Lonely, mild-mannered Cameron (Christopher Dinh) is content racing around the dark streets of Los Angeles as a late-night courier for his slick boss, Eddie (Billy Sly Williams). Then one fateful night, an important client, Martin (Kelvin Han Yee), asks Cameron to pick up something very special at the airport – his daughter Jasmine (Julie Zhan), who is flying in from overseas. Cameron accepts the job, but isn’t prepared for the sparks that fly between him and the fiery beauty. While Martin’s thriving hot sauce business keeps him occupied at the office, Cameron and Jasmine find comfort in each other’s company as they wander about the city enjoying some of Cameron’s favorite dining spots. He shares his love of cooking with her and his dream of someday leaving Eddie to start his own food truck. However, he soon discovers that Jasmine is harboring a secret that may destroy her father’s trust. Unfortunately, Cameron also holds a secret of his own that threatens to derail his budding romance with her before it ever fully blossoms.
THE DIRECTOR'S VISION
With Comfort, I wanted to make the ultimate first date movie. I’m a firm believer that food tastes better with good company. One of my favorite moments in the film is where our two leads are eating at the Korean Tofu House. Cameron (Christopher Dinh) asks Jasmine (Julie Zhan) what she thinks of the food after she’s taken that first bite. Chris plays the beat perfectly, as there’s a bit of nervous anticipation, and subsequently relief when Julie says she really likes it. I wanted to capture that moment during a date when you realize you share similar tastes with the person you’re seeing – that moment of connection.
Food is prevalent throughout the film, not only because it’s Cameron’s dream to become a chef, but also because sharing a meal is a quintessential human ritual for getting to know someone. The title of the film plays upon the notion of comfort food, which itself is tied to feelings of nostalgia. Growing up as a child in the 80’s, I also wanted the story to pay homage to those great films from John Hughes and Cameron Crowe which really resonated with their young audiences. Crowe’s Say Anything was a huge influence on me.
Of course, “comfort” doesn’t always have positive connotations. I also wanted the title to allude to the idea of a “comfort zone,” which is where we first find Cameron harboring himself. While he’s afflicted with a sun allergy condition, he’s also metaphorically living in the dark; comfortably living a thankless life as a courier, while deep down inside, he has much bigger aspirations. Cameron’s journey parallels my own experience as an independent filmmaker; I had a steady job with a good salary and benefits, but I wasn’t really happy with what I was doing. Then, fortunate circumstances allowed me to take a leap of faith and pursue my dream of directing a feature film.
The night has always intrigued me. From a narrative perspective, night brings a sense of mystery. (What lurks around that dark corner?) I wanted to craft a romantic adventure as we follow our two leads into the night with seemingly limitless potential, which very much echoes thematically where they are in their lives. It’s that rift between youthful enthusiasm and naiveté on the one hand and the practical realities of growing up on the other that drives the conflicts in the film.
Stylistically, Michael Mann is one of my favorite filmmakers, and what I always admired about his films Heat and Collateral was how he captured Los Angeles at night. Like Mann, we avoided the use of sound stages, instead opting to shoot only at practical locations. We really wanted to give a sense of realism and showcase Los Angeles as we followed these characters across two nights.
Just as Los Angeles is a melting pot of various cultures and cuisines, Comfort is a unique blend of 80’s throwback elements with a Michael Mann aesthetic. One might even be inclined to compare it to one of Chef Cameron’s Asian fusion dishes.