In the twenty-first century, more people are clamoring to see faces and experiences like theirs to be portrayed in the media. It’s no wonder why media representation has become one of the most frequently discussed topics in recent years.
But this movement has extended beyond the media. Now people want more visibility for people of color in spaces like art, advertisements, and businesses, among others. Many talented young artists and entrepreneurs have gained exposure and traction because of this.
Art School Dropouts is an Asian-minority digital media group that is certainly one to watch out for. The group is run by Joey Min, a.k.a. Director Senpai, and Stephanie Pham, a.k.a. Mom (who is the mom of the group). The film group is dedicated to making “feel good” content to promote minorities in the indie filmmaking world. Their original narrative-driven productions entertain through martial arts and comedic action—think Jackie Chan and Charlie Chaplin. Incorporating fresh, new ideas from cultural trends and modern-day media and their skills in action filmmaking and comedic acting, their content is a testament to the bright ideas and rich talent that Asian Americans can offer the world.
The group is not limited in the kind of content they can produce; they also publish sketches, a web series, and feature films primarily for YouTube. To inspire people to start creating themselves, they provide an online tutorial series for those that want to produce their own action sequences. ASDO’s consistent and humorous content has gathered a loyal following, mostly martial artists, martial arts lovers, ’80s Hong Kong film fans, and film fans in general. They also make merchandise for their fans, which you can find here.
What sets them apart from other up-and-coming YouTubers is that they don’t cut corners. They don’t resort to clickbait content to reel in views. They do not shoot films with the “shaky cam” style; they want to show the actor’s abilities as best as possible and not hide behind camera manipulation. They are true independent filmmakers with a focus on storytelling and martial arts action. In fact, Art School Dropouts is one of the few indie groups regularly making original content with a focus on martial arts action choreography.
ASDO knows that watching popular ’80s martial arts action films growing up inspired so many to learn martial arts. Unfortunately, martial arts films aren’t as popular today. Hence, one of their goals is to inspire more people to learn martial arts for art and not violence. With their humorous and relatable content, they also aim to bring back the love for martial arts with their films with a modern twist as well as shine a light on minorities like them in the film industry.
This coming June 20, 2020, ASDO is set to host a premiere called the Art School Dropouts In-House Grindhouse, a film showcase from content creators around the world. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, countless film projects are being put on hold or canceled outright. As part of the creative industry, they know exactly how that feels. With even film industry giants like Hollywood and Netflix put on pause, thousands of indie filmmakers and digital content creators are struggling to keep business afloat. ASDO spearheaded this initiative as a way to bring to light all the amazing creators whose careers are forced to step back right now and also as a way to bring them all together to support one another. Whether you are an interested audience or an aspiring filmmaker, you can help support this humble initiative.
If you would like to support this small group of awesome and talented creators, check out their Patreon, where you can find more perks and behind-the-scenes content and even become their producer. If you’re interested in seeing the full-length feature film that they produced, you can watch My Asian Auntie. And make sure to check out ASDO’s website and YouTube channel.