Meet the Filmmakers Behind ‘Love Arcadia’

Love Arcadia.
Love Arcadia.

When his family’s tea shop faces displacement by an alluring real estate mogul, Jake (Anthony Ma) must confront his fear of change. “Love Arcadia” tells a coming-of-age story — by way of boba straw — that explores the lessons of holding on, letting go and loving with what you got.

Meet the filmmakers behind “Love Arcadia,” and find out what projects they’re working on now — including the popular TV comedy “Young & Hungry and the “Lego Movie 2.” The film is written and produced by former CAAM staff member Theresa Chiu.

Love Arcadia” is now available on Comcast on Demand through the month of September.

TheresaChiuWho
Theresa Chiu, Writer & Producer of “Love Arcadia.

What she does
I am a writer and producer based in L.A.

The inspiration behind “Love Arcadia
The story was inspired by a tea shop that Lawrence and I began frequenting when we first moved to L.A. It never seemed to change despite the passage of time, and we became interested in highlighting this unique sliver of Asian American life while also using the space to tell a universal story about two young people struggling to make sense of their place in the world.

Favorite bubble tea drink
The guys tend to be purists, so I usually feel the need to mix it up a bit with each order. One of my go-tos is passion fruit green tea with aloe (less sweet, light ice).

Current projects
I’m working on a few new projects, including developing a narrative work with a public health collaborative based in Philadelphia on healthcare-related issues and stigmas that exist within the Asian American community.

Favorite moment from making the film
It’s hard to choose a favorite. I think every day on set was a little magical in the way we were able to see the story come to life, especially after working so long and so hard to get to that point. Our shooting schedule was very ambitious, but it was still so fun and fulfilling due to our phenomenal cast and crew. During casting, we weren’t really sure what to expect. We didn’t know if we’d be able to find the right actors for these characters. Then, fortunately, in walked Anthony. He injected so much humor, energy, and nuance into his audition, and we knew we’d found our leading man, our “Jake.” He injected so much humor, energy, and nuance into his audition, and we knew we’d found our leading man. Then we discovered he’s actually from Arcadia, and it just felt meant to be. From there, the rest of the casting pieces fell into place — we found Michelle and Lana and Arvin and Clint and the entire gang — and that’s when it all started to feel very real, and we realized we were making a movie.

 

DaveGrabarekWho
Dave Grabarek, Producer of “Love Arcadia.

What he does
I am a producer and accountant in the entertainment industry, splitting my time between the two occupations and always working as hard as I can to stretch the money as far as I can.

On why he was drawn to “Love Arcadia
I was drawn to Theresa’s script because at its heart it’s a story about families and love and food and places. A number of the things Jake and Joanna face in the movie with regards to their families, their pasts, and their futures are subjects that resonated deeply with me. Plus, there was (and is) a really delicious-sounding (and delicious-looking) donut in the movie.

Favorite bubble tea flavor
Ironically, I am a hardcore water aficionado and devotee. But, I have spent a healthy amount of time hanging out in bubble tea shops, and you can occasionally spy me indulging in the original bubble tea. It is classic in the best way.

Current projects
Currently, I am the First Assistant Accountant on a sitcom called Young & Hungry, and I’m also angling to get a few personal projects off the ground soon.

Most memorable moments during production of “Love Arcadia
During production of “Love Arcadia,” we shot on a few locations that we have since learned actually have their own stories that are uncannily similar to the roles they play in the movie. One example, Laguna de San Gabriel Playground is this amazing place with brightly colored, gigantic animals just begging to be climbed on (think octopi, dragons, whales). Mexican American artist Benjamin Dominguez designed these concrete structures in the 60’s, and by the early 2000’s they were in severe disrepair and about to be demolished. It was such a meaningful and memorable place to the community that they banded together to fight to try to save it. I don’t want to say anymore and give away any of the movie, but it was surreal to learn from the people in that community all that this location had meant to them, on top of all the perfect imagery it provided us.

Also, the amount of bubble tea Lawrence, Theresa, and I consumed during location scouting was nothing short of epic. We literally spent countless days endlessly looping through visiting a tea shop, ordering bubble tea, drinking the tea, visiting another tea shop, ordering more bubble tea, drinking that tea, et cetera, et cetera. The delicious fluid intake was monumental.

On the fantastic cast and crew of “Love Arcadia
The “Love Arcadia” cast and crew are some of the best I have worked with. They brought their abundance of skills, talents, and good spirits to the table day in and day out (and sometimes night in and night out), and they made the impossible possible time and again. We asked them for a few weeks of their time, and they gave us so much more.

 

LawrenceGanWho
Lawrence Gan, Director of “Love Arcadia.

Who he is
Director, Editor, and Boba Tea Connoisseur

How he began working on “Love Arcadia
Theresa and I first got the germ of an idea during our junior year of undergrad at Duke University. We came out to L.A. to pursue our film careers and ended up spending a great deal of our time in Arcadia, drinking boba tea and talking story. This little pocket of “Asia-land” featured a resilient boba tea shop that shared a communal space with an ever revolving door of businesses. Being a rank nostalgic and sentimentalist, the story of a little idyllic bubble tea shop that fights to survive the changing times, was a story that I had to tell!

Favorite bubble tea drink
Black milk tea with boba. It was my first milk tea and I’m a sucker for the classic. (Nostalgic Sap, remember?) Occasionally, I will spring for an Almond Milk Tea, if I’m feeling fancy!

Current projects
I am currently working on “Lego 2” as 1st Assistant Editor, while developing some personal projects – most recently being a newlywed!  🙂 Yes, love exists. It isn’t always sweet or perfect, but it’s real.

Most memorable moment on set
It was the first week of shooting, I think potentially even the second or third day! Brand new cast and crew. None of us had ever worked together on a feature. We were shooting nights: 1am calls, lighting scenes night for day, last minute location issues/changes, you name it – we were fighting it. As a first time director, my mind started racing with doubt re: the film, its legitimacy, and whether or not we would ever make it through.

We were setting up to shoot a really difficult scene. Not only would it require precise light/camera work from our crew, but it would call upon Anthony to muster the raw emotion required to sell the moment. The plan was to just let the cameras run free and for Anthony to start when he was ready. The cameras rolled and we waited. And waited. And just when I was thinking that we needed a different approach—it happened. Before my eyes, I watched as Anthony gave one of the most real/raw performances I had seen in a long time while Daniel (DP) caught every beautiful detail in frame and focus! It truly was a “movie magic” moment caught and immortalized for all time.

From that moment onwards, there was nothing that my team couldn’t do. We would make an amazing film, we would be more than legitimate, and we would definitely make it through anything!

On the love and support from family and friends
They’re probably sick of hearing it by now, but I couldn’t have made “Love Arcadia” without the support of my family and friends—thank you!.  To my cast and crew, I love you guys and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone later this year for the “Love Arcadia” sequel = “Love Arcadia 2: Jake’s Revenge…In Space.”

This blog was cross-posted at CAAMedia.org.