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Filmmaker Quentin Lee.

Where did the idea for your new feature, Ethan Mao, come from?

Quentin Lee: I wanted to write something about a kid who [is kicked out of his parents' house and] goes back and robs his family. That was the basic thing that fascinated me--a character who is a teen gay Asian rebel, [because] I don't think gay teens are perceived as being incredibly rebellious,

Do you try to incorporate Asian characters into most of your films?

For both political and personal reasons. Especially when the film is very low-budget, I can afford to use Asian-American actors. Why not?

I understand that only one of the cast members is gay. Was that a challenge?

Because of the homophobic context of the world, [I can't] say which actor is gay and which actor is not. But I think that acting is a job, and gay people can act gay and straight people can act gay.

As what genre would you categorize Ethan Mao? It seems to be a mix.

It's like a psychological thriller with a drama-based plotline. It's really about a family falling apart and sort of coming back together.

What movies inspire you?

I'm really into thrillers like Basic Instinct, and I really like horror flicks because I grew up watching them in the '80s. Horror and thrillers and the darker side of stuff--everything from Carrie to Femme Fatale. I also like teenage coming-of-age movies like My Life as a Dog or something like The Outsiders--teen rebel movies. So in some way Ethan Mao was a combination of a thriller and that kind of teen rebel drama.

You've said that parts of Ethan Mao reflect your life experiences. Did you have a relationship with your parents like Ethan's?

I have a very contentious relationship with my mom, so the stepmom was sort of based on my mom. In some ways I admire my mother for being a very glamorous woman. But being her son, it's difficult to accept the fact that my mom is a pretty mean lady.

Did you ever try hustling [as Ethan does]?

Oh, it's every gay man's fantasy to be a prostitute! I have a lot of friends who hustled on the streets for fun. It's a very sad and in some ways lonely and poignant desire to want to be loved by someone who pays you money. Whether I did it or not--I shall not incriminate myself. [Laughs]

Interview by Kevin Kumala. To read the complete Q&A click on LINKS at
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Title Annotation:SHORT ANSWERSyy
Author:Kumala, Kevin
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 21, 2005
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