What was your filmmaking background before you made White on Rice?
DAVE: I didn't go to film school, but I'd always planned on becoming a filmmaker. I got odd jobs on film sets and worked on my friends' movies. My first job was as a security guard, watching to make sure people didn't steal the equipment.
I made my first feature in 2006: Big Dreams Little Tokyo. It was a low-budget comedy about a white guy who wants to be a Japanese businessman. It's on DVD and available on Netflix, Amazon, etc.
Where did the idea for White on Rice come from?
DAVE: I was feeling a little bit like a loser and wondered what it would be like if 15 years passed and I was in my 40's and still living in my sister's basement. That idea seemed kinda funny and I started elaborating on the story a bit.
I met Hiroshi Watanabe around that time, and thought he'd be a perfect comedic lead for this kind of movie. I cast him in the role more than a year before shooting the film, and began tailoring the part for him.
What was your process for co-writing the script with Joel Clark?
DAVE: Joel and I had an unusual collaboration. My producer, Michael Lerman, introduced us in New York and we hit it off immediately. However, we only met once before working together on the script via email over a 6-month period. We finally saw each other again when the movie played at the Newport Int'l Film Festival in Rhode Island.
Did you write it with the idea that you'd direct it ... and, if so, did that change how you wrote it?
DAVE: Yes, I was always planning to direct it. But it's weird, even when you're directing something that you wrote, sometimes you have to think hard about what the writer was envisioning in certain scenes. I guess writing and directing use different parts of my brain.
How did you finance the film and what did you learn in that process?
DAVE: This was a co-production between my production company and two others, all of who pitched in to help on the fundraising end. The biggest thing I learned was just that there's more than one way to skin a cat---everyone has their method for finding financing and they're all different.
And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?
DAVE: I really learned a lot about how to stretch your production dollar as far as it can go. This wasn't a "no-budget" movie, but we certainly had to get creative in order to achieve the aesthetic I was looking for. I hope I get another chance to put those lessons into action sometime soon.