Posted on Leave a comment

Reflections of a kung fu documentarian

Mimi Chan
Mimi Chan

While at MomoCon, we were able to catch up with Mimi Chan, the face and fighter behind Mulan who has recently released her first documentary – Pui Chan: Kung Fu Pioneer.

Brian: Mimi, you’re probably best known in this circle for Mulan.  Tell us how you became involved with Mulan.

Mimi: I’m in Orlando, Florida, and my school actually did the grand opening for Epcot China Pavilion in 1982, so we’ve been affiliated with Disney for quite some time.  We’ve done stage shows out there, we do a lot of work with the theme parks on special events as well as sometimes we do their holidays around the world, we do the dragon and the lion dances.  So we have a very close working relationship with Disney.  And in particular when they were working on Mulan, they had the animation department kind of submerged in the Chinese culture, so they had Chinese food brought out to them.  They brought us out to do a tai chi seminar to relax the animators and to keep them submerged in the Chinese culture – they wanted everything to be very authentic.  So they go kind of the extra mile with their animation department.  In addition, it was the first production that was going to primarily be done in Florida, since most of them are done in the Hollywood Studios, so it was a really exciting time for them.  At the time I went to help with the tai chi seminar, Mark Henn was still looking for his face of Mulan.  I went out to do tai chi, and one of the casting department women saw me and she was talking to me and she says “How old are you?” and at that time I was kind of the age of Mulan.  It was interesting because I did kung fu and her father did kung fu, my father does kung fu.  She said “I think you really need to meet Mark” so I went to meet Mark Henn, who is the lead animator for Mulan.  He also did Belle and Jasmine – he’s incredible.  So that was already an honor to meet him, and it was kind of funny – I went in and his whole room just had photos and footage of Asian women’s faces because he was trying to find his face of Mulan.  He said he went to China, filmed around the world, and I was talking to him just to meet him, just to say hello, and he was really looking at me and I think everything kind of fell together.  Maybe because I was standing in front of him, maybe because I did kung fu, maybe because I was the same age.  But he just really liked my image, my likeness, and decided that we would move forward with being his inspiration for the character.  From there, my cousin who did Chang, George Kee, and I together would go in and do two different things – we would do basic animation modeling where we would do poses and the animators would just practice drawing.  We’d strike different kinds of kung fu poses so they could get used to that.  Because, you know, they can do people walking – they do that every time.  But the martial arts and different movements – they wanted to get inspiration.  They also did live action video.  So we did video referencing where I would do it as a live-action film, and then they would use that as reference.  We did not do any sensory.  Disney is very specific to make sure everyone knows that.  Because this was one of the last traditional animation projects they did. I ended up working with their choreographer, but he said “You’re the Chinese martial arts expert”, so I pretty much choreographed my own fight scenes as well.  It was a great opportunity.  We were excited when we heard they were going to do Mulan because of course it’s a famous Chinese folktale.  My father was ecstatic – he was pulling out all his old books where he has literature on Hua Mulan, and we have paintings on it.  There’s a cultural center next to our temple and we have artwork of the old Mulan, the original interpretation of the ballad, and then we have my movie poster right next to it.  It’s like the old meeting the new, and it’s really really special.  I couldn’t be more honored to be identified with such a great character – she’s not a damsel in distress. She is going out and doing the honorable thing, and she’s strong.  And of course, then there’s the kung fu.

Brian: You and your family are practitioners of the northern style of kung fu as opposed to the southern style.  Can you explain the difference, and what that means?

Mimi: There’s a general difference.  It’s so involved – it’s like saying “Tell me the difference between Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Russian”.  It’s like the languages.  That’s the analogy I usually use, because they can understand language.  With kung fu, we divide between north and south – that’s the first dividing line.  The basic difference is the northern styles tend to use more leg work, it’s a 70% to 30% hand radio – we do a lot of high kicks, we do a lot of stance work, we do a lot of movement.  Whereas the southern styles are usually really rooted, strong in one stance.  They don’t do a lot of high acrobatic movement – they do a lot of hand work. That’s the basic difference.  And then you can get into the dialects – there’s animal styles, different regions where a lot of it has been passed down through family lineage so it’s indicative to where their location is – the mountains will use more legwork for example.  It’s a lot by region, but that’s a real basic description.

Brian: You’re an actor, producer, director and writer.  That’s a lot of hats.

Mimi: Yes, that’s a lot of hats.  I would say the first hat would be kung fu practitioner and teacher, so that’s my primary lifestyle of who I am.  That has enabled me to do many many other things.  I love art forms, I gravitated after Mulan to doing some stunt work in Los Angeles, I did some acting in LA, and I was fortunate to be on a pretty good path to pursuing that career, however I just…who I am since I’ve been three years old is a martial artist – that’s my discipline.  I really missed my temple in Orlando, and it’s just a very different world in Hollywood.  It’s an entertainment world, and I absolutely loved it, I loved the work I was doing, I loved the work I was potentially going to be doing, but ultimately it’s hard to be in two places at once.  So I chose to return to Florida and keep my roots there.  But then the bug kinda gets you because you want to create, you want to do something other than what you normally do on a day-to-day basis – it’s enriching and rewarding, but I thought “I’ve always wanted to do a documentary on my father” so I decided I would direct my own film.  I was collecting footage for over ten years as it was, because I’m just a documentarian anyways.  He is such a staple in history of Chinese martial arts.  He is a huge figure, and everyone around the world who is really into martial arts knows him, and people come from around the world to our temple, so I thought “This is something special and I want to make sure I document it for posterity.”  So I was collecting footage anyway and I just made the leap and I decided I’m going to direct my own film because it’s my own personal story and I didn’t want to hand it off to someone else.  I have a lot of great friends and a lot of colleagues that are excellent directors, but I felt this was so personal to me I wanted to direct it myself. My friends convinced me that it was my personal story, so I had to narrate it as well.  I have an acting background, but I was hesitant at first.  It did lend to making the story a lot more personal and meaningful.  It played really well – we won tons of awards and film festivals.  We were very fortunate.  It was my first film and I was very pleased with the way it came out. I’m also doing a theatrical production in October in Orlando called Journey to the West.  It’s a martial arts theatrical production.

Brian: We usually close with this question, and no pressure.  Everybody geeks out about something that has nothing to do with their job – it’s their passion outside of their normal life.  What’s your geek?

Mimi: That’s a hard question because my life has so many paths, and I don’t know which one I consider my primary path.  My life is my kung fu.  But then I also enjoy the film stuff.  I also love reading comic books and watching anime.  I read a lot of comic books – my husband is actually a big comic book fan, and he’s dragged me in.  I think my geek fans would enjoy “Y the Last Man” is my favorite comic book of all time.   I’ve read Planetary, Irredeemable, Ex Machina, 100 Bullets – I’m told I like “underground comics”.  My husband would be so proud!

Brian: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us!

You can view the trailer for Mimi’s film, Pui Chan: Kung Fu Pioneer below, and you can watch the entire film on Hulu!

Posted on Leave a comment

Cosplayers on Ice Returns to Atlanta For Seventh Year!

MomoCon Con Brings Costumed Characters from Comics, Animation, Games!

12082154203_908a763079_qDecember 1, 2014  – MomoCon, Atlanta’s Family Friendly Gaming and Animation Convention, will be once again hosting Cosplayers on Ice at Centennial Olympic Park for a seventh year of fun on-and-off the ice on December 7, 2014.   This annual photoshoot will allow reporters and photographers the chance to photograph scores of Atlanta’s cosplaying community which will bring out a variety of elaborate hand made costumes, from small to giant, amdist the holiday decorations and on the ice.

The photoshoot is free, but skating costs $12 (including skate rental).  All costume types are welcome, and there will be opportunities for photography around the park. All cosplayers are asked to gather at the steps under the large Christmas tree for a group shot!

“Cosplayers on Ice, part of our MomoCon on Tour, gives a great opportunity for cosplayers to gather together and have some casual fun while still showing off their winter cosplay,” said MomoCon Co-Chair and founder, Jess Merriman.

MomoCon’s Cosplayers on Ice will start at 3:00 PM and continue to the early evening at 6:00PM. In addition to photography and skating there will be door prizes given away.

MomoCon is one of the fastest growing conventions in the United States.  This year the convention, held May 28th-31st, 2015, will be moving to the Georgia World Congress Center. With roots in the world of Anime, MomoCon has expanding its programming in recent years to include all cartoons, gaming, and comic books( which are new for 2015).

“This year at Cosplayers on Ice we will be able to take our cosplayers for a tour of the Georgia World Congress Center,” said MomoCon’s other Co-Chair Chris Stuckey. “Our fans can explore the convention space and get a feel for what is in store for them in May!”

To find more information about MomoCon, visit their website at http://MomoCon.com.

What: Ice Skating & Photoshoot
Who: Open to all
When: Sunday, Dec. 7th, 3pm-6pm
Where: Centennial Park Ice Rink
Costs: Photoshoot, free. The park charges a rink fee and a small skate rental fee, if you wish to skate.

Posted on Leave a comment

Look what’s coming to MomoCon 2015!

MomoCon is one of our favorite conventions! Check out what’s coming up for 2015, and get your tickets now! MomoCon pre-registration is open and available for all 4 days for $50! After December 31st, pre-registration increases to $55 for the 4-day membership. Be sure to pre-register here today and save!

We are very excited to announce that Steve Downes, best known as voice of Master Chief, will be a featured guest at MomoCon 2015! If you too are a huge fan of Halo, we hope you will join us Monday November 10th at 10PM for the launch of the Halo Master Chief collection at the Lenox Mall Microsoft Store. Be sure to get your copy of the game, so you can get it signed by Master Chief himself at MomoCon 2015!

We are very excited to welcome Sarah Anne Williams as a featured guest at MomoCon 2015! Sarah has voiced Sayaka Miki in Madoka, Nonon Jakuzure in Kill la Kill, Lisbeth in Sword Art Online, and Jinx in League of Legends among others!

Come and join us on the beautiful grounds of the LIFE University Campus on Saturday, November 8th at 10:00am  to show off your costumes. Photographers and models will have their opportunity to take the photos they want in the good company of their fellow cosplayers without the crowds and hardships of trying to make a cosplay last through a convention day.

At the Life University Photoshoot, there will be staff photographers on site to capture cosplayers in their glory against a variety of backgrounds. The fall leaves should be at their peak. Backgrounds around the photoshoot site on Life University Campus include bridges, a creek, a pond, an old village with a mill, stone walls and stone benches, and a small waterfall.

For more information please visit the Facebook Event.

Atlanta is home to Hi-Rez studios who has worked with MomoCon in the past to exhibit their game Smite. They have been great partners, and we are excited to see how much the company is growing. Hi-Rez will be hosting a high production tournament here locally, starting with the North American Regionals at Cobb Energy Center’s Kessel D Stelling Ballroom on November 22-23. This event is leading up to the over $1,000,000 prize pool for their January World Finals.

This is a must go to for anyone who is a fan of eSports and wants to see a live production in person. Hi-Rez has extended MomoCon attendees a 25% off coupon using the code: MOMOSMITE which can be used at the following URL: http://bit.ly/1uMGVgV

We are happy to announce a free to enter Super Smash Bros for the 3DS Tournament on Sunday November 16th with signups beginning at noon! This is your chance to compete with friends, and the local smash community for free MomoCon 2015 memberships, Gamestop gift cards, and even some cool Smash Bros swag! Find more information on our Facebook Event!

MomoCon is happy to announce the return of Cosplayers on Ice, a free photo shoot event for all ages held at Centennial Park Ice Rink in Atlanta, Georgia on December 7th, 2014 at 3pm! Bring out your best holiday outfits and amazing cosplay to join hundreds of other costumers and professional photographers for a fun day of ice skating, play in the park, and more, culminating in a large group photo under the huge Christmas tree in Centennial Park! Check out the Facebook Event here.
Posted on Leave a comment

MomoCon Welcomes Animation Voice Legends

Animaniacs Voice Actors Reunite for First Time, Joined by Pinky and the Brain and Others from Popular Cartoon Shows

momocon2014-circle-smallATLANTA, April, 22, 2014

MomoCon Animation and Gaming Convention – held in Atlanta on Memorial Day Weekend 2014 (May 23rd – 25th) –  has announced that they will be celebrating American animation with a guests representing the Simpsons, Futurama, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Tiny Toons,  the Animaniacs, and Pinky and The Brain.

Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, and Tress MacNeille all have extensive voice acting careers, but collectively they are best known for their work on The Animaniacs, as siblings “Wakko Warner”, “Yakko Warner”, and “Dot Warner.”  MomoCon is proud to present the first public reunion of these voice actors since Animaniacs went off the air in 1998.  Joining them will be voice actor legend Maurice LaMarche, who starred in Pinky and the Brain with Paulsen. All four of these actors have extensive voice over careers.

MomoCon also welcomes Dante Basco, popular for the character “Prince Zuko” in Nickelodeon’s phenomenal hit, Avatar: The Last Airbender and “General Iroh” in The Legend of Korra.

Topping the list of American animation guests at MomoCon is writer and producer Mike Reiss.  He serves as a show-runner, writer and producer for the animated series The Simpsons for over 20 years and co-created the animated series The Critic.

In addition to American animation guests, MomoCon welcomes voice actors and creators from Anime and Gaming in 2014.  In addition to guests, MomoCon attendees can enjoy over 700 hours of programming include panels and workshops on costuming, culture, animation, and gaming.

MomoCon Anime and Gaming Convention in 2013 exceeded all expectations and set a new attendance record of 12,200 people growing by 42% over 2012. The organizers of the events are prepared for a repeat in growth for 2014.

For those interested in attending MomoCon 2014, the hotel registration is already available online for $129 a night and advanced memberships are also for sale for only $40 for all 3 days at http://MomoCon.com

Posted on Leave a comment

MomoCon Cosplayers on Ice to Bring Hundreds of Costumers to Centennial Olympic Park

Atlanta continues to be one of the epicenters of Cosplay in America with MomoCon leading the way year round. On Sunday December 8th hundreds of people in costume will come out to Centennial Olympic Park to ice skate and get their picture taken by MomoCon photographers.

Atlanta, Georgia (PRWEB) December 02, 2013


1384346_10100686564695769_170637339_nMomoCon is happy to announce the return of Cosplayers on Ice, a free photo shoot event for all ages held at Centennial Park Ice Rink in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday December 8, 2013 starting at 3PM and going to 6PM. Cosplay, or Costume Play, is a growing activity in which fans of animation, comics, or anime dress up as characters using wonderful costumes, many of them made by the fans.

Fans are encouraged to bring their best holiday outfits and cosplay and join the fun at Cosplayers on Ice. Attendance at Cosplayers on Ice has been in the hundreds and for 2013, it is expected to grow. If you are looking for an interest event to enjoy, join hundreds of other costumers and professional photographers for a fun day of ice skating, play in the park, and more, culminating in a large group photo under the huge Christmas tree in Centennial Park.

In 2013, Atlanta was named the nerdiest city in the country by a real estate blog, and our costuming culture is considered one of the main reasons. Indeed, Atlanta has become the focal point of costuming in America due to success of Atlanta’s pop culture conventions, such as MomoCon.

MomoCon is the home-grown Atlanta event that began on the Georgia Tech campus as a two-day event in 2005. It is known internationally as one of the fast growing family-friendly conventions in the world. Jessica Merriman, Internal Chairman and founder of MomoCon, explains that the event grew from a small gathering to “an anime, cartoon and gaming convention, with great celebrity and industry guests, events for everyone in the family, performances, live music, demonstrations, screenings and movies, elaborate costumes, and great festival fun”

MomoCon is held on Memorial Day Weekend (May 23-25, 2013), but the convention hosts events throughout the year, as part of MomoCon on Tour. In addition to Cosplayers on Ice, there are arranged photoshoots, semi-formal dances, art contests, gaming events, and festivals. According to Jessica Merriman, “These events allow the fans of cartoons and gaming a chance to meetup regularly, show off great costumes, and be a part of a community, at little to no cost.”

What is the appeal of cosplaying characters from animation? “Animation offers possibilities which are hard to realize with traditional film, and when someone cosplays they are taking part of that impossible world with them to the real one to share with everyone what they loved most,” said External Chair Chris Stuckey. “Holding events like Cosplayers on Ice allows families to participate with their children in something fantastic. It’s become an institution in Atlanta for some families, who come year after year.”

Cosplayers on Ice is one of the most popular MomoCon on Tour events, and this year the MomoCon team will be out in full force with door prizes and give aways that include free MomoCon 2014 memberships.

Due to the ice skating nature of the event, the MomoCon has asked that all costumers leave large props at home, as this is a very public event. Even if you don’t cosplay, we encourage everyone to come out to enjoy the festivities.

Details:

Who: Open to all
What: Ice Skating & Photoshoot/Costuming
When: Sunday, Dec. 8. 3pm – 6pm
Where: Centennial Olympic Park Ice Rink
Costs:

  • Photoshoot – free
  • The park charges a rink fee and a small skate rental fee if you wish to skate