I think there are just some projects that you do in life where all the stars are aligned and the vision for what is created is not only shared by you but by a whole community. This was one of those projects that I will be proud of for the rest of my life.
Lovely to Me (Immigrant Mother) was a reminder to me of the power of the creative process and that the art of filmmaking at its core and at its very best thrives in a community based process.
This was a key core value to our process. Whenever I talked to Taiyo he would always say, “This is not about me. It’s about the community.”
Working with community can be challenging but I have been doing it for a very long time and I know that part of making a successful process is by having a simple structure that is engaging and where you listen more than you speak and where you can foster and encourage individual voices.
One of the things that we did is we gave an HD camera to individual community members from the Asian Arts Initiative so that they could film their own moms and grandmas from their own point of view as a son or daughter. My direction was simple. Just be. Be with your mom. Be with your grandmother. Film the moment as it is happening. Nothing is too small or mundane. Just be present and real and let the camera and your creativity peel away the layers within.
In the process, these filmmakers with very little training revealed their own moms and grandmas as they truly are showing their love, their strength, their weariness, their laughter, and vulnerability. Nothing was sugar coated. This was the real deal.
The “mom” footage became part of the backbone that has made Lovely to Me (Immigrant Mother) a special kind of music video. A music video with heart.
Lovely to Me (Immigrant Mother) has had more than 17,000 viewers with postings on many community blogs and has been very well received at the Los Angles Asian Pacific Film Festival and DisOrient Film Festival in Eugene, Oregon. We have been floored and moved by the response as it continues to garner attention.
It had always been my hope to create a variation of the music video as a short film version and to get it in time for Mothers Day.
Back in the day, when you would go to your mom and pop record shop and purchase a new single sometimes you would have a b-side with a different cut of the song. I always found little surprises and often times found new meaning from the song with the new variation of that single. In some small way I hope that you can find the Mothers Day version of Lovely to Me (Immigrant Mother) as a variation on that theme. It’s an experiment to fuse documentary and music video together as short film. I had always wanted to figure a way to make it work and I think after months of trying and then giving up I finally found something that I’m really proud of. I think this is a start in the right direction in what I hope will be an exciting ongoing exploration of this form.
The initial release of the music video fell on the Thanksgiving holiday and I only thought it was appropriate to book end that with the final short film release of the Mothers Day version of Lovely to Me (Immigrant Mother). (We are a little late of course. But its coming to you Filipino Time!)
I want to give my whole hearted love and thanks to Taiyo Na for taking a chance on me and letting this song touch the lives of so many people from our neighborhoods to the world wide web. I want to give a special shout out to our producer David Lin who has been a long time friend and collaborator from the Peeling the Banana years in NYC and has helped greatly to make this project a reality. I want to also honor and thank Gayle Isa and the Asian Arts Initiative community who have really been the core inspiration and the visual voice for this beautiful song.
Happy belated Mothers Day! May we always honor our mothers each and everyday!
With that I say, “Love you Mom!” And enjoy the Mothers Day version of Lovely to Me (Immigrant Mother).