Interview with Filmmaker Hyunjin Lee (CROSS)

CROSS was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the June 2022 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

– I always had a lot of interest in Korean immigrants in America as many of my family are a part of those community. Especially the earlier generation who came to America and settle down in 70s-90s has a very particular life style which is different from mainland Korea. Many cases they have strong community around the church so the opinion from it influences a lot among people. One day last year, I read an article from a Korean church in America concerning about homosexuality and California’s progressive education and thought I want to portrait it with a story.

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

I started to write the script from April last year, shoot in October, and finished the post production in January this year. So total 9 months.

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

Mom’s journey

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

I thought it would be easy to find Korean actors in Los Angeles but it was not! Especially for the son’s character, I had a particular image I was looking for and it was a huge challenge to find a right actor. I was almost going to change the character a little bit according to the available actor and one week before the shooting Vinh sent me a
Facebook message saying he is interested in the role, just like a miracle. From the photo itself, I could tell that he is the one. I did audition right away, and he was the perfect Joon I had in my mind but didn’t know any Korean language. So we had to have a ‘special training’ with him to make him act the 2nd generation Korean language – which is a mixture of English and Korean. He did a really good job and it turned out perfectly!

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

I feel very grateful that people watched my film and connected to the story so much. It is amazing to see that the audience is from all different countries but still understand my story which is very Korean culture oriented. Also I feel very happy that my wonderful actors are appreciated by winning The Best Performance. All of them are amazing actors and I feel lucky that I had a chance to work with them.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I made one short film and one documentary when I was in college but worked in a different industry for many years. Filmmaking and storytelling have always been in my mind, but I didn’t have courage to make a step. 3 years ago, when I was working in Hong Kong, I started to think what makes me truly happy, and if I am doing a job which makes me feel alive. Then I decided to study my long and old dream even though it was a little bit late.

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

by Korean director Park Chan-Wook. A glass of red wine and this movie is my favorite combination.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I think communication is the key for any film festivals. A lot of time the filmmakers submit their precious work with a hope but didn’t hear anything at all or even after they get selected they don’t know exactly what is going on. It is always appreciated to be shared where and when my film and promotion material is exposed so we can keep
on track. I think LGBTQ+ Toronto Film Festival is relatively doing a great job.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It is a great platform to be introduced to a lot of festivals I wasn’t aware, and easy to promote my work.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Sushi

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

I’m working on my first feature film in New York Film Academy. It is about a young girl who wants to be a novelist through her achievement, friendship and forbidden love. I’m working on the script now and looking for the best place to shoot the film. Maybe Toronto could be the one! I love Toronto.

By matthewtoffolo

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

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