01 Oct Q&A WITH JAMES KYSON LEE, CAST of ASIAN STORIES
LEE ANN KIM: ASIAN AMERICANS RARELY HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE THE LEAD OF A FEATURE FILM, SO YOU MUST HAVE BEEN PSYCHED ABOUT THIS EXPERIENCE. ANY THOUGHTS ON THAT?
JAMES KYSON LEE: The best part about this script is that the lead characters really could’ve been played by actors of any ethnicity. The fact that is presented great three-dimensional Asian American characters was very refreshing and rewarding.
KIM: THERE WERE SOME FUNNY MOMENTS IN THE FILM WHERE YOU HAD TO STAY DEAD PAN. DID YOU HAVE A HARD TIME KEEPING YOURSELF FROM CRACKING UP?
LEE: During rehearsals, we improved and played a lot, and discussed different ideas. The time we spent together really helped the chemistry of the cast and crew. We were laughing and talking all the time.
KIM: YOUR BIO SAYS YOU’VE APPEARED IN NUMEROUS COMMERCIALS AND PROJECTS. NOW, YOU’RE WORKING ON AT LEAST THREE FEATURE FILMS AND YOU STAR IN HEROES, THE NEW NBC DRAMA. WOULD YOU SAY YOU’RE WHERE YOU WANT TO BE WITH YOUR CAREER?
LEE: I’m very thankful how my journey has turned out. I came out to L.A five years ago, knowing nobody in the city and nothing about the business. I was living in Boston, sold my used car for $1800, packed one suitcase and bought a one-way ticket. I spent my first night in LA in my rental car. What did help me was that I didn’t come out with any expectations, but just a willingness to learn.
KIM: CAN YOU COMPARE THE INDIE FILM EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR STUDIO EXPERIENCE? I’M SURE THERE ARE TRADEOFFS.
LEE: Indie films can move in a similar pace but for a very different reason. Usually it’s from a lack of budget. Photography for ASIAN STORIES was about 24 working days, and I was needed on all of them. During our shooting I was serious sleep-deprived, which probably helped with the character.
Indies also provide opportunities to tackle roles that may be harder to come by in studio pictures. It often becomes more of a “collaboration” where everyone pulls in their resources to help the film come to fruition.
KIM: ANY THOUGHTS ON THE FILM FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE, AND PARTICULARLY THE ROLE OF ASIAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVALS?
LEE: I’ve had nothing but great experiences at festivals. Festivals like yours and visual communications are crucial in creating more visibility for Asian American work. It gives us a change to celebrate our community and our arts. I want to personally thank and praise you for what you have done in San Diego. I’m looking forward to being here.