Jane Chow ’19 most recent short “Sorry for the Inconvenience,” won Frieze Los Angeles’ first-ever audience award as voted for by the public. The short film follows a lonely teenager in Los Angeles’ Chinatown as she tries to help her parents keep their seafood restaurant afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We caught up with the writer/director to find out more about the inspiration behind the film and her ongoing collaborations with fellow alumni – her crew included SFTV alumni Peter Rafe, Oscar Martinez, Enyi Zhu, and Jasper Qiu. Check out what she had to say and watch “Sorry for the Inconvenience” here on NoBudge.
Tell us a bit more about how “Sorry for the Inconvenience” came to be. What was the initial spark and what do you think draws people to it?
“Sorry for the Inconvenience” was created as part of a fellowship under Endeavor Content, Ghetto Film School, Deutsche Bank, and Frieze. The prompt was to create a film about Los Angeles and its relationship to the ocean, and I interpreted this through my perspective as an outsider to the city as well as my relationship to LA Chinatown. As someone who grew up in Hong Kong and moved to America without family or citizenship, I’ve always found a home in Chinatown, getting to know the people who came before me. But over the past year and a half, the Chinatown community has faced a lot of hardship, especially because of racism surrounding COVID-19. On top of that, developers have been gentrifying the neighborhood for years, pushing out legacy businesses and low-income residents. With this film, I wanted to humanize the families behind these small businesses and show their fight to stay afloat.
Your crew featured a few familiar faces, was the transition from working together as classmates to working together as professionals difficult? Easy?
It was a pretty seamless transition because we had already collaborated on several projects inside and outside of school. Peter and I have worked together on every single project I’ve directed since 2018, from short films and web series to music videos and commercials. Oscar shot my LMU senior thesis film and also worked on a web series I made with Peter outside of school, while Enyi and I both worked as editors at ViacomCBS after graduating. This film was my first time working with Jasper, although Oscar and Enyi had worked with him before. There was already a sense of trust between all of us, so working together felt natural.
What is the plan from here? More festivals, new projects, or both?
We’re in the process of submitting to more festivals. So far, we’ve been accepted into the Oscar-qualifying LA Shorts International Film Festival as well as Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival. We’ve also had the privilege to be featured on curated shorts platforms like NoBudge, Girls in Film, and Beyond the Short. We’re excited to share the film with more audiences online and hopefully in person too. Aside from that, I’m working on writing my next script, and hope to continue uplifting the stories of the Hong Kong diaspora through my work.
Top image: portrait of Jane Chow; Still from “Sorry for the Inconvenience” / Insert Image: Still from “Sorry for the Inconvenience”