Sky Yang
Section: THE REAL ME

Sunny screens part of the BFI Future Film Festival from 18-21 February, free on BFI Player

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SUNNY follows the story of a mixed race Chinese British boy who is ashamed of his ethnicity, and unsure of where he belongs. As he transitions into adult life and is confronted by racial hatred, he stumbles across some strange footage on TV. SUNNY digs into the the importance of Chinese history, the need for young people to see themselves, and the anger that comes when loneliness engulfs you.

Hi Sky thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

Hi, thanks for taking the time to watch Sunny. The days seem to blur together, but we’ve been in a good place, and feeling very grateful to be part of the Festival as something to look forward to this month.

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?

In a weird way, being so called ‘Locked Down’ has freed us to allow us to do work we never would have had the chance to. We’ve developed new ways of working collaboratively and outside the realms of the more structural methods of cinema. This is the revolution, baby.

Congratulations on having Sunny selected for the BFI Future Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of The Real Me section?

We’re massively proud to have our work shown and shared, and hopefully for more people to engage with it. It means a lot to know that it’ll be seen by people, and hopefully in turn the work will hold people who might be feeling similar things.

Can you tell me a little bit about Sunny, how did this film come about?

It started off with the poem, just writing and venting my frustrations and feelings into some kind of reality on a page that I could start to comprehend. I actually think a lot of it was written in the shower, which is always where the best ideas flow. I kept on working the piece, which was at first quite harsh, brutal and angry. I refined it, added structure and detail, and it eventually manifested into a story about a young boy called ‘Sun’, or ‘Sunny’. We made the mask from newspapers, flour, and paint. Then over a couple days, Ben and I went out in London to film it, not knowing what we would be getting.

What where the biggest challenges you faced bringing this film to life?

The way we worked was in a very spontaneous way, just capturing the things we felt we needed, responding to the poem as we went. This massively effected the edit. What might normally be a very planned process, became something where the message was found as we tackled it and went on Sun’s journey. It was in a perpetual space of work and play. Arguably this was a challenge, because of the amount of time we wanted to give the piece, to allow it to develop a life of its own.

We tried various formats for the story, even changing the medium. At one point, we recorded it as a comedic interview. It all felt wrong, and in the end, we came back to what we started with. The words.

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

The way we did it just felt right. We don’t think it would have got to what it became in any other way. There are definitely a million ways to make a film, and at the time we were probably technically unexposed to the whole process. But, we were ignorantly instinctive with what we created, and that is always a good place to be in, even now.

What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Sunny?

Express yourself, and you might just express what someone else is feeling too. You also might not, and be totally alone, but that’s also just as beautiful of a thing.

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

We really got into film through watching films and looking into their processes and the people behind them. We’re fascinated by film as a medium and its ability to capture and interpret life. We found useful videos and books analysing the way cinematography is inherently effected by story, and loved diving into the deeper understandings behind the pieces.

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

I don’t really have any, and I don’t think I’ve ever been given any. Just enjoy the process of making, follow your voice and your own instincts and make your own path in the madness.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Are you asking us? Always. Not only the boundaries of the actual stories, and questioning the norms of stories told within that, but also questioning the form itself. The actual medium. We think filmmakers should really be thinking about the very restrictive and structured process we take to make films. How can we start to push the edges of what people know the idea of ‘film’ to be, and the processes we take, and even the society around us. Film is nothing without the idea, and that’s life. Film should just be a way of discovering life.

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

There are no rules. You can do literally anything.

What do you hope people will take away from Sunny?

We hope people take whatever they want and whatever they need from Sunny. If it makes one person think about their own behaviour, or helps another person to speak their truth, or makes another person laugh and feel joy at a giant yellow head – however it lives in people’s minds is good enough for us.

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