Getting ready to bulldoze. Photo by Han Wang.
The always-entertaining Samantha Chanse interviewed me yesterday for the Kearny Street Workshop blog. And by interviewed, I mean she sent me a questionnaire over email. (This, of course, is not an interview. Interview to me means in person or over the phone, as many a Hyphen staffer has probably heard me say. But “interviewed” sounded so much better than saying “she questioned me,” which sounds like I did something inappropriate. And I have done no such thing! Not yesterday, anyway.)
But I digress.
Sam’s inquiring mind wanted to know about the making of Bulldozer, the awesomeness of cafeterias, and just what, exactly, is the meaning of Fluffysharp.
Update: Full text of Q&A posted below
20 Questions with Melissa Hung
By Samantha Chanse
I sent a last minute questionnaire to writer, editor, curator, and filmmaker Melissa Hung in an attempt to create sort of profile of one of the Laundry Party Public artists on the day of LP Public (ahem: today, Tuesday, July 6). She was kind enough to respond.
What follows is the last-minute Q&A exchange, in all its nearly-unedited glory:
SC: Question 1. Hi. How are you?
MH: I’m doing alright this morning. One unusual thing that’s happened so far today is that I got a phone message from Trader Joe’s letting me know that I had won a gift card for using my own tote bag in the store. However, the caller didn’t indicate which Trader Joe’s she worked at, so I’m not sure which store has my prize, so there’s excitement and mystery at the same time.
[Sam’s insertion after seeing the response — “wah! cool! that is a very auspicious way to start the day; I think it bodes well for Laundry Party tonight”]
Question 2. Sorry, that was a dumb question. I was nervous. Plus, it is morning and I haven’t had coffee yet. Have you had coffee?
MH: Oh yes. Most definitely. I had a large coffee this morning. I’m pretty useless without coffee.
Q3. It seems coffee is important to you. I was reading your new website.
Q4. Oh, that wasn’t a question. Sorry. What is a fluffysharp? And why fluffysharp? [I am also curious, in asking, what a fluffysharp visitor can find when visiting.]
MH: FluffySharp is a description I came up with while describing a bird one day. Because MelissaHung was already taken as a user name on Twitter, I started to use FluffySharp. (Apparently it is unique enough that no one else in the world with Internet access has been using it.) Where there is FluffySharp, be it YouTube or Flickr or FluffySharp.com, is where I’m sharing my personal creative endeavors.
Q5. You identify primarily as a writer, editor, and curator. Are you currently, or have you been recently, writing, editing, and/or curating anything of particular exciting-ness to you that you can share with the Gentle Readers?
MH: In May I was in Houston for the 10th anniversary of Slant, which is a shorts film festival I’ve been curating for years. This year, I curated some performances in addition to films. You can find out about it here: http://slantfestival.org/
Question 6. I first heard you reading your work at Locus some years ago, back when Locus was not part of KSW, and Locus was located at Ye Olde 1640 Post location in J-Town. You were reading a piece that had been in an anthology, I think – what was that piece, and can People Interested in Melissa Hung’s Work find it somewhere?
Q7. In my memory, that piece involved material for a mature audience. But maybe that’s because, in my relatively younger mind when hearing it, most material I encountered seemed directed toward an audience more mature than me. What do you think? Agree/Disagree?
MH: OK, fine, I’ll talk about it. In the olden days you are referring to, I had just moved to California from Texas, where I was a part of an all-women reading series that wrote erotica. I wrote this silly story about an erotic maid cleaning service, which was really a story about stereotypes of Asian women. It was published in an anthology and we went on a fun little tour for the book. There was even a filming for some HBO pilot of a reality-docu-esque show (back in the days before there was reality TV), though I think nothing became of it. That’s the piece you heard at Locus. I’m a little reluctant to talk about it now, not because I wrote erotica, but because sometimes you are not so fond of work that you created a long time ago.
[Sam’s insertion: “thanks for talking about it in spite of reluctance.”]
Q8: You’re new to filmmaking, but you’ve already won a major competition and had your film screened at a major international film festival. That’s fucked up.
Q9: Oh, that wasn’t a question either. I meant “fucked up” in a good way — like, in a congratulations sort of way. Although, have you had to deal with any haters?
MH: No one has hated to my face, so no.
[Yay. That is good news.]
Q10. I am being serious, though, congratulations on the festival, and I love the Bulldozer video (and I love The Invisible Cities! Two things people love, combined!) How’d you come up with the idea for the video, and how’d you pick that song?
MH: Sadie saw a one-minute film I made and asked me to direct a music video for The Invisible Cities to enter in the Locus DIY Music Video Contest. They gave me a few songs as possibilities, and I liked the feel of “Bulldozer.” I also knew I wanted to make a stop-motion video, so the song couldn’t be too long given our time constraints (we had about a month to make the video). While listening to the song, I saw these toys dancing in my head, so that’s how it all started. I think Han had the idea to put a bulldozer in the video as a character. And I felt the characters had to overcome an obstacle, so I came up with the basic narrative of the characters going to the beach only to find it closed. We got together one afternoon to come up with more details and storyboard the video on index cards, which you can see here. (It probably doesn’t make any sense to most people, and, yes, that is a roast chicken as a character in the original sketches.)
Q11. I remember seeing a different stop motion piece you did, at a Laundry Party last year (also loved that film). Have you made others?
MH: Nope, that’s it. Bulldozer is my second film.
Q12. You’re new to filmmaking, but you’ve been curating a film festival in Texas for a while, right?
MH: Yes, for 10 years. See question 5.
Q13. If you haven’t already mentioned it above, the Word On The Street is that you write haiku reviews on yelp. How can one find your yelp haikus?
MH: I made a list on Yelp. I think it’s called Yelp Haiku.
Q14. You also like tacos. And cafeterias. Why cafeterias? and are there no cafeterias in San Francisco?
MH: There are sadly no true cafeterias in San Francisco. I grew up going to cafeterias in Texas. I like seeing all these food options laid out in front of you. It’s comforting and tantalizing at the same time. And it satiates instant gratification because you just point to what you want and the food is yours.
Q15. Oh, you were also one of the co-founders of Hyphen magazine, and the editor for a number of years; that’s kind of significant, I should have mentioned that earlier. Are you still involved with Hyphen?
MH: Yes, though not on an everyday basis anymore. I run some trainings for the staff, among other consulty tasks.
Q16. You are So Awesome, like Laundry Party, God, and Water; I’m sure many people would like to stalk you, but that would be illegal and ill-advised. What can fans do to keep up with you, aside from your website? Do you Twitter or Facebook or something like along these lines?
MH: You can find me on Twitter at Fluffysharp, though that is mostly an accounting of what I’ve eaten, so it’s probably not very interesting.
Q20. Can you edit this for me?
MH: Nope, sorry. About to run into some meetings that start in 5 minutes.
[Actually, she did have to cut out three of the less interesting Last Minute Questions I had asked, Questions 17 – 19; I think that was a good editorial move on her part.]