"Writing and filmmaking are like therapy for me," says director Wen Ren. "When I'm going through a tough time or interesting period for me, I write and sometimes shoot a film about it. After the film is done, so are my problems."
In Ren's short film "Couple in the Bedroom," he deals with Asian Male, White Female relationship issues based on his own experiences.
The film stars Adrian Zaw and Nina Rausch as an interracial couple in a story about an aspiring actor and talented musician, who reminisce through vivid photography about their time together before pursuing their individual dreams.
According to Ren, the film had a long gestation period.
After he wrote the initial script five-years ago following his move from New Jersey to Los Angeles, several years passed before he began developing what ended up on screen.
In a way, it was justification that coming to L.A. would be full of success," Ren says. "The most depressing and rough times in your life end up being great stories later on."
Born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China, Ren moved to the U.S. and grew up in New Jersey area.
He later graduated from Los Angeles Film School with honors and went on to create both festival recognized and internationally broadcasted films, commercials, and documentaries as a writer, director, cinematographer and editor.
Ren lists among his many cinematic influences the works of acclaimed directors Darren Aranofsky, Ang Lee, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Alfonso Cuaron, Richard Linklater and Paul Thomas Anderson.
Since Ren also works as a Director of Photography, another of his favorite influences is Anderson's frequent collaborator cinematographer Robert Elswit.
I've sorta typecast myself into making films with important social messages," Ren says of his cinematic interests. "I've shot films with themes of suicide, child abuse, HIV awareness, racism, and the environment. I really spend a lot of energy when making one film so it's usually something I really care about."
With "Couple in the Bedroom," Ren points out that he wanted literally all of the cast's relationships to be mixed together and create that feeling of lost love.
During a photo montage in the film, Ren went so far as to utilize Photoshop software to replace all of their ex's faces with the two actor's faces so that the real photos could be used in the film.
That was my graduation photo with my ex, who looks exactly like Nina," Ren says pointing out the coincidences in the film. "The bedroom was actually my room. My ex-girlfriend at the time helped me design it. She did an amazing job I think. So everything was perfect. Exactly what I wanted. And I saved a lot of money. I actually just kept it too for like many months after the shoot. My roommates were like, 'when did you turn your bedroom all girly and purple?'"
Although the film itself was shot in about one-and-a-half-days, Ren says it took about two weeks of post-production editing to complete the project.
However, Ren did face a problem with casting the short film because of what he calls "a dearth of Asian actors."
I've tried casting an Asian actor on every single film I've ever made and eventually the character always turns white," Ren says pointing out his difficulty in finding talented Asian actors. "For this film since I was essentially casting a "version" of myself I was adamant about "staying" Asian."
Luckily for Ren, a friend, Don Le, referred him to Zaw, who brought his many talents to the project including the ability to do a Morgan Freeman impression.
Another facet of the project was Ren's use of real-life experiences and people he has met in his film.
That's something everyone should know about me though," Ren says. "If you get to know me, expect to be in my films with an alias. So be careful!"
As for Ren's next project?
It's an upcoming short film entitled "Cafe Glass" set in a future augmented by wearable tech and online dating where a student must risk offline dating to connect with a mysterious profile due to a failed network.
Ren says that the new short film came out of his experiences soon after becoming single and turning to online dating.
The first girl who messaged me was the one who I dated for two-and-a-half-years. The same one who helped design set for "Couple in the Bedroom," Ren says. "So while giving online dating a try, I realized it is the Mecca of strange, weird, great stories. It was a filterless space where people were themselves and mostly never actually wanted to meet. Girls would say, 'If we do date, we'll make up a how we met story.'"
But it was this photo that Ren took during Valentine's Day last year that inspired him to create the project.
After I took that picture Cafe Glass came to me overnight," Ren says. "Basically imagine a world where people forget being human and only interact from the network. A world where OFFLINE dating becomes taboo. And what would happen if the network suddenly went offline. In this new world where people don't know how to read maps. They don't know how to read a watch. In this world where people forget how to date face to face without the help of their devices. So that's Cafe Glass."
For more about Wen Ren's films visit: http://wayneren.com