“A” stands for Asian action! This month on the X1 International destination, we’re featuring a specially curated collection of Asian action films, from cult classics to independent shorts. We spoke with “The Challenger” filmmaker Bao Tran on his experience and inspiration as an Asian-American filmmaker.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity by XFINITY.
How did you get into filmmaking?
Bao Tran: I grew up loving Bruce Lee movies, but it wasn’t until I watched Jackie Chan that I wanted to actually make them. There was just something about his craft of filmmaking that changed me from being a fan into actually wanting to try it for myself. Then, I wanted to find who Jackie was inspired by, like Buster Keaton and Gene Kelly. That got me into silent comedies and musicals, and I fell in love with the entire history of movies as a visual medium.
What are some of your favorite films or filmmakers that have inspired you?
BT: “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” was a huge movie-going moment for me—the sheer spectacle and scope of it all. And going to the downtown theater to catch “Hard Boiled” as part of a Hong Kong movie double-bill was a great time. It’s moments like those that really cemented the way I think. People can blog or tweet whatever they want after a show, but you can’t fake the excitement or boredom when you’re right there, live in the room. When the crowd laughs or cries or screams or swears, that’s as real as it gets.
Do you have a favorite Asian-American film?
BT: I love “A Village Called Versailles,” It’s a documentary by S. Leo Chiang about a Vietnamese-American community in New Orleans that had typically stayed to itself and minded its own affairs. Then Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city, and they had to learn to become politically engaged in order to improve their lives and the lives of their neighbors, all fellow Americans.
How does your Asian heritage influence your work?
BT: I learned how to pinch a penny and work my ass off! I guess because my family immigrated here to escape war, I can’t take for granted any opportunity that comes, so I hustle to make the most of it. And a healthy sense of frugality is crucial to any film production.
What is your outlook on the state of Asian-American cinema?
BT: It’s getting more socially acceptable with each generation to make art, so we’re seeing a sophisticated range of stories and perspectives. But I can’t say it enough: We will always need financial support to make our movies and audience support to show that we can be a viable success. We have to rally behind our people and our work because Hollywood will not tell our stories. “The Challenger” was just the beginning; we wanted to show off what we can do. Please see how you can help get the feature film version made.