Jon M. Chu | Film Director

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Director and screenwriter Jon M. Chu’s credits read like a tribute to everything that has made a significant impact on pop culture. “Step Up 2: The Streets” inspired an entire society to recognize a new wave of dance, while “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” gave several generations an inside look at this decade’s biggest pop icon. If directing national dance crews and Justin Bieber weren’t already enough, Chu is also in the process of directing “G.I Joe: Retaliation,” part of a franchise rooted in the collective nostalgia of every 10 to 35 year-old. A devoted fan of dance, Chu’s films race across screens in hyper bursts of movement and choreography reminiscent of a classic break battle. Now that Chu has recently signed on to direct Justin Bieber’s “Believe” tour, NMR sat down with the director to talk about his favorite Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus moment and the future of both digital and traditional films.

What takes up most of the time right now?

Jon M. Chu: It’s sort of split depending on the day amongst a couple of different things. I am directing the Justin Bieber World Tour right now, so we’re designing the stage, the story, the songs, all that stuff right now, and at the same time, I am still finishing up “GI Joe.” We are dimensionalizing it right now into 3D, so that takes a bunch of my time.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Well, I don’t know if they are guilty pleasures, but I love pop music, I love pop culture. I read a ton of blogs; I mean, I’m obsessed with just information and news because I think there is a story in everything, and obviously dance. Love dance; on top of our office at DS2DIO, which we started a Youtube channel that we’re really excited about that we’ve got an amazing sort of foundation of followers and subscribers now, so we are just building up. So, yes, I would say that, and I love ice cream; I eat ice cream at any moment that I can get.

What are your pet peeves?

My pet peeves are people who don’t love what they do or find something that they love, even if its not their job, but have a passion about something. I think that drives me nuts. Also, what drives me nuts…negative people, people who just see problems and aren’t problem solvers, who don’t see how to make the best of what they have; I think that drives me crazy. And people who fear things — I mean, everybody fears things, but when the fear is so much that it stops you from being creative I think that’s a pet peeve of mine. All of which, by the way, I am guilty of, which is probably why they are all pet peeves of mine, although I love what I do, so I guess that’s not.

Your favorite Justin Bieber song, and why? Aside from “Never Say Never.”

Well, I really love “As Long As You Love Me,” which is his song out right now. It’s super, it’s sick, it’s just cool. It feels like the next generation of what Bieber can do, so I’m really excited about that, and I love his song “Catching Feelings,” because it has sort of a Stevie Wonder thing going on, and I love Stevie. So that, and of course, “Baby,” which is the classic, so anytime that turns on, all the memories of shooting “Never Say Never” come rushing back. 

Give us an embarrassing moment in your life.

Well, when I was a kid, I would do plays and stuff, so when I was in 4th grade, I was in a musical. I was the only kid in the show — I don’t know how old I was, 9, 10, maybe — the only kid, and there was a whole orchestra, and there was like a thousand people in the audience, and you do like 24 shows or whatever. On show number eight, probably, the critics were there that day and the orchestra is playing, and I’m on stage and I have to sing a whole solo, and then somebody comes in, the adult. I play the younger version of a guy, and I’m the flashback, so I sing this thing and the other guy sings the other part. In the middle of the song, I skip a chorus and I go right to the end — I don’t know why — so, I finish the song before the orchestra is done playing, and I can see the composer conductor freaking out, and he doesn’t know what to do. I am up in this tree and stopped singing because I think that I am done, and the song just keeps going and I am in front of all these people. Literally, that is one of the last times I ever acted in front of an audience, because it just made me so scared. It was so silent, and the music kept going, and nobody knew what I was doing and what was happening, so the other guy had to come and just make up words, made up music to the song because nothing was happening. Yes, that scarred me for life.

Walk us through a typical day for you.

Well, the fun thing about my jobs is it’s sort of based on the project that I’m working on, so everything is sort of different all the time as long as I’m still creating. So a typical day would be, at least recently, getting up, rolling through calls because I have a lot of people I need to call back, going through all that stuff, returning emails, catching up on the pop culture and news so I can stay ahead of that, and at the same time talking to Hieu [DS2DIO's President] and the team over at DS2DIO about what’s coming out and what they’re editing. Sometimes, I’ll check cuts that they have sent me at that time. Then, I’m going over to the G.I. Joe offices and checking scenes and things that we are working on there. I’ll probably stay there for most of the time, and at the same time, I’ll usually have a lunch to go to that will be a meeting of some sort; almost every meal is a meeting. Right now, for instance, we’ll do the Justin Bieber stuff, so I am in meetings for music or getting that stuff ready or designing the stage or lighting or pyrotechnics and how to do that. Then, by that time it’s 7, 8 o’clock, and I usually have a dinner or drinks as a meeting, and then I’ll go back home and do my last check of pop culture and stuff and see what’s out there. Then, I’ll do my work, prep for the next day. Usually, that’s when I have my idea time is when I go home, and from late at night I’ll just come up with fun stuff to throw into the next day.

Do you have a specific time that you have to be creative, like a maximum time or minimum?

No. I should, but I don’t. I try to carve out time as much as I can, but usually, I drive so much from place to place that that’s the time that I get to think. I get to listen to music and just let the ideas come, because I think that’s such an important thing for me because they are all turning to me and saying, “Well, what, how should we do the lighting?” If I don’t have answers, if I haven’t thought about it, then its not a good place because nobody knows what, where to go from there. I also have great people that I work with that know me and know my style, so they’ll bring a bunch of ideas to the table that are probably more creative than I could ever come up with too. 

Congratulations for signing on to direct Justin Bieber’s “Believe” tour. Tell us your thoughts on it and what we can expect from you on this tour.

Well, you know this is Justin’s time to do a really big show. You know he has grown, his audience has grown. This is the moment where we get to put a stake in the ground in history, in music history, and say, “He is, he will be around for a long time.” So, the first tour was his first, and he got people to know him, and he got to make his mark. But this one is the one; we keep saying we need to make it iconic, we need to make it fun, we need to make it memorable, something that when kids see it or adults see it in 5 years they will remember it and won’t think. It need to be timeless. So we are creating a whole adventure for him, and we are still figuring it out right now, so we don’t have a lot of details of where we are going with it yet. The title of the tour is “Believe,” and “believe” is such an interesting word because a lot of things exist only because we believe it — you know, money, our nation states, when you go out and do something the only thing you have is your belief in yourself or whatever. So believing can be both good and bad; it can be both constricting and also freeing, and so we want to play all those aspects to the adventure that you go on. When you come into Justin Bieber’s world, reality falls away and you go to a whole new dimension, and you go through an adventure. So that’s what we are really trying to play with, and I promised Justin that we would put on the greatest show on the planet. He is the biggest pop star in the world, so it’s his duty to put on the biggest show on the planet, so that’s what we are planning on doing. I’ve never done this before, so we are using a lot of cinematic things to bring in because that’s what I know, and it’s going to be a fun, fun roller coaster.

Speaking of that, a video was released recently with you and Justin’s team where you guys made an announcement where you officially signed on to do it on paper plate contracts.

Which they tricked me, because I was only going to that meeting to discuss the possibilities, and of course, Justin’s there and everyone’s there, and we started talking about ideas, and everyone got so excited talking about what we could do together. We haven’t worked with each other since the movie, and he’s just a great collaborator; we creatively match. We both want to do big things, and he has the ability to do big things. We got so excited, and he’s like, “Alright, so you’re in, right?” and I’m like, “Well, I need to go through my schedule; I need to make sure I have the time.” And he’s like, “No, no, we want you in, like, right now. You can do it.” And so, of course, Scooter and I am so close with the team that they are like, “Just say, ‘Yes,’ Jon. Let’s do it.” Of course, they pulled out this paper plate, and they wrote it down, and I said, “I’ll only sign it if you guys sign it as well,” and I wrote my own paper plate contract for them. I said, “I, Justin Bieber, will work my butt off, and when the going gets tough I’ll work even harder for this.” And I wrote for Scooter, “I, Scooter Braun, will put the money into making a great show, and I promise when the going gets tough, I’ll push harder.” All those things, everybody on the team; his choreographer, Nick Demoura; everybody, Tom Marzullo, his production manager; signed this thing that this is a time in our life when we get to literally be the ones that put on the show that people remember for their life, so I want to make sure everyone is in for the ride. When when everyone signed it, I was like, “Alright, if everyone is dedicated that much then I’m in.” And then my lawyer called me, and because she saw the video because I hadn’t told her I was doing this yet, and she said, “A paper plate contract?” I was like, “Uh, yes.” She said, “Well, I just threw up in my paper plate,” so we had to figure out all the legal things, but it’s sort of funny.

Did they keep the paper plate contract?

Oh yeah, they kept it, but that’s the thing: we are so close, and we are like family now. We have gained each others trust, and it just feels like working with our friends again, you know?

It seems like you guys have a really good friendship when it comes to work and everything, but what’s the dynamic like when you guys are on set and everything?

With Justin and his team? Well, they are very creative. Obviously, Justin does his thing in his music world, and he has a lot of input on what he wants to convey. He is always talking about his fans, what they want and what he wants as an artist, so we work together, because I bring a bunch of ideas to the table. He has very strong ideas, and we just understand. We trust each other, and of course, Scooter is a great collaborator as well, because he is like the most go-getting person I have ever met in my life. He understands social media, he understands this generation of fans, and he makes it a priority. He doesn’t get caught up in being or managing a pop star, any of that stuff he doesn’t get caught up in it. He is very straightforward. The whole team are just normal human beings, and I think that’s the greatest part of it. They don’t play like they’re divas or anything like that.

Can you share any interesting or funny stories that happened on-set with Justin?

You know, I have an interesting story about Miley and Justin, because when we were shooting that scene, we were rehearsing with Miley in Madison Square Garden. She had done a movie, a 3D movie. Justin had never done a movie, so we were there, and I was trying to get Justin to, you know — in the beginning, when the globe comes up and he is standing there in front of the audience, I didn’t want him to move; I just wanted him to stand still, and I wanted the camera to go all the way around. It takes 20 seconds to go all the way around him, which is awkward for a person to stand there for 20 seconds and not move in front of 20,000 people. So he’s like, “What do you mean?” and I was like, “I just want you to stand there, because I am going to have the camera go all the way around you and then pull back.” He’s like, “I don’t know. That feels so weird, like, what am I supposed to do?” I was like, “You just stand there. They’ll cheer.” I was like, “You turn your head. They’ll cheer.” He’s like, “Yeah, I don’t know,” and then Miley was there, and she’s like, “You know, Justin, I had the same fight with my director, Kenny Ortega, on our Miley movie. I didn’t want to do something, and he wanted to do it. I trusted him, and it turned out awesome.” She’s like, “So you should try it and just see,” and he listened to her. She has been there and done that, so he was like, “Okay, let’s try it.” So we tried it, and it’s that iconic moment that is in every trailer that we used. It’s just that thing that, like, Justin is always listening; he isn’t just wanting to do his own thing. He has his opinion, but he will try all these things. But to have Miley sort of instill her wisdom was really amazing to see those two, because there are not a lot of people that have been in that position in history, so it was a cool moment.

[Here is the scene Jon is talking about]

Alright, so you recently created a YouTube premium channel, DS2DIO, where you pair young musicians with a dancer. Tell us how you conceptualized this idea and why you think it will appeal to the YouTube audience.

Well, the whole idea of DS2DIO is we have experience doing dance online through LXD, ACDC back in the day when we battled Miley, and we just recognize that there is a whole community of online dancers, people who are learning from each other, progressing the art, actually. The forefront of dance is changing online from communities that are all around the world, and they are accelerating the change of dance, which is really, really fascinating to me. They are super passionate about what they do; they are artists, and so we’re just trying to provide a place that those people can go now. Traditionally, what you knew about dance or how you learned to dance was limited to where you lived, because it’s a local dance studio and that’s as far as you go, or you can pay some extra money to do a dance competition or something — maybe you get a VHS tape and it rips apart after, like, 30 views. We wanted to build the next generation of dance studio where the community drives the progress. So, we thought dance Studio 2.0 or DS2DIO would be a perfect hub to create. We have such a great access to the best talent in the world, the best choreographers, the best dancers; where people could come and watch high quality dance stuff, not just dance competition shows, not just what we have seen of dance before, not just blogs; but very high quality approach and try dance in different genres, try dance in comedy, try it in a narrative, try it in reality, try it in a bunch of different things. To me, our job is to always push what you can do with dance and how you use it in storytelling. We are really excited about it. We have great shows like “Remix,” which Harry Shum Jr. created, and it’s a really fun combination. We have always talked about how dance is the physicality of music, so taking two artists like that, putting them on the same level and having them create together, have the dance affect the music, the music affect the dance — that was something we have always wanted to do. The fact that we’ve had a great team being able to put that together and some great artists to put together has been really fun for us.

You’ve developed content for both online and new media. What are the biggest differences for you between producing content specifically online and offline? Do you approach things differently?

I think it’s interesting, because the way you watch a movie, the way you watch television, the way you watch online stuff — even depending on what site you’re on — you have a different expectation of how the story is told to you. So, I don’t think you can just take a movie and put it online, break it up in pieces and think it’s going to be something new, because it isn’t — it’s just a movie online. That’s one thing, but what we have is the opportunity to take the uniqueness of being online and where your mentality is at that moment and create a story using that new perspective of content. Maybe every episode isn’t the exact timing, so one’s 2 minutes, one’s 10 minutes, one’s 30 minutes; whatever fits best for the story and that’s what’s interesting to me. We have to think of it differently. I saw a speech by Tim Cook, who runs Apple now, and he talked about how their computers, the way they think about their computers and the way they think about their tablet are two totally different things. You know, everyone is like, “Oh, the computer is going to be the tablet one day,” and he’s like, “No, no, no, no. You have to think of the iPad as a totally new way of thinking,” because if you think of the iPad as a smaller laptop, then you are stuck in all your old ways. Then you are going to have to have a desktop, and then you’re going to have to have this and all your old ways of thinking come back, even if it is just an exercise to think of this as not that old technology. Being online, you are not making a movie, and you’re not making a television show; you are doing something very unique. Then you can actually innovate; then you can actually try new things, and it’s only until then. It’s the Wild Wild West right now online, so in terms of original content, so until people try and figure out what is going to work best, we don’t know, you know?

Playing off of that idea, there are a lot of YouTube premium channels that are coming up right now, and there was a panel that was happening a few months back where one person projected that 90% of all video channels are going to fail. Do you think it’s because, like you said, they are stuck in their old ways of thinking?

Depends on what you mean by “fail.” What is the goal of a premium channel? Is YouTube’s goal to create these premium channels to have more high quality content on their sites, or is it to get as many hits as possible? Because I think if it’s to get as many hits as possible, they already get a ton of hits from people who do videos in their bedroom. That already exists; you don’t need to put money in that, and it will always exist. You get it for free; it’s no big deal. If they’re trying to create a new division of when you go to YouTube to think of it differently, so you don’t like, “Oh, I am just going to go see cats sneezing or a guy falling off his bike and vlogs, but I actually want to watch something that has a high quality thing to it,” you know when you put money into it you get more resources, and you get to push it a little bit in a different way now; does that mean you are going to get the most hits? Maybe not; is that bad? No, if that’s the goal of the thing is to create a range of content, because yes, I believe YouTubers who are extremely successful are going to cream the quote-unquote professional guys who are coming in, in terms of hits. But if those YouTubers are actually not just doing what they always do but actually doing new stuff with what they bring to the table and using the money to create high quality different kind of stuff, and they get those hits then they are the most successful, then that is the most successful thing because they get the best of both worlds. So, I don’t know if anyone knows what it is to succeed in that space yet, which I think is why it’s an experiment. So, do I think a lot of these places are just taking the money and making stuff that they would have done on television and just breaking it up and putting it online? Yes. And I think that is a waste of effort, because it’s a lot of effort to make these things. But, if they don’t get as many hits but create a new kind of genre of how you watch this stuff, then that’s a huge success over a vlogger who does something for the same price they did it for before, and it’s the same stuff they didn’t need this money for, so in that sense I think it’s all sort of being figured out now. But I don’t think hits is the goal. To me, that’s not what was communicated to us; what was communicated to us was “We wanted to change the tone of YouTube,” so you get your blogs, you get your homemade stuff, but guess what? You also get some signature things that are on there; they are maybe a little longer so it’s not as frenetic where you just pick something to watch and laugh at. It’s different, and it’s changing the personality of what YouTube is, so I think that’s that.

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Some people say it’s a battle between the creatives and the advertisers. Advertisers want the hits; they want the numbers that make sure eyeballs are on their product. Do you think you are still trying to figure out how to find that happy medium between the two?

I think everyone is trying to figure it out. I think that’s why this is interesting, because until you try doing that stuff, you don’t ever know. But I think that’s why I like the initiative, because I think there will be a lot of failures, whatever that means, and there will be a lot of successes, whatever that means. Maybe successes are not the way that we want it to be, but it’s what those two things learning, those two things rubbing against each other where the real solution will be found. That would not happen without some sort of investment into that; that would not happen with many people taking a very specific point of view, and trying. If everyone knew the answer, it would be easy. That’s a no-brainer, but everyone is going to take a very specific point of view, and we are going to find which ones work and which parts of one work and which parts of another work and combine it to make what online entertainment actually will become.

With the growth of YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu and all these sites, do you think that this is the future of entertainment?

Do I think think that it’s the future of entertainment? It’s another tool, for sure.

So you don’t think it’s going to replace TVs or movies and other traditional mediums?

I think they are all different experiences. I think going online is an active experience because you have to find the link, you have to click the link or someone sends you the link, you have to click it, and then you have to wait for it to buffer or whatever it is; and you have to watch it, and you may be in the middle of work, you may be on the middle of the subway, whatever it is. When you are on the television, you are cooking your dinner, and it’s on in the background, it kind of feels like a passive thing, and it’s just going on. Television is always sort of a background thing; it constantly has to get your attention. It’s a different way of approaching content. Every commercial, you have to keep people coming back, and it’s free, but there’s a live experience too — to know everyone in the world is watching this thing right now at that time, which online doesn’t necessarily feel like that. I think they are different experiences. Now, will television become more interactive? Oh, for sure. There’s no doubt that it’s inevitable; the two will merge much, much more, but will the idea of live things playing still exist? I think so, because I get a different emotional reaction when I know this is on television right now, and everyone is watching it. You don’t get that online except for when a video goes viral suddenly. 

Okay, that’s fair. Going off of that, one of my friends with Dreamworks kind of mentioned that Hollywood seems to be creating less and less movies. Why do you think this is so? Do you think the popularity of YouTube and online videos is a factor in it?

Well, it’s not that we think there are less movies being made; there are definitely less movies being made. There used to be way more studios than there are now, and the movies that are being made better be worth that $12 that you are going to go pay and drag you out of your seat to go watch a movie in a dark theatre and pay more for popcorn and all that stuff. Do I think that experience is worth it? Yes, because I think human beings want a community and love to be around. There is something about a movie in a dark room where you get to experience something together and talk about it afterwards. I don’t think that goes away. Does that mean that the content has to better than anything you ever see on television or on YouTube? I wouldn’t say better, but it has to be a different experience. So, you know the bigger movies, the big ones that you spend $200 million on — for now, you see it on the big screen, and it has a certain emotional experience. I think that those kind of movies will be more and more, and the smaller ones that can be done on HBO; which are beautiful and awesome and an adventure, and you can watch for 14 hours straight on DVD; all those things exist in its own world as well. So, there will be more of that stuff being made, and right now, we see it with the original web content world. There are so many new original series online, and I just think they are different genres; they are different tools to tell stories. So, does that change the way each one sees itself — movies, television? Yes. And that changes the content, for sure, but it will be interesting to see where it all lands. But, I do think the experience of a giant screen is something that doesn’t go away completely, ever. You just you need to adapt to why that experience is better than watching it on your 60-inch television at home.

When it comes to any content in general, no one can ever truly guarantee that this video is going to go viral or this movie is going to be the next best seller. How do you, as a creative, gauge the content put out there and judge when you think it’s going to work out and when it isn’t?

That’s a hard question, because I don’t think you ever know. I try to not get too in a bubble in Hollywood and start to not understand the general public’s wants and needs. I try to do all the things: be on Twitter, be on Facebook, read the same things, just be a normal human being so I know what I like, and hopefully, that’s what the general public will like as well. If it doesn’t, maybe I’m in a different genre than them. There is not a magic button. I think the best thing I can do is just be a regular human being as much as possible, and whatever I get attracted to, that’s what I hope other people will as well. That has been the strategy so far as well, and it’s worked. I think as you age, you change and your taste changes and the audience’s taste changes, so I think you have to actually work at staying up to date. I think you have to work at staying engaged; I think you have to work at not being in your own world. I think I consider that as part of the job.

So, your new film, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” is set to be released next year. What do you think Paramount saw in your previous work that made them know you were the right one to help a G.I. Joe movie?

Well, Paramount and I worked together on the Justin Bieber “Never Say Never” movie, which was great. We had a great experience because we took something that we thought could just be a normal concert movie — but I was like, “I won’t bring anything to a concert, but I can bring something to a story” — to a story of a kid who has a dream. I understand that story; I understand that fairytale. So, I pitched the idea of how to tell that story with the music integrated into the story and not just be a concert film, and they dug it. Then we turned it into this crazy thing that sort of had its own life. So, I think they saw that, and when we talked about G.I. Joe, they loved that I grew up with it, that I understood what it needed to be at this point, and so I made a bunch of videos, images and stuff that they saw. Then we went from there. I honestly wasn’t sure if they were ever going to hire me for it; I just went for it, and we did it. I think it takes a lot of guts on their part to believe in me, but Paramount is sort of gutsy like that; they will do crazy things, but they are super smart at what they do.

That is usually what it takes to succeed. You have to be gutsy. When dealing with such a big franchise like G.I. Joe, which has a great sense of nostalgia tied to it, how did you approach the film so that it would be adaptable to the big screen while also paying homage to the original cartoon?

Again, I just tried to do what I loved about it. I was a huge fan, and I only do projects that I am passionate and know about, so I just try and do the movie that I always wanted to see that G.I. Joe should be, making Snake Eyes the way I always imagined in my head. So it is definitely my version of G.I. Joe, and I hope that other people will like it as well, but it’s what I remember of why G.I. Joe became a part of my life when I was young. It’s about what it means to be a hero, the tough choices, but it was also about the cool weaponry and vehicles and the action, and as a human being making the choice to be the hero or just a regular person.

What have been the biggest challenges of making this film for you, personally?

The biggest challenge has been — it’s the first time I’ve worked with big movie stars like The Rock and Bruce, but they were awesome. Great, great, amazing talent to work with. They bring their own thing to it, so you’ve got to balance it out and collaborate. The first time I’ve worked with a big budget movie, the first time I’ve done explosions and building a world is a whole new thing. Every detail of that world: what the ground color is, what kind of technology do that have, what guns do they have. Are they real guns? Are they guns that are real, but we retrofit them? Are the interfaces that you’re using futuristic, or are they what we have now? Are they 5 years in the future? What are the colors that exist in that world? All those things come into play, and you don’t think about them when you first start, but as every department needs to know more information, you have to fill it out in your brain. That was tough and exhausting, and you are not always sure you are making the right choice, but you sort of at some point have to make a choice and trust your instincts.

Speaking of The Rock, our good friend and musician, @AJRafael, wanted to ask you, “What was it like working with The Rock?”

The Rock — I mean, the only word that can describe him is “awesome.” He’s just the ultimate hero. He’s the only one we wanted to play Roadblock. He’s the only one who could be the ultimate action figure. He is bigger than life, and he is bigger than life when you talk to him. Nicest, most trusting guy coming into the process, but he is a badass motherfucker. We call him a BAMF, he just loves his craft and is always trying to be better, works harder. He puts his athletic mentality in his work as an artist and so he puts it all in. Whenever you need him, he is there. He is super patient, he’s just the ultimate professional, and you realize he didn’t get to where he’s at, he didn’t transcend wrestling, he didn’t transcend college sports just by being The Rock. He thinks about these things; he’s planned it all, he’s a go getter, he’s the ultimate entrepreneur, and he works harder. He works hard behind the scenes when nobody is looking as much as when he’s on screen, and everybody is looking, so you can’t ask anything more from an artist than Dwayne.

What are the real reasons for why the release of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” was delayed? Was it to reshoot Channing Tatum?

No. I mean, nobody really knows. It’s funny because nobody actually knows what happens to Channing Tatum in our movie yet, so it’s interesting to hear all the rumors of what they think happens or what they don’t think happens. But, no, our main thing was we have had discussions about turning the movie 3D since I first came onto the project, but we never made that choice because it would cost too much money or we would have to push our date. So in the beginning, there was always that discussion. The studio decided we don’t have that amount of money, so I was like, “If we are not going to do it right, then we shouldn’t do it,” and that went away. Then, about 6 months ago, it came back, and we could dimensionalize it, but then we have to push our date. We have to have enough time to do it right, and they are like, “Yeah, you’re right. We don’t have enough time, and it’s going to cost so much money.” Then, about 5 or 6 weeks before the movie comes out, 3D is doing really well overseas, obviously, and they come back one more time and say this is our last chance. We could do it, but we have to push the date, and we think that it’s worth putting the movie [in 3D], because it has a lot of 3D elements to it. We think it’s worth doing now. Was I frustrated? Yeah, because I wanted, I want the movie to come out the way we promised, but at the same time, I was like, “Listen, but if we’re going to do this though, we have to do it right. Please don’t short change me and have us come out in September, and then the 3D is going to be bad, and people are going to be pissed that we pushed it.” So, they agreed. They were like, “You’re right. We will give you enough time and money to do it right, because if we are going to do this, we are going to do it.” And so for that, I am grateful that they understand that we need to do it right, and we are going to deliver a great 3D movie, the ninja action, and obviously, Dwayne in 3D is going to be really, really awesome — an experience unlike anything before, and we get the time to do it right. So, you know it doesn’t take 9 months to do 3D, but our next available sort of opening was in March — great opening — so we will we work on it up to that point, and we will take every inch of time we have to perfect it.

Your friend, Twitter user @JeffOlson12, asked, “What’s your favorite dance move?”

My favorite dance move is definitely the ChuChu. And if you haven’t seen it, we will give you a link to what the ChuChu is, but it’s something my followers created on Twitter. They made a whole video, and it’s pretty crazy and fun, and even Justin did the ChuChu in interviews and stuff, so get ready.

What advice would you give to anyone trying to make a career in entertainment?

I got a really good piece of advice when I was in college. I said, “How do I become a director?” No one will ever give you that title; you won’t be awarded one day, and you’ll be like, “Oh, I’m a director” You are what you do everyday, so if you are a writer, you write everyday, like, that is just what you do. If you are a fashion designer, you design fashion every day of your life, and you just art. If you are an entrepreneur, you just are, so you are what you do everyday. To me, that is what I choose to do, so I directed all the time. I would just pick up my video camera and stuff and edit stuff, and people knew me as that, and it became a reality. So I would say just keep doing what you’re doing, and if you love what you’re doing, and it doesn’t feel like work, you’ll just be doing what you feel naturally pushed to do. That’s my advice.

How the heck do you manage everything? Do you ever get burnt out? If you do, what are some thing you do to escape and relax?

I manage things; time management is extremely important, so I try to manage my time as much as I can, use every moment. Technology helps me manage that; I can do a lot of stuff on my computer myself. I don’t have to rely on a lot of people to do things like that. When I am stressed out, what do I do? I play Bejeweled Blitz — I am pretty awesome at that game.

Aside from everything that we have mentioned, is there a project that you’re working on that people may not know about?

I do have secret projects that I’m working on, but I’m not allowed to reveal them at this time. But yes, I have some things in my pocket that I am very excited for, and I love creating adventures for people to go on, and we have a lot more of that coming. Stay tuned.

Follow Jon M. Chu:

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/jonmchu

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0160840/

Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/jonmchu

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/officialjonmchu

Photography by Melly Lee

Interview by Benny Luo

Make-Up/Hair by Cynthia Aguilar

Photo Assistant: Daniel Nguyen

Production Assistant: Danielle Lee

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