Interview with Filmmaker Miya Matsumoto Lee (WRITING ON THE WALL)

WRITING ON THE WALL was the winner of BEST SHORT FILM at the February 2021 Documentary Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

2020 was a historic year. I wanted to document one of the largest civil rights movements in American history. Even in the midst of a pandemic, people came together to protest injustice and to make art in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I also wanted to document how quickly New York City stores and shoppers returned to business as usual — how quickly some people forgot or willfully ignored the summer’s outpouring of pain and calls for change.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

From June 2020, when the Black Lives Matter protests in response to George Floyd’s death began, to September 2020, when I completed my edits on the film.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Witnessing Cooperation

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Learning how to edit my film on Premiere Pro. With the help of some books and the internet, I taught myself how to use the powerful (and very reactive!) software.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was extremely grateful. In these isolating times without the ability to interact in person, I appreciated the opportunity to hear how people reacted to my film and what they took away from it. It was extremely gratifying to hear peoples’ thoughtful comments.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make movies?

Probably when I was in college. One of my older sisters, Kimi Howl Lee, is a TV writer and filmmaker. I was in one of her films and felt the magic and power of the filmmaking process. I also saw some of my male friends make movies and realized why not? I could, too.

7. What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Ha! Probably The Sound of Music.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think it’s pretty seamless. As a filmmaker, I found it to be an efficient way to learn about and submit to film festivals.

9. What is your favorite food?

Thai restaurant classic: Pad See Ew.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes! My sister, Kimi, and I are working on a documentary about our grandmother Stella who was a poet and artist ahead of her time. Stay tuned.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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