Back in October 2014, we did a special Hard NOC Life with rapper Jason Chu about his Kickstarter project to fund the making of a music video for his song MARVELS. The project was successfully funded and last week the music video was officially released on ISAtv’s YouTube channel. The video has been viewed over 18,000 times in its first week and has struck a chord with many viewers.
The music video follows a young Jason, played by Fresh Off the Boat star Hudson Yang, reading comics and believing that he could one day have his own superpowers to stop villains in the real world. Reality hits hard after the aspiring superhero tries to stop some bullies and ends up getting bullied himself. Disillusioned by life’s reality, he rejects comics and superheroes. Eventually he comes to the realization that heroes aren’t made because of superpowers but because heroes are human and we can each be heroes in our own ways.
We talked to Jason Chu to get an update since MARVELS was released.
NELSON: Looking back, what did you think of the whole MARVELS experience from Kickstarter to release?
JASON: More than anything, it was humbling. To realize how many dope, creative, passionate people there are around me, willing to come together with a shared vision and message — that’s not something I could ever take for granted.
I also saw how powerful a movement is when it comes from the people. From the fans we worked with, to the cast and crew, and hundreds of Kickstarter backers, it was 1000% a labor of love. No egos, no outside agendas, just: let’s make a video honoring something we love.
What has the reaction been since the release of MARVELS? Any particular reactions that surprised or touched you?
Overwhelmed. I’ve done a lot of videos, some pop off more than others, but this one really seemed to hit people’s hearts. The most common response I’ve seen on Twitter is — “you’re telling my story!” or “I was that kid.”
Anytime I speak on my life, and someone else sees their own life in that — to me, that’s special. It’s an honor.
Was the final version of the music video what you had originally envisioned when you were running the Kickstarter project or did it evolve into something more than you imagined?
My director Jason Poon — an incredible filmmaker who’s worked with a ton of YouTube musicians and comedians — had a thorough treatment by the time we took it to Kickstarter. We knew what we wanted; but then we actually got like 99.9% of what we wanted, and that never happens on an indie project like this.
In a production meeting, he asked me “If we could get anyone, who would play young Jason? Where would we film? What does the bedroom look like?” — and we got literally every one of my answers. #Blessed.
Getting Hudson Yang, of ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, to star in the music video seemed like perfect timing. What was it like working with Hudson?
Hudson is the little homie. Super professional, 1000% on point with his cues, emoting, taking direction. It was clear that he’s been training, and actually really enjoys acting.
It was extra dope because Hudson is really into comics culture like that. When he wasn’t on camera, he was watching One Piece on Crunchyroll on his iPhone — and I think he actually read through like 75% of the comics we had on set. Those comics in the backpack in the video, Red Tornado and War Machine, he was reading those through the morning.
What do you hope people will take away after seeing and listening to MARVELS?
One line in the lyrics sums it all up: a hero isn’t about being super; we become heroes because of what makes us human.
My mission with anything I do — music, videos, shows, social media – is to remind people that hope is real, that healing happens, even in the broken and messy world around us. If MARVELS helps some people remember what it was like to be a kid believing in heroes — wanting to be a hero — then all the work was worth it.