So we recently had the honor of premiering Ultra Bleu at the 16th Annual Korea Queer Film Festival to a sold out audience! And as part of our inclusion in their KQFF Choice Film Program, I was asked to answer several questions for an interview that was published in the Korea Queer Culture Festival Newsletter!
Below is an English Translation of the original interview:
1. First, we would like to ask you how you came to make Ultra Bleu?
Ultra Bleu was a reaction to my frustrations as a lost youth in my 20's. I was going through a very difficult break-up that triggered a lot of self-destructive behavior. When I finally began to deconstruct the break-up, I realized that the reason for my broken heart had more to do with losing myself than with losing my ex. When he stepped out of the picture, I had no choice but to stare at my reflection in the mirror and I hated who I was. Ultra Bleu explores that journey of being lost in my 20's and how I found my way into adulthood.
2. It must have taken you a lot of courage to make an autographical film. What made you decide to make this film?
I made this film because I had no other way to set myself free. There was a lot of heartache and confusion in my life that needed to be processed. Some people use therapists. I use pens, paper and a camera.
3. How did you cast the actors, who are amateurs? Did you experience any difficulties working with non-professional actors?
I cast people who were in my life at the moment, partially because of our budget but also because I trusted non-actors to bring a subtlety to their performances. I trusted my gut and I'm very pleased by everyone's performance. I also made sure to rehearse with the actors as much as possible leading up to our shoot. That was my only insurance policy and trusting my cast to give me their best.
4. We were particularly impressed by the vivid and interesting play of colors.
Thank you! We worked very hard on the color palette for the film. I wanted the film to have a surreal quality. Dramas are not usually graded to look super-saturated or surreal but I wanted the film to feel like a memory, something from my past that I remember as both chaotic and colorful. The cinematography and grading are meant to emulate that.
5. In the film, the protagonist develops and grows his emotions with what he goes through after break up and the loneliness he feels alone in the environment where he is all alone. What was your purpose in setting the protagonist in such background?
I wanted Jim's apartment to represent the state of his mind. A square room where he feels trapped and everything is so chaotic. When he's cleaning the room, he is also trying to clean his mind and his heart. But in that process he finds a memory of his ex which he attempts to remove from his home. This leads him to the river where he meets Dean who ultimately shows him there are bigger life issues to figure out than breaking up with some boy.
6. What is your favorite work of melodrama?
Eternal Sunshine is my favorite drama. The characters and themes are so full of sensitivity and truth. I respect the filmmakers and cast for capturing what it feels like to hate someone and then remember why you used to love them. It's such a beautiful film about the heart and I always learn something new whenever I re-watch it.
7. Could you tell us if anything interesting happened while you filmed in Seoul, and whatmeaning the city of Seoul has for you?
When we shot the scene with Jim's best friend, JK, we expected the whole basketball court to be empty. But we shot during Chuseok weekend and when we showed up, there were several hundred chairs in the court for a festival the next morning. It changed a lot of our shot list and we had to become very flexible very quickly, there was no time to complain. But now, when I see the scene, I love all the chairs in this giant empty space.
Seoul is my second home and the place where I became an adult. My mother is Korean, but we lived in NYC my entire life. I moved to Korea when I was 21 and now I'm 29. I spent my entire 20's in my mother's homeland. It is a beautiful city full of energy and culture.
8. Are you working or planning to work on another project? If so, could you tell us about it?
Yes, we're working on the feature film version of Ultra Bleu. We are currently developing the script and looking for investment with a plan to begin shooting next spring. This short film was always a prelude to the full-length feature which will be a love letter to my 20's. All of the heartache and joy I experienced when I was 20-something and lost in the middle of Seoul.
9. Anything you would like to say to the audience?
I just want to thank everyone who watches the film. We need so much more support and exposure for queer life around the world but I hope this film can contribute to showcasing the many different types of queer people who are living in the heart of Seoul right now, Korean or international. I hope you enjoy the film and will support us by sharing your opinions on social media and through word of mouth. And we will be back in Seoul next year ready to make magic.
Next stop: OUTFEST 2016 :)