angry reader of the week: mynette louie

Greetings! Time to meet another Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is film producer Mynette Louie.

Who are you?
I'm Mynette Louie, independent film producer and native New Yorker. Go here if you wanna know more.

What are you?
Chinese American.

Where are you?
Sitting at my desk in my home office in Queens, where I guarantee you'll find me at any given hour of the day/night unless I'm on set, taking a meeting at a coffee shop (the conference room of indie freelancers everywhere), or away at a film festival or market.

Where are you from?
Born in Manhattan, raised in Brooklyn, now living in Queens. I've also lived in and spent a lot of time in Honolulu throughout my life. My parents were the classic Cantonese immigrants - and Dad were born outside Guangzhou, raised in Hong Kong, and respectively immigrated to Honolulu and New York.

What do you do?
I produce movies. This involves a lot of emailing, phone calling, pitching, researching, reading, writing, budgeting, scheduling, financial modeling, casting, crewing, and these days, promoting and distributing. The last feature I completed was Tze Chun's Children of Invention, about a single mother who gets entangled in a pyramid scheme and inadvertently leaves her two kids to fend for themselves. It premiered at Sundance 2009, won 16 festival awards, was released in 8 cities, and will be distributed on cable VOD and DVD this summer. In fact, we launch on cable VOD today! And you can actually buy a DVD directly from our site before we hit retail/rental outlets later this summer - we just lowered the prices today, so now's a good time to buy one! And if you live in New Orleans or Gainesville, FL, we'll be opening theatrically in those cities on 6/11. (The above is an example of the "promoting" a producer must do, ahem.)

What are you all about?
Making good, thoughtful movies and finding a way to keep doing this without starving. Because of changes in technology and consumer behavior, and the collapse of the economy, the old models of independent film financing and distribution don't work anymore. Producers have to squeeze down budgets more than ever now, making it difficult for filmmakers and film workers to earn a living making movies. We also have to figure out alternative models of financing and distribution. With Children of Invention, Tze and I have been experimenting with distribution by doing things like adopting an indie rock band tour model and selling DVDs on the festival circuit, and being one of five films to launch YouTube Rentals. Our goal in doing all this is to get this film that we took such great care in making seen by as many people as possible, and our hope is that we'll stumble upon a way to keep making the movies we want to make. It's important for me to try to use film as a medium not just to entertain, but to move, provoke thought, and inspire social change. This includes putting more minorities on screen when it makes sense to and telling stories that are marginalized by the mainstream media, but in ways that don't bore or alienate audiences.

What makes you angry?
People who have the power to cast minority actors but don't because they presume that white mainstream audiences won't want to watch them. Believe it or not, the stereotype of the Hollywood exec telling a filmmaker to make a minority character white is true - it happened to me! The reason given to me by this exec was that there aren't any "bankable" minority stars. But (with a few exceptions) why aren't there? Because the powers-that-be are rarely willing to create any by casting minorities in breakout roles! Hence, there is a vicious cycle: no bankable minority stars -> don't cast minorities -> no bankable minority stars. Sure, it may not make creative sense to cast minorities in some roles, and I'm not advocating tokenism or propaganda, but I just wish content creators would consider their unique power to influence society through art and try to spread some good in the world by acclimating audiences to seeing minorities as multi-dimensional characters.

Another thing that makes me angry are Asian Americans who complain about there not being enough "good" Asian American films, actors, directors, etc., but who, at the same time, don't bother to seek out Asian American work or to support it by purchasing tickets and tuning in. Hey Asian America: If you want to see more of us in the media, support your filmmakers and artists! You can start by buying a DVD of Children of Invention and/or making a tax-deductible donation toward the research and development of You're a Big Girl Now, Tze's new feature based on the true story of his mother growing up in a Singaporean brothel, doomed to a life of forced prostitution until she is rescued by two women. (Sorry, I couldn't resist... I'm a producer!)

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