[INTERVIEW] Vera Miao on Making Her Own Movie

There is a lot of attention on diversity and representation in film and casting these days. In heterogeneous countries like the United States, it is especially prevalent. Countless arguments float around the internet explaining why representation is so important to marginalized communities. Yet those unaffected still seem unable to understand. Common rebuttals to these arguments are audiences won’t be able to relate or that they won’t support the film. When these are proven false, the default response is “Make your own movies.” Stage13, a division of Warner Brothers Television, decided to give Vera Miao, an Asian-American film director, the chance to do just that. Through Stage13, Vera proves the power of diversity in front and behind the camera. She shared her journey with us and what it means to her to make her own movie.

How It All Began

The road to Two Sentence Horror Stories began when Vera left the comforts of a 9 to 5 day job for the unpredictability of acting. A few years later, she found herself on the set of a television show reading over a script. As she sat alone in a trailer, she realized that she was still not fulfilling the purpose she’d originally set when she took this leap. Having previously served as an Executive Director of a non-profit organization for social justice, Vera had intended to use acting and storytelling as a means of continuing that work. Yet, here she was about to play an uninspiring character in an equally uninspiring story. The time for transition had come again. She mustered up her strength and took the plunge.

The years thereafter, Vera faced challenges and obstacles expected when becoming a writer and filmmaker. Being an Asian woman of smaller build and youthful appearance, her peers sometimes didn’t take her seriously. Some even flat out denied her ability to grasp the complexities of film making, let alone manage the heavy work load.  The constant criticisms and unwarranted doubts were burdensome, to say the least. So, Vera drew upon her personal interests in art, movies, and creativity to build and rebuild her strength. She engaged in her community and drew inspiration from around her. She shared her joys and woes with her family, friends and loved ones so as to lift the weight when it became too heavy and to enjoy the thrill during moments of celebration.

Vera continued to press on towards her goals until 2015 when Stage13 announced a project targeting diverse filmmakers and stories.

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Making Her Own Movie

Vera had an idea to use a horror anthology series to tackle contemporary social issues. She pitched it to Stage13 but insisted on remaining true to her purpose. Stage13 genuinely supported Vera and worked closely with her to deliver the story using images that truly represented her ideas. They were the perfect median for her to continue her activist work through storytelling. She now had the freedom to write, executive produce and direct a film that concentrated on people of color, queer people and is a true representation behind and in front of the camera.

With fewer restrictions, her creative process broke free of conventionality. Two Sentence Horror Stories burns through surface fears induced by typical horror movies. It reveals some brutal truths plaguing society today. It is the discomfort in those truths that are absolutely haunting. For Vera, this was the base of her storytelling. She could explore the complexities of those discomforts and challenge their existence without having to reduce the characters to shallow beings. In the end, she told her story her way.

Vera’s advice to those who are currently in their own transition is to not spend too much time thinking about the obstacles and the doubters. Don’t wait for permission.

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Moment of Truth

On April 29, 2017, Two Sentence Horror Stories was presented at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It was the moment of truth that Vera and Stage13 could proudly display the results of their hard work. More importantly, it is the moment of truth for us, the audience, to prove to the nay-sayers that we can, will and want to support films about, starring and created by women, people of color and/or LGBT people. It is time to reply to those old, worn out rebuttals with action. Support Two Sentence Horror Stories at Tribeca Film Festival and after public release. Vera deserves our support not because she is a part of a marginalized group, but because her work is phenomenal. She, along with Stage13 and the fantastic team behind Two Sentence Horror Stories, have proven that there is no monopoly on talent and creativity. We, the audience, are the losers when irrelevant barriers such as race, gender or sexual orientation prevent us from experiencing work from people like Vera.

MACG Magazine was born of a love for music, art, and creativity. We believe that these affections are shared around the world. This is our strongest connection to those oceans apart or mere words away. It is through these avenues that we can uplift and celebrate one another. Join us in elevating Vera Miao’s Two Sentence Horror Stories as we proudly support her, Stage13 and others who are doing all they can to make their own…

Tribeca poster

 

 

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