Friday 22 January 2021

Interview with Derek Ting - Director and Writer of Agent Revelation


Written, directed by and starring Derek Ting,  AGENT REVELATION fixes on Jim Yung, a rejected CIA analyst, has been exposed to an ancient 'dust' that transforms him into a super soldier that can communicate with aliens. When a secret organization works with him to discover why aliens have returned to Earth, the truth comes at a price. The film is now available on digital from Quiver Distribution. 

Where does your love of filmmaking stem from?

Movies have always come from a simple sense of enjoyment and bonding with friends and family.  Growing up, my Dad rented movies at the local video store on Sundays, when he had off from work.  It got to the point where I had seen most movies in the entire store.

You obviously gravitate towards science-fiction  - --  I imagine it was either Star Wars or Star Trek that spurred the interest?

As a kid I was a Star Wars fan(of the originals).  It’s one of the best hero’s journey trilogies.  In college, I became a Star Trek The Next Generation fan.  Each episode tackles many of our real world’s problems in an engaging way.  I believe the world creation in Sci-Fi is the fun part.   You get to make up the rules.  The hard part is making it all make sense and work together seamlessly to tell a story.  I think that’s why a lot of the reboots have either been great, or flops.  You can’t just throw money at it.  It’s a skill that takes mastery.    

And would you say Agent Revelation is not only your grandest film but your most accomplished?

In terms of world creation, yes.  What should the Aliens and spaceship look like?  How should the physics of the energy behave: the wall, the weapons, the reservoir?  How about the Ash?  What about Jim’s powers?  What’s the science behind that?  What is this base?  What does it look like?  How do they live?   I tried to base it on real life instead of using preconstructed “sci-fi” looking sets that often mimic: Star Wars or Aliens.  For example, we shot at an actual genetics lab, because they are analyzing Jim’s blood, and I had a geneticist culture bacteria for us in an incubation gel. 

Who did you base the title character on?

I believe great characters and stories are grounded with some sort of reality we live in.       

I met up with a friend of mine from New York who was visiting Hong Kong where I have been based for the last 15 years, and he told me about meeting and finding his biological Mother for the first time as well evaluating how his life would have been had he not been adopted at the age of 8 years old.  He grew up rebellious in the United States, eventually being disowned by his adopted parents: not a phone call after turning 18.  Having grown up with loving protective parents all my life: a support system to pursue my dreams; the thought of having been abandoned twice by parents is a fascinating perspective.

Was it a conscious decision to have a richly diverse cast?

Yes, absolutely.  It’s always a risk, but I believe as Steve Jobs would say, “Stay Foolish” that in the end, diversity yields better stories, and therefore is better business despite what we’ve seen traditionally.     

Take the character Alastair for instance, my instinct is that we had seen this character before in movies, the tech CEO, to the point the actors are cast to look like an Elon Musk, or Steve Jobs, turtle neck and all.  But what if Alastair was like a Ken Chenault (The CEO of American Express)?  This to me is much more intriguing and unpredictable, and therefore, there’s a greater sense of suspense and mystery. 

You spend time between Los Angeles and Hong Kong – did the film shoot in both parts of the world?

We shot most of Agent Revelation entirely in Los Angeles vicinity.  So I had to fly back and forth to scout it, film it, and do post production.  However, interestingly enough, I’m writing Agent 3, and with the treatment(summary) done, I can tell you we will be filming in both Los Angeles and Hong Kong .