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The Zheng siblings invade Hollywood

  • Hans David Tampubolon

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, July 29, 2015 | 10:04 am
The Zheng siblings invade Hollywood In character: Alice Qiang (Livi) walks on her hands to earn a living after arriving in Seattle while her brother Ken Qiang (Ken) looks on.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)" border="0" height="312" width="510">In character: Alice Qiang (Livi) walks on her hands to earn a living after arriving in Seattle while her brother Ken Qiang (Ken) looks on.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)

Inspired by the Coen brothers, two Indonesian siblings are doing their best to achieve success in the competitive world of Hollywood film.

The siblings, Livi Zheng and Ken Zheng, recently managed to produce, direct and launch an action thriller entitled Brush with Danger.

Brush with Danger tells the story of two illegal Asian immigrants, Alice Qiang (Livi) and her brother, Ken Qiang (Ken) in the US. Being homeless as soon as they arrive in Seattle inside a shipping container, the two siblings try to make ends meet by becoming street artists and performing paint sketching art and wushu.

The two siblings are then recruited by Justus Sullivan, an art gallery owner with sinister motives. Their involvement with Sullivan leads them to fight for survival in the dangerous criminal underworld in the US.

Brush with Danger is the feature movie debut for the siblings. Livi plays the role of director and Ken plays the role of scriptwriter. In the United States, the movie was launched in September 2014 and has been featured in several major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Dallas and also in the Midwestern state of Ohio.

Livi says that the reception in the US toward her movie has been positive.

“Brush with Danger was featured for at least two months in theaters across the US,” Livi said during a recent press conference at the NAM Hotel in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

Sibling cooperation: Livi and Ken Zheng discuss production details at the set.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)Sibling cooperation: Livi and Ken Zheng discuss production details at the set.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)

The success of Brush with Danger has allowed both Livi and Ken to work together on another action-thriller project, which is yet to be named and involves several Hollywood actors and actresses such as Tony Todd, Madeline Zima and Sean Patrick Flannery.

Being successful filmmakers in Hollywood is something that Livi and Ken have been dreaming about since they were children, despite the fact that their backgrounds positioned them at a remote distance from the glitz and glamour of the film industry.

Livi, who was born in Blitar, East Java on April 3, 1989, spent most of her early childhood and teenage years learning kung fu and wushu. Her skills in martial arts brought her for the first time into the movie industry by becoming a stuntwoman for several Indonesian movies and television shows when she was 15.

At age 16, she went to China and attended the martial arts academy at the Shi Cha Hai Sports School in Beijing. Throughout Livi’s martial arts career, she has won at least 26 trophies and medals in various competitions in the US.

After senior high school, Livi then took on economics at the University of Washington-Seattle where she graduated in just three years. Her impressive performance at university led her to be invited to become a member of the International Honors Society in Economics.

Livi, who had kept alive a passion for filmmaking since her stuntwoman days, decided not to pursue a career as an economist and took a post-graduate degree in film production at the University of Southern California.

Livi Zheng - JP/Wendra AjistyatamaLivi Zheng - JP/Wendra Ajistyatama

“I realized that filmmaking was not a part-time job,” Livi said.

“I used to help film crews when I took my bachelor degree and their job could last at least 18 hours. Therefore, I decided to fully pursue a career in film by attending a university that has produced great filmmakers such as George Lucas and Robert Zemeckis.”

Livi, while completing for her post-graduate degree in Southern California, began to step into the real world of filmmaking and started to face heavy challenges in producing her first project.

“The most difficult challenge for me at that time was to find professional crews who trusted me and were willing to work with me. I was still a rookie and yet I had to make sure that everyone I worked with shared the same vision,” she said.

Livi started the Brush with Danger project when she was 23 and one of her first recruits was her own younger brother, Ken, who is also a professional wushu athlete for the Jakarta provincial team.

Livi trusted Ken with the movie script even though that he had no prior experience or formal education in script writing.

“Ken loved to write stories when he was a kid and they were great. I wanted him to write the script for this movie,” says Livi, who took care of 11-year old Ken when he was also sent abroad to China.

Attention to detail: Livi Zheng (second left) observes a scene on a display screen attached to a camera at the set.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)Attention to detail: Livi Zheng (second left) observes a scene on a display screen attached to a camera at the set.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)

It took Ken about one year to finish the script for Brush with Danger.

“I want to create a strong story for an action film,” he said.

Ken says that the experience of living with his sister as young cubs in China, both of whom barely spoke any Chinese, had developed a strong bond between them and had created a great sibling chemistry that they would use in their film projects.

“I really like working with my sister,” Ken says.

Livi describes their chemistry like the Yin-Yang symbol.

“He is good at what I am not good at and vice versa[…]we complement one another,” she says.

For the future, Livi says that she and Ken would like to continue working together on other movie projects and that these did not necessarily have to be in the action genre.

“I would love the opportunity to direct movies from other genres such as drama and romantic comedy,” Livi says.

Both siblings are excited to introduce Brush with Danger to Indonesian moviegoers.

“We are still working on the bureaucracy. I’ve already taken care of my tax identification number,” Livi says.

“Hopefully we can complete all the requirements to bring out our first movie here by August and September and after that, Indonesians can finally enjoy our work,” she added.

Highly trained: Livi Zheng and her brother Ken Zheng are both accomplished wushu athletes.(JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

In character: Alice Qiang (Livi) walks on her hands to earn a living after arriving in Seattle while her brother Ken Qiang (Ken) looks on.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)

Inspired by the Coen brothers, two Indonesian siblings are doing their best to achieve success in the competitive world of Hollywood film.

The siblings, Livi Zheng and Ken Zheng, recently managed to produce, direct and launch an action thriller entitled Brush with Danger.

Brush with Danger tells the story of two illegal Asian immigrants, Alice Qiang (Livi) and her brother, Ken Qiang (Ken) in the US. Being homeless as soon as they arrive in Seattle inside a shipping container, the two siblings try to make ends meet by becoming street artists and performing paint sketching art and wushu.

The two siblings are then recruited by Justus Sullivan, an art gallery owner with sinister motives. Their involvement with Sullivan leads them to fight for survival in the dangerous criminal underworld in the US.

Brush with Danger is the feature movie debut for the siblings. Livi plays the role of director and Ken plays the role of scriptwriter. In the United States, the movie was launched in September 2014 and has been featured in several major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Dallas and also in the Midwestern state of Ohio.

Livi says that the reception in the US toward her movie has been positive.

'€œBrush with Danger was featured for at least two months in theaters across the US,'€ Livi said during a recent press conference at the NAM Hotel in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

Sibling cooperation: Livi and Ken Zheng discuss production details at the set.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)Sibling cooperation: Livi and Ken Zheng discuss production details at the set.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)

The success of Brush with Danger has allowed both Livi and Ken to work together on another action-thriller project, which is yet to be named and involves several Hollywood actors and actresses such as Tony Todd, Madeline Zima and Sean Patrick Flannery.

Being successful filmmakers in Hollywood is something that Livi and Ken have been dreaming about since they were children, despite the fact that their backgrounds positioned them at a remote distance from the glitz and glamour of the film industry.

Livi, who was born in Blitar, East Java on April 3, 1989, spent most of her early childhood and teenage years learning kung fu and wushu. Her skills in martial arts brought her for the first time into the movie industry by becoming a stuntwoman for several Indonesian movies and television shows when she was 15.

At age 16, she went to China and attended the martial arts academy at the Shi Cha Hai Sports School in Beijing. Throughout Livi'€™s martial arts career, she has won at least 26 trophies and medals in various competitions in the US.

After senior high school, Livi then took on economics at the University of Washington-Seattle where she graduated in just three years. Her impressive performance at university led her to be invited to become a member of the International Honors Society in Economics.

Livi, who had kept alive a passion for filmmaking since her stuntwoman days, decided not to pursue a career as an economist and took a post-graduate degree in film production at the University of Southern California.

Livi Zheng - JP/Wendra AjistyatamaLivi Zheng - JP/Wendra Ajistyatama

'€œI realized that filmmaking was not a part-time job,'€ Livi said.

'€œI used to help film crews when I took my bachelor degree and their job could last at least 18 hours. Therefore, I decided to fully pursue a career in film by attending a university that has produced great filmmakers such as George Lucas and Robert Zemeckis.'€

Livi, while completing for her post-graduate degree in Southern California, began to step into the real world of filmmaking and started to face heavy challenges in producing her first project.

'€œThe most difficult challenge for me at that time was to find professional crews who trusted me and were willing to work with me. I was still a rookie and yet I had to make sure that everyone I worked with shared the same vision,'€ she said.

Livi started the Brush with Danger project when she was 23 and one of her first recruits was her own younger brother, Ken, who is also a professional wushu athlete for the Jakarta provincial team.

Livi trusted Ken with the movie script even though that he had no prior experience or formal education in script writing.

'€œKen loved to write stories when he was a kid and they were great. I wanted him to write the script for this movie,'€ says Livi, who took care of 11-year old Ken when he was also sent abroad to China.

Attention to detail: Livi Zheng (second left) observes a scene on a display screen attached to a camera at the set.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)Attention to detail: Livi Zheng (second left) observes a scene on a display screen attached to a camera at the set.(Courtesy of Livi Zheng)

It took Ken about one year to finish the script for Brush with Danger.

'€œI want to create a strong story for an action film,'€ he said.

Ken says that the experience of living with his sister as young cubs in China, both of whom barely spoke any Chinese, had developed a strong bond between them and had created a great sibling chemistry that they would use in their film projects.

'€œI really like working with my sister,'€ Ken says.

Livi describes their chemistry like the Yin-Yang symbol.

'€œHe is good at what I am not good at and vice versa['€¦]we complement one another,'€ she says.

For the future, Livi says that she and Ken would like to continue working together on other movie projects and that these did not necessarily have to be in the action genre.

'€œI would love the opportunity to direct movies from other genres such as drama and romantic comedy,'€ Livi says.

Both siblings are excited to introduce Brush with Danger to Indonesian moviegoers.

'€œWe are still working on the bureaucracy. I'€™ve already taken care of my tax identification number,'€ Livi says.

'€œHopefully we can complete all the requirements to bring out our first movie here by August and September and after that, Indonesians can finally enjoy our work,'€ she added.

Highly trained: Livi Zheng and her brother Ken Zheng are both accomplished wushu athletes.(JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)Highly trained: Livi Zheng and her brother Ken Zheng are both accomplished wushu athletes.(JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

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