Some of Us Aren't Meant to Belong.
Interview with Writer/Director Sung Rae Cho
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you. About 3 years ago I was in a very toxic relationship. She constantly brought me down with her negativity and always blamed everything on everyone else. The more I tried to talk her out of it, the more I actually was influenced by her philosophy. Eventually I stood up for myself and left her, but for a long after I was traumatized and kept thinking how she came to believe what she said.
I've been an avid traveler for quite sometime and realized I kept bumping into people with a sort of extreme prejudice, ironically while they see and learn other cultures. All of them had one thing in common- they were long-term expats with nowhere to return to. I myself am a long-term expat, but I return to my hometown in Kyoto periodically and my family still live in the house I grew up in. Naturally I always thought of maybe one day shooting something there. And one afternoon at Starbucks in downtown, I look over the window and on the bridge far in distance I see a beautiful European looking girl in the middle looking deadly and a guy, also Euro looking and with a backpack, running up to her to talk to her. There two foreigners meet. Both strangers to the place.
The story was conceived. I kept replaying that image and couldn't stop. So I suddenly had an urge to make a film after spending over a decade working as a camera crew. I was so jaded and discouraged with countless obstacles and immeasurable patience required. Around then I saw few films and filmmakers at the festivals who made films out of nothing and had them projected on the big screen. If they can do it, why not me. So I decided to make a film, intentionally with bare bones, consumer devices, a practical location, less than minimal crew and a very limited production schedule.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
It's a very simple road movie with a hint of surrealism. I think life can get quite that way when you are out of your comfort zone and you accept it much easier then than at home. I believe this film delivers that. Also, the entire film was shot on the fly without any permits, with less than a handful of film crew and few actors, with equipment that any average tourist would carry. Watch this film and make one yourself!
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The world has become so small thanks to technology and reasonably stable (though this may no longer be the case) political climate. So many people leave their origins and call somewhere else home not because they have to but just because they can. Maybe I'm guilty of that myself. And some of us, because of that, seem to have difficulties settling and define who we are or where they belong. I think people like me are only increasing in this world today.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
I didn't think too much upon writing. I just put down what I have personally experienced or have seen with my own eyes, directly on the script. We actually lost a lead actress after 2 days into shooting and almost abandoned the production after all the troubles of bringing friends in from New York(my home base). Luckily Mitzi Akaha, whom I auditioned, agreed to fly in and start working immediately so we could continue shooting. But so many days were lost and we had to keep reinventing scenes and shots. I just focused on finishing with the time I had left and decided to let the environment dictate what might happen in each scene. In a sense this is truly an experimental film.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Mostly very positive. I love how our process resonated people. Almost everyone agrees it's "different", and everyone compliments the photography. That being said, we've initially limited ourselves submitting to the most competitive festivals and didn't think carefully where and how to find the audience we want to reach. Now we feel better after strategizing.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
It's been challenging as I realize while those who have been in a similar situation or dynamics with someone else respond strongly, those who never went out of their comfort zones (rightly so, quite often) don't seem to validate the actions made by the characters in this film. That's the lesson I'm learning through this round, and hopefully the next one I'll be more careful while keeping things honest to my own voice. Also it's an expression that I made certain things very brief and gray. Some may feel inadequate, but that's how exactly what these characters are.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
While good films should speak for themselves, this particular film may be able to use some supplemental outlet because of its emphasis on the challenge of filmmaking itself. www.wearemovingstories.com is a tremendous portal for serious filmmakers. I cannot thank you enough.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Little more adequate post treatment and maybe a publicist.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
It'd be fantastic if this film can inspire what the films I was inspired to make this film by, and it only helps if more festivals open their arms to us whether if it works with their audience or not.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What do you think happened to Alex and Erin at the end of the film?
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
While I try to work as a cinematographer to make a living, I keep writing and tackling different labs and grants.
Interview: May 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Some of Us Aren't Meant to Belong.
Director: Sung Rae Cho
Producer: Blaise Miller, Sung Rae Cho
Writer: Sung Rae Cho
About the writer, director and producer:
SUNG RAE CHO (writer/director/producer). "Zainichi" Korean from Japan/New York City-based filmmaker/cinematographer whose credits includes "The Transfiguration" (Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2016), "Graceland"(TriBeCa 2012), and various television shows including "The Americans"(FX). Most recently participated in a prestigious Belrinale Talents.
BLAISE MILLER (producer) based in New York City. Works primarily as a lighting technician on major motion pictures. Recently made a transition into producing, with about a dozen short films under his belt.
Mitzi Akaha as Alex
Nozomi de Lencquesaing as Erin
Mari Yamamoto as Hiromi
McKinley "Bug" Barnes as Terry
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
producers, film festival directors and journalists.
Social media handles:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/usagithefilm/ or @usagithefilm
Other: website www.usagithefilm.com
Funders: Completely self-financed with half through AirBnB earning of my living room, also a accumulated frequent flyer miles for all cast and crew traveling.
Where can I see it in the next month?
Still looking for a festival to world premiere. Any inquiries will be very much appreciated!