Emerging filmmaker Hyun Lee reflects on her Asian-Australian experience
Born in Sydney to Korean parents, emerging filmmaker Hyun Lee identifies as Asian-Australian and is starting to learn Korean.
“A lot of Asian people living in Western countries do tend to get lumped by their appearance into that big group of Asians,” Hyun tells IF.
“My experience of being Australian is a version of being Australian that many people can relate to and some other Australians may not relate to.”
Lee is writing and will direct one episode of MASC, a seven-part online anthology which will give female and non-binary perspectives on contemporary masculinity, with development funding from Screen Australia.
Each segment will focus on a different man at his particular stage of life. Hers will centre on a group of Asian men who gather at a skate park, one of whom has a broken leg and a broken heart and is miserable. She likens the tone to a “stoner film without the weed.”
Her co-collaborators are Laura Nagy and Madeleine Gottlieb, who created the concept, Renée Marie Petropoulos, Imogen McCluskey, Shari Sebbens and Cloudy Rhodes.
Hyun met Laura in 2016 when they were among the recipients of Screen NSW’s Generator: Emerging Filmmakers Fund, which financed three short films.
Lee’s Asian Girls followed a Chinese girl (Rainbow Chan) who lives alone in her apartment and is haunted by nightmares and the Japanese office lady who lives next door.
The film had its world premiere in the Midnight Shorts program at SXSW, which she says was a life-changing experience. One spin-off was being hired by New Zealand-based Curious Film to direct TVCs.
She is developing the short, made primarily as a proof-of-concept which relied more on images and sound design than narrative, into a feature with Curious Film’s producer Matt Noonan.
Her debut short French Girls followed a fashion model (Kirsty McKenzie) who never wanted that career but fell into it because of her beauty. That stemmed from her first job as a photographer in the fashion world. She also hopes to develop that short into a feature.
She studied film and digital art at a Sydney art school for two years before embarking on short films, tapping into her experience on photo shoots.
While her shorts and MASC ep all feature Asian characters, she says: “I don’t set out to wave the Asian girl flag but it’s natural for people to make stories in which they see themselves reflected. It’s not a big political statement.”