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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...
How To Change The World
Yili Li's USC Graduate Thesis Film

Sunday, February 27, 2010
Cast. Oh, and an audition...
I received an invitation to audition for a USC student film How To Change The World, being directed by Yili Li indirectly with whom I'd worked on the Juno-scene directing class last October.
I was surprised the audition was not only on a Sunday afternoon, but on Academy Awards Day Sunday (either way, it was already set to record)... I had managed to get the audition pushed up to 4:20pm from the 5pm'ish or so audition time, as getting there would be a lot easier than returning to my recent domicile near Pasadena. I ended up still leaving a bit early, taking my time, and arriving shortly after 3pm. Thankfully Yili's producer Joshua Hsieh noticed me and brought me in. Lovely Yili was thrilled to see me, much to Josh's brief surprise to see she and I hug hello.
I had been emailed the amusing script, which she conveyed would be made in Chinese (though the lines in the script were in English). As part of a montage, I would be one of a few "bosses" or prospective investors, each of whom being disinterested the lead character's pitched invention. My role would be a boss being deluged with phone calls, and quickly weary of the young man in front of me. I did it twice (as the first time I ran through it I thought the bit might be MOS), then again improv'ing realistic if somewhat comical lines to the calls I was receiving.
Yili found it so funny she had to tightly cover her mouth with her hands while I was doing it, and she offered me the role on the spot.

Monday March 14, 2010
Late the previous week I'd learned that the shoot date had been moved from Tuesday the 15th to Monday the 14th. Richard Santiago had sent out the callsheet (literally at three o'clock in the morning for the same day's information), on which it became quickly obvious that the location was not exactly "right near USC." In fact... the location for my scene... was in San Gabriel.
I used to think San Gabriel was one of those Inaccessable Places to which MTA transit doesn't go, but thankfully it was far closer to where I'd been staying near Pasadena. Two buses would get me within easy walking distance. The second bus was a bit farther apart, so when I inadvertantly caught the bus prior to the one I'd initially planned to catch, I had a bit of a wait on the connection. Had I realized I had about 30+ minutes, I still wonder if I could have simply walked the distance.
I found the Pine Street location easily enough, and was first. One of the workers was waiting for us, and brought me in to the "waiting room," as it were, even suggesting I could go online and check my emails. Unfortunately the computers in their side room claimed not to be connected to the internet... and mostly the language setting was in Chinese.
The USC folk began arriving moments after Josh began calling to clarify I was on my way. A day or two earlier he'd left me a voice mail suggesting I could be picked up at my place; I called and phone-tagged him that I could get there: but getting back from there was the tricky part, as the buses near to where I was staying end in the very very early evening. He did not get back to me on that, so I figured I'd head there on my own, and there we all were.
They set up, and brought me in. Their DP [Director of Photography] Andrew Jeric got set up, and we shot two variants on my sequence.
At one point I stepped out due to their shifting the make-shift desk they'd created; around 10pm I noticed on my silenced phone that I'd received another voice mail. Checking, it was Francesca Perrotta, the Reseda high school director of the Flour shoot, apologizing that that project was cancelled as one of her leads backed [which I read as "flaked"...] out on her/the project. I texted back with my sympathies, stressing if she finds a replacement for the unprofessional dink and the project can go forward at a later date, that she should contact me.
Once my bit was complete and I was wrapped (to much appreciated applause), Joshua drove me back. Albeit funny and upbeat, the poor guy was rather tired due to the strenuous shooting schedule of this ambitious project.
And now comes the Wait to hear that it is complete, being screened, and/or my DVD copy being provided.

Thursday September 08, 2011
Yili emailed us (based on the context, I suspect someone impatient was asking after the project):

From: Yili Li
Subject: How to Change the World - Updates
Date: Sep 8, 2011 1:22pm
Hello dear cast of How to Change the World,
How have you been? Hope everything is great with you!
Since some of you asked me about the film, I'm writing to all of you to let you know that it's coming along really well! We're getting close
to picture lock, and hoping to finish sound editing, mixing, color correction and the rest of work by December, 2011.
Once it's finished, we will definitely send you a DVD, and keep you posted on every screening in the future.
Thanks again for all your great work! Hope to share this wonderful little film with you soon!
Yili Li
How To Change the World site
MFA Candidate | Film & Television Production
USC School of Cinematic Arts

Sunday January 15, 2012
A quick check in
For no good reason I checked my IMDB rating this date: 69,421 (up 1,039 this week). One of the reasons was activity regarding How To Change The World, which had me realize it'd been five months since last hearing any progress about it myself.
I dropped an email to Yili, who quickly replied that being a thesis film such usually takes more than a year to finish. I was not surprised at that: while Maiden and the Princess took less time that Red Cola Project, they were still quite a wait, thankfully worth same.
Yili conveyed that they were scheduled to do colour correction in early March and that the USC screening would probably happen in April, and that the DVD copy woulb be sent to you as soon as they're ready.

Friday April 13, 2012
Screening scheduled
Yili emailed us with the heads up about the film's Saturday April 28th 7pm screening, How To Change the World being one of four USC Thesis films in the block of being shown.

''Now Available To Rent on Videocassette and Laser Disc: 4 USC THESIS FILMS SCREENING'' event

Saturday April 28, 2012
Attending the screening of How To Change The World at USC, I was surprised to see two friends with whom I'd worked in the cast as well: Jenna Brighton of Jerry White's comical Greeters project as well as its spin-off, where she actually appears more than as a magazine cover photograph. Also, as the leads' landlords was Myles Cranford of Live-In Fear (neither of whom was in attendance). In attendance, for most of the evening, was Jerry White, who'd initially recommended me to Yili for this film. Jerry had lost a lot of weight since my last seeing him; eighty-five pounds (on purpose, as he clarified).
How To Change The World was first, and predictably very high-end quality, with some very well done, comical misdirects.
The second of the four films was Give Up The Ghost, about a man haunted (literally) by a close school friend who'd committed suicide. What I liked was twice the film demonstrates (once quite subtley), that it is not just a delusion in the lead's mind, but the friend's actual spirit.
Third up was unSETTLED, a dark comedy about a miserable, alcoholic high school teacher giving advice, as it were, to a student on how to get the girl on whom the student is smitten.
Finally was the gripping, dark, compelling drama The Fifth Horseman, set in 1940s Japan.
Considering of late I had been attending actual film festival blocks of short films in which my films are shown, and usually the film on which I worked has significantly higher production values, while the others seemed made in haste, it was a refreshing relief to see some classy USC work.
I'd sat with Joshua Hsieh who'd produced Yili's film, and directed me in his own project Midnight Visitor. I got to meet his very pleasant father who was in attendence, and learned that their family, pre-Josh, had been "reluctant" actors since the 1940s, playing Japanese roles, as at the time actual Japanese were all unlawfully incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps (I was previously unaware that Josh is half-Chinese, from his paternal side). His dad was pleased and proud that Josh was carrying on the family tradition of being in the industry.
Afterward the screenings were complete, Yili provided us with our DVD copies. Josh was still working on the audio for Midnight Visitor, so I had to wait for my DVD copy of that project.

''How To Change the World'' poster
Click on thumbnail for full size image
''How to Change the World''
Opening title
Jenna Brighton in ''How to Change the World''
Jenna Brighton
Jenna Brighton in ''How to Change the World''
Jenna Brighton with
William J. Goldman
Jenna Brighton in ''How to Change the World''
Jenna Brighton in ''How to Change the World'' Jenna Brighton in ''How to Change the World'' Geoffrey Gould in ''How to Change the World''
Eggplant examination
Geoffrey Gould in ''How to Change the World''
Glasses off
Geoffrey Gould in ''How to Change the World'' Geoffrey Gould in ''How to Change the World'' Geoffrey Gould in ''How to Change the World''
Not buyin' it...
Myles Cranford in ''How to Change the World''
Myles Cranford
Myles Cranford in ''How to Change the World'' Myles Cranford in ''How to Change the World'' Kitty in ''How to Change the World''
Cast; ''How to Change the World''
End Credits; cast

Thursday April 19, 2013
USC Film Festival
We received an email from Yili, notifying is that How To Change The World would be screened at the USC First Film Festival at Ray Stark Theatre, April 27th at 2pm. She also was aware that the film had been selected to receive the Outstanding Sound Faculty Award.
I let her know I'd be there, but that I'd be unsure if I could stay for the entire block of films after How To Change The World in order to get home in time for my live weekly radio show. At least it seemed probable I might actually make it to the end of the block, if Jerry White is in attendance (and is learning right from there and can drop me off, as he had moved quite close to where I'd been staying).

USC First Film Festival

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