News Column

James Hong hopes to get funding for films shot in and around Lodi

August 5, 2014

By Wes Bowers, Lodi News-Sentinel, Calif.



Aug. 05--Lodi residents and businesses may have the chance to star in a Hollywood movie -- if the man behind it can get enough financial backers.

Actor James Hong has been in numerous movies and television programs, and now he wants to film in Lodi.

Hong, 85, was at the Lodi Chamber of Commerce office at 35 S. School St. on Monday to hold a press conference seeking financial backing and community support to film movies in the area. Chamber staff and local businesses believe if Hong makes a film in town that finds some success, it could attract future productions that would be a benefit to the local economy.

The idea came to Hong after recently visiting Tony Nunez MMA & Kickboxing Academy at 1310 Auto Center Drive to speak with students.

Hong really enjoyed visiting Lodi, he said, and was actively looking for a location to shoot his next project. Nunez suggested the actor film in Lodi.

"From the very first day I came to Lodi, people have been asking me what I am doing here," Hong said. "It's hard to answer that in a way. I don't know exactly what I'm doing. It is really up to (Lodi) to answer that question."

Hong is hoping to find local crew members, filmmakers and actors who would want to be part of a horror/thriller movie he is producing and directing. He also expects to star in the film.

The movie is called "The Shaman," and centers on a young girl who is picked to be the bride of an ancient, evil sorcerer connected to her family's heritage. The family calls on a shaman from Asia, who must battle the sorcerer with the help of a Christian priest.

Hong chose to make this kind of movie due to the cult popularity of "Big Trouble in Little China," which he made with Kurt Russell in 1986. The film, he said, has a huge following thanks in part to the Internet.

Word-of-mouth on the Internet for a film like "Big Trouble in Little China" could generate huge interest, he said.

Hong hopes to begin filming this fall, but if money to start production isn't collected by that time, then filming would begin sometime early next year.

He proposed holding writer's contests and open auditions to attract local talent from all over the northern Central Valley. He's hoping to make as many as four movies in the area, and said that would generate interest from other production companies.

There are many great locations in the Lodi area to use for scenery in any film, Hong said, including Lodi Lake and Locke.

"I've been through sets in Hollywood that aren't as good as what you have here (on School Street), because it has character," he said. "There is lots of scenery to do something here."

Nunez would love to do anything that would put Lodi on the map, he said. He hopes fellow business owners will come on-board and invest in the film's production.

"Support is so important to make this happen," he said. "If word gets out, I guarantee you people will come forward."

Born in Minneapolis, Hong has acted in nearly 400 films and television programs.

Other films he is known for include 1982's "Blade Runner" with Harrison Ford and, most recently, "R.I.P.D" with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. Hong has also loaned his voice to Disney's "Mulan" as Chi Fu and Dreamworks' "Kung Fu Panda" as Mr. Ping. On television, he's starred in hit shows like "The Big Bang Theory," "MacGyver," "Dynasty" and the original "Kung Fu."

Hong said he has a very good feeling that his film can be made in the Lodi area.

"The people here in Lodi have been extremely good to me," Hong said. "They've made me feel welcome, and I would love to come back here."

Anyone interested in investing in Hong's film can email Nunez at tonynunezmma@yahoo.com or call 209-570-0853.

Contact reporter Wes Bowers at wesb@lodinews.com.

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(c)2014 the Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, Calif.)

Visit the Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, Calif.) at www.lodinews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Lodi News-Sentinel (CA)


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