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Episode 200 of 239

Ep. 200 - Alice Wu

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Duration: 51:37
Host Josephine Green Zhang speaks with screenwriter-director Alice Wu (Saving Face) about her latest Netflix film, The Half of It, which explores the Asian-American/LGBTQ+ experience – something all too rare in U.S. cinema.
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Host Josephine Green Zhang speaks with screenwriter-director Alice Wu (Saving Face) about her latest Netflix film, The Half of It, which explores the Asian-American/LGBTQ+ experience – something all too rare in U.S. cinema.
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Hi. This is Josephine Green. Jiang with third and Fairfax podcast. I could say the word podcast. Um, today we have Alice Wu, who is the writer director of Netflix's new The half of it, um, went and it za about. So when the smart but cash strapped teen led to agrees to write a love letter for a jock, she doesn't expect to become his friend or fall for his crush. That was ripped straight from I m d B. But I had a chance to watch the half of it. It's a nen credible, incredible film. Um, I welcome, Alice. Thank you for for for come into the podcast, love Thio. Talk about it. No, thank you so much. Josephine. I'm so glad to get toe Spend some time with you. Uh, well, we're happy to have you here, and it's it is great that this film is coming out. Um, during Asian Pacific Heritage Month, I always like, mess up. It's a p h i. But I've heard it like you can't say p I now to like it's like there's a lot of debate over but anyways is Asian American Heritage Month is a perfect time for this to come out. So, Alice, tell us a little bit about the process of making this film How it came to be sure. Yeah, this is I'm assuming Mawr writers are listening to this than writes for the Writers Guild. Yes, this is for the right skilled. Um, just love to talk about the story exception, but also, like, we could talk a little bit about the directing process to, I think, a lot of cider. Director. No, I just want to know how far back I should go. Like if you literally want to talk about production. But since it's for writers and I will start back on the inception of the script is all I meant. Um, right, Eso so Yeah. No, I i e I mean, basically, I made another movie that came out literally 15 years ago to the month It's called Saving Face. And shortly after that, I spent, like, just a few years in Hollywood writing for hire, literally just sold a TV project to ABC when my mom actually fell, had had health issues. So I dropped everything and moved to San Francisco, which is where I am now and after a few months there. I at some point I was like, You know what? I'm leaving the industry. And, like, I really thought I'd left industry completely, And that was 10 years ago. And so it wasn't I didn't write it all for seven years. And I mentioned this because I know I just have a number of friends who are writers who, you know, I think are just incredibly talented. But then go through periods where they're like, Oh, they have to do something else happens in their life, right? And I feel a bit like saying like, Well, in a way, if if nothing else, I want to kind of say, like, Hey, guess what? My last film was 15 years ago, and I still managed to make one today. So let me be an inspiration for anyone out there who, you know, thinks Oh, I you know, I left the, you know, I left the path for a bit like, Oh, no, I've been off the path for a few years. It's all dead. Apparently not, because truly, those seven years when I wasn't writing at all, I really thought I'd left the industry on. It wasn't until a few years ago that I finally started thinking about writing again, and it was like a bunch of things happening in my life where I I just thought, I can't imagine that my sole purpose in life is to try and be someone's good daughter or someone's good girlfriend. Like surely there's something else. And that's when I finally started writing and literally in that month, Um, a old studio exact friend who always want to work together out of nowhere sends me an email saying, Hey, are you still writing? And I was like, That's super weird. I really did just start writing. And she was like, Well, I just got this job at DreamWorks Animation. I have a project. Would you pitch for it? So I end up pitching on Got, um uh, they say I got that gig and spent like a really fun eight months writing that project, but it really kind of caused me to Well, it kind of got my mojo back because I was like, Oh, I can write. Apparently I just need deadlines, right? And But when they came back with other projects to work on, I was like and I think I have never written something for myself to direct since my first project, uh, saving saving face years ago. And the idea for the half of it really had been bouncing around my head like a good eight or nine years. I just done no writing. And so I finally forced myself to sit down on board, really focus on it. And that was make 2.5 years ago. Um, and at the time, I remember thinking again, I'm writing a script. No one's going to see this. I just wrote whatever I very specifically wanted thinking, you know, I don't know what in the industry this will probably never get made, but this is almost for me to prove to myself that I still had the ability to write something entirely, Uh, like, you know, where there is no other master but myself. Um, but that thing, maybe because it's been germinating and just bouncing around in my head for so long when I really sat down to write it. I mean, there's a very well like, easily Googled story on the Internet about how I really got that first draft Britain's so I won't I don't need to repeat it here. But when I finally did write, it actually happened shockingly fast in the sense that by my second draft, is really That's the draft wind of shooting, actually, and I spent a good five months on that second draft. But that draft, I didn't know anyone in industry. But I sort of, you know, I had some old friends who have always been like, Hey, you know, want to know what you're working on. So I sent it to them and they slipped it around. And within gosh, four or five months, I had three financing possibilities, which was shocking for me because this is before our crazy, rich Asians had come out or to all the voice of love before had come out. So in my head I was like, This will take at least five years to make because I've made such a choice tohave the league be, you know, a Chinese American immigrant girl. And, like, it's not like a broad comedy. Um, but it actually, maybe because, you know, streamers had come like it's just a very different world now than it was 15 years ago. Onda within Yeah, I had. Netflix was one. I had a specialty theatrical, wanted to do it. And then I had private financing on E. I end up deciding to cough Netflix, and here we are.
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