Sundance 2011

Sundance 2011

So it’s almost upon us!  I’m talking about the Sundance Film Festival, of course!  And I’m going.  😀  You may recall in an earlier post, that I played the part of Alisa in the film Salvation Boulevard.  Well, George Ratliff is premiering it at Sundance, so I felt it would be the perfect opportunity to attend for the first time.  My only qualms are that I decided so late in the game, and the ticketing procedures were unfamiliar to me, so I will have to see if I can get tickets once I’m there.

Here are some images from the film (they all link back to what site they’re from if you click on them):

Pierce Brosnan as Dan Day in Salvation Boulevard

Pierce Brosnan as Dan Day in Salvation Boulevard


Salvation Boulevard--Dan Day

Salvation Boulevard--Dan Day

Greg Kinnear as Carl VanderVeer in Salvation Boulevard

Greg Kinnear as Carl VanderVeer in Salvation Boulevard


I’ll have a partner in crime for my SLC/PC trip: my actor friend Lauren Petre!  She’s also represented by my talent agency, Charlie’s Talent Agency, or CTA.  She also has a film in which she acted premiering at Sundance.  It’s a horror film directed by well-known director Lucky McKee, called The Woman.  We’ll be attending the Wednesday night showing together!  Here are a couple creepy images from the film:


Still from Lucky McKee's The Woman--from

Still from Lucky McKee's The Woman--from

Behind the scenes shot of Lucky McKee's The Woman--from

Behind the scenes shot of Lucky McKee's The Woman--from

In preparation for the festivities, I picked up a couple more sweaters and some good solid snow boots, so I’ll be ready to wait outside in the cold!


The North Face Nuptse Fur IV Boots

The North Face Nuptse Fur IV Boots

It had been awhile since my last haircut, too.  I had my stylist, Josh Thiele of Orbit Hair Salon in Ann Arbor, Michigan, give my mop a good cleaning up today.


Cindy Chu haircut

Cindy Chu with her fresh coif

Looks like 2011 is off to an exciting start for me.  I can only hope that this year will be even more successful for me in my pursuit of acting.  As with all actors, learning new skills or just having other skills can be important sometimes.  Take Christina Hendricks, who has been learning how to play the accordion.  Well, while the writers of Mad Men were brainstorming ideas, they decided they wanted an episode in which she played a song at a dinner party.  They found out she played accordion, and so they wrote the scene for her.

This brings me to my point.  I have been earnestly practicing on my ukulele, and recorded another song the other night.  Right now, I’m working on learning yet another, and as soon as I feel I’m performing it at my best (difficult strum pattern!) I will post it, as well.  This one was “Sentimental Heart” by She & Him, and I definitely should have practiced it longer than 15 minutes before uploading any performance, but c’est la vie!   (Pretty sure I can perform it a bit better than in the video now… 🙂 *shrugs*)

And in other skill areas, I finally got out my Nikon D70 to shoot my friends’ event.  The Ann Arbor hip hop duo made up of J Thrill, and D Train, aka Thrill$Train, had a show at Sava’s last weekend, and I was there with my camera to capture the magic.  They were pretty happy with the photos!  They’ve got a show in Detroit next month at The Old Miami.  Check out their website for more details or to download their album free!  These were a couple of my favorite images from the night:


D Train says J Thrill looks like "The Most Interesting Man in the World's Son" here

D Train says J Thrill looks like "The Most Interesting Man in the World's Son" here


Thrill$Train in all their hot hot glory

Thrill$Train in all their hot hot glory

D Train thrilling the crowd

D Train thrilling the crowd

Thrill$Train playing to a packed house at Sava's in Ann Arbor

Thrill$Train playing to a packed house at Sava's in Ann Arbor


As with other posts, I like to promote friends, and I went to a show recently at the Crofoot and discovered this AMAZING new band from Monroe, Michigan.  They are called Jack & The Bear and they play instruments like the banjo, violin, trumpet, accordion, etc.  Absolutely brilliant.  One of their friends uploaded some live video footage from the show which you can check out on their Facebook fanpage.  From what I heard, they are in the midst of recording their first album.  I wish them the best of luck, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see them blow up big time in the next couple of years.

Alright, I guess I’ll hopefully have a few more updates for you when I get to Salt Lake City/Park City, UTAH!  It’ll be my first visit to the state.  Huzzah!



Other Ventures

While this site is mostly used for posting about my acting career, I figured I can also tie in some notes about my film friends’ achievements/updates.

If you’ve seen my film Qing Lou Nu, then you’d know the name Bryan D. Hopkins.  Earlier this year he drove down to Louisiana to shoot a ton of coverage on the Gulf oil spill for a documentary he’s putting together.  Here’s a peep at the trailer he just released for Dirty Energy:

Dirty Energy featurette from Bryan D. Hopkins on Vimeo.

Dirty Energy featurette

A new buddy of mine that I met on the set of a GM commercial I was recently working on shared a short film he did with me, that I also feel needs to be passed on to more potential fans.  It’s hilarious, and it’s about Death.  Good work, Clark Birchmeier!

no harvest:the intern from clark birchmeier on Vimeo.

This short film is called “no harvest: the intern”. It is a dark-comedy about the Grim Reaper. It was produced by Rebel Cow Productions LLC, and was directed by Clark Birchmeier.

Another personal venture I haven’t mentioned yet is that I recently joined the band Origami Cat Plan, and we just played our first gig. Having had only 2 practices with the band, I didn’t perform my best, but I think it was still pretty impressive for the amount of time we had to prepare.


Cindy Chu as Princess Koneko of Origami Cat Plan

Cindy Chu as Princess Koneko of Origami Cat Plan

Origami Cat Plan at the Blind Pig 12/15/2010

Origami Cat Plan at the Blind Pig 12/15/2010


Origami Cat Plan Groovin at their first show with Cindy Chu

Origami Cat Plan Groovin at their first show with Cindy Chu


In my thirst for learning, and owning musical instruments, I even obtained a baby jimbay or djembe yesterday, at the encouragement of my best friend Ris Tena, who is a master of the hip hop and fashion worlds.  I’ll be able to add it to my tambourine/vocals skills for Origami Cat Plan!

Cindy Chu with her new jimbay or djembe (various spellings)

Cindy Chu with her new jimbay or djembe (various spellings)

And in other news, had a few more auditions recently, but I don’t really like saying what any of them are because like I mentioned in my previous post, the majority of the time you don’t hear anything back afterwards.  So I usually do the auditions, and then forget about them and if I DO hear anything, then of course I jump for joy like I won the lottery.  I will say, though, that I am extremely excited about Fox picking up a live-action adaptation of Joe Hill’s Locke & Key!   My current fantasies are to play a part in a live-action version of a graphic novel, and to do some more animated voiceovers!


Cover of Joe Hill's Locke & Key

Cover of Joe Hill's Locke & Key

A page from Joe Hill's Locke & Key

A page from Joe Hill's Locke & Key

If you’re curious about what I’ve been watching recently, wonder no more.  I just caught up on Dexter, amazing amazing show, and I have to give it to Julia Stiles for shocking me with her great portrayal of Lumen in Season 5.  I’ve also been re-watching Firefly, and am about halfway through.  I had seen bits and pieces of it before when I was younger, but never got to view the entire series.  Guess I was too busy with Buffy, The X-Files, and Charmed?  Joss Whedon is a genius, and I have a soft spot for Mal.


Captain "Mal" Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly

Captain "Mal" Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly

Julia Stiles as Lumen in Dexter S.5, with Dexter

Julia Stiles as Lumen in Dexter S.5, with Dexter

For films, I can’t wait to see Black Swan and TRON LEGACY this weekend!  The Michigan Theater starts screening Black Swan today.


Natalie Portman as the Black Swan

Natalie Portman as the Black Swan

Production Still from Tron Legacy with Olivia Wilde, Joseph Kosinski and Jeff Bridges

Production Still from Tron Legacy with Olivia Wilde, Joseph Kosinski and Jeff Bridges

And if you enjoy graphic novels, one of my all-time favorite and most beloved books is now available as a graphic novel: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.


A page from the new graphic novel version of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A page from the new graphic novel version of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Hopefully I’ll have some good news to share with you all when I post again!  And thanks to my awesome agent, Curt Howe of Charlie’s Talent Agency, aka CTA, who believes in me and keeps getting me auditions!  One of these days…(fingers crossed)

If I don’t update before Christmas, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with loved ones, and remember to appreciate all the goodness in your life.


A-maize-ing March!

March was truly a blessed time for me!  Here are the big updates.

1) I was cast for a print ad for Brunswick, which I had to travel down to Chicago for.  A lot of fellow Michigan actors/actresses were cast as well, including my friend, My-Ishia.  We definitely held our own on the shoot, along with the Charlie’s Talent Agency talent from Chicago.  We had to do many different setups over two days in the Brunswick Zone XL in Algonquin, IL.

2) I auditioned for Salvation Boulevard through Pound-Mooney, and subsequently got a callback (with the director, George Ratliff) and then cast!  I am proud to announce that I will be playing Alisa, a grad student, in 2 scenes opposite the very wonderful and talented Pierce Brosnan! (JAMES BOND!!!!)  Also starring in this comedy thriller by Larry Beinhart are Ed Harris, Jim Gaffigan, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, and Marisa Tomei.

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan

Ed Harris

Ed Harris

Greg Kinnear

Greg Kinnear

Jim Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan

Jennifer Connelly

Jennifer Connelly

Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei

Director George Ratliff

Director George Ratliff

Author Larry Beinhart

Author Larry Beinhart

3) Voice acting is another field I’d like to add to my acting resume, and I have just received the chance to build on that dream.  I was cruising through Craigslist the other night and saw a posting for voice acting auditions for a CG-animated sci-fi feature called The Phoenix Armageddon.  I dropped by the audition, and the next day, got the call that they wanted me for one of the leads!  It’s a local, indie project, so there may not be pay involved, but I’d love to add it to my repertoire regardless.  We have our first cast meeting tonight!  I’ll be running over to Detroit for that in between being on set for…(leadup to #4)

4) I am the makeup/hair assistant to the lovely and talented Andrea Syron on the feature film Sucker, starring Michael Manasseri and Jordan Trovillion.  Today, we get to do some sfx makeup.  Or at least Andrea does, and I hope I get to help!  Puncture wounds!

Michael Manasseri

Michael Manasseri

Jordan Trovillion

Jordan Trovillion

In other news, Qing Lou Nu has been submitted to many festivals with the wonderful help of some very generous friends.  Now we just have to wait with fingers crossed…

Red Dawn‘s premiere is slated for Wednesday, November 24th, 2010, Thanksgiving Weekend!  Look for my giggle/scream scenes in that!

For more regular updates, feel free to follow me on Twitter.

Peace and love


March 4, 2010 Updates

With the DIFF awards ceremony happening this Saturday night, we’ve been getting some press!

Here’s the article they posted on

Detroit Independent Film Festival features the work of four University of Michigan grads this week

The inaugural Detroit Independent Film Festival — wherein indie filmmakers were invited to submit their work at no cost — kicks off on Tuesday, March 2 at the newBurton Theater, in the Chinatown/Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit.

More than 80 films will be showcased at DIFF, including the U.S. premiere of George A. Romero‘s “Survival of the Dead,” and the event will play host to the first-ever Michigan Film Awards.

With four University of Michigan graduates among the nominees, it’s possible that these Wolverines may get to take home some hardware.

U-M grad Cindy Chu is nominated for an MFA best actress award for the short “Qing Lou Nu,” which will be screened March 6; U-M grad and writer/director Lance Kawaswill have his film “Street Boss” (about a real Detroit mobster who was brought down by the FBI) screened on March 4 at 3:30 p.m., and Kawas has earned MFA nominations in the categories of best Michigan feature and best director; and U-M grads Wad’ih Arraf and Stephen Day‘s absurdist, MFA-nominated short “Forth, William” will screen on March 6.

To learn more about this week’s festival, and see a detailed schedule,

Jenn McKee is the entertainment digital journalist for Reach her or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.

There was also a mention of Qing Lou Nu and Bryan D. Hopkins in today’s Detroit Free Press:

Detroit’s Burton Theatre launches indie film fest

Romero’s ‘Survival of the Dead’ among the premieres


The Burton Theatre, which opened late last year in the auditorium of Detroit’s old Burton Elementary School, continues its ambitious mission this week by throwing the first Detroit Independent Film Festival. The event, which began Tuesday, continues through Sunday with a lineup of offbeat local films and the premiere of George A. Romero’s “Survival of the Dead.”

“We wanted something that would foster the creative impetus in Detroit and in Michigan,” says festival programmer Nate Faustyn. “We wanted a festival that was really filmmaker-friendly.”

More than 70 short and feature-length films will play over the weekend, among them Bryan D. Hopkins‘ “Qing Lou Nu,” Robert Joseph Butler’s “Solitude” and “Another Day, Another Dime” from former Detroiter Kathy Kolla.

For many fans, the big ticket will be “Survival of the Dead,” the latest in a long series of Romero horror films that began with “Night of the Living Dead” in 1968. The new entry finds warring families on an island battling each other and a zombie epidemic. Though the movie isn’t directly related to 2007’s “Diary of the Dead,” it shares some of the same characters.

Acquiring “Survival” was a coup for the local festival, as the film has been seen only in Toronto, Venice, Italy, and Austin, Texas. Romero says a limited theatrical release is expected this spring.

“I really didn’t know what to make this one about,” the revered cult director, 70, said during a recent phone interview. “So I went back to the theme of that enmity that won’t die, people that hold onto these grudges even in the face of disaster.”

Romero, who had his dance with Hollywood in the 1980s, prefers to keep his movies far away from studio control — and meddling. “No, they can’t compete against ‘Avatar,’ ” he said, “but I have a loyal fan base. The films do extremely well on video.”

The DIFF runs through Sunday at the Burton Theatre, 3420 Cass, Detroit. 313-473-9238 or $10 for “Survival of the Dead,” $5 for other screenings.

Russian-made ‘Sun’ shines at DFT: “The Sun” (***), playing this weekend at the Detroit Film Theatre, examines the surrender of Japanese Emperor Hirohito to Allied occupiers near the end of World War II. The new movie from Russian director Alexander Sokurov (“Russian Ark”) boasts a haunting performance by Issey Ogata as a man hailed as a deity who must now walk among mortals. He appears to have lots of mumbling conversations with himself in the film — something that may lead viewers to think the sound is skewed. 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday (also 4:30 p.m. March 14).

Then, as part of the ongoing DFT Docs series, Michel Orion Scott’s “The Horse Boy” follows a Texas family on a journey to Outer Mongolia to find a cure for an autistic child. It screens at 4 p.m. Saturday. DFT at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward, Detroit. 313-833-4005 or $7.50, $6.50 students, seniors.

Oscar party at Dino’s in Ferndale: They’re calling it the Foscars, or “fun Oscars.” So says Greg Russell from “Movie Show Plus” on WMYD-TV (My TV 20), host of Sunday night’s Academy Awards Party at Dino’s Lounge in Ferndale. The free event, beginning at 7 p.m. and running through the end of the show, will feature a limo parked out front, red carpet, champagne, snacks and prizes.

During the commercials, contestants in a Micro Mini Challenge will screen their short films as a prelude to this fall’s Ferndale Film Festival. 22740 Woodward, Ferndale, 248-591-3466. Film fest info: 248-534-5354 or

Redford bets on ‘Day at the Races’: Among the Marx Brothers’ most entertaining vehicles is 1937’s “A Day at the Races” (***), which finds the comic trio saving a sanitarium while playing the ponies at the racetrack next door. 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser (at Grand River), Detroit. 313-537-2560 or $4.

Hitchcock rarities play Penn: 1956’s “The Wrong Man” (***), starring Henry Fonda as a jazz musician wrongly accused of robbery, is tonight’s offering in a new Penn Theatre series of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers. The 7 p.m. Thursday series will focus on rarely seen Hitchcock works, all screening in 35mm prints. The other titles: “Suspicion” (March 11), “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (March 18) and “Rope” (March 25). 760 Penniman, Plymouth. 734-453-0870 or $3.

Contact freelance writer JOHN MONAGHAN:

With so much interest in the film festival and my rising career as an actress, I also gave a few interviews in the past couple of weeks.  One was with my old high school, Grosse Pointe South.  The other two were with Seaholm High School and lastly, my friend Roborobb.  When I have access to the articles/interviews, I will post them here.

The newest episode of The Midnight Hour also premieres tonight at midnight, and every Saturday (10:30PM) and Thursday (midnight) for the rest of the month in the Troy, MI broadcast area.  More below:

Comcast 52 & WOW! 18:

March 4, 11, 18, 25 (midnight)

March 6, 13, 20, 27 (10:30pm)

A drunken, murderous circus clown (Jamie Wheatley) gets a new lease on life as a travelling nightclub hypnotist. His sensuous assistant, Wan (Cindy Chu) begins to suspect a connection between his bizarre stage act and a series of brutal homicides in the towns in which he plays. John Tynan, Jr., Curtis Lee Vest, Angela Roberts, Jonathan West, Carol McClure, Michael J. Vanderpool, Dave Dork (30 min.)

Those are all my updates for now.  I hope some of you can make the awards ceremony!  In case you need the info for that again:

Tickets may now be purchased online:

Come see Qing Lou Nu screen at the first annual Detroit Independent Film Festival Awards Ceremony! Description of the awards ceremony follows below.

7 :30 PM – 2010 Michigan Film Awards Best Short Nominations/Award Ceremony @ Deroy Auditorium 5203 Cass Ave, Detroit MI 48202

Qing Lou Nu (2009, USA, Bryan D. Hopkins)
Walls collapse with tragic consequences when a Chinese prostitute hears the words, “I love you.” Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “Qing Lou Nu” is an edgy reinvention of the timeless classic that explores the collision of east and west.

Running Time 25 Mins

**7 Michigan Film Award Nominations including Best Narrative Short, Best Editing and Best Director Bryan D. Hopkins, Best Actress-Cindy Chu, Best Actor-Axel Harney, Best Cinematography-Mark C. Davis Jr., Best Supporting Actor-David G.B. Brown



UPDATE on March 5, 2010

We got some more press in The News Herald!  Read the article below.

East meets West: Banker-turned-filmmaker finds niche with indie film

Published: Friday, March 05, 2010

Cindy Chu pictured in incense scene from Qing Lou Nu

Click to enlarge

By Andrea Blum

Bryan Hopkins, 34, says he’s done enough living for 100 lifetimes, and now wants to use those experiences to tell stories to make people think and feel in different ways.

The Riverview resident abandoned corporate life as a mortgage banker at Quicken Loans to find his niche as an independent film director.

“The same mortgage crisis that hit everybody hit me,” he said.

After becoming unemployed, he decided to pursue one of his passions.

“I was working to get paid and trying to have fun on my off hours,” he said. “I decided that philosophy wasn’t working.”

He cashed in his savings and enrolled at the Motion Picture Institute of Michigan.

“I found that I was a perfect fit for it, and I fell in love with it,” he said.

“Now I’m trying to claw my way up and make up for 30 years I spent doing other stuff.”

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Hopkins was drawn to music and photography at a young age, but set his creative tendencies aside to serve as a parachute medic in the 82nd Airborne Division.

At Kent State University, he discovered a passion for world culture that led to a three-year trip around the world.

During that time, he studied religion, culture and international politics primarily in Asia.

“I got my degree in comparative religious studies,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in philosophy and religion.”

He met his wife in Taiwan and spent a year as an English coordinator for the Taiwanese military.

And it’s those experiences among others that Hopkins uses to inspire his creativity.

“Being a filmmaker allows me to take my business background and unique experiences and culminate them into one artistic expression,” he said.

“It’s the perfect blend of philosophy, art and corporate expression.”

One of his latest efforts, “Qing Lou Nu (The Prostitute),” is nominated in seven categories at this weekend’s first Detroit Independent Film Festival.

The DIFF was started by indie filmmakers for indie filmmakers.

The free five-night festival held at the Burton Film Theatre in Detroit will showcase short films from Michigan and around the world.

Hopkins’ 25-minute film is an edgy reinvention of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart,” with a twist that explores the collision of East and West.

His first non-student film, the idea sprang from his membership in a director’s club at MPI.

“We were going to do a version of Poe’s story and I had spent a lot of time in Asia so the director of MPI asked what I thought about going Asian with it,” he said.

Hopkins said the story fell in line perfectly with his storytelling method.

“I write dark stuff,” he said. “I’ve been through more downs than ups in life. I relate to a funeral more than I can relate to a wedding.”

The stylistic bilingual picture explores the life of an Asian prostitute trapped in a contradictory world of passion and obligations, and the stunning climax when a naïve, unsuspecting client confesses his love for her.

“I started seeing certain images in my head,” he said. “The incense ritual at the beginning of the film and mixing between something so sacred with something that a lot of people see as dirty.”

When it came time to cast the film, Hopkins said it was quite a challenge to find a willing actress to take the lead.

“I put Craigslist ads out and tried to find people everywhere, and no one would take the role,” he said.

The sexual nature of the movie prevented many Asian actresses from agreeing to take part, according to Hopkins, because overt sexuality is taboo in Asian culture.

In the end, local actress Cindy Chu was the last person seen for the role only a month before shooting began, Hopkins said, and she gave an amazing performance.

The film, made on a $1,000 budget, is nominated for Best Narrative Short, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography and Best Editing at the DIFF.

It also earned the “Audience Choice Award” at the Mitten Movie Project in October.

“The response has been great,” he said. I’m so glad that people get it.”

Hopkins, along with a cast and crew of 32 people, spent roughly a month filming in Troy and Royal Oak. The work was completed last summer.

“I’m trying to really explore a different side of things,” he said. “It’s not a love story, but I love the idea of playing with people’s definitions of things.”

For him, the greatest aspect of filmmaking is causing someone to walk away with a changed view of the world.

“It’s one of the most challenging times in Michigan’s history,” he said, “but if someone could watch this film and see that with this darkness there’s also a lot of powerful experiences and great art that can come from it, then that’s great.”

“Qing Lou Nu” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Burton Theatre.

Also on the bill is “The Tank,” a short film by written by Wyandotte Police Det. Scott Galeski and directed by Joe Johnston.

Filmed at the former Wyandotte Police Department, the movie chronicles the interaction among five men in the holding cell known as “the tank,” as they await arraignment.

“The Tank” will show at 4 p.m. tomorrow.

For a full schedule of films showing at the festival, visit

Year of the Tiger!

2010 is off to a roaring start.

I starred in another episode of Lee Martin’s The Midnight Hour, “Mesmerized”, which will air in March.  I played the part of Wan, a down-on-her-luck hypnotist’s assistant, who may have dark secrets of her own.  Check it out on Comcast 52 or WOW! 18 in the Greater Detroit Comcast area.

I finally started attending acting classes again at Michigan Actors Studio under the tutelage of Rich Goteri and Rachel Bellack.  I’ve had some auditions, and landed a role in a local web series called The Roomers.  I’m also wrapping up my role in the University of Michigan student film Yoshiko on the Dunes, the senior thesis project of film student Micah Vanderhoof.  Some clips for The Midnight Hour and Yoshiko on the Dunes are below.

The clip for The Roomers is not up on Youtube as of now, but you can watch it by clicking here.

I’m extremely excited about the upcoming Detroit Independent Film Festival (DIFF), a new festival put together by my friend Rob Butler.  I’m honored to be one of the nominees for Best Actress.  The schedule for the festival is here.  The festival is going to be an incredible experience, and I can’t wait to attend the awards ceremony.  The best short film nominees will be screened during the ceremony.  Some exciting news surrounding the festival is that George Romero will be having his US premiere of Survival of the Dead at the DIFF.

The official flyer for Qing Lou Nu:

Cindy Chu in the Qing Lou Nu Flyer

Official Flyer for Qing Lou Nu (starring Cindy Chu and Axel Harney)

I hope to see you all there at the DIFF awards ceremony on March 6, 2010.



It’s All About the Rs and Ds!

Hello all, hope you had a great Thanksgiving! I sure did. It was lovely spending time with my family, although my sister-in-law and sister were both gone abroad this year.

Anyway, I’ve got a few exciting updates for you.

1) We had another mini-screening for QLN at the December Mitten Movie Project, organized by Connie Mangilin and Jeff White. QLN was shown with many other wonderful Michigan-made shorts, all audience choice winners from previous months, and I got to see some amazing pieces with my friend Grace Anne Rowan starring. The only award given out that night that I know of was for best short film, and that went to Chuck Grady’s The Point. Congratulations! It will air on Comcast’s Channel 52 Wow in the Troy area of Michigan for the next month.

2) My friend, Treasure Groh, a brilliant writer for Real Detroit, had decided to start a new series with her editor about, you guessed it, the film industry in Michigan!

Front page of Real Detroit--Cindy Chu

Front page of Real Detroit--Cindy Chu

Knowing that I’m an aspiring actress, she interviewed me for the first piece. You can read it here, and if that’s stopped working, here’s the text of it:

Michigan’s Film Industry
By Treasure Groh
Dec 1, 2009, 12:55

Michigan’s Film Industry
A 101 Guide To Getting Started

Michigan may be the last place anyone expected to go Hollywood, but we have (minus the pretense). Now, studios, film classes and acting workshops are sprouting up all over metro-Detroit for people hoping to land film gigs. This ongoing series is designed to help you break into the business. We will examine the classes, the news, the politics, the tax incentive controversy and the films slated to be made right here in Michigan … and maybe, just maybe, help you get a job in the field.

Let’s start with the basics. Jobs are coming, slowly. The chances of nailing a big movie role by being discovered at a café are slim (even if you do nail the producer). You need to start with bit roles — roles as an extra.

But if your talent isn’t as “talent,” there are schools to help you gain knowledge as a grip or colorist — but we’ll tackle that topic in another issue.

What’s the cause of the newfound film enterprise of opportunity in our own backyards? It may be that 42 percent tax incentive that Governor Granholm granted the film institutions for producing product here (money is always the bottom line in Hollywood). Still, the very things that Detroit society has come to hate have also lured filmmakers in: burnt out and abandoned buildings with glorious architecture.

With so many movies being filmed here — some of which have included Whip It, Gran Torino and the HBO original TV series Hung — how does one break into this newly adapted form of employment? There are many different avenues to take, from Craigslist ads to agencies and everything in between. So if you find yourself itching to take a crack at the newly bustling Michigan film industry, read on.

Where to Start
If you haven’t had any previous acting or production experience, it’s best that you get out there and flash those pearly whites. And if they ain’t white, get them lasered. We’re serious. Get yourself out there and keep your name and image relevant. School productions aside, there’s an unending supply of acting seminars and workshops geared to meet your specific needs.

You can think unconventionally or follow the lead of others like you: “I took a one day seminar with Steve Blackwood (he was on Days of Our Lives) and an audition seminar with Marnie Saitta, who is the casting director with Days of Our Lives,” says Cindy Chu, an aspiring actress.

This seminar was brought to the public by the Michigan Actors Studio (, which plays a big part in providing workshops to aspiring, as well as seasoned, actors. Though the seminars are not free, keep in mind that they often run weeks at a time, giving you more experience for a cheaper price than, say, Juilliard would.

While Chu admits that not all seminars are created equal, you should do what you can with what you have. Remember to check the site often, as classes are bound to fill up quickly.

Earning Your Chops
Now that you’ve learned a thing or two about the business, you’re ready for some roles, right? Wrong. Before you bother a casting director with your whimsical dreams of stardom, it’s best to get a few headshots. At this point, portfolios aren’t necessary because you don’t have any experience (yet). But once you have that pretty little card with your face on it, you can finally start looking for casting calls.

It can be a daunting task searching through all the pages that Craigslist has to offer, but it’s not in vain. “Any time it says ‘extras wanted’ or ‘actresses wanted’ and then it’ll talk about the Internet and partial nudity, I never pursue any of those,” Chu says with a laugh. The Michigan Film Office ( is another great resource when looking for jobs, workshops, college class listings and other news about productions coming this way.

Though it shows drive and ambition to find your own jobs, you may also opt for an extras casting site. “You go in and give them your stats, so whenever a film is coming in and they’re looking for extras they’ll look and see if you fit the descriptions for background work and stuff,” Chu advises.

A good extras casting site is Real Style ( For a small, one-time $15 fee, Real Style will hook you up with a profile — you’ll go in and take a picture; and they’ll keep you in their database when casting directors are on the prowl for fresh talent.

Another road you may take is a talent agency. When you have enough material for your reel, you can start submitting to such agencies in the hopes of being signed and getting an agent. Doubly exciting, being signed to an agency means that you are good enough to have an agent and you’ll also get help from said agent in booking auditions.

Don’t just take the high road and expect to be cast in a movie right away. Take some time and scour local theaters for stage productions as well. “If someone wants to get into it I would say audition for your local theater groups and participate in Student films,” says Chu.

Working on a student film, as Chu did for the film Qing Lou Nu, may be tricky, but the experience will pay off in the end. As for stage productions, even if you don’t get the part don’t get discouraged — you now have an audition under your belt and may be better able to spot your strengths and weaknesses.

If you find that booking films is a little harder than anticipated, try another avenue. Working on a local crew does wonders for your networking capabilities and allows you to work closely with the people of production so that they will better recognize your face the next time they’re in need.

“When you work with someone and have good chemistry with them on the set and you’re a team player, they’ll definitely remember that in the future and wanna help you out,” says Chu, who was a wardrobe intern for the film Whip It.

Where to Go From Here
After you’ve soaked up all the skills needed to begin a career in film, it’s important to realize that you won’t always get paid. While Chu states that you should get paid, she admits that, oftentimes, it does not happen.

“A lot of people are upset because some of the films haven’t followed through but have asked for free extras or say that they’ll do a raffle for a prize and then they don’t end up dong the raffle,” Chu says. If you’re booked through a site such as Real Style, you will get paid for all of the work you do. If you approach a project on your own, be prepared for the unfortunate situation of potentially leaving with empty pockets.

From here, continue to use the knowledge and experience you’ve acquired. Even if you’re not working, take seminars and workshops during your dry spell so you don’t get rusty. Take advantage of every opportunity the blossoming Michigan film industry is offering you. Continue to hone your craft and be the best among your peers.

Who knows … some day you might just find yourself acting in an airport with George Clooney.  | RDW

And the best update of all for the year, I think:

3) Last Thursday I received a call from Pound & Mooney Casting about a gig with Red Dawn, directed by Dan Bradley. They needed a Chinese female actress for an extra role with a “99.9% chance of being upgraded”. I immediately said I would do it, at which Cathy Mooney told me that the extras casting from the film would be in contact with me about going in for a fitting. I ended up getting a phone call from Ryan Hill, the head of the RD extras department, and we made an appointment for me to go in to their production offices that evening for a fitting and to sign some initial paperwork. Later on, I got my call time for the next day. Friday morning, Janet Pound called me to tell me she had seen my short film at the Mitten Movie Project and loved it, so when the call went out for this potential role, she made sure I was resubmitted from my earlier audition with them for the part of “Checkpoint Soldier”. That felt great, to know that the one huge role I’ve had so far was quite instrumental in this turnaround of events. I had given up hope of ever being in Red Dawn after hearing they were almost wrapped and there hadn’t been many roles for Asian women in it. Well, eventually on Friday, I was called to set with my co-star, Dwight Sora, an Asian actor from Chicago, and I figured I was at best a featured extra. I don’t want to say what I did in the scene here, since I don’t know how much I’m allowed to elaborate, but when we wrapped that night, I was told I’d probably be needed back Monday and they would let us know. Sunday I got notice that I probably wouldn’t be needed but they wanted me on hold in case things changed. Monday, I got a call saying I’d been upgraded to a supporting role and would have to fill out some contracts when I went back to set. Tuesday I was on hold again. Finally, Wednesday, I went back for my second scene, and was excited to see that there was a trailer on the honeywagon with my name on it! It was shared, but still! My first trailer! And inside my trailer, my paperwork awaited. I signed my first Taft-Hartley, and I believe that it means I’m now SAG-eligible. Yay! It was a great day on set, lots of “fire in the hole”, tons of action, and it was much warmer in the buildings than it had been on Friday. My first SAG feature film role…and in the biggest action flick shot of the year, I do believe!

Cindy Chu & Red Dawn trailer

Cindy Chu and Red Dawn trailer

All in all, 2009 has been a great year for me, and I think I’ve made some very satisfactory progress in my goal of becoming a professional actress/ film professional. Not bad for under a year and a half of actually actively pursuing this career. This last role has afforded me the financial capability to take some classes in 2010, and that will include a film acting class, and perhaps also some sort of martial arts course. After speaking with one of the professional stunt men on Red Dawn, I think it only makes sense to at least learn the basics, being a Chinese-American actress and all. At best, it will be the deciding factor in me getting some role over another actress, and it’s a great skill to have in terms of self-defense and also my constant pursuit of learning new things.

Currently, I am also doing the P90X workout program. I’m just starting week 2 and already feel some physical changes inside. I feel that I’ve been making better choices in my diet, and like I have more energy. The first week, though, wow! I was sore every day! The workouts can be pretty challenging, but I’ve already improved my endurance and coordination in the past 9 days, and can’t wait to see what kind of changes it’ll bring for me physically. I’d like to drop a size by my birthday in February! For the most part, though, I just want to know that I’m well-conditioned, and to be healthier and have better stamina overall. No hibernating for me this winter, I’ve got roles to land and a lot of work ahead of me.

I look forward to 2010 with nothing but hope.

Thank you for reading,


Days Of Our Lives Open Call and More…


Last Monday, the student film I’m in, Yoshiko On the Dunes, shot a scene in the WORK gallery.  I play the part of Naoki, who is the best friend to Yoshiko.  The director is hoping to shoot the entire film on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II.  It’s incredible what these new DSLR cameras can do nowadays!

Days Of Our Lives held an open call this past weekend at the MGM Grand Detroit. Hundreds if not thousands showed up from all over Michigan and rumoredly, even as far as Chicago, to compete for a chance to win a one-day role on a future episode of Days. The night before the open call, I attended an audition workshop with Marnie Saitta, who is the casting director of Days Of Our Lives. I’m so glad I went, I learned a lot of audition do’s and don’ts, and was grateful for the FREE information. The next morning, I woke up bright and early so I could get to Detroit by 8:00AM to get in line for the open call. Current cast members Shawn Christian, Shelley Hennig, Bryan Dattilo, Nadia Bjorlin, and James Reynolds were all in attendance for a fan meet-and-greet, as well. Many casting and talent agents were among the judges, and after passing round one (reading with them) some of us were able to read for Marnie. I was lucky enough to read with Olga from Productions Plus, one of the talent agencies in Michigan (they also have branches in NY and LA). She sent me on to read for Marnie, who told me I had a great natural way about my acting, and asked if I’d received the callback sides and if they had my contact number, and then she gave me a fist bump! Steve Blackwood, who used to play Bart on Days, told me that’s a good sign! He was also there at the event.

The open call ran until 7PM that night, and then the judges and Marnie selected less than 30 actors to invite back for a callback the next morning. I received a call around 9:30PM for the callback!

The next morning, I drove to Detroit yet again, and waited my turn to do my audition in front of the panel of judges for the callback. It included a writer from Days, an NBC exec, and other assorted people I didn’t know. The Days actors were all in the room, as well. We were taken in one by one, and each of us read with one of the actors from Days. I read with James Reynolds! It was a surreal moment because I grew up watching Days with my mother, so it was great meeting so many of them right here in Detroit, and then being able to read with one! Wow!

After everyone auditioned, the judges deliberated for awhile and then brought us all into the room. They selected six finalists (I didn’t make it) and from the six, decided to pick TWO winners because they were so impressed with all of us and couldn’t just pick one! That’s huge! I was proud to know one of the winners. I’m so excited for both of them, it’s an amazing opportunity and I wish them the best of luck.

Right after all of that, I had an audition lined up for the role of Keiko, a Japanese news anchor, in the movie Zomedy, a zombie comedy, that will be shot in Michigan.


A week and a half ago, I worked a couple days on Cedar Rapids as an additional set costumer, and got to meet Ed Helms (who loved my big fur Mongolian hat, by the way) and Sigourney Weaver.  Well, I didn’t really meet Sigourney, but I did stand right next to her on set!  If I can work 28 more union scale days in wardrobe, I can apply to join IATSE.

And, this week, I will be assisting Andrea Syron who is MUA/Hair/Key Costumer for the short Best Girlfriends.

All exciting stuff!  Michigan is happening.  Every day, I am getting closer and closer to making my dreams come true.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Demosthenes:

“Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.”

Don’t stop dreaming, and keep reaching for the stars!



Ed Helms in Mongolian fur hat

Ed Helms wearing my Mongolian fur hat

Steve Blackwood and Cindy Chu

With Steve Blackwood at Michigan Actor's Studio

Nadia Bjorlin and Cindy Chu

My friend Alaina and I with Nadia Bjorlin

Shawn Christian and Cindy Chu

Alaina and I with Shawn Christian

Shelley Hennig and James Reynolds and Cindy Chu

Me with James Reynolds and Shelley Hennig

Bryan Dattilo and Cindy Chu

Me with Bryan Dattilo


I have just spent a little bit of time spreading my internet tentacles out. I now have a LinkedIn account and my own Google profile. My Google search results are also improving. Right now, on the top 10 results, #1 is the LinkedIn for all “Cindy Chu” names, and upon clickthrough I’m #1! Also on the Google search results, I turn up at #3 with my Facebook profile and #6 with this blog. Google profiles show up at the bottom of this first page of search results, and mine was at the top of the list! Internet takeover mission is going very well. Remember my name, I will be going places in the acting industry if I’ve got anything to say about it! Thanks for reading and as always,

Stay Fabulous!