File this under: “Perseverance pays off.”
After more than seven years, Patricio Ginelsa, the technical coordinator for the Experiential Learning Center, has finished his film, “Lumpia with a Vengeance,” and will see it premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival in November. The film’s virtual festival premiere screening on Nov. 7 will be its only nationwide offering (the rest will be in Hawaii only).
He’s also shipping out a 40-page comic book as a prelude to the movie on Nov. 7 to his hundreds of backers.
He's amazed it's come together in such a complicated time.
“My team and I all have full-time jobs, so we’ve had to be disciplined to keep focused,” he said.
The film, an action comedy about a hero who fights bad guys and corruption with lumpia, the ubiquitous Filipino egg roll, is the sequel to a home-produced film he released some years earlier and which garnered a following.
As an independent filmmaker, Ginelsa has a number of credits for short films, commercials and music videos, including several for the Black Eyed Peas. The "Lumpia" series has been his passion project.
The feature film was on target to premiere earlier in May, but then COVID hit and shut down all film festivals.
The extra time, however, was a blessing in disguise. “It gave us time to step back and think about marketing.
They decided to create a comic book as a sort of prelude to the events in the movie. “We’re just a bunch of Asian/Filipino geeks,” he said. “And that’s our world.”
Lumpia brings everyone together."—Patricio Ginelsa, filmmaker
A number of different artists contributed, some professional, others not. It was an opportunity for some of his friends who’d dreamt of doing a comic to do so. ‘I’m really proud of them,” he says. “It’s always been my dream, and it’s satisfying to be able to make that dream become a reality for others, and let them prove to themselves that they’re able to do it.”
Ginelsa, who grew up in Daly City, a working-class town just south of San Francisco, was hugely influenced by the 1991 John Singleton film "Boyz N the Hood," and vowed that his life’s work would be to tell the stories of his neighborhood on the big screen. He made a long-shot bet and got admitted to the same film school as Singleton: USC's School of Cinematic Arts.
The move to USC changed his life, he said. He found a student worker job at Marshall’s ELC where he could put his production skills to use. After graduating in 1999, he worked for a few years in the film industry, including a stint on an independent film—"The Debut"—that taught him what it takes to make a film from the ground up. (he also met his wife on the project.) He returned to take a professional role at the ELC and has never left.
“My job at Marshall has balanced my time,” he says. “And before COVID shut down campus, I loved being surrounded by young people. They reinvigorate your passion.”
Why lumpia? It’s more than just comfort food, he says. It’s about culture, and family, and generations and immigration.
“Lumpia,” he say, “brings everyone together.”
Ginelsa, his wife and their 4-year-old son, Logan, will be taking their first trip since the lockdown later in November—to Hawaii for the premiere of his first feature film.