Q + A with ‘PIT STOP’ Filmmaker YEN TAN
Billy Mecca, Gay Asbury Guide
Hot on the film festival circuit this year from Sundance to SXSW, Pit Stop just recently won the 2013 Outfest Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actor in a US Feature Film for it’s stars Bill Heck and Marcus DeAnda.
We featured it high on GAG’s list of this Summer’s Top 10 Must See LGBT Films.
Similar in tone to Andrew Haigh’s 2011 queer cinema breakout “Weekend”, Pit Stop takes a subtle and eloquent approach in telling the parallel stories of two gay men in a small Texas town.
There’s Gabe: a contractor who’s getting over an ill-fated affair with a married man and finds solace in the relationship he still harbors with his ex-wife, Shannon, and their daughter, Cindy; and there’s Ernesto: a Hispanic lumber yard worker in the midst of splitting up with his live-in boyfriend, Luis, as he receives news from the hospital that his former love, Martin, is in a coma. At the end, when Gabe and Ernesto meet for a one-nighter– having endured all the struggles and heartbreaks and wondering if they’ll ever find love again–they face the possibility that they might just be meant for each other.
Yen Tan, Pit Stop’s co-writer & director, is a Malaysian-born and Austin-based writer, director and graphic designer. His award-winning feature, Ciao, was released theatrically after a successful festival run. Yen was profiled on the cover of The Austin Chronicle for his key art, where he has designed numerous posters for films that screened at Sundance, SXSW, Cannes and Toronto. Pit Stop, a script that was workshopped at Outfest Screenwriting Lab , was awarded grants by Austin Film Society, Vilcek Foundation and crowdsourced at United States Artists. It is his third feature.
How would you summarize Pit Stop?
Yen: Two men. A small town. A love that isn’t quite out of reach.
Why were you compelled to make this film?
Yen: As a gay Asian-American filmmaker, I always desire to see a broader and more complex range of LGBT characters in cinema. I’m also drawn to stories that delve into the heart of underrepresented communities. Pit Stop is a character-driven drama that revolves around the lives of two gay men in a red state small town. In today’s climate where there’s so much discourse over gay rights and marriage equality, Pit Stop is my endeavor in diverting that debate into something less political but more emotionally grounded: the meaning of love, the meaning of family, and the meaning of connection. The playwright Adam Bock once said, “In being specific in my work, that’s how universality happens. Everybody is lonely, everybody is afraid. As artists, as we get more specific, the universe appears.” This is precisely what I seek to achieve with Pit Stop.