Pete Lee’s Bold Filmmaking Traverses Genres
The Taiwanese-born director and lifelong kung-fu aficionado has worked on martial arts shorts, music videos and a Sundance-selected heist film, 'Don't Be A Hero'.
- Keep pushing!
- Keep pushing, guys! Keep it up!
- Rack focus!
That timing was amazing. The supernova,
that's when you hit that.
That looks amazing.
There's just something about the energy on set,
something about having this impossible task.
That is very energizing to me.
I grew up in Taipei, Taiwan, until I was about a teenager,
and then I moved to the States.
I was in the suburbs of Boston, where I thought
that was what America looked like,
and I think that was actually a bigger culture shock,
when we moved from the city to a suburban landscape.
I felt fairly alone when I first came to the States.
My were parents were very, very strict,
and I was just not really allowed to interact
with kids outside of school.
Most of the movies that I grew up with
were kind of Hong Kong movies.
I was obsessed with that.
I was not allowed to really watch any of those movies,
cause I could go to a noodle stand, I'd tell my dad
I was getting noodles, and I would just sit there
for forty-five minutes, watching something.
And then, in about high school,
I had a cousin who somehow came
across this DVD called "Jackie Chan: My Stunts,"
and it kinda changed my life.
And I went to film school, and I realized
there was a whole community of kids
from all over the world who all grew up
with that DVD, and a lot of them ended up moving
to San Francisco.
After college, I made my way out here
to hang out with these kids, to make things together.
Take a sip, Meklit.
I've been in the Bay Area for twelve years coming
on thirteen years.
I saw a lot of overlap between the sense of community
that the Bay Area fosters with
just the nature of filmmaking in general.
You rely on a group of people with very different skill sets
and most likely come from really different backgrounds,
and they all have to teach each other something.
But I also do feel like, as a industry,
there's a big disconnect with the people
who are commissioning the work.
One of the reasons I joined Scandinavia,
this group that was founded by maybe four or five kids,
one of the reasons was to create a hub
that encourages filmmaking.
That'd take a little more risks.
One of my best friends, Ben, was working on music videos
at the time. Through him,
I met a lot of also really great music video directors,
so that just seemed like the first step
if you wanted to be a filmmaker.
And now I hope that I've passed that test.
- I've got a story for you!
- So I made a short film called "Don't Be a Hero"
about a middle-aged woman who deals with her loneliness
by pretending to be a cowboy to rob banks
on her lunch break.
Maybe the thing that my character, Lizzie Jo, and I have
in common is sometimes we feel more like a character
when you're not doing what you love the most.
Once I'm on set, I feel like I'm a director.
I frequently hear, "you end up going to work for the people
around you," and I definitely feel that way
The people that you're around,
everyone is invested and sacrifices a lot to be there,
so it makes you want to do everything for them.
I'm at my best when I'm in the company of other people.
I feel like having people around grounds me
and holds me accountable.
Alright, let's do it!
- Nice and quiet, folks!
Here we go.
- Can we just clear back there?
- No, that's Brian. He's there to help Brock.
- Okay. Here we go. Alright, is everybody in place?
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