Greg Pak: Director of Robot Stories

Pak also found success with two ultra-short spoofs on the pornography industry.

 

Greg Pak grew up in Dallas where he immersed himself in cinema at the Grand Theatre. “They used to have great classic double features,” Pak reminisces. With that, Pak sounds like hundreds of other independent filmmakers around the country: classic films, late-night double features, and television genre films leading to film school, and eventually shooting a feature film. Pak followed that path, but with a couple of distractions along the way. After high school, Pak studied political science at Yale. He worked for Texas Governor Ann Richards before heading to Oxford. At Oxford, he found a student group making movies. The love of cinema was rekindled and Pak transferred to New York University to complete a graduate degree in film production.

With such a pedigree one might expect an Ivy League snob or hipper-than-thou NYU grad student, but Pak has remained true to his Texas roots. He is friendly and charismatic. Just as willing to listen as he is to talk, Pak turns the interview process into a smooth conversation. Pak is both knowledgeable and intelligent, but he never seems haughty. After talking to him for even a short time, it is easy to see why this lanky, handsome young man was at one time interested in politics. He has a way of putting people at ease, without hiding his gifts and accomplishments.

Currently, Pak is traveling the country with his first feature film Robot Stories. The film is old-school science fiction recalling Pak’s early influences. “I was in love with short science fiction stories, especially Ray Bradbury and the old Twilight Zone,” states Pak, “stories with entirely understandable worlds. Emotionally interesting stories, stories about people.” Robot Stories continues that tradition. The film is only incidentally sci-fi; the robots are allegories to teach the humans lessons about humanity.

Robot Stories is four short pieces connected by the common theme of robots. Since NYU, Pak has enjoyed focusing on short films, creating several special pieces. One of these is the short documentary “Fighting Grandpa” about his grandfather that immigrated to the United States from Korea in 1938 and, as Pak puts it, “The struggle to communicate across the generations.” The film garnered Pak a student Oscar and was picked up by Cinemax. “Many of the themes of ‘Fighting Grandpa’ are explored in ‘Robot Fixer,’ one of the vignettes in Robot Stories.

Pak also found success with two ultra-short spoofs on the pornography industry. The clever pieces are still downloaded regularly at Atom Films. The pieces are small but they showcase Pak’s talents, clever writing, solid production values, and a knack for marketing. The films combine the allure of the sex industry with comedy to snag viewers attention, but “Asian Pride Porn” actually contains a comment on the portrayal of Asians in both pornography and mainstream media. By couching a serious message in a comedy spoof, Pak was able to make his point without alienating his audience.

Pak’s writing and directing skills are formidable, but what may be his greatest asset is his marketing sense. Robot Stories, while still a wonderful artistic expression, was designed to be marketable. “The half-hour short is very hard, because there is no financial return,” Pak realized. So Pak packaged several shorts into a larger work, allowing him to concentrate and polish each piece individually, while creating a more sellable project. Pak also knew from past experiences he had two solid audiences: Asian Americans and science fiction fans. The combination worked. After premiering at the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2002, Robot Stories has appeared in over 60 festivals to date, winning over 30 awards. Pak won best original screenplay and his lead actress, Wai Ching Ho, took her category at SLIFF in November. Many of those festivals focused on sci-fi or Asian films. Pak also found “a group of hardcore sci-fi fans yearning for movies where things don’t blow up,” but he sees the piece as “a cross genre film ” and has been surprised by the reaction of actual scientists that have seen the work. “Robotics engineers, physicists, and psychologists enjoy the film. The challenge has been to reach all audiences.”

Even with the awards and festival appearances, Pak had trouble finding distributors. He received a few offers from smaller distributors. “I was really excited but I had to pass. The money just wasn’t there.” Pak’s responsibility to his investors, all friends and family, required he find the best deal for his film. “The film doesn’t really live until people have an opportunity to see it.” Pak’s relentless tour of the festival circuit paid off. Over the 16 months the film played, Pak “collected thousands of e-mails from fans, and several art-house owners expressed interest in showing the film.” Armed with these contacts, Pak decided to distribute the film himself, a decision which has proven successful thus far. During the opening weekend in New York, Robot Stories claimed the fourth highest per-screen average in North America. “Granted, we were only in one theater,” Pak jokes, but the accomplishment is still amazing. Without the advertising budget of even the smallest indie releases, Robot Stories ran five weeks in the Big Apple and was so successful in Boston that, after its initial run ended, a rival theater picked it up.

Pak has devoted the first half of the year to showing his work (he will be in attendance at several shows opening weekend at the Tivoli), but he has two other films in development and has been paying his rent as a screenwriter. Both pictures he is currently working on are, like Robot Stories, “genre pictures with a heart.”

Robot Stories is Now Playing at the Tivoli.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Greg Pak: Director of Robot Stories

Greg Pak grew up in Dallas where he immersed himself in cinema at the Grand Theatre. “They used to have great classic double features,” Pak reminisces. With that, Pak sounds like hundreds of other independent filmmakers around the country: classic films, late-night double features, and television genre films leading to film school, and eventually shooting a feature film. Pak followed that path, but with a couple of distractions along the way. After high school, Pak studied political science at Yale. He worked for Texas Governor Ann Richards before heading to Oxford. At Oxford, he found a student group making movies. The love of cinema was rekindled and Pak transferred to New York University to complete a graduate degree in film production.

With such a pedigree one might expect an Ivy League snob or hipper-than-thou NYU grad student, but Pak has remained true to his Texas roots. He is friendly and charismatic. Just as willing to listen as he is to talk, Pak turns the interview process into a smooth conversation. Pak is both knowledgeable and intelligent, but he never seems haughty. After talking to him for even a short time, it is easy to see why this lanky, handsome young man was at one time interested in politics. He has a way of putting people at ease, without hiding his gifts and accomplishments.

Currently, Pak is traveling the country with his first feature film Robot Stories. The film is old-school science fiction recalling Pak’s early influences. “I was in love with short science fiction stories, especially Ray Bradbury and the old Twilight Zone,” states Pak, “stories with entirely understandable worlds. Emotionally interesting stories, stories about people.” Robot Stories continues that tradition. The film is only incidentally sci-fi; the robots are allegories to teach the humans lessons about humanity.

Robot Stories is four short pieces connected by the common theme of robots. Since NYU, Pak has enjoyed focusing on short films, creating several special pieces. One of these is the short documentary “Fighting Grandpa” about his grandfather that immigrated to the United States from Korea in 1938 and, as Pak puts it, “The struggle to communicate across the generations.” The film garnered Pak a student Oscar and was picked up by Cinemax. “Many of the themes of ‘Fighting Grandpa’ are explored in ‘Robot Fixer,’ one of the vignettes in Robot Stories.

Pak also found success with two ultra-short spoofs on the pornography industry. The clever pieces are still downloaded regularly at Atom Films. The pieces are small but they showcase Pak’s talents, clever writing, solid production values, and a knack for marketing. The films combine the allure of the sex industry with comedy to snag viewers attention, but “Asian Pride Porn” actually contains a comment on the portrayal of Asians in both pornography and mainstream media. By couching a serious message in a comedy spoof, Pak was able to make his point without alienating his audience.

Pak’s writing and directing skills are formidable, but what may be his greatest asset is his marketing sense. Robot Stories, while still a wonderful artistic expression, was designed to be marketable. “The half-hour short is very hard, because there is no financial return,” Pak realized. So Pak packaged several shorts into a larger work, allowing him to concentrate and polish each piece individually, while creating a more sellable project. Pak also knew from past experiences he had two solid audiences: Asian Americans and science fiction fans. The combination worked. After premiering at the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2002, Robot Stories has appeared in over 60 festivals to date, winning over 30 awards. Pak won best original screenplay and his lead actress, Wai Ching Ho, took her category at SLIFF in November. Many of those festivals focused on sci-fi or Asian films. Pak also found “a group of hardcore sci-fi fans yearning for movies where things don’t blow up,” but he sees the piece as “a cross genre film ” and has been surprised by the reaction of actual scientists that have seen the work. “Robotics engineers, physicists, and psychologists enjoy the film. The challenge has been to reach all audiences.”

Even with the awards and festival appearances, Pak had trouble finding distributors. He received a few offers from smaller distributors. “I was really excited but I had to pass. The money just wasn’t there.” Pak’s responsibility to his investors, all friends and family, required he find the best deal for his film. “The film doesn’t really live until people have an opportunity to see it.” Pak’s relentless tour of the festival circuit paid off. Over the 16 months the film played, Pak “collected thousands of e-mails from fans, and several art-house owners expressed interest in showing the film.” Armed with these contacts, Pak decided to distribute the film himself, a decision which has proven successful thus far. During the opening weekend in New York, Robot Stories claimed the fourth highest per-screen average in North America. “Granted, we were only in one theater,” Pak jokes, but the accomplishment is still amazing. Without the advertising budget of even the smallest indie releases, Robot Stories ran five weeks in the Big Apple and was so successful in Boston that, after its initial run ended, a rival theater picked it up.

Pak has devoted the first half of the year to showing his work (he will be in attendance at several shows opening weekend at the Tivoli), but he has two other films in development and has been paying his rent as a screenwriter. Both pictures he is currently working on are, like Robot Stories, “genre pictures with a heart.”

Robot Stories is Now Playing at the Tivoli.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Greg Pak: Director of Robot Stories

Greg Pak grew up in Dallas where he immersed himself in cinema at the Grand Theatre. “They used to have great classic double features,” Pak reminisces. With that, Pak sounds like hundreds of other independent filmmakers around the country: classic films, late-night double features, and television genre films leading to film school, and eventually shooting a feature film. Pak followed that path, but with a couple of distractions along the way. After high school, Pak studied political science at Yale. He worked for Texas Governor Ann Richards before heading to Oxford. At Oxford, he found a student group making movies. The love of cinema was rekindled and Pak transferred to New York University to complete a graduate degree in film production.

With such a pedigree one might expect an Ivy League snob or hipper-than-thou NYU grad student, but Pak has remained true to his Texas roots. He is friendly and charismatic. Just as willing to listen as he is to talk, Pak turns the interview process into a smooth conversation. Pak is both knowledgeable and intelligent, but he never seems haughty. After talking to him for even a short time, it is easy to see why this lanky, handsome young man was at one time interested in politics. He has a way of putting people at ease, without hiding his gifts and accomplishments.

Currently, Pak is traveling the country with his first feature film Robot Stories. The film is old-school science fiction recalling Pak’s early influences. “I was in love with short science fiction stories, especially Ray Bradbury and the old Twilight Zone,” states Pak, “stories with entirely understandable worlds. Emotionally interesting stories, stories about people.” Robot Stories continues that tradition. The film is only incidentally sci-fi; the robots are allegories to teach the humans lessons about humanity.

Robot Stories is four short pieces connected by the common theme of robots. Since NYU, Pak has enjoyed focusing on short films, creating several special pieces. One of these is the short documentary “Fighting Grandpa” about his grandfather that immigrated to the United States from Korea in 1938 and, as Pak puts it, “The struggle to communicate across the generations.” The film garnered Pak a student Oscar and was picked up by Cinemax. “Many of the themes of ‘Fighting Grandpa’ are explored in ‘Robot Fixer,’ one of the vignettes in Robot Stories.

Pak also found success with two ultra-short spoofs on the pornography industry. The clever pieces are still downloaded regularly at Atom Films. The pieces are small but they showcase Pak’s talents, clever writing, solid production values, and a knack for marketing. The films combine the allure of the sex industry with comedy to snag viewers attention, but “Asian Pride Porn” actually contains a comment on the portrayal of Asians in both pornography and mainstream media. By couching a serious message in a comedy spoof, Pak was able to make his point without alienating his audience.

Pak’s writing and directing skills are formidable, but what may be his greatest asset is his marketing sense. Robot Stories, while still a wonderful artistic expression, was designed to be marketable. “The half-hour short is very hard, because there is no financial return,” Pak realized. So Pak packaged several shorts into a larger work, allowing him to concentrate and polish each piece individually, while creating a more sellable project. Pak also knew from past experiences he had two solid audiences: Asian Americans and science fiction fans. The combination worked. After premiering at the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2002, Robot Stories has appeared in over 60 festivals to date, winning over 30 awards. Pak won best original screenplay and his lead actress, Wai Ching Ho, took her category at SLIFF in November. Many of those festivals focused on sci-fi or Asian films. Pak also found “a group of hardcore sci-fi fans yearning for movies where things don’t blow up,” but he sees the piece as “a cross genre film ” and has been surprised by the reaction of actual scientists that have seen the work. “Robotics engineers, physicists, and psychologists enjoy the film. The challenge has been to reach all audiences.”

Even with the awards and festival appearances, Pak had trouble finding distributors. He received a few offers from smaller distributors. “I was really excited but I had to pass. The money just wasn’t there.” Pak’s responsibility to his investors, all friends and family, required he find the best deal for his film. “The film doesn’t really live until people have an opportunity to see it.” Pak’s relentless tour of the festival circuit paid off. Over the 16 months the film played, Pak “collected thousands of e-mails from fans, and several art-house owners expressed interest in showing the film.” Armed with these contacts, Pak decided to distribute the film himself, a decision which has proven successful thus far. During the opening weekend in New York, Robot Stories claimed the fourth highest per-screen average in North America. “Granted, we were only in one theater,” Pak jokes, but the accomplishment is still amazing. Without the advertising budget of even the smallest indie releases, Robot Stories ran five weeks in the Big Apple and was so successful in Boston that, after its initial run ended, a rival theater picked it up.

Pak has devoted the first half of the year to showing his work (he will be in attendance at several shows opening weekend at the Tivoli), but he has two other films in development and has been paying his rent as a screenwriter. Both pictures he is currently working on are, like Robot Stories, “genre pictures with a heart.”

Robot Stories is Now Playing at the Tivoli.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply