Director Quentin Lee’s HIFF hit The People I Slept With will be part of the closing night festivities at the Rainbow Film Festival. Joining him will be one of the stars from the movie, Wilson Cruz. Before arriving on the island, Lee answered a few questions about his project, gay and Asian American filmmaking, and a certain infamous “debate” question.
What attracted you to The People I Slept With?
I was attracted to the idea of a strong Asian American female protagonist in a fun sex comedy, so I started developing the idea and script with my team. Karin, the actress, was sort of my muse from the beginning.
How important is Asian American culture and issues in your body of work?
I’m more into Asian American culture rather than the issues per se. Asian American culture is crucial because as a filmmaker, it’s essentially my perspective that makes me unique. But then the issues remind me of going to AA, which is not totally fun. Making a film requires a perspective and a lot of creativity to shape the material into a product ideally both fun and meaningful.
Where do you feel the state of gay film is right now? Any trends? What do you want to see?
I think the state of gay film right now is great. It’s at a point where opportunities are available and the market is finally developing, yet it isn’t at a point where the studios have taken over. It’s a really good time to make gay films that are mostly made in the independent arena where you get a lot of freedom and can do literally anything you want. I’d like to see gay films that are challenging, fun and with diverse characters, but I plan to stay away from films about West Hollywood muscle boy clones.
Do you consider yourself a gay-film filmmaker or would you rather not be labeled?
I’d rather not be labeled because I do find identity politics in America to be a little exhausting and stifling. I think I’m more of a gay filmmaker by default than a gay-film filmmaker as my films are kind of gay but not really just gay films per se.
Have you seen the other films in the Rainbow Festival? Favorites?
Yes, I have seen Ajumma! Are You Krazy? and George & Brad In Bed, which are both pretty amusing shorts. I would like to see City of Borders and Eyes Wide Open, which I’ve heard a lot about and seem very interesting.
What advice do have you for gay filmmakers in Hawaii?
Just go make films. That’s the advice I’d give any young filmmakers. Don’t think about it too much, pick up a camcorder and start making films. That’s how I started after college, and that’s the best way to do it, especially now when technology is so readily available.
What are you working on next?
I’m attached to direct a drama called White Frog about an Asian American teen with Asperger’s syndrome. I’m also trying to shoot a mircro-budget serial killer movie called After Me, Disaster in L.A. and a horror feature called Rigor Mortis in Hong Kong.
Avatar or Star Wars?
Both, because Avatar and Star Wars are truly landmark science-fiction movies but they are both made in very different historical and technological contexts. It would be unfair to have to choose one or the other.