Randall Park Reveals Surprising Inspiration Behind His Directorial Film Debut ‘Shortcomings’

The big-screen adaptation of Adrian Tomine’s graphic novel stars Justin H. Min, Ally Maki and Sherry Cola

Randall Park, director of "Shortcomings"
Randall Park, director of "Shortcomings" (Credit: Sony Pictures Classics)

Randall Park, best known for his roles in “Fresh Off the Boat” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, revealed he was inspired by filmmaker Noah Baumbach for his directorial film debut “Shortcomings.”

“If anybody was an inspiration, it would be Noah Baumbach,” Park told TheWrap in an interview conducted before the SAG strike. “His work was definitely on my mind when we were in pre-production — in particular the movie, ‘Frances Ha,’ which is one of my personal favorites.”

“I found that there was a lot of overlapping themes with our movie and that movie,” Park added. “And also the New York of it all; the city as a character. All that stuff played into our approach to ‘Shortcomings.’”

Baumbach directed “Frances Ha” and cowrote it with his partner, Greta Gerwig. They also cowrote “Barbie,” with Gerwig now in the director’s chair.

In “Frances Ha,” Frances (played by Gerwig) has her life upended when her roommate and best friend Sophie tells her she’s moving out to live in Tribeca with another friend. Their friendship is strained when Sophie begins spending more time with her boyfriend Patch.

Ben (Justin H. Min) has a confrontation in the streets of New York in "Shortcomings"
Ben (Justin H. Min) has a confrontation in the streets of New York in “Shortcomings” (Credit: Sony Pictures Classics)

There’s a similar storyline in “Shortcomings,” which is adapted from Adrian Tomine’s graphic novel. Ben (Justin H. Min) must cope when his live-in girlfriend Miko (Ally Maki) moves to New York City for a summer internship. When his best friend Alice (Sherry Cola) follows suit, Ben must reevaluate the most important relationships in his life.

“This was something that I definitely sought out myself,” Park explained. “I thankfully found out that Adrian Tomine, who wrote the graphic novel, also wrote a script and that they were meeting with directors, so I threw my hat in the ring. I had been so passionate about this story, because when I read the graphic novel back in 2007, it resonated with me so deeply. It was something that throughout the years, I always wanted to be a part of on the screen.”

Bringing the graphic novel to film required some tweaks.

“Once I got on board as a director, Adrian and I worked on the script and making it modern, adapting it to our independent film budget and making sure that we’re able to shoot it,” Park explained. “We’re definitely staying faithful to the original graphic [novel], while also trying to make it its own project.”

Park told TheWrap he actually stopped looking at the graphic novel after they started preproduction on the film.

“I wanted to resist the urge of having to emulate every panel that Adrian drew, so I actually drew out my own storyboards. And a lot of them were different from the graphic novel,” Park explained. “But the graphic novel was so deep in my subconscious, there were definitely moments where we directly took from the graphic novel and made sure that we had little things that reflected the original work.”

You can preview Park’s take on “Shortcomings” in the trailer below and see the film in theaters now.