Interview with Filmmaker Sumin You (PETITION FOR ALIEN SPOUSE)

PETITION FOR ALIEN SPOUSE was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the October 2021 ROMANCE Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I actually got the inspiration for this story when I was preparing my own immigration document. I was looking for a form on the USCIS website and I found a form named “Petition for Alien Relative.” I immediately had this image of an alien-human couple sitting in the world’s most boring room, waiting to get their visa. I started from this image and started writing what became “Petition for Alien Spouse.”

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

From idea to the finished product, it took me about two years.

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

Real and Unreal

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

A lot of filmmakers who have been creating the past two years would probably agree – COVID-19. This film was shot in January 2021, back when vaccines weren’t a thing. So safety was our priority concern. To keep the set as safe as possible, we had to have a smaller crew, shorter set, and stricter rules. I even had to rewrite the story, leaving the “world-building” aspects out and just focusing on the interview aspect of the film. Even though the rewrite was due to a safety concern, I actually think that it worked in the film’s favor, making it a more condensed, contained story that explores what can happen inside a room with three people. I’m glad to see this was also interesting to viewers, thanks to the feedback I have gotten through the festival.

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

Before pressing the play button, I think I was a bit scared. I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, the feedback has been very nice! It was interesting to see what different audiences took away from the film. For some it was the fantasy aspect that stood out to them, and for some it was how relevant the issue of the film was to them and the world we live in. It really felt like I was communicating through my film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Third grade, when me and my best friend would make stories after stories on the bus ride back to our places. Telling each other fun stories made the long bus rides bearable. In the end, I think that was the moment I thought I wanted to tell stories, to see the stories come true through film.

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

Growing up I watched the movie musical Hairspray (2006, Adam Shankman) over and over again. Once I started to think myself as a filmmaker, I found myself going back again and again to the film Kamome Diner (2006) by Naoko Ogigami.

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

I discovered a lot of film festivals that I thought were really interesting! It provides a very streamlined process to submitting films to film festivals.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Takeout Pad Thai and Pad See Ew.

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

I am currently in the San Francisco Bay Area and I am looking to produce a web series/feature film about what it means to be a young adult in the SF/Bay area. Stay tuned!


By matthewtoffolo

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

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