Filmmaker & critic Matt Zoller Seitz interviews sci-fi feature "Puzzlehead" director James Bai at The House Next Door blog. Here is one exchange from the interview:
Matt Zoller Seitz: Did you think of it as a Frankenstein movie from the beginning?
James Bai: Not at the beginning. When I was first writing it, I was actually dealing with my identity issues as a Korean-American, and wanting to reflect that dichotomy of this Americanized personality that I have, and the Korean personality that I wasn’t sure existed. In philosophizing about this, I came to the conclusion that my Korean-American identity was a creation that eventually took the place of whatever identity was there beforehand, if there was one. I didn’t want to do a James Bai, you know, biopic, a Saturday afternoon, Korean-kid-growing-up-in-America kind of thing. That felt too goofy to me. I wanted to something where I could have characters that personified these sides of me and illustrated the conflict between them. I had this image, almost kind of a dream, about a robot, and a man that looked just like him. I wrote the first act of the screenplay as part of a requirement for a writing class at Columbia graduate film school, during my second year. I actually didn’t finish it. I had an incomplete all the way through to my last semester. I had to finish it to graduate, so I did finish the first act, and then I graduated, and I was lost. Once I was out of school, I had no structure in my life. I had no idea what to do, so I went to Alaska, and I started continuing to write the screenplay, They had a great public library up there, so I read a lot of books, drank a lot of beer, smoked a lot of cigarettes, and taught myself how to play the piano at a church nearby. I was renting a room in a house, and I would play my CD in the room, memorize the music – I was learning Bach – and then I’d go to the church and try to figure out how to play it. Sometimes I’d forget as soon as I got there. It was a very laborious process, but these were the things I was doing. And it was in Alaska that I read Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”
Read the entire interview here.
"Puzzlehead" plays at Two Boots Pioneer theater in NYC from Friday, March 24 until Wednesday March 29.