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Interview with Eric Byler

Discover the Passions That is Behind
The Creation of the film "Charlotte Sometimes"

Part 1 of 6 Pages


"the films that speak to me are usually about people rather than events. As a viewer, I hate the feeling that the characters are secondary to events, or, worse, that their thoughts and motivations are being manipulated to maximize dramatic effect. I prefer the feeling that the characters were already there, existing, long before the events began--in this way, their story is interesting to me simply because I believe in their humanity."

"Charlotte Sometimes is a film about people who hide more than they show."

"American directors have less freedom right now. Our films are usually business ventures before all else. Surprises can be risky in that way."

"it's not success that dulls the edge. It's the loss of creative control. For better or for worse, I made every creative decision on Charlotte Sometimes because my family paid for it. I may never have that authority again. If I'm going to keep that edge, I'll have to fight for it. "

Note: "Charlotte Sometimes was made on a budget of twenty thousand ($20,000) dollars.


: Could you share a brief sketch of your racial background?

ERIC BYLER: My Mother (Donna) is Chinese. My Father (Charles) is German, English, and Dutch. They are both 4th generation Americans. They grew up on the same street, were best friends since age 9 and started dating in college.

US ASIANS: Did your bi-racial background provide unique experiences (good or bad) that ingrained within you a perspective that would differ from that of most Asian/Asian Pacific American artists, and even most Americans?

ERIC BYLER: My ethnicity is a defining characteristic for me. Just as an example, I used to get into fights at school with Caucasian kids tugging at their eyes, calling me “chink.” When we moved to Hawai’i, I was at odds with Asian/Pacific kids for the exact opposite infraction: for being “Haole.”

Like anyone else, my first desire was to fit in. But I gave up on this idea at a very young age. Rather than trying to fit in, I tried not to. I learned to take pride in being different.

If the thing that isolates you is something you can never change, you have no choice but to form an individual identity. I guess a unique perspective comes with the territory.

US ASIANS: Did your bi-racial (HAPA) background play an important factor in prompting you becoming a director/writer?

ERIC BYLER: I’d say yes. For whatever the reason (race, gender, sexual orientation, or just plain weirdness), almost any artist will admit to feelings of isolation.

You’re not like the people you know, you’re something else, and life is a game where you try to define it before they do. Art is one way to do that.

Being Hapa certainly contributed, but there were a lot of things that separated me, not just that.

US ASIANS: What other things separated you from other people?

ERIC BYLER: I’m still trying to sort that out.

US ASIANS: What roles have your parents played in the development of your artistry?

ERIC BYLER: My parents were the perfect parents for an artist. They nurtured my creativity, and never tried to indoctrinate me with absolutes. When I asked about God, for instance, my mother would begin with “some people believe.”

They have always encouraged me to choose a career that I’d enjoy.

US ASIANS: How supportive has your sister been of your career?

ERIC BYLER: My sister’s (Monica) been supportive, but she’s my little sister.

She’s the one who deserves support. She’s a Federal Agent in the State Department stationed at one of our embassies.

US ASIANS: In light of the current state of world affairs, has your sister's occupation and responsibilities provided additional resolve to fulfill your goals in any aspect(s) of your life?

ERIC BYLER: My sister and my father are both in Federal law enforcement. But the current state of the world affects us all. Actually, I think recent events make it harder to focus on personal goals.

US ASIANS: Are any of your family members involved and/or passionate about the entertainment industry?

ERIC BYLER: When I was growing up, none of us were crazy about the movies. We used to watch “St. Elsewhere” as a family, but my dad and I were more likely to watch a ballgame together.

Yesterday, my dad told me that there’s nothing worth watching on television other than the news. But he’s like me. He likes to write. We’re actually writing something together. Of course, my family is more interested in the industry now because of me.

US ASIANS: Did your experiences in Hawaii (with its multi-cultural and multi-racial tapestries) influenced the stories you want to tell?

ERIC BYLER: Yes. Hawai’i is where I learned to take pride in being Asian. I’m glad that experience came early in life, because on the mainland, I’d been made to feel ashamed of it. I think if I’d embraced my Asian identity later, in college for instance, I wouldn’t have come by it as naturally. I might tell stories that ignore my Asian identity, or stories that ignore everything else.

US ASIANS: Did an environment where Asian Pacific Island communities are very local and don't have a "minority community complex" provide many character/heritage benefits?

ERIC BYLER: Yes, Hawai’i is a great place to grow up. My favorite thing about the Islands has always been the people who live there.

US ASIANS: What activites did you participate in to help locate and feel secure in your own unique identity both personally and creatively? What did you do to feel comfortable in your own skin?

ERIC BYLER: I did everything - sports, music, writing, visual arts - even my homework.



US ASIANS: Could you share what other projects you've completed in the past?

ERIC BYLER: I made a short film while I was at Wesleyan called “Kenji’s Faith.” It was a small student project, but it won a lot of awards and nominations.

I also directed a stage production, Philip W. Chung’s “Laughter, Joy & Loneliness & Sex & Sex & Sex & Sex” for the Lodestone Theater Ensemble, an Asian American theater company in Los Angeles.

US ASIANS: What projects are in your future plans?

ERIC BYLER: I’m directing the film, “American Knees,” based on the novel by Shawn Wong.

I’m also attached to direct two projects set in Hawai’i.

US ASIANS: What type of projects would you like to be working on within the next three to five years?

ERIC BYLER: Making movies is fun.

I’ll do any kind of film as long as I’m interested in the people and the story.

US ASIANS: What kind of people and/or stories are of special interest at this time?

ERIC BYLER: Right now the projects I’m involved with are character driven pieces focusing on Asian Pacific Americans. “Kealoha: The Beloved” is a coming of age story based on my youth in Hawai’i. “The Tatoo” is a Hawai’i film noir with shootouts and murders. I’m looking forward to bringing my own touch to an action film or a thriller.

US ASIANS: What actor would you like to work with in the future?

ERIC BYLER: I never think of actors until I know the role.


Click HERE to continue
To read about Eric's views on other subjects, click on the topics listed below
    Part 1: Background Information (Family, Personal and Entertainment)    
  Part 2: Entertainment community support, Film reviews, Opening Dates
  Part 3: Casting of the film, Michael Idemoto Profile, Plot, Working with the actors
  Part 4: Asian Pacific American Factors, Jacqueline Kim & Eugenia Yuan's Profiles
  Part 5: Community support, APA role models, Purpose of the arts
  Part 6: Film Reviews and Nominations



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