Timing is everything. The first time I met actor/writer/director Justin Chon was the first time, I covered the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in 2015. I was interviewing about a dozen filmmakers and in between interviews, Justin introduced himself to me…meaning he was not one of my scheduled interviews. We began talking about his first directorial feature, Man Up. It was a crazy high-school comedy starring himself and YouTube star Kev Jumba (Kevin Wu)…a very silly film.
The next time was interviewing Justin about his second film Gook, loosely based on his family’s experience during the L.A. Riots. The award-winning Gook was a huge jump from Man Up. And with this third feature, Ms. Purple, I saw another evolutionary leap in his storytelling and directing skills.
Ms. Purple is the story of sister and brother, Kasie (Tiffany Chu) and Carey (Teddy Lee), both born and raised in Los Angeles Koreatown. With their father on his death bed, the estranged Carey comes home to help his sister care for him and stirs up a lot of familial issues.
I spoke with Justin Chon about his growth as a filmmaker and the challenges of making Ms. Purple.
“…without going through those motions, you can’t practice to get better…”
I’ve covered your first two films (Man Up! and Gook), and now we’re on your third one. We did review your film back at Sundance.
Justin Chon: Oh, nice.
We gave it a really great review.
Yeah, you did. You guys did, yeah, yeah.
I loved it a lot. Ms. Purple is a long distance away from your first feature, Man Up.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because that was the trial run kind of, you know? But man, I learned so much from that film. And without going through those motions, you can’t practice to get better.
Exactly. That’s the thing is you can’t become a great filmmaker until you start making films.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you got to make a bunch of bad ones too.