Director: Melissa Johnson (MJ) and lead: Emily Tay (ET) answer a few of our questions about their AWARD WINNING documentary film NO LOOK PASS.
Saturday, June 2 @ 2:45PM NO LOOK PASS
Plays with DOL (FIRST BIRTHDAY)
Synopsis: No Look Pass follows Emily Tay, a Burmese-American Harvard women’s basketball star player who dreams of playing professionally in Europe upon graduation rather than getting an advanced degree. Tay’s multi-variant larger self (woman, Burmese, American, immigrant, gay, daughter, sister, girlfriend, etc) is given significant camera time.
For a quick clip of the film see Hawaii’s KITV4 NEWS FEATURE here.
Tell us how NLP started and your connection to Emily Tay?
MJ: I’m a 6’4” retired basketball player who fell in love with documentary films when I was 16 years old and saw Hoop Dreams.
Throughout my career on the court I wanted to tell a story about the role basketball can
play in growing up. I’m interested in how it shapes a person’s identity and what it all
means in the long run. Also, I wanted to show the world of women’s sports as I knew
it– powerful, irreverent, difficult, and fantastic amounts of fun.
I’m not gay or Burmese, but basketball sure as hell shaped me. You don’t have to scratch the surface very hard to see how my experiences on the court inform so much about the way I operate in the world. There’s a ton of overlap in directing a film — the burning sense of mission, intense camaraderie, and pure physicality of shooting cinema verite style.
NO LOOK PASS evolved out of a short film I made about my former coach at Harvard, Kathy Delaney-Smith. Emily Tay was one of a handful of players that I interviewed for ACT AS IF. She was the star of the team and Kathy thought that her perspective would be valuable for ACT AS IF. During the interview I learned about Emily’s story and immediately saw NO LOOK PASS. It was one of those bolts of lightening.
Why should Asian Americans in Hawaii: Gay and Straight see NLP?
ET: I think overall the movie is pretty entertaining. Even if people don’t really relate to the movie, they’ll be laughing at some of during the film.
What were some of the challenges in creating NLP and how did you overcome them?
MJ: There were two huge challenges in making NO LOOK PASS. First, Emily was not out to her parents in real life but very out in the film and we were all worried about how telling the story could hurt Emily or her parents. There are no neat little bows — that’s not real life. I’m so grateful that Emily chose to tell her story with me on camera — I hold that trust as sacred especially concerning the sensitivities around sexuality and family life.
The other big challenge that Angela, Emily’s girlfriend, was a soldier living in secrecy under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Angela lived in a barracks where she said that half of the people were gay but closeted for fear of getting kicked out, like so many before them. Angela had just been awarded “Soldier of the Year” in her unit and I was concerned that NO LOOK PASS could ruin her career. We had a blur effect on Angela face until two weeks before her world premiere until she said, “Forget it — enough is enough” and told me to take the blur effect off despite the
risk. Most fortunately,two days before our premiere DADT was repealed.
What is your favorite scene in NLP and why?
MJ: For laughs, I love the scene where Emily learns to drive stick shift in a tiny tin car from a German-speaking instructor overseas. What’s funnier than learning to drive stick?
Are there any scenes in NLP that make you cringe/ hehe jk and why?
ET: Watching myself during emotional scenes is difficult. It makes me relive it.
Tell us about an unexpected question that has come up in Q&A that you can never forget?
MJ: I was once asked by another very tall woman in the audience where I got my jeans!
If you were in Hawaii right now what would you be doing?
ET: If I were in Hawaii, I’d be on the beaching attempting to surf. I’d also be
munching on some delicious Hawaiian poke. nom nom nom