Wong Fu Productions’ Philip Wang Talks to NMR About New Short, ‘The Last’ [INTERVIEW]

“How many were there before me?” is a question that most guys would usually not like to answer answer as they’re trying to enjoy a wonderful morning lying in bed with their girlfriends. But that question is answered in Wong Fu Productions’ latest piece, “The Last,” in which the complexity of relationships is explored through the eyes of a young man (Harry Shum) revealing to his girlfriend (Kina Grannis) the five girls that he loved before her — who, what, when, where and why. NMR spoke to “The Last” writer and director Philip Wang about his new short, which has thus far garnered over 2 million views since its upload two days ago.

What makes “The Last” stand out from your previous romantic shorts?

Philip Wang: I feel that’s something you’d ask a viewer. A lot of what we do is to make romantic, dramatic shorts that are about relationships. Actually, a big inspiration for this short was one of our shorts that Wes did called “Five Fell.” In that one, he talks about love in the terms of the five senses. So that was like two years ago. Back then, I said, “That was a good idea. I want to how else we can expand on the who, what, when, where, why.” Honestly, the way we do a lot of our work is that we try to keep things simple, especially when they’re personal projects. We didn’t involve a lot of crew or actors. We try to keep it really simple.

You’re really good at coming up with these scripts involving love. Do you get your inspiration from personal experiences?

Yes, definitely. Stuff like this is a lot easier to write when it’s stuff I’ve been thinking about or had on my mind. All these things, all of our Wong Fu stuff we try to draw from personal experiences. Even if it’s comedy, you have fun with your friends, and it’s the drama you draw from your own plots, what you’ve gone through and what your friends are talking about. I’ve always gathered information that I was thinking about, how love is affecting our lives and how we navigate through our lives and how it evolves. What makes “The Last” different is that all of our shorts have been about things not working out, a little like being lost and not knowing where the future is or where we’re going. I think “The Last” is different because it gives a sense of an ending point while our other shorts are open-ended. This one is like, “No. There’s an end for all of us or hope for all of us, and we believe that there is this last person that we’ll find.” This one’s a little more positive and more definitive in that sense, and that has come over time with me personally. You go through life as a younger person trying to figure out why people are in your lives, why they end, why they don’t start. It all comes to a reason. People always say, “Everything happens for a reason” or “Everything happens for the best,” and I’m kind of just wondering when is that reason going to come? When is that best going to come? That’s what the idea behind this one is. We’re showing that it can actually happen.

Is that the underlying lesson of the whole short?

I can definitely speak from experience as a younger guy tripping out over a girl not working out or a girl not giving you a chance. You just think like it’s the end of the world or you’re not going to find anyone as good as this, blah, blah, blah. The idea is that you can be afraid, you can be sad, but don’t be too dramatic over something like this. There’s definitely a reason for this. There’s a lot ahead of you, and there’s lessons to this, and you just move forward. What’s ahead of you is more important, because people are always getting so fixed on what’s happening right now. It’s hard to imagine what the future is because it hasn’t happened yet. You just have to trust that there’s a future ahead of us.

Why were Harry and Kina chosen to star in the short?

The thing with Harry is we’ve worked with him in the past. He’s always done comedy or action on TV and stuff, and I decided he’d be a great Asian-American male to be in this. If I wanted to make this real simple, I would have just put myself or one of the other Wong Fu guys in. I knew Harry would be a good idea. It’s kind of funny; the week that I was going to ask him to consider it, he emailed me too and said, “Hey, let’s work on something together. I want to do something more romance, and I want to show that side of me.” “This is perfect. I was literally about to email you this script,” and I emailed it to him, and he loved it, and it went simply like that. As for Kina, she’s terrified of acting, but we got her to do a small part in this web series a few months ago called “Funemployed.” It’s so clear that she’s a natural, and that’s her first time acting since high school; she had a traumatizing experience. We got her out of her shell, and she hasn’t acted since “Funemployed,” and we’re like, “Let’s bring you back for something that like fits your character more.” She’s gorgeous. She’s amazing. It worked out perfectly.

Do you think this short is going to do just as well or better than “Strangers Again”? That’s your most popular to date on YouTube.

I’ll just say, “no,” so I have low expectations. I’m already glad that it’s been so well-received like this already. The fact that this many people have gone to watch it and enjoy it means a lot. There’re some videos that we do for the masses or hits. Stuff like this I don’t like to focus on “Let’s just try to get hits” or “Let’s try and get some subscribers.” If it comes along with it, that’s great, but that’s not the purpose of this one. I’m just glad people liked it, and I’m glad that content like this can survive and find an audience on YouTube. There isn’t much stuff like this on YouTube, and I’m glad people can make something of it.

A majority of people say that short-form content is king when it comes to YouTube, but you guys are the only ones that defy that and still manage to come out on top.

We’re just as confused as anyone else of how this happens. We have a good audience, and we’re very grateful to them.

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