APA Spotlight: Aldous Davidson, Co-manager, Asian American Film Lab

APA Spotlight is a weekly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Aldous Davidson is an NYU film graduate who has been acting and directing for the past 10 years and his recent short film How to Greet the Dead was an Interpretations Film Award winner. He is currently a co-manager of the Asian American Film Lab, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Asian Americans find film and acting resources in the New York City area.

What is your organization’s mission statement?

The AAFilmLab is a collaborative non-profit organization of New York based Asian American filmmakers, writers and actors who meet twice a month to hone their craft, share resources, educate, challenge and support one another. We organize monthly script readings and screenings with constructive feedback as well as industry meet and greets.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing?

I had been an active member of the AAFilmLab for years, cultivating a lot of great relationships and contacts and really loved what the Lab was doing for the community. Around January 2011, a lot of the old management team members moved out of New York for various reasons and so I was asked to step into a leadership role along with Carl Li and Amy Chang so that the Lab would be able to continue, which I’m very glad I did. We provide a great service to Asian American filmmakers and actors in the New York community.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?

Ha! This is a great question. If a film was made about my life, I guess a quality Asian actor like Ken Leung would do a great job playing me, but if you want to Hollywood-ify’d it, I’d suggest getting someone crazy like Nic Cage. He’s always entertaining both on and off the screen. Did you know he owns dinosaur skulls?

How can people find out more about your organization or get involved?

People can find out more about our organization and get involved through our website and we encourage folks to join our Facebook page.

If you had a crystal ball, what do you see for the future of the Asian/Pacific Islander American community?

Crystal ball or no, it’s really up to us to shape our future, especially when it comes to film and entertainment. Entire markets have erupted out of culture-based genres such as hip hop and martial arts. Hopefully there will be a lot more of these types of things in the future and we’ll be able to cultivate untapped genres, etc. and really bring Asian Americans into the mainstream. It’ll take time and a lot of work will have to be done at a grassroots level. At the very least, we need more Asian American pioneer filmmakers and actors out there making a difference and in the public eye.

Bonus Question: What advice do you have for young professionals? Would you give different advice for young Asian Pacific Islander American professionals?

For young Asian American filmmakers, my advice would be to study. Study what it means to make a film. Watch what the masters do with the camera in order to tell a story. Each movement and placement of the camera is a deliberate choice and means something. Study how much work, effort and manpower goes into making a successful film and writing a successful script. A lot of time and money goes into making films and you don’t want to waste any of it. Get yourself on as many sets as possible, both small and big, and learn from other people’s mistakes and successes. Finally, it sounds cliché but a great lesson is to be yourself. Know that every great artist who has made a positive and influential impact on the world has done it being entirely themselves with their own vision. People respond to that and it’s what differentiates the great ones from the flash in the pans.

Bonus Question: What are your comfort foods and what memories do you have associated with them?

I like dim sum. I have a lot of great memories going to dim sum with my mother’s side of the family. Great tasting stuff!

Bonus Question: What’s your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure? Sci-fi and fantasy novels. I like reading those a lot for some reason. Maybe its escapism.

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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