063: “More than sheer entertainment.” Filmmaker Aby Rao aims to tell realistic stories of immigrants.

Aby Rao (Writer, Director and Producer) is an Asian-American filmmaker based in Morrisville, NC.  We discuss the making of his film Parallel Parking, and dig into Aby’s unconventional process for working with actors and developing scripts. Aby outlines his goals as a filmmaker and why telling realistic stories of immigrants is important to him. I was inspired by Aby’s ability to work within the boundaries of his time and resources, while also working outside of his comfort zone.

Aby Rao’s films have been screened at Cucalorus Film Festival, Carrboro Film Festival, Seattle South Asian Film Festival, NC Film and Video Film Festival, and more.

He released his first feature film, “Parallel Parking” in Fall 2018 for which he received a Filmed In NC grant. His script for “Parallel Parking,” made it to the second round of the 2014 Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

Parallel Parking on YouTube.

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Questions for Aby:

BACKGROUND

When did you begin your relationship to filmmaking? Was there a moment when you thought — this is for me!?

Why is this medium so captivating for you?

Why/When did you move to NC? How is it making work here?

You’ve directed several short films prior to your first feature film, Parallel Parking. What did you learn from the shorts that made you feel ready to tackle a feature? Is that the path that you’d recommend for filmmakers? What about the short film Dechen — was that a helpful springboard to making Parallel Parking?

PARALLEL PARKING: PROCESS

Would you give us a synopsis of the film?

This not your first film about immigrants (and it doesn’t sound like your last) — why is this topic important to you?

What inspired the story of the characters in Parallel Parking? (It’s fiction, but was it inspired by observations, other stories you’ve heard, the news, etc.?)

You’ve written that “I would like this film to offer more than sheer entertainment”  — obviously commercial success would be a wonderful outcome for this film, but what else are you hoping for from this film? How are you interacting with social justice and community organizations?

In 76 mins, PP covers so many challenges that Dechen has to face as a refugee — would you talk about some of those and how you approached them as a script-writer/director?

PARALLEL PARKING: LOGISTICS

You have a full time job and I’m assuming that most of your cast and crew have other fulltime obligations. How did you approach the logistics of making PP?

What was your biggest challenge?

What are you most proud of? What is your greatest success with this film so far?

WHAT’S NEXT

How can people see this film? What’s next for Parallel Parking?

What’s next for you?

Anything else?

Quotes:

I think there are plenty of stories out there that we need to tell. This is my way of giving back to the community and telling more working class, hard working, realistic stories that are missing from the mainstream media.

When people come and shake my hand or give me a hug and say “That one scene you showed touched my heart….” That’s the biggest reward to me.

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The New Colossus

The New Colossus Audio Drama is a totally unhinged dark comedy reboot of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, THE SEAGULL.

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Master Builder

This audio drama was adapted from Tamara’s 2018 stage play produced by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and inspired by Henrick Ibsen’s classic, The Master Builder published in 1892.

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Declaration of Love

Co-producers Aurelia Belfield and Tamara Kissane of Artist Soapbox commissioned eleven NC playwrights to craft short audio scenes based on the prompt “Declaration of Love.”

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ASBX Shorts

ASBX Shorts are six short audio fiction pieces created and produced by North Carolina artists. Artist Soapbox Shorts were specifically contributed by the artists to aid in fundraising and to get everyone excited about Jesus Pancake, our new audio fiction series in development.

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