My fight with the movie Sheryl (2023)


My name is Liang-Chun. I am a Taiwanese assistant director based in Los Angeles. I want to share my working experience with the movie SHERYL (2023) that's still haunting me and wish to keep people away from toxic productions.


Back in 2022, I worked for this feature film FACE ON. I talked about the traumatic experience before and now I've learned that they have changed its title to SHERYL.

They have recently started to participate in a few festivals that I've been to and had become part of the communities. The trauma hit me again. I've been debating on whether or not I should talk about it, but then watching them join the Asian filmmakers circle has pushed me into it. I've known at least 5 Asian ladies were terribly abused by them back in 2022, and more were reached out to. I need that number to stop.

Long story short, we, a few key members of the crew, worked for the pre-production of FACE ON now called SHERYL and got laid off 2-3 weeks before the shoot with $0 compensation, after delivering many materials and spending 100+ hours working for them. I applied for the job on 12/29/2021, interviewed on 01/18/2022, AND a second interview per their request on 01/20. Got on board and started working while waiting for the paperwork to come through. Later I did receive a contract and tried to make some revisions. The response I got was a nice suggestion for me to quit on 03/13/2022.

During this 7 week process, I walked them through the pre-production as they had little experience in only producing and directing a low-budget proof of concept for the same movie. I did 20+ hours of meetings, pushed for progress, sent regular emails, made sure departments communicated, had to deliver multiple versions of schedule due to the lack of information. Scouted for 2 days. I helped organize a B-roll shoot day, produced its call sheet, breakdown, and maps and provided guidance to all the cast. 3 days after that I was dropped and accused of "not having empathy for them."

Eventually, I made 0 cents for my 7 weeks of work. Throughout this time, I had asked multiple times for a contract or a deal memo. I offered a much lower rate than my usual to help out an indie production. The rate was $250 per shoot day plus $500 for pre-production. After pushing and pushing, I finally got a document that did not state any production date or hours. I sent my revision back, got left hanging for another 5 days before being suggested to quit.

It was totally on me that I started working for them before I had the paperwork done. Time was tight and I could not help my urge to make things happen and put the team together. This eventually became the producer's weapon. I was only asking for $500 for my 7 weeks of pre-production. I thought that was something I could certainly get, but then was shocked by how they refused to pay anything for my time and work, and tried to make up things to blame on me.

Later I found out I was not the only victim. The PD and the whole art team were replaced without even being notified. Our DP got a similar email as I did after we both expressed concerns about the production. We were concerned as more than 70% of the locations were unbooked 3 weeks ahead of principal photography, and they decided to lay off all of us around the same time. The most heartbreaking part for me was the fact that all of these victims are Asian women who are incredibly talented and said yes to something way below what they deserved. We are also all 1st gen immigrants that were desperate to build our careers in the U.S.

Now it hurts me again to see them getting into Asian film festivals and some Genre/Horror film festivals that I've been a part of and connecting to friends around me. I know deeply how people in my community tend to be very kind and tolerant and forgiving, but things like this gotta stop. We need to start respecting and valuing ourselves, our time and energy. So here I am, leaving my words on some platforms for people to find when they search for some clues. And here I am to talk with if you have similar trauma that you're still recovering from.

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