Alice Wu: The New Queer Rom-Com



I wanted to bring you this brand new conversation that we had with Alice Wu. Alice is the writer and director of the half of it. Now a net Flix and the movie really captures that special period and a clear persons in life. Where you have this attraction this desire you have not needling of clearness in your body but you very much do not yet have the worst language to describe it so you'll hear us talk about capturing on the page and then screen as well analysis first film saving face the now icon ick lesbian calm the just reminder our new season debuts on May twenty eighth you can listen to it on any and podcast platforms and if you do please help us. Spread the word on Social Media. Doing things like that really helps our show continue to grow so thank you so much for that all right without further ado here's Alison. I'm excited to talk because I find your career so exciting because it is proof of two things one that it's never too late to pull a one eighty and try something new. You quit your career at Microsoft to become a filmmaker and also your new film films coming out fifteen years after I and I think that's equally inspiring because there is this myth in Hollywood that you can't take a break that you can't pause momentum. Did you ever have worries about that? Yeah I mean I certainly got into that myth. I thought when I left industry ten years ago I thought I'd left for good. I never thought I'd be back. And I left specifically because my mom had some serious health issues that were acute side. Dropped everything to go to San Francisco to help her with that and it just took a lot longer than expected and I remember the conversation on my agent called me to be like. Are you coming back like what is happening and I just in that moment was like no? I'm not you know because I never went into filmmaking like I didn't get started to my late twenties and I had a different career and then I went to San Francisco. Take care of my mom which was home right like to be able to focus on my family As heading into my forties was felt right and so had I asked you at that time. Would you ever make another film? Your answer would have been like probably not. Yeah I think I in fact I got asked that all the time because there apparently is a very rabid group of saving face vans always very small. But they're very very determined. I didn't tell my second. Film got announced all these people came out of the woodwork. All over the world. I've been waiting for another film and I'm like this is true like I had no idea but a lot of my friends are also there either. Queer or Asians and so I got asked all the time where they'd be like this movie meant so much me winner he making another one and I'd be like probably never like I'd be like you know you never know but I think that time in my life that chapter might be over in at that time that you were a caretaker were you happy and content doing just about you know. It's a hard one to answer. Because in hindsight it's easier to say yes when it's happening. It's really deeply uncomfortable win. Those roles are reversed and granted. It's again I haven't lived at home sensitive sixteen so it wasn't like my mom had been taken care of me in any direct way but emotionally. She you know she was my mom you know. It was very stressful but it also is probably necessary because so why it seems great now is it was a few years of a lot of you know fighting and arguing and and those kinds of power struggles but I think those are the things you kind of have to go through to get to real intimacy and I think while my mom and I I honestly can't could love me more my mom and I don't have anyone more than I love my mom but I don't think we have the most intimate relationship you know because there are a lot of areas we just didn't know how to talk about and now we do when you say. Was it like rewarding. It was but it didn't feel like while it was happening. But in Hindsight. I can't imagine anything that would have been more rewarding in in my forties and I hope asking that is a judgmental but I just think like looking at your story of you know working at Microsoft and quitting her job to move New York City to give yourself five years to make a movie. There's so much motivation and I'm Bishen in that. That then surprises me that somebody could be like content putting all that aside a such an interesting parallels so smart. I think about it that way. I think the reason why I think those two things are linked though is I didn't move to New York to become a filmmaker. I moved to New York to try and make saving face which I didn't think would get made by the way like who thought that movie was going to get made right. Fifteen years ago I went. I wrote that movie for my mom. That's that's sorry that's really literally nuance distinction between the two that you didn't set out to be a filmmaker you set out to make one film. Yeah I wanted to make that bill. We got made but I also think sometimes you know it's similar to I'M GONNA go take care of my mom if you told me during that time especially in those years. You're fighting that like somebody you would have this wonderful intimate relationship. You're my your mom. I'd be like yeah that's never ever happening. That woman is impossible. I love her to death which is impossible right but you do it out of your love for that person similarly and trying to make the movie. I did it out of my deep love for that. I guess that script and just that desire to be like well take a one in a million chance but man if happens. That would be amazing. But if it doesn't I don't think I thought beyond Bat when it actually got me I I really was like you know like what is happening right now. This is not this is a so again. It was a fun but very disorienting. You know I become aware that I am the kind of filmmaker that isn't as much as I love directing I love you know. I think I need to love the projects like I need to love it. Like it's like almost a child for me otherwise you sacrifice a lot like this is not a field. That doesn't demand physical and emotional sacrifices from me right like there's no world where it's like. I'm off making my film and they have plenty of emotional energy for my best friends and my family like theirs. It's literally like a number of months. I'm pretty much checked out unless it's an emergency and not to sacrifice so I kind of have to ask myself. If I'm going to do that for something. Is it worth that sacrifice so you set out to make a film not be a filmmaker? When did you start to identify as a filmmaker has a really good question? Because I don't think it was maybe not until this movie because I always was like. I wonder if that movie was just a fluke. I was such a fluke. It was like a really lovely shoot and I really loved being on set and I think that was when I was like okay. I still have a lot to learn. I've only made two films but maybe I am a filmmaker. Maybe this is something that that I actually. You know. That is somewhere in my blood. Yeah and I think that the half of it walks this really compelling line in terms of queasiness that a main character. Someone who doesn't have it all figured out yet doesn't have the language describe or sexuality. I think what touched me was the respect that the movie had for her and where she's asked in terms of that process in your quickness and you as a filmmaker met her where she was at and. I haven't seen that many films yet. Oh thank you for saying that yes. That's exactly right because I think people sometimes I'll get asked like now is Elliott Elliott. This and what I ended up saying at least seventeen. I don't know what you're like at seventeen seventeen out to myself and I did come out to myself to my senior college and it was painful at once I did. I had crushes on girls probably since the fourth grade like I just deep crush on the same girl all three years of high school and I was not out to myself. How is that possible right? It's possible for exactly the reason you just said which is we. Don't have the language aways to explain our emotions and when it comes to something as scary as potentially ones you know whether we are clearness or even just your sexual identity at all at seventeen. I think just the notion of sex can be a bit terrifying because it's so confusing. Yeah and not having all the answers as very real for that age It's real for any age actually but it just interesting stage of the coming out process to depit. Did you originally set out wanting to explore that when you were writing it. Yes so so. It's it's interesting because I didn't actually a initially and I think this often forms like the kind of things I'm just going to write for myself to direct I realize now that it usually comes from some sort of emotional question that I may have been wrestling with in my life like saving face while the plot is nothing to do what happened to me and my mom. That very much was about you know. Is it possible to have both romantic love and your family together? No not then take way right and now something has grappling with and I think the half of it started as me really grappling with for a whole bunch of reasons but grappling with this notion of what Love was and how you know like as a society we really exalts romantic love right and I think growing up. I wasn't allowed to watch TV. But I was watch classic movies and I was allowed to talk to Chinese soap operas because we weren't allowed to watch anything violent pretty much meant like romantic dramas romantic comedies. So I totally bought into this idea. That like the whole point of those movies at the end these two people hopefully end up together right and once they do. It's like the happy ending like right. Like the whole goal is to find your perfect other half and I think sort of a getting older and realising like The to kind of weird now like in my twenties that made total sense but once I got past that I started realizing it will even if you do find someone who like I want to spend the rest of my life with this person. It doesn't really seem like and then your life just ends in this wonderful crescendo right. It seems like and then life goes on and all these other things come up and thinking about that and realizing that I naturally focused so much on like my romantic partner. But they're all these other relationships in my life. That are at least as important in if I think about like the breakup I've had I've had yes. I've had a couple of really difficult romantic breakup but I wouldn't necessarily say that are worse than some of the platonic breakups. I've had like the breakup that can happen in apparent in a trial right like when a one can't accept the other for some reason. That heartbreak is devastating. The heartbreaks that happened with your closest friends where and those are often incredibly quiet. They're not like we had a fight. We don't talk. They're more like someone move. Someone gets a relationship and then somehow you feel less connected in the less connected and then one day. You're like you miss that intimacy right like there's and because with romantic relationships put a label on it when that relationship and you have to have a conversation but for friends you can just fade

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