The World of Doug Ing

Doug Ing is not your average Asian American guy. He’s this really eccentric and creative person, who can be a bit “much” for the average Asian American female. Most people can’t stand large doses of him, but he’s a REALLY nice guy, you just gotta get used to him.

He says he went to the University of Washington and was around the photo department when I was there, at that time I was oblivious when it came to noticing other people…I was really into my work and getting as much out of my time in a wonderful darkroom.

Eight years later, I kept seeing this wacky Asian dude at just about every Asian and art event around town, and asked people, “Who was that guy with the white spot on his head?” (He has this albino white spot on the top) I finally asked Alan Lau, the local guru of Asian American arts, he told me, “Oh, that’s Doug Ing.” In 1996, my video titled “Splayd Molecular Time” got accepted at the NAATA film festival in SF, mine played in the lobby monitor at the Kabuki Theater. I watched the videos. There was Castle by Doug Ing…that guy again. Later, at one of the receptions, I officially met him. So, sporadically over the past 4 years, my path has crossed many times with Doug.

Artists with that much energy and creativity are few and far between here in Seattle, so I’ve always checked out Doug’s films. Filmmakers often look down upon his work; it’s that whole MFA vs. BFA thing (I’ve always been told by MFAs that I couldn’t get my films/videos shown because I was lacking the “degree in IT, meaning filmmaking.”)

So, here goes my interview with Doug Ing, filmmaker:

IHK: Where were you born?

DI: I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

What are your signs?

Western Astrological sign – Leo, Asian Zodiac – Dragon.

Where’d you attend school?

University of Washington: B.A. General Art, BA Chinese Language and Literature, UW Extension certificate in Film and Video.

How did you get into super 8 filmmaking?

I’ve never shot super 8. I first got into 16mm filmmaking after I took a course in basic motion picture production from Jack Driscoll. This was a course taught in the education dept. Years ago, UW had a film production degree. Jack Driscoll, an Education professor who taught the class, was one of the first graduating students from UCLA film school.

I’ve always enjoyed watching movies and since I had an artistic bent, I decided, wouldn’t it be fun to make films. I also had just quit in my pursuit of becoming an industrial designer. I wanted to do something else creative.

Do you have a “regular job” or is this what you do full-time?

I’m currently a full-time filmmaker and have been accepted and am deciding whether to attend graduate school this fall to help solidify my future. Graduate school gives you the opportunity to teach.

Any awards or grants?

Just a small one from the Seattle Asian American Film Festival-Best NW film. My friend joked that I can call myself an award winning filmmaker. A full color article about me in Seattle Magazine May 1997. A one man retrospective at 911 Media Arts Center, May 1997.

Tell me your filmography in chronological order. The years that the films were made — not necessarily the year they were released. An interesting note: Castle sat on the shelf for three years. It had been rejected from SIFF. In my naïveté I assumed this meant it was no good. Bill Blauvelt (of the Seattle Asian American Film Festival) took a chance in programming this film and since then it has played 8 festivals. I quit submitting the film when I realized I didn’t have music rights.

Castle 1992
Masked Man 1994
Doug Is The One 1996/1997 (re-edit)
Leslie 1996
You Look Marvelous 1998
David Ishii Bookseller 2000

Castle: How many drawings did u do for that, did u Xerox them and then hand color or did u hand-draw all? What inspired u to do this animated piece?

I’ve must have done at least thirty drawings for Castle. I did a lot of Xeroxing and coloring. The coloring and animating process took almost a solid summer of work. I came home from my telemarketing job in the afternoon and colored all afternoon five days a week. I colored an average of four hours a day. I was inspired to make Castle by thinking about what my ideal home would look like. Castle was a painting that hung in one of the rooms. I thought about seeing paintings in the museum and thought that each painting only showed the moment that the artist chose to depict. Wouldn’t it be great to see a painting that showed you this moment and what happened next?

Castle has a lot of inside jokes. The windows for the book publishing company are shaped in the form of letters. They read: We publish fine books for all. I also was inspired by competition. I met Leslie Thyagarajan, an incredibly talented artist now living in Laguna Beach Niguel CA. He and I both made animated films that summer. We would share rolls of film on the animation stand. In animation, you shoot frames of film. A hundred-foot load can take forever to finish by yourself. Sharing rolls of film allowed us to get work processed quicker. Leslie would shoot his animation and then I would shoot mine. And then he would shoot his. Castle was my first 16mm film.
Leslie: Is that considered a feature? Is that video or film?
Leslie was shot on hi8, 16mm and Beta SP. I consider it a Bermuda short, a long short film. Leslie was an homage to my sister who died of lupus.

Doug is the One and You Look Marvelous: Which one came first? Some people think they are comedic, obsessive, some find them serious, what did you intend them to be? Why make them?

Doug Is The One was made as a response to create a film for the Short Attention Span Film and Video Festival. The festival curates a reel of 60 two-minute films each year. Most people don’t have two-minute pieces. You usually make something for the festival. I intended Doug Is The One to be comedic. I wanted to do a spoof on those dating videos that people make. I also have the trait of knowing a lot of odd facts. I would go on three-mile walks for exercise and these facts jelled into a short film. Some of the footage used in Doug, was found footage. I shot the dress blowing in the wind because it looked cool and later decided to use it. The bride pictured in the window and my reflection came about because I would always walk past this bridal shop in Queen Anne. The bride is an Asian bride. I noticed that you could see yourself in the window as a reflection. I thought that this would be a funny juxtaposition of images.

You Look Marvelous was my second short short. I had taken a 35mm picture of myself reflecting in the mirror every morning for two years. I wanted to do an animation piece like Castle. I watched an early episode of the X-Files and and then one made five years later. I noticed the change in Gillian Anderson and thought about my change. The crux of this piece was the interview with the doctor. I had a very difficult time getting a doctor to interview. My friend, Charlene recommended Dr. Anna Ragaz, a “looks” MD. She was kind enough to be interviewed. I was inspired to animate the pictures by noticing a strange quirk of my hi8 camera. If you turn the camera on and off quickly, you can get the camera to shoot only four frames of video at a time. I also was able to edit You Look Marvelous at TCI Public access. They have free editing equipment-if you don’t mind using tape to tape nonlinear editing.

Masked Man (my personal favorite, the edgiest piece!)?

Masked Man was inspired by a true confessions letter. I read the Bible of low budget filmmaking, How to make a feature film for the cost of a used car. Rick said that if you don’t have a script take inspiration from those tabloid stories. I did exactly that. I wrote a very funny script. I attempted to do the script as is but was frustrated that I couldn’t find someone to record the sound for free. I decided to do the film without sound and then add a voice-over later. This made the film too experimental for most people. The only public screening was at Elliott Bay Book Company. I too think Masked Man was a great film. I think about remaking it, either using the original script or recutting the film with other footage. It’s one of my disappointments that no film festival in the world will show Masked Man. I also made Masked Man when I like every other beginning director thinks that they can direct. My DP, Jesse Wine actually did some of the directing. I am proud that I directed the sex scene. Maybe I should direct a sex film. Masked Man was also made as one of my earliest responses to Asian consciousness. I grew up in Hawaii and really didn’t become aware that I was Asian until I hit the Asian Film Festival circuit. I wanted to do for Asian America what Spike Lee did for African America.

Did you do any video or did you make the jump straight into digital? Do you like digital and what camera and why?

Digital is a video format. My first exploration into video was shooting hi8 video. I think hi8 is still a wonderful acquisition format. It’s only a hundred line resolution difference from digital. I love shooting digital video because I can edit directing into my computer via firewire. I have a Mac G3 with Final Cut Pro installed. I use a Canon XL 1 but don’t like the bulkiness of the camera. I would love to buy a PAL version of a Sony VX2000, the successor to the famed VX1000. This would allow a great looking transfer to film. As a documentary filmmaker, MiniDV allows you a lower cost start up in making your project. I’m also awaiting delivery of a Fisher Price Pixelvision camera. I want to get more experimental.

How you ended up living here since you’re from Hawaii? What drew you to this place? your hobbies, favorite places to go, do your parents support your decision to go into filmmaking?

I moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. My hobbies are watching a lot of non-mainstream movies, I see about 250 movies a year in the theater, cooking and talking with my friends. I like to go to the you District and the I district. [U district= University District, area nearby the campus, I district= International District, the area that some call Chinatown, but is definitely international]

My parents, especially my Dad, have been somewhat supportive. My Mom is worried that I won’t be able to get married and have a family because no woman wants to marry someone without a good paying job. My Dad really wants me to go to graduate school.

How many film festivals you attend a year, do you buy a film fest pass or individual tix?

I usually attend a film festival if my work is accepted. I attend SIFF and do buy a full series pass.

How many films do you see in one year?

250 or so.

Asian Americans and the dating scene… blind dates, setups via friends, or just walk up and meet someone? What’s your angle?

I actually had an interesting blind date story that I’m using in my film on dating. I usually get a date by having an interesting conversation then ask out. I need to be a little more aggressive.

What kind are you seeking?

I would like to marry an Asian or ethnic not white, perhaps Hispanic.

Is ethnicity important? Looking for Asian?

Ethnicity is not too important.


I would love to have a family so the woman has to be my age, younger or only A few years older. I would say an age range of 20 to 38.


Yes compatibility is very important. The woman would have to appreciate my sense of humor. She would have to laugh at life.

What are your best personal traits?

I have a lot of interests ranging from anthropology to medicine. I can talk about anything. I’m a good listener.

What are your worst?

Sometimes I can be very full of myself. I will talk about something that happened to me as if the world revolves around me.

What do you seek to improve in yourself?

I’d like to be able to talk to more people like Johnny Carson did. I want people to feel at ease with me.

Describe the perfect type for you.

I don’t know if I have a perfect type. I consider many women attractive sometimes physical and sometimes inner beauty. If I really have to chose, there’s a hapa woman Temple MFA who lives in Philadelphia. No you can’t name her even though you know who she is. We’re a lot alike. The last time I saw her was in LA at the Asian American Film Festival. We were introduced. She shook my hand limply. I gave her my You Look Marvelous postcard with all my contact information on it. She’s obviously not interested in me anymore. Will she change her mind? Not likely.