New media continues to be a prominent component of the Festival, as Asian American artists seek alternative methods to reach their audiences. The online space is no longer an alternative. On the contrary, thanks to YouTube and the rise of Asian American content-makers and artists on this global platform, to a growing demographic of the Asian American community, new media is the mainstream. This fortuitous trend has seen the rise of Ryan Higa, Kevin Wu, WongFu Productions, JK Films, and countless other Asian American artists, musicians and filmmakers monetize their content and garner niche but dedicated audiences, which makes Seth Godin's book TRIBES all the more foretelling. In 2011, YouTube, seeing that the trend to view content was moving more to the online space, launched an ambitious strategy to invest in original content spread across 100 YouTube channels. One of these channels was The YOMYOMF Network, headed by Hollywood director Justin Lin as an offshoot of his pop culture blog YouOffendMeYouOffendMyFamily.com. Lin's partners in the channel included YouTube stars Higa, Wu, and Chester See. Launched in the summer of 2012, The YOMYOMF Network hit the ground running, garnering millions of views, providing a platform to present diverse and innovative content.
But as the YouTube "audience" matures, so should its content. The likes of Higa and Wu are diversifying their content from simply webcam videos from their bedroom to more ambitious and complex fare. With YOMYOMF, the goal is the same and an adaptation of Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang's seminal YELLOW FACE stage play. With traditional models of moviemaking and distribution becoming more of a gamble for subjects like an Asian American stageplay, why not use the Internet as an endgame to produce and distribute such content? Therefore, YOMYOMF enlisted the guidance of Hwang and director Jeff Liu to adapt YELLOW FACE in an interesting way and primarily for YouTube.
YELLOW FACE is about DHH (Ryun Yu), an Asian American playwright who casts Marcus (Christopher Gorham), a Caucasian actor, in his new show after mistakenly believing Marcus is part Asian. What ensues is a bevy of characters and situations that put DHH in a predicament as perceptions of "what is Asian" and the politics of race, the media and entertainment. An entertaining mix of fact and fiction that defies any easy categorization, YELLOW FACE features a distinguished cast including a mix of veterans and newbies from film, TV, theater and YouTube. This presentation of YELLOW FACE is a special work-in-progress version. The final version will be released online via The YOMYOMF Network on YouTube in late May. An extended panel discussion, moderated by Bing Chen, YouTube Global Creator Development & Management Lead and Philip W. Chung, creative director of the YOMYOMF Network, and select cast and crew will follow the screening.