Eight years later, Perfection is a 6 1/2 minute black-and-white short film starring Ming-Na (ER, Joy Luck Club). Shot on 35mm, the film uses Milton Bradley’s game of the same name as a metaphor for an Asian-American woman’s life.
Perfection was shot on location in Los Angeles over two days in October 2002. A crew made up of 25 professionals, friends and family donated their time and energy to make the shoot a success. The shoot was also made possible by a grant from the Taiwanese United Fund and the generosity of many vendors who donated equipment and supplies.
The first day, the crew was settling in when baby Michaela Zee arrived with her father Eric and mother actress Ming-Na. They often warn first time directors on using children and animals; “All I can say is, the rambunctious baby rewrote my script that day…. Working with Ming-Na was amazing. She was professional and her performance added another level I could only dream of for the film.” Later during the shoot, certain elements and metaphors became more evident: “Ming-Na approached me and asked if she could put ponytails in her hair for the workout shots because she remembered I use to do that. It was at that very moment that I realized that Ming-Na was playing me.”
The second day had its share of memorable moments: “No one will ever forget my mother calling out from the kitchen for their breakfast order: you want some eggs? scrambled, fried or over-easy?” Karen’s family had so much fun during the shoot, they asked when she would shoot another film because “my aunt has dibs on catering!” The production cranked through over 40 set ups in 2 days and were exhausted, but everyone agreed that the positive attitude and good food went a long way to everyone having a great time.
In January 2003 editor Rachel Tejada began working on
the film. Over the next 6 months, she and Karen edited tirelessly after
work and on weekends. A friend recommended John Morris (X-Men2,
Baraka) for advice on sound design. A synopsis, a rough cut, and
a meeting later, he was interested in working on the project. At the
same time, Karen had reconnected with a high school classmate, award-winning
composer Woody Pak, who had just recently returned to Los Angeles from
New York. Despite an already hectic schedule he also signed on board
immediately when he saw the locked picture. The picture was locked in
June and the music and sound effects were completed in September. The
final print was made in October 2003.