PROJECT: Chinese School
TYPE: Feature Film
GENRE: Coming-of-Age Comedy
WRITER/DIRECTOR: William Kwok
CASTING DIRECTOR: Damian Bao
SHOOT START DATE: May or June 2024 (TBC)
SHOOT LOCATION: New York City
CONTRACT: SAG Modified Low Budget (open to union and non-union talent)
SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE: Sunday, March 3, 2024 @ 11:11 PM PST
Damian Bao Casting is currently searching nationwide and globally for dynamic and charismatic talent, ages 5-100, for CHINESE SCHOOL, a coming-of-age comedy feature film. Set primarily in NYC’s vibrant, one-of-a-kind Asian communities, CHINESE SCHOOL follows a lackadaisical Chinese American teenager as he learns to appreciate the people and places that have been with him through thick and thin.
SYNOPSIS: IT TAKES JESUS CHRIST, KIMCHI HOT DOGS, OLD-SCHOOL CANTONESE POP MUSIC, AND MEETING HIS LITERAL DREAM GIRL FOR A SHIFTLESS TEENAGE CHINESE AMERICAN NEW YORKER TO FINALLY APPRECIATE THE UNFAILING FRIENDSHIP OF HIS LONGTIME CHINESE SCHOOL CLASSMATE.
ABOUT THE PROJECT: A coming-of-age story set primarily in NYC’s vibrant Asian communities, CHINESE SCHOOL will reveal a pocket of America whose dynamism cinema has fallen woefully short in capturing. As it celebrates the food fueling us and the music moving us, the film will also examine with verve and daring our part in the American fabric, which is all too rarely portrayed with nuance, humor, and pride.
The world of CHINESE SCHOOL will be crafted tenderly, populated by lived-in, eccentric yet empathetic characters and vivid Chinese New Yorker details that will resonate with Asian Americans—and any child of an immigrant household.
CHINESE SCHOOL is supported by the Sundance’s Feature Film Program. For this project, writer/director William Kwok was the recipient of the 2021 Sundance Institute Asian American Fellowship and was a Screenwriters Intensive Fellow.
CHINESE SCHOOL was also a semifinalist for the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship (top 1.8% of scripts considered in 2021) and participated in The Gotham Week Project Market (one of just 24 U.S. fiction feature film projects; one of four showcased at its annual New Voices! SAGindie Reading Series) in 2021.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Raised in the Asian American enclaves of NYC and San Francisco, William Kwok is a filmmaker, attorney, and restaurateur. His directing and writing credits include the documentary shorts “Grandma” and “The Two Deaths of Los Angeles Chinatown,” and the fiction short “Nocturne, No. 1: A Very Short Film About Family.” His producing credits include the fiction feature I WAS A SIMPLE MAN, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and the fiction shorts “Layover, on the Shore,” “The Broken Heart of Gnocchi Bolognese,” and “Jump.” Kwok’s work has received support from the Sundance Institute, The Gotham Film & Media Institute, and Visual Communications.
PRODUCTION NOTE: Filming will start in May or June 2024 in the NYC metro area pending the availability of the main lead and supporting cast. This will be a paid casting opportunity under the SAG Modified Low Budget agreement.
CASTING NOTE: Casting is open to actors and non-actors for all roles. Talent does not have to have prior acting experience to apply. Open to union and non-union talent. First time actors are welcome to apply!
CASTING NATIONWIDE AND GLOBALLY
FOR LEADING AND SUPPORTING ROLES!!!
TO SUBMIT A TAPE FOR SPEAKING ROLES:
Step 1: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD SELF TAPE DIRECTIONS FOR THE AVAILABLE SPEAKING ROLES BELOW. PLEASE SEE THE SPECIFIC DESCRIPTIONS FOR EACH ROLE TO MAKE SURE YOU QUALIFY FOR THE LOCATION REQUIREMENT.
Step 2. RECORD YOUR TAPES.
Step 3. CLICK HERE TO GO TO WHERE YOU WILL NEED TO UPLOAD AND SUBMIT YOUR TAPES. MAKE SURE EACH VIDEO FILE IS LESS THAN 500MB BEFORE SUBMITTING.
Our office has paid to use the CastIt platform to collect self tapes so that you can submit for free. You can upload files straight from your phone, tablet, or computer by clicking on the link. It’s a very easy system. Our office will be notified when you have successfully uploaded your materials. Please submit ALL of your videos at the same time. (Please note that each file should be less than 500MB in size. Storage space gets expensive. LOL!) CastIt might charge you if any of your files is 500MB or bigger so be aware and keep your files within the size limits.
It is 100% FREE to submit and audition for all roles from Damian Bao Casting. Auditioning comes at $0 cost to talent. Please notify our office immediately if anyone is asking you for payment to submit.
TO BE CONSIDERED FOR AN EXTRA/BACKGROUND ROLES:
CLICK HERE IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE CONSIDERED AS AN EXTRA OR BACKGROUND TALENT IN NYC. ALL NYC-BASED TALENTS CAN TAPE FOR ANY/ALL SPEAKING ROLES THAT THEY CAN RELATE TO AND ALSO SUBMIT FOR BACKGROUND CONSIDERATION. =)
If you have any specific questions about the project or role(s) or tech issues, you can email our office at “email@example.com” and include “Chinese School” in the subject. Please read and explore this webpage fully and click on the links above to find your answers before reaching out to our office. Please note that due to the high volume of emails our office receive daily, we may not be able to reply to your email immediately.
OPEN CALL ROLES:
JACKY – (LEAD ROLE / Male, 15, Chinese American)
“Good enough” is the ethos of 15-year-old Chinese American teenager JACKY. He could try harder at everything he does—his critical junior year of high school, his nightly sessions of “Call of Duty,” showing his longtime friend Monica some appreciation, the Chinese language school he attends every weekend—but what’s the point of standing out?
For the leading role of JACKY, casting is open to male-identifying talent of East Asian descent between the ages of 14-25 from anywhere in the United States and Canada. Travel and accommodations will be provided for lead talent coming from outside the NYC metro area. Whoever is cast for JACKY will need to be able to speak both Cantonese and Mandarin with some proficiency by the time of filming as well as be comfortable with singing (even if you are not super great at it) as JACKY is in a band.
Please note that for the lead role of Jacky, we are open to talent who currently are not fluent in Mandarin and/or Cantonese. If selected, we will hire a dialect coach for Jacky.
SUPPORTING LEAD ROLES:
MONICA – (SUPPORTING LEAD ROLE / Female, 15, Chinese American)
15-year-old Chinese American teenager MONICA is in the running for class valedictorian at the immensely competitive Brooklyn Technical High School, but you’ll never hear from her a peep about any of her academic successes. She’s stubbornly devoted to the few constants in her life: The Cure, her hard-working Chinese grocer father who she lives with most of the week, and Jacky, her longtime partner in crime at the Chinese language school they attend. MONICA has a semi-androgynous look and styles herself “light” emo.
For the role of MONICA, casting is open to female-identifying talent of East Asian descent between the ages of 14-25 from the NYC metro area. Whoever is cast for MONICA will need to be able to speak Mandarin with some proficiency by the time of filming as well as be comfortable with singing (even if you are not super great at it) as MONICA is in a band.
CINDY – (SUPPORTING LEAD ROLE / Female, 16, Chinese American with mixed race ancestry)
CINDY is a 16-year-old for whom puberty came hard and fast. In a league of her own, she is street smart and immensely gifted academically and artistically. She takes her education seriously but finds high school rather dull and most of her peers’ social concerns puerile. Somewhat of a loner, Cindy spends much of her free time helping out at her parents’ old-school Chinese bakery, tinkering on her computer (e.g., making beats for sale, building video games), and serving as a voice of reason and motivation for her shiftless cousin Jacky. She’s in a new relationship (her first “real” relationship!) with her girlfriend Sidonie, a cool and effortless 18-year-old dance student from abroad.
For the role of CINDY, casting is open to female-identifying talent of East Asian descent who are of mixed heritage (i.e., other races/ethnicities in addition to East Asian) and between the ages of 16-25 from the NYC metro area. Casting is also open to all heights and body types for the role! Whoever is cast for CINDY will need to be able to speak Mandarin with some proficiency by the time of filming.
OWEN – (SUPPORTING LEAD ROLE / Male, 43, Chinese American)
Queens native OWEN, 43, tried to make it as a Hollywood actor in the early 2000s. But on his way to yet another long-shot audition for yet another Asian-accented one-line part, he found himself driving straight to LAX and getting on the next flight to Taipei, where he found a modicum of success as an actor and a model. A rough breakup brought him back home to New York City—he now lives in Bushwick and is giving acting in the U.S. another shot (while he teaches at the Chinese language school that his aunt runs, to help make rent). Owen is tall and can be athletic and fit; he is conventionally handsome but somewhat “edgy.” Tattoos are welcome.
For the role of OWEN, casting is open to male-identifying talent of East Asian descent who are between the ages of 40-50 from anywhere in the world. Travel and accommodations will be provided for talent for this role coming from outside the NYC metro area. Whoever is cast for OWEN will need to be able to speak Mandarin fluently. We are also interested in OWEN’s ability to speak an additional Chinese dialect, such as Taiwanese Hokkien or Shanghainese.
MRS. CHEUNG – (SUPPORTING LEAD ROLE / Female, 49, Chinese)
MRS. CHEUNG, 49, emigrated from Hong Kong more than two decades ago, where she had been a take-charge tour guide wrangling over-enthusiastic tourists. Today, she is the most sought-after nail technician at the upscale nail salon where she works, tending to the fancy fingers and toes of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She is also Jacky’s no-bullshit mother.
For the role of MRS. CHEUNG, casting is open to female-identifying talent of East Asian descent who are between the ages of 40-55 from anywhere in the world. Travel and accommodations will be provided for talent for this role coming from outside the NYC metro area. Whoever is cast for MRS. CHEUNG will need to be able to speak Cantonese fluently.
ABIGAIL/AIMEE – (SUPPORTING LEAD ROLE / Female, 17, Caucasian)
Every weekend, ABIGAIL, 17, commutes from her mother’s (and stepdad’s) McMansion in Dover, New Jersey to her record store owner father’s Gravesend, Brooklyn, two-bedroom house that she spent her early childhood in. Otherworldly pretty, she almost always gets her way. A preternaturally gifted musician, she aspires to go to Julliard—largely because she thinks that’ll impress her beloved Pastor Matt. (She is an excellent singer and pianist.)
AIMEE, 17, is Jacky’s dream girl, existing in his suburban fantasy. She is likely a version of a primary character from an extremely 1990s teen comedy that Jacky and his sister grew up watching. AIMEE bears a striking resemblance to ABIGAIL.
*** Abigail and Aimee are to be played by the same actor. *** For the roles of ABIGAIL/AIMEE, casting is open to Caucasian female-identifying talent, who are between the ages of 16-30 from anywhere in the United States. Whoever is cast for ABIGAIL/AIMEE will need to be a great singer!
PASTOR MATT – (SUPPORTING LEAD ROLE / Male, 45, Caucasian)
When he was in his glorious 20s, Laguna Beach native PASTOR MATT turned heads on the street as “the guy with the abs from those denim ads” or “that guy from that thing on TV, I think.” Now 45, he has found a new stage, moving from West Hollywood to become the pastor of a church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. PASTOR MATT is tall, with an athletic and fit build; he’s so conventionally handsome that it’s almost kind of comical.
For the role of PASTOR MATT, casting is open to Caucasian male-identifying talent, who are between the ages of 40-55 from anywhere in the United States.
SUPPORTING FEATURED ROLES:
EDDIE – (SUPPORTING FEATURED ROLE / Male, 5-13, Black or Latino)
EDDIE, 5 to 13, is the beloved drummer in Abigail’s church band. Precocious and quick-witted, he’s a musical prodigy!
For the role of EDDIE, casting is open to male-identifying talent, who are between the ages of 5-20 from the NYC metro area. Bonus points if talent can really play the drums!
SIDONIE – (SUPPORTING FEATURED ROLE / Female, 18, non-East Asian and non-White)
SIDONIE, 18, is likely the coolest person you’ve seen in a long while. Everything she does seems effortless. She is a French international student, hailing from a working-class ethnic enclave of Strasbourg. She studies dance at Sarah Lawrence College and is Cindy’s girlfriend.
For the role of SIDONIE, casting is open to non-East Asian and non-White female-identifying talent, who are between the ages of 18-30 from the NYC metro area. We are looking for a real dancer/choreographer for this role. Please note that it is not a requirement for Sidonie to have a French background, as the director is open to adapting the role to whoever is cast. Must be able to pull off a non-American accent.
PRINCIPAL HUANG – (SUPPORTING FEATURED ROLE / Female, 60s/70s, Chinese)
Stern and relentlessly fair, PRINCIPAL HUANG runs a tight ship at the weekend Chinese language school that she founded more than three decades ago. Her own kids (now adults) are Ivy League-educated lawyers and doctors (but with middling Chinese language skills), but she has a soft spot for her nephew Owen, a still-aspiring actor in his 40s.
For the role of PRINCIPAL HUANG, casting is open to female-identifying talent of East Asian descent who are between the ages of 55-90 from anywhere in the United States. Travel and accommodations will be provided for talent from outside the NYC metro area. Whoever is cast for PRINCIPAL HUANG will need to be able to speak Mandarin fluently. We are also interested in PRINCIPAL HUANG’s ability to speak an additional Chinese dialect, such as Taiwanese Hokkien or Shanghainese.
MRS. YANG – (SUPPORTING FEATURED ROLE / Female, 70s-80s, Chinese)
A stalwart at the Chinese language school that Jacky attends, MRS. YANG is a firm believer that the best way to learn is through extremely old-school repetition and memorization. This might work if her American pupils applied themselves in her classes even just a little bit. She looks ancient, particularly in a classroom of teenagers, and seems quite frail.
For the role of MRS. YANG, casting is open to female-identifying talent of East Asian descent, who are between the ages of 60-100 and based in the NYC metro area. Whoever is cast for MRS. YANG will need to be able to speak Mandarin fluently.
CALVIN – (SUPPORTING FEATURED ROLE / Male, 28, Chinese American)
Monica’s brother CALVIN, 28, has spent his life thus far shirking his responsibilities and taking the easy way out—even when fulfilling his responsibilities and doing things the right way aren’t too difficult. Into fast cars, electronic music, shooting guns, and getting his arms (aka Calvin’s Gun Show) as big as possible, Calvin just wants you to think he’s cool.
For the role of CALVIN, casting is open to male-identifying talent of East Asian descent , who are between the ages of 21-35 and from the NYC metro area.
MR. ZHOU – (SUPPORTING ROLE / Male, 50s, Chinese)
MR. ZHOU is Monica’s overworked father. He has devoted every cent to his name and every ounce of his being to keeping afloat his Flushing grocery store. If you were to look up “fatigued” or “overworked” in the dictionary, you’d find a portrait of Mr. Zhou, who has dark, deep bags under his eyes.
For the role of MR. ZHOU, casting is open to male-identifying talent of East Asian descent, who are between the ages of 50-60 and from the NYC metro area. Whoever is cast for MR. ZHOU will need to be able to speak Mandarin fluently.
WANG – (SUPPORTING ROLE / Male, 15, Chinese American)
WANG, 15, is the jokester of his weekend Chinese school class. He hails from tony Whitestone (an upper-/upper-middle-class Queens suburb) but tries hard to seem more “urban.”
For the role of WANG, casting is open to male-identifying talent of East Asian descent, who are between the ages of 14-25 and from the NYC metro area.
DENG – (SUPPORTING ROLE / Male, 14, Chinese American)
Rail-thin and bespectacled, DENG, 14 is Wang’s sidekick. Deng is grateful for any attention from his classmates.
For the role of DENG, casting is open to male-identifying talent of East Asian descent, who are between the ages of 14-25 and from the NYC metro area.