was easier to go out and give them an image but they go out there and brand themselves. Bart and Joe are really easy to do them – what you see is what you get, they keep it real. It wasn’t anything tough or grueling – it was like, “what are they like? What are they about?”

How did the rest of the team, besides Bart and Joe, become involved in JK?
[GEO]: I’ve known them since the beginning of JK – I wasn’t into the whole YouTube thing, I didn’t know about it too much. I was supportive as a friend like, “Show me what you guys are doing” or they would be like, “Hey, check this out – this is so funny.” I would watch it and they were doing this in 2007; I was going to school, they were going to school. I graduated college and did the whole corporate America thing and, cut to 2010, I just hated my job. I never wanted to get involved in JK because of the whole friendship thing but I saw what they were doing and thought I really wanted to be a part of it. I started volunteering in any way I could, slowly it grew on me and that’s it.

Are your parents supportive?
[Geo]: Initially no, but now yes.

Voice memo 49
[Bart]: My parents are really uptight. At first, it was like, “Hell, no.” Then they started to open up to the concept because we’re teaching good things in a bad way – they understand the lessons to be taught in a non-traditional method. My dad’s a card dealer at a casino and he said that, at the casino, the card dealers and the foremen don’t really talk because there’s like this hierarchy. The foreman came up and said, “Hey, are you Bart’s Dad? I fucking love his shit!” That’s when my dad was like, “Hey, you guys are doing a pretty good job.”

[Joe]: My mom is happy that I went to college and all this other stuff. She and her boyfriend religiously watch every video that comes out of JK. I was tripping out because I was like, “Really?” They watch it like a show, they don’t miss an episode.

[Casey]: When I came on board to help out, I sent a link to my dad and I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve done music videos and other random projects that didn’t match the level of intensity that Bart and Joe had of any sort. I didn’t know what to expect from my dad and he called me the day after and he was like, “Who are those two clowns? You know, those two Stephen Chow’s.” He loves it and I went back home not too long after and one night, we stayed up and I showed him the YouTube channel and he watched every single video, staying up until 4am. My dad loves it, definitely.

Words of wisdom.
[Bart]: For me, if you want to be a producer, writer, director, whatever, the first thing is don’t even think – just do it. I think, most people, the natural inclination is to tell themselves why they can’t do it, how they can’t do it, where are they going to find the money to do it, they don’t have the network. Everyone shuts themselves down first; if you’re thrown in the water and find out how to swim, it’s one of the best methods in entertainment. You just figure out what’s fun; do it first, then you’ll find all the resources.

[Joe]: Don’t do things to just try to be good at it, it’s not a race. When you’re going into the arts, you’re doing it to convey an emotion. People have misconceptions about what art is and what entertainment is; what they see is the fame, the end result. The reason people are so successful and they get real fans is because they produce good art. Good art is when you’re able to package your art through a medium and that medium is the in-between to connect with people. To someone who’s first starting out, think about first, why you want to do – to be famous and have people clap at you. Or do you have a story to tell, do you want people to feel what you feel. Do it because you want to say something, enjoy it, have a good time.

[Casey]: Be fearless and believe in what you’re doing – whether it be poetry, comedy, filmmaking, painting. You can’t be limited in your confidence. To be fearless is the only true way to express yourself.

[Geo]: To have courage to leave a nine to five job is to have a solid foundation. Plan from A to Z, your finances, get every angle covered. This is the poorest I have ever been but this is the happiest and the most fulfilled I’ve ever felt. Plan and do it. On business side, get everything in writing.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=534884935 Moses Pan

    Yeeeee :D

    • http://MELLYLEE.com Melly Lee

      :)

  • Guest

    A new side of JKFilms I’ve never seen before. Definitely enjoyed reading this interview as it was very inspirational. Thank you, OA Team!

  • Bunnygirl1412

    Really enjoyed reading this:D

  • http://twitter.com/wabs_ Wabs

    totally read every syllable lol, big fan here from washington state

  • Jessica

    wow so hillarious people love their videos 
    wish i could see them in person 
    so happy though 

  • Rendy

    Ok, I know what their ethnicity… Its Indian… Just because Indian different than the other Asian doesn’t mean they aren’t Asian…

  • http://www.facebook.com/axience.axience.3 Axience Axience

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