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An Interview with Paul G. Bens, Jr.
Producer, hundred percent

In April the producers of hundred percent, a film co-starring Garrett Wang, kindly agreed to answer silly questions I lobbed at them via email in an exclusive interview for this website. Herewith, the interview with producer Paul G. Bens, Jr.

Q. Can you give us a brief rundown of the action in hundred percent?
A. The film is basically three storylines in one. The action centers on three friends, "Troy" "Slim" and "Isaac" who live in Venice Beach and are all at crossroads in their lives.

Garrett Wang in
Photo by Huey Tran
1997, ICMIM Productions, Inc.

Garrett Wang plays "Troy", an aspiring actor who is tired of playing stereotypes and finally wins a role in a major feature film playing a cop. He is excited by this because the character is not Asian. The famous French director simply chose to cast him, an Asian American. But, once on the set, everything is not as he thought it would be and that begins to take a toll on his psyche and seriously strains his relationship with his girlfriend "Cleveland" (Lindsay Price).

Darion Basco plays "Slim", a wanna-be Rastafarian who wins one-week's use of a tricked-out lowrider from a local gangster. Unfortunately, Slim is not the most responsible individual and the car gets stolen before he can return it to the gangster. Slim and his best friend "Casey" (Keiko Agena) set out to find the car or the money to replace it before the gangster kills Slim. (Ron Howard's mother, Jean, has a cameo in this storyline).

Dustin Nguyen plays "Isaac", a true romantic-at-heart. One day, while he is working at his boardwalk cafe, a sexy, cool woman named "Thaise" (Tamlyn Tomita) walks into his life. He is immediately smitten but is taken by surprise when her fiance "Mingus" (Stan Egi) shows up, none to happy that "Thaise" left him. He tries to win her heart despite the obstacle of "Mingus".

Q. What was the inspiration for this film?
A. Well, writer/director Eric Koyanagi, I believe, drew on alot of his own life as inspiration. Partly, it was inspired when Eric watched what was going on during the L.A. riots. He saw all these stereotypes of Asian Americans (and other ethnicities) being propagated on the news and he was affected by the complete lack of balance and understanding of Asian Americans (and all people of color). He wanted to write something that had a universal feel to it. He wanted a piece that happened to be populated with Asian Americans but could generally be about anyone. He wanted to show that Asian Americans are not so different from Caucasian Americans who are not so different from African Americans who are not so different from Latino Americans, etc. He wanted to make a statement akin to "See, we're all pretty much the same, regardless of the color of our skin."

Q. How long did it take to get hundred percent off the ground and into production?
A. After reading the script, the writer/director Eric Koyanagi and we (Producers Jusak Yang Bernhard and Paul G. Bens, Jr.) sat down to develop the script more fully. Once we had a script we were all pretty happy with, we presented it to Garrett Wang, Tamlyn Tomita, and Stan Egi who were all friends and very visible Asian American stars. Once they were in place, we "attached" some key crew members and then sent out the "package" (script, cast attachments, and crew attachments) to many studios in Hollywood. All of them found the script and package interesting but were not interested in putting up the money for the film. [Then] we started sending the script/package to individuals who were looking for interesting investments. About 3 months later, one individual loved it (our executive producer Vinod Sekhar) and committed to providing the full budget. Six months after that we were in preproduction and two months after that we started shooting. The shooting schedule was from December 18, 1996-January 21, 1997. (Garrett and Tamlyn were both only available during the Christmas hiatus of their series) Then, of course, months and months of post production!

Q. Do you see this as a "breakthrough" film for Asian actors?
A. Absolutely. No one has ever portrayed Asian American characters like this in film before. We have an Asian Bob Marley-wanna-be, an Asian female punker, etc. And our characters actually have romances, sex lives, fears, dreams and expectations. AND, our characters' romantic lives are with Asian characters. Most of the times in Hollywood, if an Asian character is involved in a romantic/sexual relationship, it is usually with a non-Asian. It is refreshing to see an Asian couple on-screen. Also, being Asian IS NOT the primary focus of these characters. Only Garrett's character deals directly with issues of being Asian American. The movie is mostly about six twenty-somethings who aren't quite sure what they are doing with their lives. They have fun, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. It is actually quite universal. In fact, our test screenings indicate that the film is enjoyed equally by all ethnicities.

Q. What is the impact of, say, Jackie Chan or John Woo or even Garrett Wang for Asian entertainers in the U.S.?
A. Every Asian American who "makes it" in Hollywood (in front of or behind the camera) is very important. Garrett, Jackie and John have all opened doors for other Asian Americans. The icing on the cake is that young Asian American and Asian kids will see them and see that if they dream it, they CAN do it. That's really important because for years all young Asian kids would see is stereotypical portrayals on film...and that can take a toll on self-esteem. Now, with Garrett, Jackie Chan, John Woo, Dustin Nguyen, Darion Basco, Stan Egi, Tamlyn Tomita, Keiko Agena, Lindsay Price and all the others, kids can see that they don't have to be a stereotype. They can be absolutely anything they want to be.

The Men
Photo by Huey Tran
1997, ICMIM Productions, Inc.

Q. You were at the L.A. Independent Film Festival April 17-18; how was the response to hundred percent?
A. It went spectacularly well. Both screenings were sold out with loooooooong waiting lists. The entire cast was there, as well as many top film distributors. We're now talking with several distributors about releasing the film nation-wide. Now we're on to opening the L.A. Asian Pacific Film & Video Festival on May 14, 1998. It is going to be a great event as L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan will be there to kick off the festival and Asian Pacific Heritage Month and Her Royal Highness, Princess Nurul Hayati of Malaysia, will also be there with the cast.

Q. You knew this was coming: what can you tell us about working with Garrett? Any great anecdotes to share?
A. Garrett...hmmmmm. Whatcha wanna know? Want the dirt? Well, actually, there is no dirt. Garrett has been a friend for many years and is one of the funniest, nicest people on the planet. His sense of humor on the set was greatly appreciated by everyone. (Entertainment Tonight has a piece they have not aired yet. It is an interview with Garrett from our set. He is very funny in it and is surrounded by Tamlyn Tomita, Keiko Agena and Lindsay Price. In it, he jokes "Hi...I'm Garrett Wang...and these are my Angels..." as a takeoff on "Charlie's Angels." Don't know when or if ET will show it.) As many of you know, Garrett is also quite a mimic. He does a killer George Takei. What you may not know is that Garrett is EXTREMELY smart, especially when developing a character. His input to the character of "Troy" was immensly welcomed. Now about the hair thing I keep seeing on Trek boards...we didn't have any problems with Garrett's hair! And those nude photos circulating....JUST KIDDING.

Q. Here's our bonus "cheese" question: To your knowledge, does Garrett drink Pepsi or Coke products?
A. Well...since Coca Cola supported this film by product placement, I have to say that Garrett ONLY drinks Coca-Cola! Actually, I've never paid much attention to what he drinks so Coke is probably it.

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Disclaimer, fine print, etc.: This site is fan run and maintained. Garrett has no personal control over this site, nor does he visit to my knowledge. Star Trek and Star Trek: Voyager are copyrighted by Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended. Send questions to Melissa Lowery. Site copyright 1997-2000. Last updated February 8, 2000.