Entropy

In the course of conducting experiments on memory and time during the pandemic, a lovesick scientist with a morbid fear of rejection, makes an unexpected connection.
SYNOPSIS
The night sky, New Jersey. Our protagonist, BRIAN AU, gives a small VO speech about how darkness represents the passage of time. Then we see Brian hard at work in his lab. He is on a Zoom date with a girl named NADINE, but we see from his labelling of her as a “Memory Participant” that the date also serves as testing for Brian’s paper. He tells another Zoom date, LAURA, that he studies “the role of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics in signaling the amygdala to either remember forwards or backwards in time.” He makes an observation – after his subject makes an excuse to end the call – that the further into the encounters he goes, the fuzzier the memory of his subject. With CALLIE, Brian confesses that he does not wish to propose or say “I do” with his partner first, but, rather, expects the girl to make the first move (so that he would never have to risk getting rejected). Callie asks – how does he know this will happen when the time comes? Recognizing that he doesn’t have the answer, Brian goes back to the drawing board. He takes a chance on a new hypothesis and a new Zoom date to disastrous results. On the brink of giving up, he decides to collect data on one more participant – a fellow PhD and scientist – but immediately regrets the decision when MIMI FRANK begins by berating Brian about his methodology, and criticizing his online profile. He tells her that he changes his name “Au, Brian” to “O’Brien” so his dates won’t take a hard pass on him before they get to know him. (Because they see an Asian last name.) Remorseful, Mimi asks Brian to turn his video on. Seeing he likes Star Trek, she shows off her Star Wars R2-D2 tote bag. They question each other about why they want to control time in their own way. Mimi reveals she wanted to stop time because her mother passed away from COVID. She says Brian’s paper helped, but there are some theories that could use further testing. They agree to meet in person. They work together, go on walks, and eventually share their first kiss. After they make love, Mimi contemplates if she wanted to stop time for selfish reasons. She rewired her brain to stop the pain of losing her mother. Later, the couple attends a Zoom church service, where the priest gives a sermon on entropy, and how love is not subject to time. The film ends with Mimi and Brian moving in together.
Director Biography – Dan Chen
Dan Chen is an actor best known for his work in film and television. When not on set, he enjoys working in education at an independent school for girls in Manhattan, and as a college adjunct professor (including a course on Art and Social Change). He is a graduate of Cornell University, Brooklyn Law School, and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Dan is a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild (now SAG-AFTRA) and earned his SAG card with a guest starring role on the HBO hit series THE SOPRANOS. Between teaching and acting, Dan feels blessed to be able to do what he loves. He is represented by Central Artists Talent Agency in Burbank, California.
Director Statement
This is a deeply personal movie for me. As an Asian-American actor, I began writing, directing, and producing my own content as a way to cast myself in roles that I am not often considered for in the U.S. and, for that matter, in most Western countries. The most elusive role for me (and, anecdotally, for every other Asian male actor I know) is: the romantic lead.
So I play BRIAN AU, the romantic lead in ENTROPY, and a character who is near and dear to my heart. He is, in essence, as I imagine all characters are with their creators, a version of me. Perhaps the most obvious parallel, is with Brian’s reluctance to lead with his Asian identity. For example, I hate qualifying myself as an Asian-American actor rather than just describing myself as an actor. And, likewise, the character of Brian, if given the choice (which of course he isn’t), would rather just be called “American” rather than “Asian-American.” He explains in the film that he doesn’t want people to “take a hard pass on [him] before they get to know [him]…because they see an Asian last name.”
I wanted this to be an underdog story without playing the race card, but I found it hard to entirely separate the two. There is a scene in this (where Brian explains how he came to use the name O’Brien for his online profile) that I initially resisted including, but gives us another glimpse into why Brian is the way he is. It shows a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) act of racism directed at Brian that serves to remind him how many people will judge him, and even reject him, based on his race before they even “get to know him”.
So Brian hides behind a Star Trek avatar and experiments on ways to “remember forward in time” to avoid the people who might hurt him in this way. And he misses the point when he confesses to one of his more serious (but, ultimately, failed) “Zoom Dates”, that he’ll only marry someone if they ask him first, and if they promise to say “I do” first at the wedding (so that he doesn’t risk getting burned by putting himself out there first and then having the girl change her mind).
In a way, I took the same approach in casting the lead actress for Entropy. I did not invite anyone to audition before they read the entire script first (and knew that they would be playing the romantic interest opposite an Asian actor) — so that they wouldn’t change their mind upon seeing the race of their onscreen love interest (which I have also seen happen).
Ultimately, in the process of making Entropy, I discovered that acceptance, like love, comes when you’re not looking for it. But also that there is no acceptance without first being seen. I hope that my experiment with this project, and the transparency of my process, leads to less invisibility for Asian-Americans, and encourages everyone, of every background, to allow themselves to be seen, accepted, and loved for who they are.

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