DATE : 28TH OF JANUARY 2021
Julian Doan is a young upcoming Film Maker who is making rounds with his recent Sundance Entry titled as Raspberry. It’s a short film which takes a look upon death and is told from a very personal experience in Doan’s life. Julian speaks about Raspberry’s Making and what he has in store for his future with The Movie Culture.
Hi, The Movie Culture is great to be talking to you about Raspberry. How are you doing?
Julian Doan: I’m over the moon – Sundance is starting. I took the week off work. I cannot wait to catch all these exciting films and to share Raspberry with an audience!
Q. Raspberry is such a surreal concept, the way it depicts death. Could you tell us about what happened behind the scenes which led you to make Raspberry?
Julian Doan: I’m glad you say that – death IS surreal. My dad passed away 3 years ago and my family and I watched him pass away one morning. Watching someone die in real time is pretty indescribable and I think it was just something that translated better to film than explaining it with words.
Q. You chose Korean as the primary language here and given the story I think it benefited from the choice. What led you to make this choice given you are catering the film for a largely English speaking audience?
Julian Doan: I am a 2nd generation Asian-American and it was important to capture the bilingual nature of that kind of household, which can lead to lots of misunderstandings and dissonance. For this film, it really accentuates the idea that everyone grieves in different ways, and whether acceptance of those differences crosses generational or cultural lines.
With Raspberry, Raymond Lee signed on first and we cast around him, so it made sense for them to be a Korean family, even though I am Vietnamese. It wasn’t so important that they had to be Vietnamese specifically, but them being Asian-American in general is very key. There’s something very absurd about these white folks who are forced to keep a straight face through whatever forms of grieving this family chooses to use, no matter how strange it might seem to them. So there’s an element of total cultural ignorance that elevates the awkward comedy of it all.
Q. Raspberry is a very personal story for you and you have certainly left your impression on the story. As the one making the story, how cathartic did you find it?
Julian Doan: It’s been a really transformative process, one that has evolved from when I was writing, to shooting, to locking the edit, and now premiering it at Sundance. I think all of this process has been my way of keeping his spirit alive. But it’s also made me grapple with the thought that using my father’s death as the basis for creative expression might be changing my relationship with him, as if he’s more of an abstract idea or topic rather than a human I loved. I think I still have some exploring to do with that.
Q. You are a young upcoming talent. Would you entertain a possibility of directing a Tentpole blockbuster? If yes, which one?
Julian Doan: If Marvel was down to make a film where we didn’t move the camera and characters barely spoke, sure! Just kidding… but for real, Avengers: Endgame was a real game changer for me. There is a character death that just was so wonderfully handled; it was so realistic it brought back a ton of memories of my father at the very end of his life. I already liked the Marvel movies for the focus on character amidst all the action, but the handling of this death scene really just cemented it for me. I’d love to do that combination of heart and action, not to mention the comedy!
Q. As a Young Director, what do you think about Critical evaluation? How do you improve your work?
Julian Doan: I try to leave every project with a list of things I think I could’ve done better. To be honest much of my time in prep for Raspberry was thinking back on things I felt I handled poorly in the past or areas I really needed to improve on. I was driven by the goal of not letting anybody down. I don’t know… criticism can sting in the moment but I always try to come away feeling equipped to be better in the future.
Q. Raspberry and the way it’s shot. It’s also something that sticks with me even after having watched it. Could you tell us how you managed Story telling from the visual choices you made?
Julian Doan: I need to tip my hat to our amazing director of photography, Geoff George. His brain was so in tune with what I wanted to achieve and we had a lot of crossover in terms of inspiration. We really looked at a lot of austere, quiet, minimalist or formalist European cinema (Haneke, Ostlund, and Lanthimos). We only shot singles for the Son and the Father, shooting the rest of the characters in group shots. With the limited amount of characters, we felt the Academy ratio would really focus on them when it needed to be emotional, and give us room to present that cold isolation that you might feel going through a situation like this. We really wanted to hone in on a really sterile and grounded look, and let some humor arise out of that.
Q. From here onwards, what do you wanna do next?
Julian Doan: I’ve been writing a feature about the same topics of Raspberry – a family going through paternal loss, cultural divides between generations, and how different ways of grieving can clash. Raspberry is 90% lifted from this script. Overall, I just want to make films that challenge viewers to see something in a new light, and that foster conversation. That would be the biggest reward.
Q. This is The Movie Culture staple, as we based in India. We want to know are you big on International content or have you watched anything from Bollywood?
Julian Doan: I love international films! I think they give you such interesting windows into other cultures and areas of the planet. I must admit I have not seen much from Bollywood… I did however just purchase The Apu Trilogy on Criterion Collection. I’m looking forward to watching those when I have some free time.
Q. We often ask Talents for advice but to shake things up, would you like to tell us the best piece of advice you ever received?
Julian Doan: Oh, good question! I’ve worked with so many talented people who have given so much great advice I don’t know where to begin. I think someone told me “find your champions” and I think that’s pretty solid advice – find the people who resonate with your work and they will naturally be driven to help you succeed.
Q. Where can we find Raspberry? Please let our readers know about it.
Julian Doan: Well, it’s playing at a little festival you might’ve heard of – Sundance 2021! We are playing in Shorts Program 2, with some other really wonderful shorts from across the globe.
With this we would like to wrap up with the interview questions. The Movie Culture would indeed like to thank you for agreeing to this wonderful interview.
The Movie Culture Synopsis
Julian Doan definitely has put his life’s experience in the foreground when it comes to Raspberry. He even has many other feature planned in the lines of this short film. And if Kevin Feige is listening, Down is down to make a Marvel Movie in his own style.
Raspberry Short Film is a Sundance Title and watch The Movie Culture space for more information on the short.