Interview with Screenwriter Tai-Ying Chi (You Don’t Deserve My Jelly Strips)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tai-Ying Chi: The story is about a girl who is sexually assaulted by the boy she loves and always wants to be romantically involved with, therefore she doesn’t know how to react at first, and she’s struggled between what her heart really wants and what her heart believes to be right. It also talks about some international students, or even some young immigrants’ insecurities and anxieties they have to face when they firstly come and reside in the U.S.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

When the Me Too movement widely started in the United States in 2017, the cases that provoked most discussions surrounded what had happened on American majorities. It got me think, there must be many other newly arriving minorities, who may have encountered the same situations but had even less resources and know-how to ask for help. Plus, depending on what kind of the cultural backgrounds they were coming from, they may have been dealing with different levels of culture shocks, and feeling lost in telling what’s right or wrong in this new social conventions, and will only be able to grab some sense gradually after time proceeds. (In many stereotypical ideas American society is viewed as much open and complicated in sex and relationships. There’re people who are victimized by this believe, trying to blend in; and there’re people who take advantages on them.) Even when later Me Too became a more common topic and movement in other societies in the world, there can still be subtle and different range of violence in relationships that is hard to be categorized. Therefore, I think making this kind of stories into movies is important.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Sad gain.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Jurassic Park 1993, It was one of the few VHS tapes I owned when I was a kid.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I’ve worked on it on and off, mostly in summer vacation periods, for two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Two short screenplays in English and many more in traditional Mandarin Chinese.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

First of May by The Bee Gees.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The dialogues were firstly written in traditional Chinese, but for the contest and subtitles purposes, I translated them into English. It was a bit challenging to write English lines that are used among urban youths to give more layers to their personalities, but also preserve the same essences in English as in Traditional Chinese so readers can still get the context of how they talk or behave in the world they came from. Another major challenge was that, I wanted to introduce a delightful Taiwanese dessert into the screenplay to enhance the idea that they had shared childhood memories, which was sweet and delightful just like they used to remember each other, and by what happened to them and the dessert in the end, it also symbolizes they both for the first time really have to graduate from their childhoods. I spent so much time to look for this specular dessert that can be playful, sweet, nostalgic, look pretty on screen, and will also be easy to preserve and handle as props. Finally, the Taiwanese jelly strips.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I like animals and bugs, when I discover a mystery about animals or bugs that I don’t have answer to, I will feel an urge to go online and conduct full research about it. I also like good foods and quality time with family and friends.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

Self promotions, good strategies and management in social media accounts are more important than I thought.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I feel networking is very essential when you want to turn pages into actions. Festival helps with the exposures for artists and builds the network. Apart from that, it is generally just an irresistible feeling of desire to be recognized and have reasons to go to events and have fun!

I look carefully into every feedback I received, but even though there are many good advices, I try to only extract core essences from the feedbacks that I feel can work on my piece without risking losing the attitudes of the project.
 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A newly arrived International student finally gets to see her high school crush in New York, but the gap between their understandings to their relationship finally forces her to choose between falling in love, or to admit the harm that would draw them apart.

CAST LIST:

Drunk Man: Charles Gordon
Yu-Chen: Wildred Lee
Narrator: Gene Abella
A-Mei: Tiffany Elefano
Lisa: Elizabeth Morriss

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