Reel Asian celebrates AHM! Interview with Leslie Supnet

Next up in our Asian Heritage Month filmmaker interview series is visual artist/filmmaker, Leslie Supnet! Leslie’s work reflects the nuances of everyday imagery and have screened at various festivals. Throughout the month of May, Leslie will be joined by Stephanie Law, Althea Balmes and Albert Zablan for the Asian Heritage Month School Tour. Read full interview below!

To start off, please introduce yourself and tell us what you do. How did you first get into filmmaking?

My name is Leslie Supnet, and I’m an artist now based in Toronto, originally from Winnipeg, MB. I dabble in animation, drawing, filmmaking, printmaking, and more recently sculpture. I first got into filmmaking after taking a few workshops at Video Pool Media Arts Centre and the Winnipeg Film Group.

What was your favourite animation as a child? And your favourite now as a grown-up.

I watched Disney’s Beauty and the Beast about a million times. I was obsessed. As a grown up I’ve become obsessed with Barry Doupe’s Ponytail.

Tell us a bit about your film, Hang In There, that screened at Reel Asian in 2011. What was the the inspiration behind it?

I was thinking about those Hang in There cat posters, and how they came to be. I replaced the cat with a raccoon and developed a story about chugging through the hard times! And boy, there are many.

Why do you think it’s important to have more Asian filmmakers out there? This can probably be applied to Asians in creative industries, in general.

I think it’s important for voices in the margins, in general, to be heard, and our stories to be visible, to balance out historical othering and sidelining.

It seems that today Asians are still struggling to be better represented in film, acting, Hollywood…etc. This can include fighting Asian stereotypes or getting more key creative roles. In your opinion, how are Asians represented in the world of animation? Are there any key players or up-and-comers that we should know about?

There are a lot of great professional and artist driven animated works made by Asians out there.  Of course there exists the dark underbelly of outsourced grunt work to Asian studios by large studios in North America. Up and comers – I’m really liking the work of The CALF collective in Japan at the moment.

Any inspiring/favorite films, directors, creative individuals?

Jodie Mack, Barry Doupé, Denis Ha, Amy Lockhart, Ed Ackerman, Mike Maryniuk, Winston Hacking, Allison Schulnik, Mirae Mizue

Do you have any words for (young) people who are interesting in dabbling into animation/film arts?

The only limits you face are the ones you make for yourself. If you have a good idea — roll with it!

What is one thing you’d like to see more of on screen?

More artistic driven experiments!

Congratulations on the upcoming screening of one of your films at the Cannes Market! Is there anything else that you’re working on lately? What are some next steps for you?

Right now I’m working on visuals for two bands, and on a longer experimental piece on Super 8. I’m also taking a stab at turning my drawing ideas into sculpture / installation.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Leslie!

If you’d like to see Leslie’s latest work, come out to the TAIS Annual Showcase on May 11. More information on the event here

* Click here to read our interview with Toronto-based writer/filmmaker Stephanie Law, who is also participating in this year’s Asian Heritage Month School Tour!