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Interview with Eric Byler

Discover the Passions That is Behind
The Creation of the film "Charlotte Sometimes"
Part 5 of 6 Pages


US ASIANS: Have the Asian/Asian Pacific American communities been uniformly united in supporting "Charlotte Sometimes?"

ERIC BYLER: I have to say it’s wonderful right now. It started off a little rocky, but the community has gotten more and more supportive as time’s gone by.

I’m grateful to the D.C. Asian Pacific Film Festival for strongly supporting “Charlotte Sometimes” - even before Roger Ebert’s review and the Spirit Award nominations. The welcome we received in Washington D.C. was a big emotional boost.

PURPOSE OF THE ARTS

US ASIANS: Do you feel that the arts can provide needed perspectives to the general public?

Eric Byler

ERIC BYLER: Sure, but it’s tricky, especially when it comes to film.

Artists motivated by political agenda tend to ignore any facts that do not support their belief systems. This may work in other mediums, but in film, I find a one-sided approach distracting in its limitations.

Films look so much like life. It feels strange to see life being bent to one person’s agenda. If I’m thinking about the filmmaker’s political views, it’s hard to believe in the humanity of the characters.

US ASIANS: What do you think about directors such as Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Spike Lee, etc. who have expressed their various perspectives through their films?

ERIC BYLER: Spike appears as an actor in “Do The Right Thing.” And he and other characters speak directly to the camera, so it’s not like he’s trying to disguise his point of view. He’s the opposite of me in that way. Oliver Stone’s “JFK” was such a well-made movie, I didn’t even notice the agenda. Michael Moore makes documentaries, which is a more natural format for political statements.

US ASIANS: What is your view of the Yao Ming / Shaq situation?

ERIC BYLER: I’ve been a Lakers fan all my life, but when Lakers played the Rockets last month, I was rooting for Yao.

I’m proud of the community for holding Shaq accountable for his inappropriate comments.

Shaq has apologized in his own way. I forgive him. As a sports fan, I’m looking forward to a great rivalry - and a friendly one. One thing that’s clear is that when Shaq retires, he'll do so as the second best center in the game. Go Yao!

US ASIANS: What Asian/Asian Pacific American directors, producers and/or creative artists were/are your role models?

ERIC BYLER: More so than role models, I’m grateful for people I worked with during my training days, at Lodestone Theater and before.

Wesleyan University trained me to be a filmmaker, but taught me very little about working with actors. I learned this skill as part of the APA arts community in Los Angeles, in collaborations with Jeff and Philip during and leading up to my years with Lodestone.

I had the pleasure of directing some incredible actors whose talent inspired me and helped me to learn the craft, including Jeff, Janice Terukina, Jeanne Chinn, Robert Shinso, Susan Perierra, Allison Sie, Keo Wolford, Julia Nixon, Tim Lounibos, Kanani Lincoln, Chris Gorham. And at Lodestone Ryun Yu, Kipp Shiotani, Julie Nuemark, Alexandra Chun, Tuan Tran, Yuriana Kim, Ogie Zulueta, Kennedy Kabasares, C.W. Pyun.

US ASIANS: What are your favorite Asian, European and American films and why?

ERIC BYLER: Favorite Asian/Pacific films: “Vive L’Amour,” “Raise The Red Lantern,” “Yellow Earth,” “Once Were Warriors,” “Laputa: Castle in the Sky.”

Favorite American films: “The Godfather,” “Five Easy Pieces,” “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” “The Long Goodbye,” “Carnal Knowledge,” “Midnight Cowboy.”

Favorite European films, “My Life as a Dog,” “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul,” and countless French films, many of them by Eric Rohmer.

US ASIANS: Which Asian American media organization(s) would you recommend for upcoming directors, writers and actors?

ERIC BYLER: You know, you don’t have to have an organization to practice your craft. You just need a group of people willing to meet once a week to do some scene work.

US ASIANS: What advice can you give to other APA (Asian Pacific american filmmakers?

ERIC BYLER: Well first learn the craft, both cinematic language, and directing actors (something too many filmmakers overlook). I recommend spending some time in the theater. Ask Lodestone if you can be an ASM on their next production. A second priority would be to work on film crews so you’re more prepared for the challenges of production.

As far as story, my favorite advice is to write what you know. But remember you know more about life than just being Asian/Pacific American. I think it’s important that a variety of voices emerge in the next few years, and I think that will happen if most of us make films that are personal and unique to our own lives. Ask yourself those difficult questions that only you can answer: What do you want most of all? What do you fear most of all? What’s the one truth you’ll never let yourself admit? Answer those questions with complete honesty and start writing.

 

 
Click HERE to continue
     
   
To read about Eric's views on other subjects, click on the topics listed below
 
    Part 1: Background Information (Family, Personal and Entertainment)    
  Part 2: Entertainment community support, Film reviews
  Part 3: Casting of the film, Michael Idemoto Profile, Plot, Working with the actors
  Part 4: Asian Pacific American Factors, Jacqueline Kim & Eugenia Yuan's Profiles
  Part 5: Community support, APA role models, Purpose of the arts
  Part 6: Film Reviews and Nominations

 

 


 

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