Hound director Nicholas Lam has directed a 60-second spot for MTV to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
the commercial is currently airing nationally (U.S.) across all of the brands within MTV Entertainment Group’s channels (Paramount Network, MTV, VH1, etc.) and will be dropping across their social/online channels on 5/29. The piece features an all-AAPI cast and 90% AAPI crew.
Notable talent includes Hollywood Asian A-lister Daniel Dae Kim who provided the V.O. narration, colourist Stephen Nakamura (Crazy Rich Asians, House of Gucci, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Gladiator, Zero Dark Thirty, etc.), two-time Grammy winning composer Christopher Tin, and stylist Kentaro Kameyama (winner of Project Runway Season 16), who all participated out of support for increased global AAPI visibility.
Nicholas Lam shares more about the project: “When MTV first approached me about this project for AAPI Heritage Month, I slapped myself. But I was already awake. Here they were, offering me the chance to create a film about literally the most personal thing to me – my ethnic identity – which would air nationally, where I had complete creative autonomy with Viacom's full faith and support.”
“In Asian culture, few things are more revered than ancestral lineage. I knew I wanted to pay homage to traditional Asian arts, but I similarly wanted to showcase how we've evolved. Most importantly, I wanted to convey that there is no beginning and no end to where the influence of the ‘old’ ceases and where the ‘new’ begins. Everything in our culture is cyclical, a constant flow state of energy – like Yin and Yang. Like a circle. Like the moon.”
“And so, it felt right to ‘narrate’ the film via one of the most renowned poems by 8th century Tang dynasty poet, Li Bai, titled Drinking Alone With the Moon. The melancholic, contemplative piece had just the right balance of pathos, irreverence and reflection to match the tone I was going for.”
“Realising this was an opportunity that rarely, if ever, came around, I immediately went about enlisting as much top-level AAPI talent as I could. The outpouring of support was overwhelming. It was mandatory to me that the entire cast be from the AAPI community – I wanted to celebrate our people by showcasing authentic Asian artists, all masters of their craft, and not actors simply playing a part. Everybody you see in the film – the Taiko drummers, the Qi Gong practitioner, the motorcycle stunt rider, the master calligrapher, the dancers, the import models and the graffiti artist are all exactly that – that’s who they are and what they do.”
“It was likewise a no-brainer to push for the same representation on the production side, because if we're uplifting AAPI talent, well, we exist behind the camera as well! It gives me no greater pride than to say that 90% of the department heads on this project were Asian American and/or Pacific Islander. Up and down the call sheet, we were united under a single cause – to champion AAPI diversity and pride in our culture.”
“There are times in our business when it seems like the universe is against you, like the galactic forces conspiring to blockade you every step of the way. But then, sometimes, if the stars and planets and moons align, everything somehow falls into place. Even when there were times we needed to pivot for reasons beyond our control, a sharper, brighter path opened up for us. It genuinely felt as if the universe wanted us to make this film.”
“They say that people go into the creative profession to cheat death – so that your work will live on long after you’re gone. Well, I don’t know about all that, but what I do know is that this has been the most rewarding experience of my career thus far, and that alone is something I’ll take with me long after I’m gone.”