Filmmaker Spotlight: Daniel DPD Park

Daniel “DPD” Park is the director and producer of “Ktown Cowboys,” a film that will be featured on the X1 Asian American destination in June’s Best of CAAMFest collection. We had the pleasure of asking DPD what inspired his filmmaking journey and how his Korean American heritage influences his work.

Photo: DPD Daniel Park

Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!

Daniel “DPD”  Park: “Ktown Cowboys” is a starter kit for those venturing into the place, but it’s also a story about a group of Asian American friends and how they all juggle their lives at crossroads.

How did you get into filmmaking?

DPD: I stumbled into it when I decided I wanted to make a show that could be viewed entirely on YouTube. At the time, the Canon 5D camera just came out. All of a sudden, I realized that I might have the resources to make a scripted narrative. I had absolutely no experience in filmmaking, but I made a lot of graphic novels growing up and I happened to learn how to be resourceful while being in a band for several years. I hustled my way through the web series, which became the web version of  “Ktown Cowboys” and it got a ton of love online. Eventually the buzz got around and a couple of different producers started hitting me up asking if I’d like to make it into a film. This lead to the film “Ktown Cowboys“. I think the key points were timing and the fact that I actually made something. Now if people ask me for advice, I can’t emphasize the fact that you might have to just make something first. Then, as the inquiries start trickling in, make your ambitious bigger move.

What are some films and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?

DPD: Off the top of my head, I love “Fight Club”, “Star Wars: Original Trilogy“, “Snatch“, “Drive,” “Wind River,” “2001: A Spacer Odyssey,” “Almost Famous,” “Beat” and “The Incredibles.”
Photo: DPD Daniel Park

Do you have a favorite Asian American film?

DPD: I would go with “Better Luck Tomorrow.” It was the first time I saw a film that represented Asian Americans the way I knew them. I love the fact that Lin went on to create major Hollywood films but still stuck to his guns where possible to express his voice with casting and choices in dialogue or story. Having watched it again recently, I thought it stood the test of time very well.

How does your Asian heritage influence your work?

DPD: Early on it influenced everything. I was in an all Asian American punk band for years with nothing but lyrics about social issues. Then I got an opportunity to make a film about a web series I made “Ktown Cowboys” which obviously reflects on the idiosyncrasies of Ktown and Asian American. Perhaps most recently, I produced a music video for Dumbfoundead called “Safe,” which was a satire on white-washing in the film industry and went viral immediately. Lately, I don’t really wear my Asian heritage on my sleeve, but it’s a core pillar that is absolutely important to me and shines through in any of my work even if it’s not as obvious in the final presentation.
Photo: DPD Daniel Park

What is your outlook on the state of Asian American cinema?

DPD: I think there needs to be more of it. As the Asian American film community grows there will be more mentors, writers, actors, directors,  and studio execs that will all contribute somehow to the quality and attention that the genre needs. Having said that I believe that it’s all a numbers game. For an Asian American film to truly break through into the mainstream it needs to be incredible in either its originality, its acting, its marketing, etc. If it’s a standard, good movie it won’t break through since we only make up for 7% of the United States. I truly believe a country mostly wants to see idealized images of themselves in the media. But I do think there are more opportunities for distribution now and Asian Americans may find success in ways we couldn’t imagine before with technology.

What’s next for you?

DPD: After a couple of years of doing production services, I’ve now shifted my focus to original film and tv development. I got a dramatic, music based, long-form narrative almost out of the development process and started the early work on some other film creatives. Can’t wait to show everyone what I can do with a couple of years of actual experience under my belt!
Photo: DPD Daniel Park

 

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Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Daniel “DPD” Park! Watch the “Ktown Cowboys,” series on the X1 Asian American destination or with Xfinity Stream this June.

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For more Filmmaker Spotlights or Asian American news and entertainment visit Xfinity Asian American.