APRIL 5, 2022
USA | 3 minutes | 2021
Drama short film directed by Steven Fong
Starring Wen Ou, Jing Shen (voice)
A Call From Mom
A young woman going through hardship receives a phone call from her mom.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What inspired you to make A Call From Mom?
Steven Fong: I actually shot A Call from Mom as an assignment for my graduate cinematography class. It started out as an idea that I’d had in my head for a while, but never developed into a longer story, so I decided to use the assignment as an opportunity to try and bring the scene to life.
As young adults, I feel we carry a lot of our parents’ expectations on our shoulders. This feels especially true in the Asian American community where stereotypes and cultural norms push us to prioritize status and success in our careers over everything else.
We find ourselves constantly comparing ourselves to others, trying to put our best face on for our friends and family, not wanting to reveal any signs of struggle or weakness. When this constant pressure becomes too much, we can fall into moments of feeling helpless, lost, and alone.
In the past, I’ve always shied away from sharing too much with my parents, even when they could tell I was struggling and offered their support. I felt like I was never doing as well as I could be for them, and I didn’t want them to worry or feel responsible for my circumstances.
This conflict between the weight of our parents’ expectations mixed with the tenderness of their unconditional love and care is at the center of the relationship between the Mother and the Daughter in this scene, and this project was really just trying to capture a glimpse of the complex feelings and emotions involved in our relationships with our parents and with ourselves.
CAF: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the production process?
Fong: The decision to shoot this scene for my cinematography assignment was actually a last-minute decision, so it was a challenge to prepare everything in such a short amount of time. I wanted to make sure I captured the fragility and nuance of the scene I had in my head, and I was so fortunate to be working with an incredibly talented group of classmates for this assignment. I have to give special shoutouts to Yushi Li, who basically wrote out all the dialogue between the mother and daughter while we were setting up the camera and lights, and our actress, Wen Ou, who surprised all of us (including herself!) with her amazing performance.
CAF: What do you hope people can take away from watching this film?
Fong: Through this story, I’m really hoping to just bring out some of the feelings and emotions that we go through trying to find ourselves as young adults away from home.
It can be an incredibly lonely experience, especially when someone’s natural instinct might be to withdraw. It’s so important to try and be conscious of the hidden battles that people are fighting within themselves behind the scenes. And I encourage everyone to be vocal with their trusted friends and family about what they’re going through, and for friends and family to not only be open to listening to them, but to take initiative and reach out to offer their support as well.
I feel like we tend to glorify the image of happiness and success while trying to hide our own weaknesses and failures. However, it’s important to recognize that everyone takes their own time to find their path, and everyone stumbles along the way. My hope is that by acknowledging this and being open and vulnerable with each other about our struggles and insecurities, we can better support each other, build stronger relationships with the people around us, and live more honest and fulfilling lives.
CAF: Are you working on anything new?
Fong: I’m currently working on my thesis for my MFA in Film & Media Art at Emerson College. Mental health and Asian American identity are aspects of my life that are incredibly personal to me, and I’m hoping to explore the relationship between the two ideas in my film.
After school, my goal is to continue to tell stories centered around Asian American experiences so we can further amplify our voices and expand the horizons of AAPI representation in film and media.
A Call From Mom is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your film.
Director, Story, Cinematographer: Steven Fong
Screenwriter: Yushi Li