We talk to the Zinester and filmmaker, Eric Yue, about growing up in NYC, music videos and the movie that started it all.
by Ben Pobjoy
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Queens, New York.
How old are you?
I’m 24 years old.
Did you do photography before segueing into film?
I did take a class in high school doing still photography, though never committed to it. It did instil a love for celluloid and high contrast black and white.
Where did you passion for film come from? How did you get into filmmaking?
I come from a fine arts/painting background. When I was a kid I originally wanted to do SFX makeup, since it was something that was hands-on and it was the epitome of movie magic. I only wanted to become a director after seeing Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and that’s when I found out that filmmaking could be more than Friday night entertainment.
Like everyone, I’m sure you started out with rag tag tools. What was your first video camera?
My first video camera was my parents’ camera which was a Sony Hi-8 they bought in 2002 or so. I used that to take pictures and make little videos of myself. I actually still use that camera to film things; I even shot King Krule and Willis Earl Beal on it for the Church Sessions.
Did you go to school for filmmaking?
I went to NYU Tisch School of the Arts for film and sort-of Minored in painting.
You’ve done commissions for Nowness and Dazed, how did these come about?
Nowness I got through my rep at Forever Pictures and Dazed was a project that filmmaker AG Rojas asked me to contribute to for his series “Tribute”. He saw my video for “Wikispeaks” and thought I would be good to make something for it. I definitely appreciate him asking me.
You seem to have an interest in music videos and films, both of which seem to have a documentary vibe. What draws you to this?
I didn’t intend to get into music videos. My world sort of opened up after doing one, and I realized there’s a renaissance in music videos now, and a lot of directors my age are doing exciting work within a narrative context. I think most directors in my age group fell into music videos because their friends were making music they liked and felt that they could contribute something visually to it. My ‘documentary-style’ is in part because of budget reasons and because I like the immediacy of handheld camerawork.
I loved Italian neorealism and thought that the verité-style camerawork felt the most natural. I think, the further I grow, I’ll be able to have more control over the worlds that I create.
Physical movement, urbanism and identity seem to influence your work. Can you speak about this?
I grew up in a New York, so I naturally gravitate towards the sounds and textures that appeal to me. EB White said “New York is changeless and changing” and I always keep that in mind when I write something. New York is constantly reshaping itself, everything moves so fast, so maybe that influences the way I see things.
How would you describe your style and intentions?
I would say that it depends on the form. Music videos have a built-in structure so my style reflects the pace and tempo of the song, but in my narrative works I’m interested in characters and people who feel isolated from their environments. I feel that filmmaking is such a new art form and it’s increasingly becoming more accessible for people to make them. At this point, I want to make personal films, installations, and things that feel more like poems than novels. As the canvas gets bigger, my ambitions will get bigger as well.
What projects do you have in the works?
I made a video with Ratking featuring King Krule [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpBCXWKx4Tg]
I’m working on an idea with Willis Earl Beal which is a narrative short film set in the outskirts of Seattle. Hopefully this will be made by then. I also am planning on doing the first video for Ratking called “Canal.”
What projects are you most proud of?
I like Monday Monday which is my thesis film from NYU. It’s my most personal and it reflects my aesthetic the most.
What do you love most about filmmaking?
The best part of filmmaking is that it incorporates so many art forms and when it all comes together it the right way, it holds your attention and the effect is different than a photo or a painting. The best films have a point of view, a distinct world, and since we are capturing ‘reality’, film has an incredibly unique visceral quality to it.
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