Brian Yang is an Asian-American filmmaker and actor. He and Evan Jackson Leong made “Linsanity,” a film about the NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin. “Linsanity” is featured on the X1 International destination this month in the “New York, New York” collection under “Featured.”
How did you get into filmmaking?
Brian Yang: I started as an actor in the business. I fell into it in college when they were hiring background for “The Joy Luck Club.” That was filmed on the [University of California, Berkeley] campus. I really wanted to make a difference as an Asian-American in this business. Then, in front of the camera, and now, both in front and behind it.
What are some of your favorite films, or filmmakers who have inspired you?
B.Y.: Wayne Wang, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai. I grew up during a time when these storytellers were just getting their careers going. Films like “Eat a Bowl of Tea,” “Eat Drink Man Woman” and “In the Mood for Love” had a profound effect on me.
Do you have a favorite Asian-American film?
B.Y.: “Saving Face.” I’m probably biased because I’m in it, but when I objectively look at the canon of Asian-American films, “Saving Face” is really one of the best ones ever made.
How does your Asian heritage influence your work?
B.Y.: It is the foundation of everything I do. I chose this path because I wanted to help tell stories that put Asian characters, culture and voice onto the screen. Our presence has been so traditionally marginalized or invisible, I’ve always felt like it is my duty to do what I can to change that.
What is your outlook on the state of Asian-American cinema?
B.Y.: This is a tough question. I think Asian- American cinema as we know it needs to evolve. Films with an all-Asian cast or that tell a very specific Asian-American story usually aren’t able to secure necessary budgets or have the audience to support it from a financial standpoint. At the end of the day, this is show business and in order to keep running a business, you have to be profitable. The numbers haven’t been there, but that is in part because we haven’t been telling stories that resonate with wider audiences, and because we don’t have “bankable” actors that attract audiences.
Check out all of the CAAM curated films on the X1 International destination this month.
For more Asian-American news and entertainment visit XFINITY Asia and look out for more Filmmaker Spotlights on the blog each month.