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Meet Elaine Loh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elaine Loh.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Elaine. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I was about three or four years old, I was in a play. In that play, three princes had to bring me gifts and kiss me on the cheek. And boom. I was hooked on acting. Gifts?! Boys?! I was a shallow little pre-schooler apparently.

Cut to post-college. I moved to LA to follow the dreams of fame and glory that had been imprinted oh-so-long ago. Instead of fame and glory, I quickly settled for a co-star and some health insurance. I felt like life was going “good enough” as an actor. But I knew that something was missing. And what I felt was missing were three-dimensional roles for Asian American actors. I played a lot of nurses and receptionists in my day. And while I was grateful for the work, I knew that I couldn’t do it forever. I didn’t want to. And so, I started writing. Yes, my writing started off just as shallowly as my acting did. I was in it for me! I wanted to create roles for myself. But… the more I wrote, the more I realized that I wasn’t just into creating roles for myself. I was into creating worlds.

But world-building didn’t happen out of nowhere. I had to start small. I took a sketch comedy writing class. That felt manageable. Sketches felt nice and short. I could accomplish that. From there, I decided to start filming some of those short sketches. My first production had 19 locations and 44 actors. I had no idea how much work it was going to be! But, I managed it. And because that first one was so nuts, it kind of felt like I could do anything after that. So, I wrote a few longer projects. Some short films. I made some of those. Then I started writing pilots. Features. I read books. I consulted with other writers. I got a coach. I paid for professional feedback. I entered contests. I started actually winning some of those contests! And recently, I shot a short form series, “Doxxed”, that I wrote, directed, and starred in. I’m pleased to say that it screened at the NBC Women in Comedy Festival in Boston and also locally at Dances With Films.

I’ve been lucky enough to make it into the HBO Writer’s Program (just a few weeks ago!), where I will develop a show with the good people at HBO. I’m also currently a semi-finalist for the Sundance Episodic Lab (please cross your fingers for me). And, I am humbled to have been chosen as a Top 25 Screenwriter to Watch by the International Screenwriters’ Association. These were all dreams that actor-me and sketch-writing-me could never have fathomed. When people ask me, how’d you do it? I honestly don’t know. I write a lot. I found a passion for it. I feel a sense of purpose by writing for women and people of color. I’m not afraid to fail (and believe me, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on my writing that goes something like, “This is not very good. You should start over.”). I read an article a few years ago that said you should aim for 100 rejections a year. So, that’s what I started doing. If I aim to win and I don’t, then I’m disappointed. But if I aim for rejections (and you know I get a ton of them), then I can say, “Yes! That’s what I was aiming for!” and I put it on my list and move on. I think that’s the key. Just move on and try again. Somewhere along the way, you get some wins.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest struggle with chasing an artistic endeavor is finding time, money, and energy. I’m sure that’s true for any entrepreneurial type of pursuit. I have always worked another job (I’m a test prep tutor), and so sometimes I’m too tired or too busy to sit down and write. Or maybe I want to shoot a short film, but my day job pays me enough to survive, not to finance a production. But, I think this is the deal we all make when we move to LA to pursue a job in film or television. We find creative ways to raise the money. We get up an hour earlier to do the work before the day job begins. I don’t think my struggles are all that unique. I always remind myself that if my biggest challenge is trying to find time to do what I love, then my life isn’t too bad.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am most proud of my series, “Doxxed”, which will be released online in mid-July 2019. It is about an Asian American woman who posts a racist joke online that goes viral. Not only must she face the wrath of the ENTIRE internet, but she must also examine her own beliefs and privileges – as a person of color, she thought she couldn’t be racist. I’m so excited to share this timely story with the world. But I’m also so proud of the way the project was made. We had around 80-90% women, POC, and other under-represented groups on our crew. A large portion of the funding came from a prize package that I had won from the NewFilmmakers LA On Location Project. It felt like art begat more art. Very circle of life. But for money! I hope that everyone will please follow/like/post/tweet/etc. Independent filmmaking is hard. Independent television is even harder! We’d appreciate the support.

I like to write/direct projects that have some sort of social commentary. But not the type of social commentary that beats you over the head with a stick. I like to entertain. I like to make people laugh or cry or gasp. And then hidden somewhere in those emotions is a little nugget of change. I heard someone once use the term “artivist” and I’ve co-opted it. I’m an artist. I’m an activist. And voila, artivist.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I have a feature film called “Shadow Witch” that is in the very early stages of pre-production. It’s a psychological horror/thriller that we’re describing as: “Carrie” meets the Kavanaugh trial. I have a few other pilots in various stages of development, but in the near future, I’ll mostly be focusing on the one that I will write for the HBO program. I hope to parlay this work into getting staffed on a TV show or developing my own.

Oh yeah, I’ll also be getting married next year!

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