Kristy Choi is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles. Initially a competitive pianist, Choi went on to fall in love with writing, and began to study screenplays to better her work. She picked up the fundamentals for filmmaking from the many projects she dedicated herself to, later going on to writing, directing, and producing her own film for the New Yorker (“Herselves”)! She finds collaboration with other professionals inspiring, particularly with non-binary, female, and POC creatives. Choi hopes to “write and direct [her] first narrative feature film” in the future, and to “further experiment with hybrid documentary techniques.” She advises young artists to practice self care and seek out a circle of fellow artists that will both encourage and celebrate their work, as well as adopting a growth mindset and a regular routine to practice their art. When she’s not working on a project, she enjoys hiking and karaoke, and lists whistling as a special skill!Read on to learn more about Kristy Choi and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Kristy Choi
Hometown: Washington D.C. area
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Current project: Developing my first narrative feature (tentatively titledAllowance) and my next hybrid documentary project. Stay tuned :)
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
“Herselves” -- which I wrote, directed, and produced.
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Always keep going, but remember to take care of yourself along the way. Find a community of artists and support each other passionately. Unlearn the idea that you have to do everything yourself and that you have to be perfect at everything right away. Whatever your art may be, create a steadfast, daily practice around it. Become obsessed with your growth. Fall in love with the process. Humble yourself. Explore the world openly and compassionately and your best ideas will come. When in doubt, remember and return to the "original impulse" behind your projects.
How did you get your start?
I grew up playing piano competitively, so the structure of daily practice has always been familiar to me. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!). I started writing by studying the screenplays I admired the most and trying everyday to become a better writer. You gotta put the time in.
I first learned how to shoot, produce, and direct by assisting on whatever projects were readily accessible to me. I am thankful to all of the directors and artists -- almost all of whom were women and nonbinary folks of color -- who let me assist them early on in my career. I learned so many fundamentals of storytelling, production, and collaboration from these experiences.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
Watching Herselves onThe New Yorkerwith my mother over FaceTime at 6 in the morning on the day of its release. Reflecting with her about what it may be like to watch the film one day with my future children/her future grandchildren.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Balancing the work that pays my bills and the work that feeds my soul. Maintaining a mentality of abundance and groundedness while trying to survive capitalism as a woman of color and artist.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?
I've always had a hyperactive imagination and an endless amount of physical energy. When I got my first taste of film production, I was surprised to feel so pleasantly tired at the end of the day after shooting. I took this feeling of contented exhaustion as a sign that filmmaking and production are the best ways for me to devote my time and energy.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
That stuff in life that makes you belly laugh, cry ugly tears, and dance with excitement? Write it all down. Also: trust yourself, you're on the right track.
Do you have any other “special skills?”
I'm a really good whistler.
If you come from parents who aren’t in the arts, what parts of them do you see in yourself that have helped you succeed in the business?
My mom is very kind and skilled at making people feel comfortable and cared for. I try to channel her maternal wisdom in my directing style. My father has always been the most ardent lover of films and has an acute sense of what it means to be completely immersed in a story.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
I'd like to write and direct my first narrative feature in the next 3 years. I also have a goal of composing the score to one of my own projects. I'm also interested in getting experience in a writer's room for a television show. More broadly, I want to further experiment with hybrid documentary techniques.
What do you love most about what you do?
Collaborating with people who are true experts in their specialty. Managing many different moving parts by executing a clear, big-picture vision. Making Asian-American audiences cry, laugh, and feel things they haven't felt in a while.
Do you have any self care practices you do to stay focused and sane?
I love hiking alone. I do my best thinking on the trail. Also karaoke. Singing opens up the chest and calms the nervous system. I am a big believer in therapy, and wish it was free and universal.
What inspires you?
More and more, I am inspired by people who are extremely intentional in their life work and can communicate their vision clearly. I am also finding a lot of inspiration lately in Alice Rorhwacher's films and Ryuichi Sakamoto's music.
To find out more about Kristy (and watch her work), please visit her at:
Watch “Herselves” here:https://www.newyorker.com/video/watch/a-daughter-searches-for-answers-in-her-mothers-mysterious-past
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