37th BFI Flare 2023
Egghead & Twinkie
A young Asian American girl and her hapless best friend hit the road to meet her online crush in this delightful road movie.
Hi Sarah, thank you for talking with The New Current, what does it mean to you to be screening Egghead & Twinkie in the HEARTS section at the 37th BFI Flare, any nerves?
Oh yeah, plenty of nerves, but lots of excitement too! While Egghead & Twinkie has already premiered virtually, BFI Flare marks our very first in-person theatrical screening. I can’t wait to finally watch the movie with an audience, especially since it’s a comedy. I guess the nerves will take over if nobody laughs, haha!
The whole Egghead & Twinkie team is honoured to be a part of BFI Flare, given its long history of championing LGBTQ+ cinema. I’m especially happy with our inclusion in the HEARTS section, as I like to say that our film tries to find the heart and humour in the coming out process. We’re also really excited to be taking our American film to the UK! A group of us will be travelling to attend the festival, including my co-producer and our talented editors and animators!
The reaction to Egghead & Twinkie has been amazing with you getting nominated for the Local Heroes Competition at the Cleveland International Film Festival, did you imagine your film would get such a great response?
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect with our festival run. There are countless factors that go into making these programming decisions, so I just focused on staying true to the movie that my team and I set out to make. With that said, it’s always a terrifying moment when you release a project into the world, especially one that is such a labor of love. So, it’s truly amazing (and admittedly a huge relief) to have had such a positive reception from festivals so far!
How essential is it for LGBTQ+ filmmakers to continue to push the boundaries of the stories and themes they want to explore in their films?
I think LGBTQ+ filmmakers should make the films they want to make, and by staying true to their vision, we will inevitably continue to push the boundaries of storytelling. I made a cute little teen road movie, because I love feel-good, coming-of-age movies! But maybe there’s another LGBTQ+ filmmaker out there who wants to make a dark, gay slasher film. And I think that’s great! Queer storylines have always been censored in cinema, so I think the most important thing we can do is to be true to the stories we want to tell.
What was the first LGBTQ+ themed film that you saw that really left its mark?
I think my earliest memory of watching a movie with LGBTQ+ themes was The Runaways. I was maybe 15 years old and still figuring myself out, and one day I stumbled across it on YouTube, because someone had uploaded it in like ten different parts. I ended up secretly watching the whole thing.
The Runaways isn’t really known as a “gay” movie, but Joan Jett and Cherie Currie are depicted as bisexual, or at least bicurious. And Kristin Stewart and Dakota Fanning are just so effortlessly COOL in it. So, for me, as a young, closeted person, The Runaways definitely left an impression.
How much has your background as an actress helped you prepare for directing your debut feature?
I’ve found that having a background in acting has absolutely informed my approach to writing and directing. From a writing standpoint, I write characters that I find exciting – roles that I know the right actor will sink their teeth into. As for directing, I’ve found that training and working as an actor has made it far easier to communicate with talent on set. I have a lot of love for the craft of acting, and I hope that shines through when I work with actors. I’d highly recommend all directors take an acting class, at least once in their life!
"I’m also looking to dive into sibling relationships, familial history, and parallel lives. Visually, I’d love to do something with animation again."
Can you tell me a little bit about Egghead & Twinkie came about, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
I originally came up with the idea for Egghead & Twinkie when I was 19 years old, only a few months after coming out to my parents. The original kernel of an idea was more of a question: Can I find the humour in the coming out process? Coming out is typically a very daunting and difficult experience, and I didn’t want to downplay that. But I also think there is a certain power in being able to laugh at the things that scare us, so I set out to create a coming-of-age comedy about coming out. In many ways, I made this film for my younger self, and I hope it will become a comfort movie for LGBTQ+ teens.
Looking back at the now completed feature is there anything you would have wanted to change or shoot differently?
Oh, for sure! As the writer, director, and one of the editors of the film, it’s impossible for me to watch it without thinking of all the little things I wish I could change. But as more time passes, I’m able to see it from a more objective perspective. Even though it’s not perfect, nothing is, and I’m so proud of the end product. The movie reflects every single person on our cast and crew who believed in the message behind it and gave it their all.
What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Egghead & Twinkie?
When one door closes, another door opens. We have encountered so many obstacles over the six years that we have been working on this project. Originally, we were scheduled to shoot the movie in the summer of 2020, but production was delayed by an entire year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We lost crew members, locations, and funding. But because we were unable to shoot and had some extra time, I pivoted to marketing the film on TikTok, which completely changed the game for us. Having an audience on TikTok allowed us to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign and opened doors I never knew existed. And that’s just one example! I can recall countless times throughout production when things went wrong, and we had to find a way to make it work. I’m so proud of our team for staying flexible and creative with their problem solving, and it’s a lesson that I will remember when things inevitably go wrong on future projects.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I was around 13 when I became interested in making movies. My parents bought me and my siblings a Flip camera to share, which was this dinky little camcorder. The first few “films” that I made were really terrible shorts that I made my siblings act in. But I had so much fun! Through making these videos, I learned the very basics of storytelling, composing shots, and editing. From there, I challenged myself to scale up with each project, take lots of criticism, and bring in more collaborators. I ended up majoring in film production during college, which allowed me to continue learning and growing.
What themes are you looking forward to exploring with future films?
I have a few ideas for a second feature in mind! With Egghead & Twinkie, we tackle themes surrounding LGBTQ+ and Asian American identity, and I hope to continue with my exploration of those topics in my future work. I’m also looking to dive into sibling relationships, familial history, and parallel lives. Visually, I’d love to do something with animation again.
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer someone about to make their own debut feature?
Come up with a movie idea that you absolutely LOVE, because half the battle is stamina. Making a feature, especially on a micro-budget, can take forever. There will be many moments when you think you’re not going to make it, that it would be better if you just quit. In those moments, I found that my passion for Egghead & Twinkie and the message behind it helped me to pull through and continue moving forward.
And finally, what message do you hope you audiences will take away from Egghead & Twinkie?
There are a lot of messages in Egghead & Twinkie, but I think at the core, the movie is about friendship. I hope audience members will walk out of the theatre knowing that they should surround themselves with people who will support them for exactly who they are.