Film project explores relationship between a Filipino boy and his gambling-addicted father

The film as personal narrative

The film as personal narrative

“The Sound of Coins Hitting Brass” is a film about the moment a child no longer sees his parent as a perfect person.

The story follows Manuel, 10, a Filipino American who accompanies his enigmatic father, Andres, on his gambling binges. This small family leads an unpredictable life that revolves around Andres’s fleeting obsessions with the next opportunity to make it rich. Manuel, for the first time, sees his father as a complicated and imperfect human.

Prior to writing “The Sound of Coins Hitting Brass,” Andrew Stephen Lee, a Filipino American from San Francisco, entered into his second year at Columbia University’s Master’s in Fine Arts in Screenwriting and Directing.

During his first year in the program, he was able to workshop several short film screenplays. Three of the five written in the first year were made into short films: “Alfonso,” “On the Phone,” and “Touch.” “Touch” is set to premiere this summer at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and will hopefully play on the festival circuit throughout summer and fall of 2015.

In 2010, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Film Production. During his time at LMU, he made two short films: “The Boy Who Shot Back” (2009) and “Sleep” (2010).

While working tirelessly within the narrative and documentary film world in San Francisco and Los Angeles, he wrote and directed two music videos and a short documentary on the solid waste management infrastructure in Lusaka, Zambia.

He received a 2012 Puffin Foundation Grant to continue work on his ongoing photographic project entitled “El Camino Real.” He is in the process of documenting the communities along this highway in California. He wanted to show the stark contrast between the wealth of Silicon Valley and the low socio-economic status residents who live within the region.

“The Sound of Coins Hitting Brass” explores the relationship between a Filipino boy and his father.

“The film is a personal narrative about my experience of having a father who is a gambler,” says Lee in a Director’s Statement. “It is a story of romanticization, broken promises, heartache, and the American Dream set within the world of New Americans who navigate through the landscape that is both foreign and familiar simultaneously.”

In the film, thematic concepts of identity and subsequently, validation and control, run through each of the main characters: Manuel, Andres, and Manuel’s grandmother, Lorna. Under the surface the film offers a few questions: What constitutes our identity? What loyalty do we have to our heritage, to one another, and to ourselves? And how do our circumstances inform the way we see ourselves?

Julie O’Leary, a graduate filmmaker at Columbia University who is the film’s producer, describes Stephen as “an emerging filmmaker interested in telling stories about minority communities, and people who are marginalized by society.” The story has won a Davey Foundation Grant.

The filmmakers would like to get the Filipino community involved in the production. Specifically, they are looking for anyone interested in acting roles or willing to offer their homes or apartments for shoots. The role of the young boy is still open.

“No experience is necessary,” says Julie.

You may contact them at or call Julie at 646.691.5656.

Columbia University filmmakers Stephen Lee and Julie O’Leary

Columbia University filmmakers Stephen Lee and Julie O’Leary

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