What inspired you to come up with the idea for the film?
In Buddhism, Yin and Yang were born from chaos when the universe was first created. The first human was created when Yin and Yan finally achieved balance in the cosmos. This made me believe that we, humans, used to all be one a very long, long time ago, and we all are equal from the perspective of a soul.
How do you relate to your characters or subjects?
The LA story is mostly drawn from my own experience in Vancouver before I entered graduate school. But, the Seoul part, where the main character is a Vietnamese, is fictional. It came from my own imagination of how the life of foreigners in Seoul would be. I think that they would have a hard time living in Korea as much as I do living in Los Angeles.
What aspect of the story changed the most during writing and production?
The original script had more scenes where the two women seemed like they resonated with each other. But during the production, we decided not to put emphasis on them, just because we were short on budget and time. Also, there used to be more scenes of Lan texting and talking about herself. However, we took them out later in the edits, because we wanted to create more room for the audience to think or imagine about the characters.
What influenced the visual style of your film?
My cinematographer and I talked about films by Dardenne brothers, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, and So Yong Kim. Also, the street photography of Saul Leiter was one of our visual references during pre-production.
What was the most courageous decision you or your crew made during writing and production?
There is a climax scene where the lead calls her boyfriend on a rainy day. The rain was an important element of the Mise-en-scene, but we couldn’t afford the facilities to make rain. All we could do was just pray that it would rain when we shoot the scene. But we were in LA, a desert city. On one of the shooting days, I got up at dawn, and saw showers of rain through the window. I immediately called my DP and asked him to shoot the scene that day. Even though it was risky to move the fixed schedule and to shoot without enough preparation, it was worth it because we successfully managed to capture the rainy atmosphere in the scene.
Were there any risks that you faced during writing/production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
In the Seoul shoot, we had a hard time casting a Vietnamese lead, but finally found the right one after a month of searching. Everything seemed to be going fine until she suddenly changed her mind. It was just ten days before we started shooting, and our cinematographer was supposed to fly over the next day. I called the Vietnamese actress and desperately persuaded her. Luckily, she changed her mind again. This was one of the most nervous moments during production.
What risks does your story take?
Perhaps the way my story is told takes risks not only in shooting but also in being understood by the viewer, because it is interwoven with two parts happening in two continents with two different groups of people. It also has three languages spoken in it: Korean, English, and Vietnamese, which might add more confusion in following the story, and could result in limited access to the main characters.
How would you encourage others to tell their story or manage through the process of screen writing or film producing?
I would say that writing with the heart is the most crucial, especially when we write our first draft. No matter how dirty and messy it is, I believe it always has the essential juice that can move our hearts, and it will then move the hearts of others.