As Personal As It Is Authentic: Interview with Jodi Lin
Jodi Lin is a New York City-based filmmaker, experienced in both narrative and documentary work. A graduate of the ART Institute at Harvard and Sarah Lawrence College, she has also been invited to complete a course of study at the Maysles Documentary Center. Her work, Borte, Queen of Tibet, a fearlessly honest autobiography about her recovery from schizoaffective disorder, was nominated for the festival prize at the Soho International Film Festival and received screenings at New Filmmakers, Shining Light, and the Asian American Film Lab. In addition to filmmaking, Jodi works as a freelance script supervisor and video editor.
My sister by marriage, Jodi also supports my creative process with editorial feedback and emotional support. Writing teachers need feedback too, and Jodi is one of the sharpest-yet-gentlest feedback partners I’ve ever known. In this interview, she tells us about her love for Amélie, finding hope in Moscow, and her forthcoming film, Back To One.
Who is your favorite character ever?
Amélie, in a film (2001) of the same name by Jean Pierre-Jeunet. She is charming, sweet, mischievous, and lite. I identify with the way that she deals with life, which I love. There is power in the way that she’s able to overcome her personal obstacles. Amélie is an a-typical heroine.
What’s your process?
I begin with a theme, an overarching idea that I want to reveal in the writing and move my audience with. In my current screenplay, Back To One, this theme is first love. I trained as an actress at the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University, where we spent years analyzing action. As I write, every action that the characters live out are in pursuit of this theme.
Tell us about your current screenplay:
Back To One is a sweet romance inspired by the classic work of Merchant Ivory. A love story between a cis woman and a trans man, it is a heartfelt examination of binary gender norms, ageism, and misogyny.
What’s the inspiration?
Music is a huge influence of mine. I’m usually struck by three or four songs or a playlist of songs that I play obsessively as I write. For Back To One, these songs were James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go,” “You’re So Beautiful,” by Reddish Blue, Lil’ Wayne’s “How to Love,” and the entire Call Me By Your Name soundtrack.
I had the privilege of watching Merchant Ivory’s A Room With a View and Call Me By Your Name over two nights last winter. I was swept away with emotion after this little marathon and tried not to analyze it. I knew I needed to write.
I write very personal stories with endings I wish I were brave enough to manifest in my own life. Like Brianne in Back To One, I am a forty-something year-old script supervisor. I am Asian American, and due to circumstances beyond and within my control, I too have never been in love.
My cat was sick, and I hired a vet tech to come administer fluids. And so it began. It was such an intimate thing to have someone in my space, sitting on my bed, and I thought, If I were attracted to this person, if I were brave enough, love could possibly happen in this moment. And it does in Back To One.
I recently came out as queer, and being queer has caused me to look inward to my internalized, patriarchal, and oppressive ideas about love. I grapple with these ideas in Back To One and feel what I’ve created is a story that is as personal as it is authentic.
Tell us a story:
I lived in Moscow on a residency there for 9 months, spanning all four seasons. The winter was so bleak, with snowflakes the size of my nose. The city was grey, the people were intense . . . the mood was dark. But then along comes spring.
The buildings that at one time formed a grey, winter prison began to show in pinks and pastels. I couldn’t figure out how or why. Then one day, on a trolly passing the Kremlin, it occurred to me: all the seemingly grey buildings were at one time brightly painted onion domes, the iconic structures that fortress the city’s capitol!
Having faded over the years, the seeming grey was actually at one time painted bright blues, reds, and golds. The pastels were the worn-down remains of histories past. The Moscow I knew now sparkled with spring hope and beauty. I was revived.
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Read more about Jodi’s filmmaking career on IMDB.