Discover the Passions That is Behind
The Creation of the film "Charlotte Sometimes"
Part 1 of 6 Pages
"the films that speak
to me are usually about people rather than events. As a viewer,
I hate the feeling that the characters are secondary to events,
or, worse, that their thoughts and motivations are being manipulated
to maximize dramatic effect. I prefer the feeling that the characters
were already there, existing, long before the events began--in this
way, their story is interesting to me simply because I believe in
is a film about people who hide more than they show."
have less freedom right now. Our films are usually business ventures
before all else. Surprises can be risky in that way."
"it's not success that
dulls the edge. It's the loss of creative control. For better or
for worse, I made every creative decision on Charlotte Sometimes
because my family paid for it. I may never have that authority again.
If I'm going to keep that edge, I'll have to fight for it. "
Note: "Charlotte Sometimes
was made on a budget of twenty thousand ($20,000)
US ASIANS:Could you share a brief sketch of your racial background?
My Mother is Chinese. My Father is German, English, and Dutch. They are
both 4th generation Americans. They grew up on the same street, were best
friends since age 9 and started dating in college.
US ASIANS:Did your bi-racial background provide unique experiences (good
or bad) that ingrained within you a perspective that would differ from
that of most Asian/Asian Pacific American artists, and even most Americans?
is a defining characteristic for me. Just as an example, I used to get
into fights at school with Caucasian kids tugging at their eyes, calling
me “chink.” When we moved to Hawai’i, I was at odds
with Asian/Pacific kids for the exact opposite infraction: for being “Haole.”
Like anyone else, my first desire was to fit in. But
I gave up on this idea at a very young age. Rather than trying to fit
in, I tried not to. I learned to take pride in being different.
If the thing that isolates you is something you can never change, you
have no choice but to form an individual identity. I guess a unique perspective
comes with the territory.
US ASIANS:Did your bi-racial (HAPA) background play an important factor
in prompting you becoming a director/writer?
I’d say yes. For whatever the reason (race, gender, sexual orientation,
or just plain weirdness), almost any artist will admit to feelings of
You’re not like the people you know, you’re something else,
and life is a game where you try to define it before they do. Art is one
way to do that.
Being Hapa certainly contributed, but there were a lot of things that
separated me, not just that.
US ASIANS:What other things separated you from other people?
US ASIANS:What roles have your parents played in the development of
My parents were the perfect parents for an artist. They nurtured
my creativity, and never tried to indoctrinate me with absolutes.
When I asked about God, for instance, my mother would begin with
“some people believe.”
They have always encouraged me to choose a career that I’d
ASIANS:How supportive has your sister been of your career?
My sister’s been supportive, but she’s my little sister.
She’s the one who deserves support. She’s
a Federal Agent in the State Department stationed at one of our
ASIANS:In light of the current state of world affairs, has your
sister's occupation and responsibilities provided additional resolve
to fulfill your goals in any aspect(s) of your life?
My sister and my father are both in Federal law enforcement. But
the current state of the world affects us all. Actually, I think
recent events make it harder to focus on personal goals.
ASIANS:Are any of your family members involved and/or passionate
about the entertainment industry?
When I was growing up, none of us were crazy about the movies. We
used to watch “St. Elsewhere” as a family, but my dad
and I were more likely to watch a ballgame together.
Yesterday, my dad told me that there’s nothing
worth watching on television other than the news. But he’s
like me. He likes to write. We’re actually writing something
together. Of course, my family is more interested in the industry
now because of me.
US ASIANS:Did your experiences in Hawaii (with its multi-cultural and multi-racial
tapestries) influenced the stories you want to tell?
Yes. Hawai’i is where I learned to take pride in being Asian. I’m
glad that experience came early in life, because on the mainland, I’d
been made to feel ashamed of it. I think if I’d embraced my Asian
identity later, in college for instance, I wouldn’t have come by
it as naturally. I might tell stories that ignore my Asian identity, or
stories that ignore everything else.
US ASIANS:Did an environment where Asian Pacific Island communities are
very local and don't have a "minority community complex" provide
many character/heritage benefits?
Yes, Hawai’i is a great place to grow up. My favorite thing about
the Islands has always been the people who live there.
US ASIANS:What activites did you participate in to help locate and feel
secure in your own unique identity both personally and creatively? What
did you do to feel comfortable in your own skin?
I did everything - sports, music, writing, visual arts - even my homework.
US ASIANS:Could you share what other projects you've completed in the past?
I made a short film while I was at Wesleyan called “Kenji’s
Faith.” It was a small student project, but it won a lot of awards
I also directed a stage production, Philip W. Chung’s “Laughter,
Joy & Loneliness & Sex & Sex & Sex & Sex” for
the Lodestone Theater Ensemble, an Asian American theater company in Los
US ASIANS:What projects are in your future plans?
I’m directing the film, “American Knees,” based on the
novel by Shawn Wong.
I’m also attached to direct two projects set in
US ASIANS:What type of projects would you like to be working on within the
next three to five years?
Making movies is fun. I’ll do any kind of film as long as I’m
interested in the people and the story.
US ASIANS:What kind of people and/or stories are of special interest at
Right now the projects I’m involved with
are character driven pieces focusing on Asian Pacific Americans. “Kealoha:
The Beloved” is a coming of age story based on my youth in Hawai’i.
“The Tatoo” is a Hawai’i film noir with shootouts and
murders. I’m looking forward to bringing my own touch to an action
film or a thriller.
US ASIANS:What actor would you like to work with in the future?
I never think of actors until I know the role.