The Chinese Bootlegged “The People I’ve Slept With,” The Movie I Wrote

It started when a friend who was visiting China emailed me and told me that he saw an illegal bootlegged copy of my last film, The People I’ve Slept With.  I told him to take a picture of it but when he went back it was already gone. I admit, I didn’t believe him. I mean, who in the world would want to pirate a copy of my indie Asian American movie?

And then recently the director of the film, Quentin Lee, posted a picture of a bootlegged copy of The People I’ve Slept With that someone had sent him. See the image on the right for a look at the cover.


I have no idea why they decided to make a new cover.  They should have just used the real one – which is way better. Here’s a copy of what the official DVD and you’ll see what I mean:

I’m upset that someone has stolen my intellectual property. It means that the film’s investors, the hardworking crew/actors, and the filmmakers (like myself) are losing money and all of our hard work is for nothing. Plus, the margins on Asian American movies are very small and even a few dollars here and there can be the difference between a movie’s success and failure.

But I have to be honest with you, I’m not THAT upset. A part of me is gratified that a bootlegger out in Asia saw my movie and wanted to make an illegal copy of it. I imagine a cheap folding table on the street, an illegal copy of The People I’ve Slept With sitting next to a pirated copy of X-Men and Captain America, and some unsuspecting local buying the DVD. For some reason that image warms my heart. (Despite the illegality).

I wish I could interview the person who buys the DVD. I’d want to know what they thought when they saw my movie. Did they like it? Did it make them want to watch other Asian American movies – dare I suggest two of my favorite API movies, Better Luck Tomorrow or Saving Face? Are there bootlegged copies of those films as well?

The funniest part of all this was the reaction from my Facebook friend when I shared it on my wall. My friends congratulated me and told me that “I had officially made it.” If this is “making it,” then I am depressed because “making it” feels a lot like “not making it.” There is no money in both.

If anyone is going to Asia any time soon, please keep an eye out for the pirated The People I’ve Slept With DVD. Buy it. Steal it. I’d love a copy for posterity. I’ll buy you lunch.

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (, the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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