As the price of cigarettes become astronomical in New York City, Academy Award nominated filmmaker, Christine Choy, goes the extra mile to secure her favorite brand. Bouncing from one airport to another, her duty free cigarettes get lost in the shuffle, forcing an attempt at smuggling.
1) To begin with, tell us about your latest film ‘Legal Smuggling with Christine Choy’…
Lewie & Noah:
Legal Smuggling with Christine Choy is about Choy, the brilliant underground documentary filmmaker. It’s about her discovering how her cigarette addiction and the means by which she is willing to attain them informs her creative pursuits.
We like to think the best way to describe the film is it’s like a stripped down, bare-boned, hyper visualized view of the world. No image is static and the frame is constantly jittering. We wanted exemplify the fact that we were not afraid to experiment with the animation form. This was our first animation.
2) How did you come to make the film? Where did the idea come from?
During my sophomore year at New York University’s film school, I was swept into a whirlwind of documentary filmmaking with Professor Christine Choy. I always came to class with well-produced overly quirky work and soon she took a shine to me. Near the end of the semester, she started class one day by saying, “I just got back from Toronto. That’s where I get my cigarettes now. They sell my brand at the duty free for cheap.” By this time, we were close friends so I ran up to her after class and told her it was a story with potential. She agreed and revealed she had the foresight to film the experience.
Unfortunately the footage was not great and out of focus but we agreed that the story was too good to pass up. I asked if I could tell the story with my little brother via animation. She gave us complete creative control. Noah and I picture locked the film in just over two months.
3) What are your influences as Filmmakers?
Lewie & Noah:
First of all, we like to write the visuals of each film while we’re surrounded by artwork we hope informs the look of the film. We wrote the visuals and drafted the key frames of Legal Smuggling while sitting in the Asian art wing of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. We also like to carefully study the character and personalities of our role-models to identify what his or her spark is. As a result, anyone with a passion for their craft is our role model. Lately, we’ve found much passion behind underground musicians of the mid to late 20th century. Music these days is our favorite tool for inspiration.
4) The film has recently been selected for Sundance Film Festival, what was it like to receive this acclaim? Are you looking forward to the Festival?
Lewie & Noah:
Nothing could be more flattering than our industry rewarding us for what we love to do, especially at such an early age. Currently, we are 22 and 19 years old. It’s still hard for us to comprehend that people we have never met understand our esoteric sense of humor. We feel it is our unofficial responsibility to be optimists in this bizarre world; to create content for those who are on the edge of dreaming.
5) When & where can we expect to see ‘Legal Smuggling with Christine Choy’?
The film will have its official public released at a gallery in downtown Manhattan: Chinatown Soup. Chinatown Soup is a creative community advancing art, justice, historic preservation, and civic engagement. I have been an artist in residence at Chinatown Soup the past four months and will be using my end-of-term solo show to host a release party and exhibition of Legal Smuggling with Christine Choy. Date still TBD, mid to late spring, 2017. Immediately following the release party, it will be uploaded to Vimeo for all to see! We cannot wait.
6) What is the next step for you both? Do you have any other projects in Production?
Lewie & Noah:
Right now we are expanding Legal Smuggling into a series. Each episode being 3 to 4 minutes long, we want to examine the moments in which an artist declares him or herself as an artist. When do you quit calling yourself a waiter, temp, assistant editor, an outsider, a creative, a critical thinker and take a leap to define yourself as an artist? For Christine Choy, it was when she smuggled cigarettes. We are keeping the same tone, digging for banal instances in an artist’s life hinges on a seemingly uninspired catharsis.
On top of expanding Legal Smuggling into a series, we are currently working with filmmaker Sam Pollard to create a short animated documentary. It will star the teachers and coaches who mentored a young President Barack Obama at his Hawaii high school.
Read Similar Articles?…