“…I’d take a chance on Greg Pak’s micro-budget indie Robot Stories, a valentine from the future. Broken into a quartet of subtle science-fiction fables, each is more Ray Bradbury than Keanu Reeves — and romantic in its own strange way: A sculptor becomes obsessed with the digitized memories of his wife; a worried couple tries to love an android baby; a mother reconstructs her dying son’s vintage robot-toy collection; and an android office-drone (played by Pak) falls in love. Somehow the cast (largely composed of underutilized Asian-American actors like Tamlyn Tomita) underplays the gizmos and hits the emotional beats dead-on, heating up a genre that so often looks stylish, but feels dead-cold.” – Logan Hill, Nerve.com
“A tremendously powerful set of vignettes. Writer/director Greg Pak uses four stories about robots to create wonderfully human moments. The stories are quick and to the point. The visually compelling and well-acted stories do not exist in the same world; tied together by theme, each is its own stirring narrative. Robots as toys, robots as children, robots as office tools, and robots as deceased loved ones teach the humans around them various lessons without hammering the audience. Quiet subtlety abounds throughout these terrific shorts. Even the opening credits animation is a wonderfully self-contained story. Another must-see.” – Bobby Kirk, Playback St. Louis
2002, 85 minutes, color. Winner of over 30 awards, “Robot Stories” is science fiction from the heart, four stories in which utterly human characters struggle to connect in a world of robot babies, robot toys, android office workers, and digital immortality. John Petrakis of the Chicago Tribune calls the film “one of the most moving pieces I’ve seen all year” while Entertainment Insiders calls it a “genuinely stirring indie rarity”
Written and directed by Greg Pak; produced by Kim Ima and Karin Chien; starring Tamlyn Tomita, Sab Shimono, Wai Ching Ho, and Greg Pak.
Eye On Indies has named “Robot Stories” one of the top twenty films of the decade. Here’s the blurb:
ROBOT STORIES (2003) four stories by Greg Pak called “science fiction from the heart” that continue to resonate with me since my Literature of the Fantastic course in college. This is an exemplary film by a first time filmmaker for first time filmmakers. Subtle and sublime presentation of human nature in a technological-worshipping society.
Disclaimer: Everything written below is the sole opinion of yours truly based on personal experience and published news reports. I have no insider knowledge about any actual tablet or any company’s efforts to prepare for its coming. By Greg Pak
In 1999, Apple changed my life as a filmmaker by introducing Final Cut Pro, a digital video editing program that allowed me to cut professional quality video on my home computer. Without Final Cut Pro, I might never have been able to make any of my post-film-school short films or my feature film “Robot Stories.” And so I might never have gotten a job working as a writer for Marvel Comics.
This month, I’m hoping Apple changes my life as a comic book writer by releasing the much-hyped but never confirmed Apple tablet, which according to the latest rumors is called the iGuide or iSlate, has a 10.1 inch touch screen, and will be announced on January 26, 2010.
In my digital comics fantasy, a gorgeous tablet computer supported by an integrated, easy-to-use and reasonably priced online store will lead to the exponential growth of the comics buying audience. Prices of individual comics will fall, but the circulation will be so much higher that profits will increase handsomely. A whole new generation will grow up reading comics every day, big comics will become blockbusters, small comics will build healthy niche audiences, and we’ll all grow sleek and fat and happy.
How can that fantasy become reality? Read on for one comic book writer’s two cents:
“Robot Stories,” written and directed by Greg Pak, has made io9.com’s “20 Greatest SF Movies of the Past Decade” list, joining such modern classics as “Star Trek,” “The Incredibles,” “The Host,” “Wall-E,” and “Iron Man.” Check out the whole list here.
By Greg Pak
Over the next few months, I’m reworking the format of my “Pak Talks Comics” column for BrokenFrontier.com. The new and improved column should appear towards the end of the summer. But in the meantime, I’ll continue the Reader Q&A portion of the column right here at PakBuzz.com, so keep those questions coming and read on for answers to the latest batch!
WARNING: Some spoilers ahead for a few recent issues of “Incredible Hercules,” “Skaar,” and “Magneto Testament.” Hrungr: With the Olympians now on Earth along with the Asgardians, does anyone remember that the Celestials had ordered them to stop interfering with humanity? Or is it a case where humanity has grown to the point that the gods are simply another group of superpowered beings?
GP: Thanks for the question, Hrungr. As youâ€™ll see, Bill has a similar question about the nature of the gods below – Iâ€™ll answer them together in a second. Also, since we’re on the subject, “Incredible Hercules” #129 hits comic book stores today — feel free to check out the preview! Bill Frank: I just want to start out by saying that I am really enjoying your and Van Lente’s run on “Incredible Hercules.” You both seem to have caught the real feel for a mythological character that some writers miss. With that in mind, I was wondering a few things about your run that can be roughly divided into three sets of questions, if you don’t mind:
In universes like Marvelâ€™s there are a myriad of super powerful beings with powers and abilities rivaling if not surpassing gods. Some beings like Eternals have been mistaken for gods in the past and have almost identical power-sets except they are science based instead of magic based. When writing a series like “Incredible Hercules,” what separates gods from other super powered beings? What distinguishes Hercules, an immortal super-strong man from other immortal super-strong men like Gilgamesh or Wonder Man or makes him different from being just some ancient superhero?
GP: I’m not saying this is the case, but it’s within the realm of possibility that all of the powers of Herc and his relatives could be explained via Marvel science; maybe they’re not gods, just immortal superhumans. But for millennia, Herc has been told he’s literally a god and has been worshipped as a god. So a huge part of his story is this struggle with questions of a god’s prerogatives and responsibilities. Characters like Wonder Man and the Hulk and Wolverine, who might be functionally immortal, haven’t had that millennia-long struggle with the question of godhood that Herc has, nor do they come from a family and culture of fellow gods struggling with the same issues. Those are major differences that create different animating themes for these characters.
Greg Pak’s “Robot Stories and More Screenplays” book is now available for the Kindle for just four bucks at Amazon.com. The book contains the screenplay to the award winning feature film as well as the screenplays to a number of Pak’s shorts, including “Mouse,” “Asian Pride Porn,” and “All Amateur Ecstasy.” Click here to buy it!
GeeksofDoom.com has posted a big interview with comic book writer and filmmaker Greg Pak about everything from Texas politics to “Robot Stories” to Asian American themes to Skaar, Son of Hulk! Here’s an excerpt:
GoD: Your early film work seems to have focused on Asian American themes, such as Fighting Grandpa and Asian Pride Porn. Without necessarily connecting the two (which would seem, on the surface, awkward), you obviously have a deep influence from your heritage. Tell us a little about your early film work and where you drew your inspiration.
GP: I’m half Korean and half white. These days, people usually think I’m the same ethnicity as whomever I’m standing next to — Latino or Arab or Jewish or Native American or Dutch or whatever — I’ve heard it all. But I’ve always identified strongly as Asian American. When I was a kid I looked pretty much straight up Asian and got my share of racist taunts. But my parents taught me to be proud of my heritage and the Boy Scouts taught me that America was all about liberty and justice for all. The upshot is that I think a big motivating factor for me in becoming a storyteller was this desire to break down the barriers that separate people, to do my little bit to humanize different kinds of people.
“Fighting Grandpa” was my thesis film at NYU — it’s a documentary that asks whether my Korean grandparents ever really loved each other. It’s an incredibly specific story, rooted in one Korean American family’s unique quirks and history. But after screenings, people of all different backgrounds would come up to me and say that that was the story of their grandparents. That meant a great deal to me on a personal level, of course. But it also made me happy because it meant that folks of all different backgrounds had bonded with these Asian American people on the screen in a way that they might never have before. And in a world in which Asians are still horribly stereotyped and ridiculed in the most repellently racist ways in all kinds of media, that felt like a good thing.
In a kind of crazy way, those same impulses have probably helped me write the Hulk. On one level, “Planet Hulk” is about how what we think we know about a person can be completely wrong. Everyone knows the Hulk and his Warbound companions are monsters. But by the end of the story, we realize they may just be heroes. People are always deeper and usually better than the stereotypes would have us believe.
Heads up, Dallasites! Comic book writer and “Robot Stories” director Greg Pak will appear at the CAPE Free Comic Book Day event hosted by Zeus Comics from 10 am to 6 pm at Craddock Park on Lemmon Avenue in Dallas. Click here for the CAPE website and click here for a map.
Pak will be signing throughout the day and will hold raffles at the top of each hour for free comic books and “Robot Stories and More Screenplays” paperbacks.
Kim Ima, one of the producers of Greg Pak’s “Robot Stories” and the co-star of Pak’s “Happy Hamptons Holiday Camp for Troubled Couples,” is now selling cookies and pastries on the streets of New York City. No joke! Check out the clip below from “Eat Out ala Kelly” profiling Ima and her awesome Treats Truck — then check out the Treats Truck website for the menu and schedule.
Eric Moreno has posted an extensive interview with Greg Pak as part of ComicBloc.com’s “Inside the Comic Writer’s Studio” series. The article covers everything from earliest influences to Ann Richards to improv comedy to Robot Stories and Warlock and Hulk. An excerpt:
ELM: When working with sci-fi concepts, can you just go all out and let loose all of your wildest ideas, no matter how implausible they may be or do you still have to reign some of them in?
GP: During my years doing improv comedy, one of the best things I learned was to take one crazy idea and explore it thoroughly. On an improv stage, there’s always a huge temptation to toss aliens and the Titanic and a presidential assassination subplot and an Elvis impersonation into a scene about a mouse who doesn’t like cheese. And you might get some cheap laughs with each new, crazy addition. But then you can easily lose the chance to really explore that mouse and his cheese problem and get to some really deep, character-based, emotionally resonant laughs.
In a similar way, sci-fi stories tend to work best when you take one concept and explore it thoroughly. The madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets. That’s the central hook and it provides the essential metaphor. It might be cool to see him start to fly when he’s sad and get really smart when he’s hungry and shoot optic blasts from his eyes when he’s happy. But then it’s very easy to lose track of the story and end up with briefly flashy spectacle without heart or a point that no one wants to read after a few pages.