Hooray for Hollywood

Hooray for Hollywood

A movie script now being filmed could make Jeremy Lin, the screenwriter, as famous as the NBA star

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Jeremy Lin wants to thank "the other" Jeremy Lin, the NBA player, for the mistaken identity that led to his screenplay being read.
Jeremy Lin wants to thank "the other" Jeremy Lin, the NBA player, for the mistaken identity that led to his screenplay being read.
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP
When Jeremy Lin Chong-rang found out his script had been snapped up by Hollywood in June, he was too overwhelmed to show his excitement.

"I couldn't really believe it until it actually happened," recalls Jeremy, who spent his summer holidays shadowing a production crew and helping out on casting. This was the fledgling stage of his Hollywood debut. Not bad for a 16-year-old screenwriter, right?

Now that he's back from Los Angeles and in class at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, he is gradually realising what a remarkable achievement it was to get his comedy script about breaking stereotypes accepted.

The film, called Senior Project, revolves around five complete strangers in a senior high school who are assigned to do the same school project. Like most school-based movies, the characters in Senior Project start off as stereotypes. They are the rich girl, the newcomer, the fat kid, and the confused boy who has crushes on other boys.

As the group face the year-long project's deadline - they don't actually start on it until the weekend before the due date - they soon realise they have much in common, and their difficulty in communicating with one another simply stems from solvable misunderstandings.

"There is always more than just who they appear to be in the circus," says Jeremy. "For example, the rich girl actually cares for her friends, but she doesn't want to act it out because everyone expects her to act the opposite way."

Jeremy says the story is based loosely on his experience at Chinese International School (CIS), from which he transferred this year. All the traits of the five characters come from bits and pieces of his friends.

Jeremy wouldn't have got off the ground so easily if it weren't for screenwriter and investor Fabienne Wen Pao-kuen, who met him when she was at CIS doing research for her teen-based film. She encouraged him to write, bombarded him with tough questions and eventually helped him sell the script to a production house in Los Angeles. Itsy Bitsy Film, whose president is Wen, and won the bidding.

"I got to help with the casting. They let me have a say in it. I also met the director, Nadine Truong," says Jeremy. Truong is a directing fellow at the American Film Institute Conservatory.

The on-set experience was useful for future projects, as Jeremy got to know the inner workings of a movie set. The rare opportunity has also reinforced his decision to stay in scriptwriting. "There are so many legal issues to care for on the production side, and you always have to wait for this and that," says Jeremy. "I am quite sure that I'm not going to do law in the future."

Vanessa Marano, one of the stars of the television series Switched at Birth, will play one of the five students, while more cast members are to be announced on the film's Facebook page.

"They actually wanted me to be there, too, because they said it'd be really fun to see me struggle on the set, but I had to come back for school," Jeremy says.

Financing is also important in any movie project, and Jeremy has a strong local backing. He approached Canto-pop legend Alan Tam Wing-lun at a restaurant with a copy of the script. Tam was so impressed with it, he signed on as executive producer.

But Jeremy has one other person to thank for the promising way things are going: Jeremy Lin, the NBA player at the heart of the Linsanity hype. "When I e-mailed [my script] to [Wen], the reason she looked at it was that she thought I was Jeremy Lin, the basketball player."


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