Every UCLA graduate film student—to this day—still has to do their pre-410 exercise, a 2-minute short film that you have to make on 16mm in 6 hours. Fresh off a Deconstruction and experimental video background, I made this experimental short “Hysterio Passio” that required my Christian DP Scott Walker to photograph my penis in close-up. “Hysterio Passio” became part of Flow, an experimental feature compilation of my UCLA short films that will screen at the Hammer museum this Saturday evening at UCLA along with my second feature Drift.
In the mood of a retrospective, I am also thinking about ten films that have influenced me as a filmmaker in no particular order.
As a teenager, I heard about Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead for a long time but it wasn’t until my trip to Tokyo that I was able to purchase a copy on VHS. I loved that film so much that I kept watching it, re-watching it and showing it to friends. I still have that VHS copy on my shelf!
As a teenager, I saw Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander in the theater at least five times when it was shown in Hong Kong. It really inspired me and I thought I would eventually make a movie like that.
David Cronenberg’s Videodrome blew my mind. It remains one of my favorite films from my favorite director.
When I first saw Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon in my film history class at Berkeley, it completely took my breath away and got me interested in experimental cinema.
It took me years to hunt Carrie down after my parents’ refusal to take me to the theater to see it when I was a kid. I fell in love with Brian De Palma as soon as I saw Carrie. The prom sequence is simply one of the best executed sequences in cinema.
Chungking Express is still my favorite Wong Kar Wai movie. It’s emotional, beautiful and fun. It has inspired me because I realized that a movie should be both well made, meaningful and fun.
David Lynch’s Blue Velvet is another movie that I’ve watched over and over again. It’s beautiful, perverse, dark and eternally cinematic.
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo is a movie that I admire and love but it’s also the hardest movie for me to sit through. I own the Criterion version but I have only seen the movie maybe two or three times in its entirety. Yet certain frames and scenes of the movie have been eternally imprinted in my mind. It’s possibly the most challenging film I’ve ever seen that fuses beauty and cruelty so perfectly. No, it’s not a fun movie. But it’s brilliant.
Dario Argento’s Deep Red remains an amazing piece of horror cinema that fuses a supernatural atmosphere with the detective slasher genre that I cannot get out of my mind.
Ken Russell’s Altered States is another transcending movie that uses fear to illustrate our humanity. It has shown me how boundless horror cinema can be.