The Stolen Children - Lizzie Jacobs - interview transcript

Lizzie Jacobs: [00:00:00] Hey guys, I’m Lizzie Jacobs. I’m the director on the stolen children.

Phoebe Yung: hi. my name is Phoebe young and I’m one of the two producers on the stolen.

Masami Moriya: Tell me in the audience about this project, tell us what you’re working on,

Lizzie Jacobs: Absolutely. so I can start off. but it started off as a honors thesis, for school that I wanted to do. I simply start off with like, oh, I want to. A kind of a film documentary about me going back to Cambodia. since I’m adopted there, I was adopted there in 2000. and I just want to capture like my first moments there, revisiting like the culture and kind of getting reconnected in that sense.

but when I made that proposal to make that thesis, they’re like, okay, that’s great, but you’re going to have to do some research on it. So before you submit that proposal, we want you to have a bibliography look up, some articles, get like background info, as much as. so I did that and going through like, just articles about adoption Cambodia, I came upon, a lot of articles about this woman named Lauren Galendo.

Lizzie Jacobs: [00:01:00] Now what happened Lauren Galendo is she created a, almost like a baby trafficking ring, out in Cambodia. it was an adoption scandal because adoption, the adoption system in Cambodia was very, very corrupted in the year, 2000. And, article after article, I saw. Information about Lauren. Galendo pretty much having people called, like baby recruiters would go to really, really like impoverished villages and like knocking on doors to ask families if they need help supporting their children.

if the mother said Yes. they said, okay, we promise you, we’ll bring them back to our orphanage. Take care of them, give them the medical needs that they, that, that they, that they need. But. Essentially, they did not make it clear to these families that they were actually going to be labeled as orphans and have them sent away and to be adopted overseas.

just because, I mean, these, these families were very, I want to say they weren’t educated in the sense they weren’t able to like read and write. And so [00:02:00] to communicate with them, it was a little bit foggy for them. That’s what I learned. And, and, and I was thinking about my own adoption since I was adopted around the same time.

Lizzie Jacobs: to know to extent, how I was involved into this adoption scandal and just going through my records and like pictures and talking to my parents. just, sounded like things weren’t adding up as if like my birthday, which was January 1st, 2000. It seems inconsistent. Cause on a baby record book, it looked like my birthday was February 2nd.

So that was inconsistent. We found out that the driver, my mother used out in Cambodia and when she went to adopt me was the same driver that Lauren Galendo, would hire for all of her transportation needs out in Cambodia. some other things is my surname is Roth. So my full name was rocking a Roth and Roth translates to owned by the government.

it is a surname that is very common for a lot of orphans. Nonetheless, I read an article, is that for a lot [00:03:00] of the quote unquote stolen children, that was their surname. Just a lot of these red flags are popping up. And so, so That’s how, like, kind of like the main part of this documentary came about.

It was supposed to be like a, like a reconnection to culture documentary, and now it has expanded into something more, that, that involves investigation. And, yeah, that’s I told Phoebe about this when we entered that at camp film festival, when I was 18 Phoebe, you were Holloway’s. Yeah, around 16. but that’s how me and Phoebe, and then I pitched it to her and they, we kind of just blossomed that relationship from the.

Masami Moriya: That’s such a wild story. Like we don’t want, we don’t know about it. Right. So no one talks about this private staff. Most of us know where Cambodia is. but like the here this a whole like, like not even conspiracy by just a scandal. we had a huge part to deal with that. That’s, that’s. We need to hear about these projects.

And so, you know, thank you for making this aware. I know you’re a part of it, just doing it [00:04:00] for your own personal, understanding of everything went, but that’s how it all starts. Right. I think it’s about understanding who we are and then like uncovering these wild stories that are out there. and building that.

So how has, how has the process been okay. You working with Phoebe as your producer, you know, getting how’s that workflow been working for you and, what’s been the best thing. You’ve you made a project before you were at campus. You already had a film project in there. You’re just there.

Lizzie Jacobs: Yes.

Masami Moriya: You’re just there.

Yeah. And that’s, and that’s good for networking. I can go to that’s where the people are the festivals at. so is this one of your first.

Lizzie Jacobs: for me, I started making films when I was in my junior year of high school, but I’ve never made like feature film. really just stuck to short films. I haven’t even never, submitted in like film festivals before. So Phoebe, Phoebe has a lot more experience in film though, than I had.

Phoebe Yung: I’ve been doing film, since I was a sophomore in high school and how I’m, I’m studying film and television at [00:05:00] NYU Tisch school of the arts. and, I mean, I did a couple of festivals when I was in high school, and a couple in college, but,This is the first feature film that I’m working on.

This is the first feature for, I think almost like most of our crew members actually. so it’s, it’s just been a really cool process because we’re so used to the short film medium, and you think that, you know, a good amount might translate over, but it’s such a big, it’s such a big, bigger step. almost it’s, it’s like way more advanced.

And, and so we, you know, are now like talking and working with like budgets, which. Sophomore me had never done. and so it’s just been really cool to see the process come together like that.

Masami Moriya: Yeah. And as working as a producer on a project like this, you know, What’s been, what’s been the process, like, like tell us, like, I feel like we are, they won’t go for the director’s position. They might be a writer if their documentary is not a lot of team and crew sometimes. But, as a producer, we don’t actually talk a lot with producers.

So what’s been, the [00:06:00] process and project, like coming from your perspective of finding somebody else’s story and helping them get them off.

Phoebe Yung: Yeah, absolutely. So, I will say that I wasn’t, I didn’t have a producer credit until recently this summer I actually joined the project. two years ago I was the first one on it, October, 2019. and I, I started as an assistant director. But, the more Lizzie and I spoke and, and there was like a very long stretch of like almost a year where it was literally just has to.

and so we we’ve done, We’ve just developed a lot of the film creatively together, and I’m going to be honest, like pretty much like every single idea I’ve pitched for this film. Like whether it’s for the story, whether it’s like presenting it to different companies. Lizzie has like accepted almost every single one of my suggestions, which is great because, I do usually write in direct my own work.

but, I, I tend to want to work on my own personal projects, but,You know, [00:07:00] being that Lizzie and I have been friends for, for a few, having friends for a few years now. just seeing her kind of go through the story kind of inherently made it important to me as well. and so the process of that has just been a lot of, our, our core development team, which is me, and our other producer, Bruce.

and that pretty much consists of, you know, doing the real nitty gritty work we’re working with the budgets every day. We’re trying to manage our production team. we have internship programs that have been going every semester that we’re also managing, putting together pitch decks, and then rehearsing our pitches.

Phoebe Yung: And I’ve, I’ve written most of the pitches that, we’ve we’ve given, for the film. So it’s been. Mostly for me, just, just trying to figure out how to express Lizzie story, in a way where people can, can get interested as well, because, even though it is a documentary, it sort of as a narrative also in a, in a sense, if that makes sense, [00:08:00] because there’s a very clear through X structure that we’re going to follow,And I just think that it’s, it’s so important that that other people are able to recognize.

And I just love pitching the film to other people, because like you said, it’s, it’s just so unheard of. and is some, this is a scandal that I haven’t heard it before. No one on production, our crew has, has heard of before, and, and sharing that messages just super important to all of us at this point, especially.

As an Asian-American as well, even though I’m not Cambodian, it’s still, important to me to represent all Asian Americans on screen. So that’s something else that the doc has, has really been helping me.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, a hundred percent. I think that’s the, that’s kinda the point here. We’re all wall building things together. One to tell really good stories and we wanted to learn things as well. I think that’s the, one of the greatest things about filmmaking entertainment, especially the documentary world. We’re learning something, that that’s not there and making projects like this gets it out to the world. Building dot [00:09:00] I’m not a documentarian person. I I’ve, I’ve done the level here and there and just shoot around a couple ideas for documentary it’s. But what draws you both to documentary filmmaking? And we do also dabble narrative. Is there something, is there, how much is there crossover or what pulls you to a lot of documentary work?

because I have to feel like this project is very catered towards documentary style. what do you find the storytelling of documentary to be like powerful? Both of you.

Phoebe Yung: So I, I am a narrative filmmaker, and I think that at the end of the day career wise, but that’s where I will end up drifting. not gonna lie. I, I didn’t really enjoy documentaries until I joined this project. I think that I just wasn’t watching necessarily the right films, in the genre. but now that I’ve become a producer for this documentary, my favorite part about it is, just the natural authenticity that there will [00:10:00] inevitably be.

because. You know, it’s very interesting because you don’t usually see directors double as their own talent. Right. but in this situation, Lizzie is, and so I just think that in, you know, obviously I don’t necessarily know, but like I mentioned before, just seeing her grow over the years and kind of learn more about her culture and learn more about her own adoption.

That’s a firsthand experience that you can’t get anywhere else. and I’m sure when we actually physically go to Cambodia and you know, she’s going through a lot more changes and, and learning a lot more about herself, just something that I don’t think can be necessarily acted out. even if you can, I mean, you can obviously portray it, but there’s, there’s just nothing more authentic than just this original reaction that, that we’re going to be able to capture.

and as for translations, I usually don’t find too many similarities between, you know, narrative feature films and documentaries, but for this specific one, I do think it’s interesting, [00:11:00] because the three act structure that we’re following, and just kind of, we’re telling a story here and I know all documentaries do, but it’s not just like we’re jumping interview to interview where we’re consistently focusing on this one person the entire time.

and I just think that is. A strong narrative voice here. and that’s not always something that you’ll see in every documentary, but it’s most definitely present in this one.

and Lizzie, what draws you to.

so I actually, I I’m with Phoebe here, I’ve always to narrative filmmaking. it wasn’t until I’d say my sophomore year in college, that was. Two-ish three-ish years ago, that I started to get into documentary filmmaking. And the reason why I like just working in a, for documentary is with narrative filmmaking.

Lizzie Jacobs: You have a story already in mind with documentary filmmaking. I feel like you have like that initial lead, but you don’t [00:12:00] know what outcome you’re going to get, and you have to think on your feet. I think really fun to do. And I think it’s when you’re going into narrative. but with documentaries, yeah.

It’s just like the story develops as do it. Right. So when we’re out there, I mean, we do have like a preconceived. Lead. I’m like what, what we want this story to look like, but we have no idea what the outcome is, whether we’re going to find family, whether we’re going to find out if I wasn’t stolen or if I was, you know, it’s, I think it’s just a really fun way to practice.

kind of storytelling with narrative and it’s. It works well with this, with this documentary. just like Phoebe said, because the way how I want to shoot this documentary, it was kind of a mix of narrative filmmaking and documentary filmmaking. because the style of this film is like, I want it to be a, almost like a cinematic journal.

Lizzie Jacobs: So. Because, because it’s so personal, I want to really bring people into my lives and my process and my thought thoughts going into this journey. And in the beginning, I [00:13:00] kind of want to start off as like, almost like a narrative kind of like really like cinematic, slow motion B roll, like, or the shots are pretty like intentional.

that’s when we’re like in a, like in the first act that we’re going to see like a lot of culture, a lot of colors, a lot of, know, landscape shots, like. Capturing the postcard beauty of Cambodia. I want that to be almost narrative style. but then once we get into act two where we kind of investigate further into, you know, the orphanages and the adoption scandal what have you I want to. kind of bleed into that documentary filmmaking where like, you know, the shaky on the go camera movements, kind of like showing that transition between.

Lizzie Jacobs: Yes. Your PR like everyone’s perception of Cambodia is like that beautiful, like destination of like relaxation and all of that tourism. but if you kind of like pull behind the seal, you understand that a lot of these beautiful countries and like destinations, like people like Bali, [00:14:00] Thailand, things like that, where people want to go and get that like, kind of like lush, tropical vacation under that is like a very, very.

Poor country that has just literally everywhere you look. and so that’s what I think is really cool about this documentary is because I feel like there’s not a lot of documentaries that play with that narrative and documentary style and kind of use that in that storytelling. And that’s, that’s what I think is very intriguing, intriguing about this specific documentary.

and I, I think it’s also. as Phoebe said, like not many films have like the director be the main subject, but in this sense, what I like about it is I can tell my story in the most authentic way possible that there’s, there’s no way where it can be in genuine or an accurate, because it’s coming from me and it’s, it’s being put out the way that I want.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, I think that’s right. And you bring up a good point about like, you don’t know where this story is going to go, because part of this is like journalism, right? You can’t screw with the narrative. He can’t like tell [00:15:00] people exactly how to do it and you don’t know what the ending’s going to be. And so I think that’s, I hadn’t really thought about that part of it, of the process of making it, especially when you’re the subject.

Cause you’re going to go through the emotions. You’re going to be on camera, showing those emotions and then go into the editing process and seeing yourself and then, you know, going out into the stage and go and get accepting your awards and stuff as the whole thing gets you’re like you are the story.

I think that’s the. You know, which is a beautiful thing. yeah. And, and having to see like the corruption side of all of these countries that we do see on pamphlets and vacation homes, you know, you don’t put that on a postcard, let’s go to the corruption place. yeah. What are, what are some of your, so you’re going to go to Cambodia, right.

And you’re going to go check it out and find. Family, maybe find somebody you don’t know what’s there, you know, go to the hometown, but what are some of your, worries and, and thoughts about going? Do you feel like you feel really comfortable doing that and bringing your whole production team and yeah.

Tell us a little bit more about what you’re thinking.

Lizzie Jacobs: so definitely there there’s definitely [00:16:00] concerns going, and traveling to Cambodia. As a point of view of a director like production can get really sticky, especially in the pandemic COVID. There’s a lot of things that, you know, we are uncertain about and we’re gonna have to think on our feet.

And then on the other hand, there’s just worries about this is my story kind of making sure it is perceived the way that hopefully I, people, I hope people will perceive it. For example, just like a worry I have is, you know, once we get there, like finding biological family, I don’t know how necessarily going to react.

I mean, when I pitched this to my advisor, he’s like, are you sure you want to make something like this personal with this amount of weight and show it to the public? which that always weighs on my mind. I think I’ve come to almost like I’ve accepted the fact that like, yes, it’s a very personal [00:17:00] project, but I know in the end that it’s helping a lot of adoptees who have no idea that they also could be involved in this scandal that I’m helping them almost start a discussion with parents and friends talking about this because had.

So many like emails and DMS on social media saying like, Hey, also adopted at this time. Like did not know about this. I’m worried to tell my parents like, cause it’s just like, it’s on the edge of like, I feel like parents are very scared to talk about this situation with children. Just because you can get into a pointing fingers game of blaming, like, how’d you not know about this?

Like, why did you do this X, Y, Z. This documentary I feel like is going to help a neutral ground, an open discussion for both families and adoptees who are gonna want to know more about this. so although it pulls a lot of weight, I think it’s going to be worth it in the end. but I mean, worries as a, as a director, just production in general, [00:18:00] like, like I’m, I’m worried, like we’ve of us.

I don’t think I’ve worked on a feature film, let alone a feature film going international. and we’re all very young filmmakers. Like I have only been out of the country.

I only been out of the country probably like four times and one of those Canada. Right. So it’s definitely going to be a out of the box experience for a huge majority of us. And. A lot of things could go wrong. A lot of, you know, young 20 year olds out in Cambodia who knows what’s going to happen. But, we, we try to prepare as professionally as we can.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, that’s a part of the adventure, right? You’re in, as long as you have the cameras, cameras rolling and making sure everybody’s recorded. Yo yo you’ll be okay. no, I think that super ambitious and I, you know, That’s not me. I wouldn’t go like out of the country. I’d be like, nah, it’s not, it’s not doing that.

But I think that’s super cool that you are, because I think that’s, it’s a Testament to where you’re starting so young in your career to do something so bold. I just can’t wait to see what’s, you know, 10 years from now, what are you gonna do? [00:19:00] That’s even more bold. that’s a huge decision. Phoebe, what are your, what are your chips and tribulations that you might feel like you’re know?

Run into when you get there. Cause I know productions it’s Murphy’s law, anything, everything can happen. Right. So what are some of your worries that you’re you’re as a producer? Is it your job to figure out and to minimize that? So what are you planning and doing to.

Phoebe Yung: Yeah, absolutely. So a lot of my worries are coming from the more, technical slash physical side. Lizzie, I’ll let you worry about the, the content and the story. so I mean, like Lizzie mentioned, it’s a foreign country. I’m pretty sure none of us have been to Cambodia. One, of us speak the language.

we need, hence why we need to hire a very trustworthy or the, trustworthy translator, to the financial situation is I’m sure it’s, it’s always a worry to you. Every filmmaker it’s, you know, do we have enough money? if, if something goes wrong, if we need to replace something onset, are we going to have.

Phoebe Yung: The funds [00:20:00] to be able to withhold ourselves because we’re ultimately going to be going for three weeks, quite a long time. I mean, I feel like, to a certain extent I might be repeating what Lizzie says, but again, with like, the COVID crisis, we were originally supposed to be shooting, this past may.

granted I’m very glad we did it because I think that there is. A lot of opportunities that can come from just waiting. like since then, like we, we’re working with executive producers as well, who really really know the business and legal side, that I personally do not know I’m only 18. I have very, very limited knowledge, on the business side.

Phoebe Yung: And so the steps that me and the other producer Bria are taking are just, know, educating ourselves a lot more on the business side. especially when it comes to budgets and like the technicalities of, of the legal kind of work that we need to sort out. and I think that ultimately working with our two have really, really benefited us.

[00:21:00] And I think that they are absolutely instrumental. And have gotten us to where we are now, even though they’ve only been with us for like the past two months, we’ve progressed so much, we’ve upgraded. Our cameras were upgrading all of our equipment. We’re we’re going to go in with a very, very clear plan because are in a foreign country.

Again, I don’t think any of us will be over 25. there’s like you said, Murphy’s law. There’s a lot that can go wrong. But genuinely though, being prepared. Again, I mean, at the, by the time we will be in Cambodia,I would have been on the project for like three, three or so years and everyone else for at least two.

So going in with that very, very clear plan, I think is honestly the best and only way we can prepare, besides, you know, just also trying to, encourage our crew members to learn just the basics of the language there. Just, you know, so we can communicate with locals if we really need to. [00:22:00] as well as, you know, having a very, very COVID safe set, making sure that everyone’s in good health, everyone’s in good shape physically, before we go there, that’s something I also realized the other day.

Walking around New York. I was like, wow, I, I really need to get in the shape. because I feel like we’re going to be, you know, though we might have vans and, and to hold our equipment at the end of the day, we’re still probably, we’re still probably going to be walking like five to 10 miles every single day.

For almost three weeks straight with just a couple day breaks here and there. so just trying to get everybody mentally prepared because it is going to be a very, very extreme difference from living in the us.

Masami Moriya: Just start lifting some apple boxes just to pick up some

Phoebe Yung: Exactly.

Masami Moriya: No, I think that’s, I think that’s smart. I think. And you know, I don’t like to, to, you know, subject on age too much to cause, but I think it’s amazing that you both are, you know, 18 and early [00:23:00] twenties. And I think that’s, that’s beautiful.

Like that’s your, what are you just to make something so bold and doing it so thoroughly? You know, I think I was at your age. I was like about 10 years ago by now. That’s like to think about different languages and having everybody let’s go learn, come again. two, just so I can go to this project and making sure going to internationally that’s all either whether it’s visa is it’s making sure everyone has passports.

It’s. And getting all the equipment over there, cause that’s going to have to go through customs as well, and everything’s going to be checked and what’s going to stay are our flash drives in the state. You have backups, you have extra backups and you know, is everything gonna go okay? Is someone going to get lost is a lot to think about.

And so it’s such a bold project and I don’t that’s, that’s not me at 18. I think that’s so great that you are. because I just feel like we need more. Bald people, bold young people going to do big things, now know going on that, how do you feel about, where the industry’s at right now [00:24:00] and you coming into your, the next generation after me?

So how do you feel, how do you see the industry right now and going back, how do you feel about it going into the industry and what do you see that I don’t know, what could be done better or what do you hope that could be. What are your hopes for the industry in the next five to 10 years, as you’re starting to go into the career element of film production.

Phoebe Yung: Sure I was going to say, I actually just had a very similar conversation, about where the industry is at right now. the other day, I, I feel like starting right now and I feel like me and Lucy’s generation are kind of part of this. Very like kind of long and extended yet extremely integral, like period, almost for Hollywood.

because you know, you look at not, not too many generations up and how it’s, you know, dominated by White male directors, but you kind of see how that’s, that’s definitely starting to change now. [00:25:00] even with like, the academy, trying to be a bit more inclusive, with award shows and representing projects and getting those onscreen, getting their stories on screen, definitely being changes made.

obviously I don’t think that any of us expect it to be an overnight kind of process. of course not. So I think. It’s, you know, I’m just happy to be a part of it. And I’m just happy that I I’m able to kind of help Hollywood transition into a very, very diverse space. and again, with, you know, trying to represent other Asian-Americans in the filmmaking.

first, you know, all cast, all Asian cast, that I saw was, you know, just like three, what, three years ago, when crazy rich Asians came out. and I grew up with surrounded by all of these white stories. and I personally, what I want to contribute and what we are currently contributing is stories from our point of view, because at this point, you know, I’m not saying that there [00:26:00] aren’t other stories from who aren’t Asians, that don’t mean to be heard.

Phoebe Yung: It’s just, nice to be contributing, from our side, as well, because ultimately, many, many years down the line, I do think that Hollywood will get to the point where we do become a very, very diverse space. and that there will be a lot of film and television shows about all kinds of ethnicities from, from everywhere.

And you’re gonna start seeing a lot more stories that will. Hopefully educate, about other cultures because you know, the stolen children’s main goal is to educate people. and yeah, ultimately, we will kind of be able to have, a lot of unique points of.

Masami Moriya: And what about utilizing? Like what’s, what do you see yourself, you know, and how do you see.

pretty much, I mean, Phoebe took the words out of my mouth pretty much like we are in this transitional period. I do see Hollywood taking these, small steps into becoming more diverse, more inclusive. As for where I [00:27:00] see myself in 10 years. I don’t know. I feel like it’s, it’s changed honestly, in the past two years doing this documentary.

Lizzie Jacobs: If you were to ask me in my freshman year of college, in like my senior year of high school, I would have been. maybe doing filmmaking as like a hobby, probably at a to five desk doing marketing. cause I started off college as a marketing major, very business oriented, which I think has definitely helped me in my filmmaking career.

Cause I feel like, built, the, the business side of filmmaking. Very very critical. If you want to have projects take off. cause I feel like the industry, you can definitely, you need someone for the business side. Let’s put it at that if you, if you want it to succeed. but now, I mean, after doing this documentary and seeing like the support it’s getting, the amount of. People that are just interested in the interested in the story alone, whether or not they are Asian American. think that really put it in perspective about like where this [00:28:00] project could go and how my career has altered from being a, you know, a nine to five desk job to possibly really working in the industry like professionally an Asian American, director of. And I, I really want to see. where this, where this project goes and how it and benefits me and Phoebe’s careers. Cause I, I definitely think for both of us through this project, there’s a lot of things we did not expect and it’s crazy and it’s every month there’s something new, which is so insane.

and I’m really happy about it for sure.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, a lot of this, new, new wave of things, but also just like the project is so it’s so in-depth, so I just see that award season being really hot for you when it’s all going out, it’s gonna be really cool. now this has been your Cambodian and is hugely Cambodian stories. It’s very unique to it. you know, what do you see in Cambodian American?

That you want to see more of, like, I’ve seen it a couple of documentaries here and there. I can’t even probably name off the top of my head. [00:29:00] Maybe that the donut king that he was Cambodian. Right? Yeah. I think that’s probably the only one I think of what other one, what do you want to see more of and what do you, how do you see like Cambodia uniqueness of the Asian-American identity, but also, is there any films that you like, oh, this is a really good film to go watch too, because I’m sure our audience would want to watch.

Lizzie Jacobs: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, growing up, I didn’t see much, you know, Cambodian, I guess representation in the media, the most I’ve seen was like, you know, Angelina Jolie and her, her son, that was like the extent of what I knew, how people knew Cambodia in America, I guess the most recent,Media I’ve seen out there is the movie first.

They killed my father, which is great. It’s on Netflix. It’s directed by Angelina Jolie. I thought it was beautifully shot. I really liked it it definitely inspired me on how I wanted to shoot part of this documentary for sure. but I would really, really like to see in like Cambodian America, like [00:30:00] see more Cambodian stories.

From Cambodian artists, you know, that kind of like first firsthand experience first coming from the source, I would like to say, that’s what I really want to see in the future.

Masami Moriya: Yeah. And then that’s the, that’s the difference? I don’t think I could ever tell a Cambodian story. Right. I think that’s what we need to see in the Asian American identity in film and television is that, well, everybody has nobody’s. Nobody is Asian, we’re all Asian American, but like nobody ever got. You know, you’re in this and he’s not Asian is different countries, different places, different cultures.

And so I think that’s, what’s important about authentic representation and authentic storytelling. Who’s telling the story. They might not be on the screen, might not mean their specific story, but who they are as people in your ethnicities, that makes a big difference and how it’s, how the characters and the actors are.

About what those cultures are and how they’re similar or different. the other thing was, I just remembered, I did watch the killing fields and that’s another huge story about the Cambodian

Lizzie Jacobs: Yeah. [00:31:00]

Masami Moriya: and that I didn’t know about until I think it was a film festival last year that I saw. I’m like, why don’t we ever hear about this?

This, this is just as, this is bad too. Like, there’s so many things we don’t know. in Asian and Asian American history, That we need to start seeing more. So I think documentaries are such a good way to learn and I think we need to embrace documentary filmmaking more. that’s the thing that we have.

So, to kinda hear about this, you guys know about, a doc, the Asian-American documentary.

Lizzie Jacobs: I don’t think so.

Masami Moriya: So this is for everyone in your audience too. And I’ve been hearing more about them, but, a dot go to h-doc.org, I believe, and, community of other Asian Americans in documentary filmmaking. And so this is a great site for finding other filmmakers different, this couple, a small directory of other films to go check out as well.

But I think, you know, I want people more people to use this resource because especially the documentary world, that’s, it’s not, it’s a big world, but also a small world. So, you know, find, go find what they’re doing. And as I think you should be a part of [00:32:00] this, definitely get in touch with them as well.

Cause they’re, they’re a great resource with people. but yeah, I think that’s a. I’m really excited to see other stories come out like other Cambodian stories. So I think have a couple of friends and just like, I want to know more and tell me more, but they might not know either. Cause that’s the thing.

Like either people just, we’re not taught our own histories and then sometimes our parents don’t know. So then we don’t know. So then I can’t even ask some of my friends, like they don’t know, like I have my, my dad, someone asked my dad where we were from. And he didn’t know how to answer that. I’m like, oh, okay.

So we need to know our stories and doing projects like yours and you’re helping other people discover their past as well. So thank you. okay. So we have about 20 minutes left, so we’re going to, so, for us is now we’re going to do a new format of our podcasts a little bit, that we’re going to kind of like a guest host, section.

We’re going to play with this and see how it works. But, this is an opportunity to ask as many questions as well. you know, I ask all my guests, all their questions I want to hear from them, but I think it’s also, as we’re building community and building networking and stuff like that, we have conversations.

It’s not just a [00:33:00] one-way street. So, in this next time, I’ll ask, ask a few more questions here and then we’ll keep the conversation going, but please feel free to ask me a question about, your production in, anything’s the editing, what things you might be thinking about. I’ve done. I’ve traveled, I’ve traveled internationally a couple of different times.

those have been. And scary. I’ve definitely missed trains and I was not supposed to get on, you know, I was in countries with languages that didn’t know and how to get around and never an Asian country yet haven’t gone there yet. But, you know, but finding productions, getting, making sure my equipment safe, all that stuff.

Masami Moriya: I haven’t lost anything yet. So that’s a, that’s a good knock on wood somewhere, but, yeah. So right off the top of your head, do you have. ideas and like, what are you again? Who might you, what are your worries about, or what are you might not be thinking about? Is there anything on top of your head that you’d like to ask or share?

Lizzie Jacobs: Yeah. I mean, definitely one, one question that I wanted to ask you, even like starting this podcast was like you also being Asian [00:34:00] American, like. How was your experience kind of navigating through the media industry and, and what was, your biggest challenges as a Asian American man and, and, you know, your experience with that and how you navigate through that and, and came up with solutions, et cetera.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, that’s good. Well, let’s do this. I, sorry. I grew up in, click on Ontario, California. It was like Southern California, just suburbs of LA. but far enough LA that’s not outlay. And, I grew up pretty white. I’m mixed race, mixed white Japanese American. And I thought it was a white man for 25 years.

So it just didn’t Dawn on me that I was Asian. I actually had to hide my Asian ness for many years. I did. You don’t get made fun of it. We get very different than you get bullied a little bit. I went to college and when I didn’t originally go for a filmmaking, it was for computer engineering and it just didn’t.

Lizzie Jacobs: Look at that difference.

Masami Moriya: Yeah. They, they, they, as like, I just don’t want to do math. That doesn’t sound like the thing I want to do for the next 50 years, actually started out in visual effects in high [00:35:00] school. And so I wanted to do lightsabers and, I was already good at Photoshop and just painting things and doing stuff, but I was like, okay, let’s do it into Photoshop for a film and video.

After effects and so making visual effects. And when I went backwards from visual effects to, cinematography, orchard, editing and cinematography into directing and then to writing, cause that’s where the story starts. And so right. If I do the other thing is like, I want, cause I wanted to edit the way, edit the way I wanted to edit it.

I need to be able to shoot it the way the editor needs to feel. Right. So it was always learning different things. I learned backwards, and that helped the lives. I knew when I was writing or directing, I knew that’s going to get cut. I’m not going to need to shoot that. Or how am I going to shoot this?

So for yourself, but also for anybody listening, it’s like editing is also a really good tool to learn because when you go to shoot something, you know, you can cut the camera because this is not going to matter. Or this is something we can save the footage on, or we need to shoot this in a way, because I need to cut to. this is [00:36:00] going to work later, or how are you? What’s your angles, your eyelines and all that, because that’s really helpful. so I learned a lot of those skills going into college. Then I made other films, short film projects. We had film classes and they were okay. the short films were terrible and the classes were okay.

And so, but you meant, I think it was like, just keep trying. It’s our keep failing, keep, finding your friends is shooting stuff and just, who knows? You just get some people to help you out. And then I left after college, I went to New York and I stopped filmmaking. So I actually told myself, like, I’m not going to feel, make for the next year or so.

I think it was like the first year that I got there. It was, I want to do one short film every month. It’s going to learn a fail fast. So whether it was learning a new lens, learning, learning equipment, when we sound, it was always something new per month and did 19 films that year. And that. all the post, the 2016 protests, election happened.

So I went to photography. I went to activism and that’s what I learned my Asian American identity. So I actually didn’t really have that agent, thought in my mind for many years. But then [00:37:00] when I learned about, cause I saw every other communities learning and new and knowing their culture and their history, but not knowing my.

Not knowing Asian-American history. Got me more, curious about what don’t we learn? What aren’t we being taught? So I went to the law, stopped everything I was doing. I went to the library, went goop down, dark, dark rabbit, holes of Google. And this is learned Asian American history to do things. So what that sparked me to do was to write more because if I’m not helping write more stories about Asian American identities, I’m not helping them. And so telling more stories and telling them authentically not basing myself off jokes. One of my first agents scripts 4, 4, 4 of my scripts were of white people. So, but the next one was Asian. And when I was writing, it was so tropey, I was like, oh, she’s going to talk about Godzilla and she can do martial arts and you can do this.

I’m like, no, I just need to stop that. It’s not really your. And so, but then I got the back to [00:38:00] Hollywood and just, I was getting back into the crew of things, just trying to getting back into, PA gigs. I did find like when I was early, my early years,filmmaking, it was, it was rough. I don’t ever feel like I had a problem being Asian, but I always did always feel like our had been problem Asian being the only Asian. And so it’s just about like, I didn’t have community to think about or talk about different things. I didn’t see anybody in, if I did find other Asians, we saw each other and then separated, added a lot of internalized racism when I was younger. And so you just, I was like, I’m not that I’m not the stereotype that I see on screen.

So I’m not, I must not be Asian. Cause that’s what Asians are like, but that’s not what agents are. And so I had a really relearn a lot of things about what it means to be Asian. talk to really span. I’m still expanding my mind. I’m still learning every day. It’s like, what are other Asian cultures and how different are they and who don’t we hear about or know about and what are their histories?

Because I’m, I’ve dug into Japanese and Japanese American [00:39:00] history a lot, but that’s just one of the Asian cultures. So I know there’s so much over centuries. And so I think just storytelling. A lot of changes I’ve seen, obviously we’ve seen carrot, craziest Asians and these new ways of other films, which are breaking box office numbers and doing really well for representation.

What would I don’t see is, a healthy, healthy community of criticism and really looking at the facts, like really looking at something that with, with honesty, but not syncing. Right. I see a lot of like, people call it bubble Berber liberalism. I think that’s too much, but they, people like to cancel people really fast and think that you could only own like it, or you hate it.

You can have a middle, you can like it and also talk bad about it. So I think there’s, there’s a healthy discussion. So I think that’s what I want to see in the next five years is that we’re, we’re talking about things just as white people would talk about their films and criticize those films. [00:40:00] Let’s do it.

Robert, Roger Ebert, you know, films for Asians because they talk about the films. They did the up or down DMS up thumbs down, and they can like it, but they can say, oh, this is what it did. This is really good. So. That’s a little bit about, kind of where I’ve seen my career kind of build, be an Asian American man.

It was a little bit different. I definitely, you know, who knows? I don’t know what privileges I’m sure I’ve had in the past too, but at the same time, yeah, I liked seeing more representation and still need to see more Sony’s team or myself. I don’t see a lot of Japanese Americans, you know, Japanese films, but not Japanese.

Lizzie Jacobs: Absolutely. I mean, I, I think you, you hit the nail on the head, like. It’s one thing to get Asian-American representation out there in the media, but it’s another to really like, like you said, like Japanese American, Cambodian American, like those stories need to be told, adopt Asian adoptees stories need to be told.

and so I really liked what you said about that. in, in regards to like, I guess you said you you’ve you’ve filmed internationally and both [00:41:00] mean Phoebe have concerns in production. but I guess what was like some of the hardest challenges you had with shooting internationally, like missing flights or like someone getting sick or, or the equipment getting stolen damage?

Lizzie Jacobs: What happened? I would not know how to handle those situations. I am trying my best to try to figure out a game plan, but, to be honest, I would probably go cry in a corner for five minutes And then try to collect myself later.

Masami Moriya: that’s what I did. no, but seriously, like I didn’t film on any like, professional shoots or anything. It was always just me. I’m going to go travel. I was a photographer for a couple of years. And so I just did that. I had equipment and stuff. I think some of the biggest things I learned were, making sure to have backups, right?

So you’re going to shoot an SD card. You either going to bring your laptop, you can bring two hard drives, one for your backup and one for your backup of your backup. and then when you go on your flight, you’re going to take one backup. You’re going to give another backup to somebody else. Cause if someone.

That if someone’s bag goes missing, you don’t want to put in your luggage to check in. You want to [00:42:00] keep it on you. It’s stuff like that. equipment, you just do your best and have a backup. Like you only gonna bring one camera that’s that’s not the right thing. You bring whatever camera you have a backup camera and then your iPhone to make sure you have all that, you know, have no hard drive space.

You know, if you’re a terabyte, depending on what camera you have, you’re going to get a lot of footage. It’s 4k. It’s going to be a lot. I have backup SD cards, borrow them. You don’t even have to buy them fully. I would say, you know, I’ve got two to one hundred and eight, twenty eight gigabytes SD cards.

And so like, you need to borrow them, go borrow them, then bring them back. and then you have other be thinking about the other hard drive space. I actually there’s actually, you can buy some recorders. I think I forgot what they’re called now, but you can buy a little device. Just plugging your SD card and automatically backs it up.

Instead of having to go into computer, pulling your hard drive, do all that kind of stuff. there are devices that do that as well. think about weather, PR weatherproofing your cameras. And if he’s going to be rain, [00:43:00] have a, have a cover for that. It’s going to work be contingent on understanding that whether you’re not going to have control over the weather.

So knowing what. Jackets. if you’re traveling internationally, check the weather daily now, just to see what it looks like, and then check last year, check what happens when you’re going to go check the year before and see what the weather is like around then, because then you’re prepared for the cold, the rain, anything that could be, that could happen. There’s a lot of that. Getting eating, eating is good, eating a lot of good food. There’s a lot of good food in a lot of places, but also know where you’re going to get sick because, and, and avoid trying to get sick too. I think I, I, I bought salmon at a raw salmon,a French outdoor market. I was like sushi.

Great. I ate a few pieces and I just. I probably shouldn’t just in case I didn’t get sick, but I, if I, I could have, and that could’ve been really bad. And I was like, I’m going to lose all my time. just not being able to enjoy France, but [00:44:00] also. Very healthily, but I did get sick in, Peru. I drank the water.

I had one, I know, but I had one of those little straw filter things that are supposed to work and it didn’t, that was a thirsty, it was a bad choice. And so,you know, just prepare for those things as well. just kind of minimize, minimize the risk. I think that’s a, that’s a good thing to have as well.

And going with, going with friends that have a buddy system, like don’t go alone. Don’t, don’t be a hero. Don’t try to do those things. Like go with a friend, go with people and know the language is great. and if you don’t know the language often, you’re doing great. You’re already starting to learn.

You’re teaching your crew the language that’s huge, but having those. Just plans in advance and pack lightly. So as much as you want to bring a lot, just in case you also don’t want to bring too much. And so even like tripods, And that’s the light, light tripod. I wouldn’t bring in, shoulder rigs, things that you can move, things that don’t need [00:45:00] power as well.

And so save your power for your batteries. So your power for your phone, your charters, let’s say you only have two outlets or what are you going to charge? If you have to charge a gimbal on top of that, and that’s a heavy thing you don’t want to. You can have other recording devices like an Atomos. You don’t have to deal with that.

The more bulk you have one it’s gonna be heavy. I mean, we have more people on your crew. That’s great. But if you can do it lightly, it’s less to keep track of the less they can get stolen and more that you can do. Keep a narrow focus on all the stuff you need, which is just a shooting, right. It’s just getting that equipment and getting your audio on your biggest things.

I don’t know what your recording audio is like. making sure you have lavalier mics, something that’s on your body thinking to scratch too much, but something that’s separated. So you’re not tethered to the camera. those things are really important. And then having a backup of those two. Whether you’re using zoom H four N or going straight, straight to camera.

making sure that that’s the audio, because if audio is 80% of [00:46:00] film, it’s like, you don’t have it. It’s not going to be good. And I’m recording all the B roll. And then when you’re there to recording to be you all that you have, and you’re already ahead of that, but, and recording B roll of sound. And when you’re getting clear audio, background noise, it’s good.

Masami Moriya: It’ll help. And to the environment, but also fix anything that’s going to be broken. So overshooting a little bit. It’s okay. All those things and, but otherwise have fun. I think that’s a big thing too. If you’re, if you’re so stressed about everything, it’s not as fun and then you’re not going to enjoy it, which then just makes the whole trip and your crew not happy because if you’re the director and producer not happy about things, it’s going to be stressful on everybody else.

So even if it’s fake, just, you know, be, be the, be the guiding light that you’re helping, helping your whole. And making sure they’re safe, they’re protected. They’re, they’re having fun, even if you’re stressed out and you put on a good face because that’s your crew is your, your people with your families, your children, and taking care of them will be the best thing, because then they will, you know, it’ll make this shoot just much, much better and better [00:47:00] experience for everybody to not only come back on your set, but just to be like family and, and good colleagues.

So that’s, that’s a few of my advices for traveling.

Lizzie Jacobs: Yeah, I think that’s great advice, honestly. I mean, Phoebe always want to. Kind of the friend, all of our crew, even going into like, as like our whole internship program, like we. ourselves on being very connected with our crew and interns. I mean, we so far, like we’ve had our cinematographer come to Boston and we’ve all hung out.

Like we said, oh yeah, we should shoot a few interviews, but like just hang out, get to know us chill. I mean, Phoebe knows some of the crew back at her, college that she transferred from. Columbia, Chicago and Cory goes there, right? Corey, and then Shalon goes there. So that’s, two of our camera people she’s hung out with them a bunch of times.

Cause we just want to make sure that we a, as a crew, his family, we’re friends, I think that’s the main focus here too, is [00:48:00] like, we just want to be comfortable with everyone and have a good time because I guess second priority first priority is educational, but second is just to have fun.

Have a good time. Create. You know, and IX expand, I guess, your network in the sense of like having those close and friendly connections, I think it’s easy to expand your network in a more professional setting, but to have those really like solid connections and say, like, we created this and we supported one another, not on like a money basis or like a career basis, but like close we’re friends, like we want to support one another.

So I think that that’s great advice.

Masami Moriya: Yeah. At the end of the day, it can be, it can be a really terrible and product, but if you had a good time onsite, it’s a good man. And I think that’s the thing that people will want. Your crew will come back. Like the prompt was whatever it was thought blockbuster, or he didn’t make any numbers. Didn’t make any awards better, really good time.

So I’ll come back right. And just like believe in each other. So that’s, that’s, that’s how I kind of run things. But great. Yeah, it was great questions. I’m glad that there’s some great advice and [00:49:00] anything I can help out within the future. Of course, you’re always welcome to reach out as well. But in the last few minutes we have here, I want you to, tell us more about where we can find the project that the crowdfunding, when you’re shooting, when you think it’s gonna be out, like tell us a little more about then as we’re wrapping up and where people can find you.

Phoebe Yung: Yeah, absolutely. I, we are definitely most active on our social media accounts, like Facebook, Instagram, and take talk. I think that the, usually. All of those is just the stolen children film. I mean, we are consistently posting about our Crow crowdfunding. our, our next crowdfunding campaign is actually I think, going up in, within like the next week, right.

Lizzie Jacobs: Yeah.

Phoebe Yung: It’s yeah, it’s coming up. and so we were on that. We’re also. We’re also fiscally sponsored by film independent as well. So we have a page with,if you want to go ahead and donate through there as well. and we have trailers up on our Instagram. Our website is just the stolen children, [00:50:00] film.com, and you can find all of, all of our blog Pederson and the kind of resources that we’ve been and then sharing with our crew to, to help educate people.

and, Yeah, I think, am I missing anything Lizzie?

Lizzie Jacobs: I mean, w we plan to, we plan the shoot, hoping that COVID is settling. hopefully this, this may in may of 2022, we’ve pushed it back twice now, but you know, there are tons of charm let’s hit let’s hope.

Masami Moriya: That’s wild. Well, yeah, well, best of luck. I can break a leg cause you know, hopefully things will be lined up and these women better shooting. Won’t be easier, but you know, plan for the worst.

Lizzie Jacobs: Absolutely.

you know, that’d be really great and I can’t wait for you to take that trip, learn, come back and tell us all the stories and then show us, cause that’s going to be the best part.

Masami Moriya: Right. well, Elizabeth Jacobs and Phoebe for young. Thank you. I got that. Right. thank you so much for being on the podcast and so excited for this project and to see where it [00:51:00] goes. So thank you.

Lizzie Jacobs: Thank you

 

Phoebe Yung: thank you so much.

 

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