A M E R I C A N e s e
Based on the novel by Shawn Wong
Screenplay/director: Eric Byler (charlotte
Producer: Lisa Onodera (Picture Bride,
Cast: Chris Tashima
Michael Paul Chan
Eric Byler's interview with EurasianNation.com
In the novel Raymond, an Asian American man, gets married and divorced,
tries to do the traditional Chinese American family thing but fails
partly because hes unfaithful. He starts dating his divorce lawyer,
and then he starts dating Aurora, a Hapa (half Asian) woman 15 years
his junior. When Aurora moves to San Francisco to live with him, it
becomes a dual protagonist story.
Their relationship hinges upon Aurora at first wanting to be more Asian.
Raymond, a sort of self-proclaimed expert, helps mold her in a Pygmalion
sense. That lasts them a good year, but once Aurora feels shes
sufficiently Asian, shes ready to explore other issues. She becomes
a little more independent and becomes her own person. Raymond feels
she still needs more training, and so the conflicts begin. A good portion
of the novel takes place after theyve broken up. Each starts new
relationships wondering if they have left behind the one person they
were meant to be with.
Auroras new love interest in the second half is a white man her
own age. Raymonds new love interest is a full-blooded Asian woman
his own age named Betty. She is even more Asian than Raymond is, as
shes an immigrant from Vietnam. Now he cant play the game
of "youre not Asian enough, let daddy help you." So
he has to find a whole other way to relate. Raymonds relationship
with Betty is the most compelling and visceral relationship in the novel
and the only one that I adapted just as I read it in the book.
Shawn Wong did a marvelous job of touching on the broader issues that
an interracial person faces, and this inspired me to go a bit deeper.
One of the scenes I drafted depicts Aurora visiting her parents in a
rural town in the Midwest. During a dinner party, her younger sister
Julia is cleaning up after a friend of her dad who spilled his drink.
The friend and his wife are admiring Julia, saying, "How could
a guy as ugly as Hank have such a beautiful daughter?" The wife
says, "Oh it must be the Chinese blood." And Julia says, "Were
Japanese, actually." And the wife says, "Well you dont
look it at all." Aurora hears this and says, "Is that supposed
to be a compliment?"
Other Interviews that
INFO about Eric
Byler's upcoming feature, TRE