“Were You Gay In High School?” tells the story of two queer, Asian American women who share their awkward, closeted stories from high school.
Karen and Niki open up about their uncomfortable, coming-of-age moments as teens by finding commonalities in their stories and learning about the people they used to be. They reminisce about the boyfriends they didn’t like kissing and the straight-girls who were definitely flirting with them.
Told through live-action and animation, the stories shared are both cringe worthy and silly, hilarious and painful.
WHY THIS FILM IS IMPORTANT “Were You Gay In High School?” is based on some of our personal experiences of being closeted teens. This question, posed to queer people, immediately recalls a confusing time in life when people start exploring their sexuality, but typically brings up more questions than answers. We believe that sharing the queer-centered stories of our generation in an authentic, awkwardly-relatable way can be both exciting and healing to our communities.
We hope that sharing the nuances and complexities of growing up as queer Asian Americans will encourage others to share their stories. There is so much value in seeing yourself represented on the big screen and we want to take part in expanding the breadth of inclusive storytelling through cinema.
NIKI ANG (Co-Writer, Director) is a Singaporean-Chinese American writer and director who was born and raised in Singapore before moving to the States at a young age. She has spent the past several years as a full-stack producer/director at BuzzFeed Motion Pictures. Her work has amassed over 150 million views across digital platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, and Hulu. She is known for the web series “HomeBuddies,” “Wedding Season,” and “Eating Your Feed” along with videos that center Asian American experiences and explore themes of representation, heritage, intersectionality, and social justice. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her wife and the best cat in the world and is the quintessential middle child. Instagram. Twitter. Twitch.
KAREN DU (Co-Writer, Cinematographer) is a queer, Chinese-Vietnamese American filmmaker from Denver, Colorado. She most recently co-directed and was the cinematographer on the short documentary "Radlasses," highlighting Sydney Olson, one of the top female parkour athletes in the world. Her work has been showcased at the Hollywood Comedy Shorts Festival and BEA Festival of Media Arts, and has been featured on popular digital platforms including Buzzfeed and Mythical Entertainment (Good Mythical Morning). In her spare time, she can be found co-hosting the podcast MORNING WOOD, attending concerts, dabbling in new hobbies, and perfecting old ones (she will beat you at Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1-3). Website. Instagram. Twitter.
SARA GUNNARSDÓTTIR (Animator) is born and raised in the capital area of Iceland, Reykjavik. She has a BFA degree in Fine Arts and received her MFA degree in Experimental Animation from California Institute of the Arts in 2012. Sara has been working in film for almost two decades, making animation her main medium in recent years. Her work as an independent filmmaker include a few animated shorts in addition to music videos and experimental work. Her thesis film, animated documentary short named The Pirate of Love, premiered at Telluride Film Festival in 2012 and was nominated for student Academy awards, alternative category in 2013. She went on to create animations and original artwork for The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015), directed by Marielle Heller. That film premiered at Sundance Film Festival and went on to win The Grand Prix of the Generation 14plus International Jury at Berlinalen. Sara ́s latest project as animationdirector is on the HBO docu-series The Case Against Adnan Syed (2019) directed by Amy Berg. Sara lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Website.
AMANDA BONAIUTO (Animator) (b. 1990) is an animator and artist originally from Massachusetts. Her work has screened worldwide at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Slamdance, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ottawa International Animation Festival, Pictoplasma, Stuttgart Festival of Animated Films, and more. She has worked as a freelance animator for The Atlantic, Viceland, The Redford Center, Grand Jury Records, and Paper Bag Records. Her work has been featured on Vimeo Staff Picks, CartoonBrew, It's Nice That, Good Moves, and TVBooooooom. She is a 2017 Princess Grace Honoraria in Film. She graduated with an MFA in Experimental Animation from CalArts in 2018. Website.
DIANA WARD (Producer) is a Los Angeles-based producer of Australian and Chinese Malaysian descent. Her feature documentary ROLLER DREAMS premiered at the 2017 Sydney Film Festival, winning the Foxtel Audience Award for Best Documentary and the Jury Award for Best Documentary at the 2018 Calgary Underground Film Festival. ROLLER DREAMS is distributed by Gunpowder & Sky. In 2018, Diana completed production on "Liberty" for writer/director Faren Humes (winner Best Narrative Short SXSW 2019 and Special Jury Prize Berlinale Generation 14 Plus Best Short Film 2019) and stop-motion animation "The Coin" with Siqi Song for Film Independent's Project Involve, as well as "Full Beat" with writer/director Kase Pena for NALIP's Latino Lens Incubator. Diana is honored to be a Film Independent Fellow and recipient of the 2018 Project Involve Amazon Studios Visionary Filmmaker Fellowship.
KIMMIE KIM (Producer) has extensive experience producing live shows, special events, and films. Her acclaimed documentary LIVE FROM NEW YORK!, a film that chronicles the 40 year history of SNL, premiered at the opening night of the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015. Most recently, Kimmie produced the Ed Sheeran documentary SONGWRITER which world premiered at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival and had its North American premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Kimmie is actively developing multiple projects across various genres, and she plans to continue her creative journey by telling stories that make the world laugh, think and be inspired.
ANDREW AHN (Producer) is a queer Korean-American filmmaker born and raised in Los Angeles. His latest feature DRIVEWAYS, starring Brian Dennehy and Hong Chau, premiered at the 2019 Berlinale. His first feature film SPA NIGHT premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and won the 2017 John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award. In 2017, Ahn directed the entire first season of the Sundance Now original show "This Close" from creators Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman. He has promoted diversity in the arts by mentoring youth filmmakers through programs like Pacific Arts Movement’s Reel Voices, Outfest’s OutSet, and the Sundance Institute's Native Filmmaker Lab. He graduated from Brown University and received an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Twitter.
RICEBALL (Paw-ducer) is a multi-hyphenate artist whose work focuses around mixed media explorations of intersectional identity and being cute. A Fur-bright scholar and a recipient of a Ma-cat-thur Genius Grant, Riceball loves Friskie's chicken shreds in gravy. He majored in hiss-tory at Dartmeowth University. Instagram.
We believe that this story and stories like it not only deserve to be told, but to be told well and to large audiences. Our goal is to premiere the film at festivals including Asian American and LGBTQ+ festivals. This film is being made by members of these intersecting communities and we would love nothing more than to share it and celebrate with our communities. With your support, we believe we can screen this film at festivals in the coming 2020 season.
Beyond festivals, our goal is to expand the film into an anthology series, featuring new stories and voices every episode, all centering LGBTQ+ coming-of-age experiences in high school. High school is a time that is awkward for everyone but for a lot of queer people, it’s a time of exploration and discovery. We would love to create a space where more people can share their cringey, heartbreaking high school experiences. Niki and Karen’s stories are just the beginning. Who’s next?
WHY KICKSTARTER We plan on going into production soon after raising the $25,000! We have done our best to keep our budget low, yet practical. The money raised here on Kickstarter will help us pay fair wages to our incredible and diverse cast and crew. Additionally, these funds will support the film in post-production which includes editing, sound design, music, color correction, and animation.
We are committed to paying our collaborators because we believe that their work, skills, and talent should be acknowledged and compensated fairly.
RESOURCES “Were You Gay In High School?” is steeped in our personal experiences of being closeted in high school. This also means we understand the complexities of coming out. Below are some excellent resources and organizations who are here to help: Human Rights Campaign: Explore Coming Out, The Trevor Project, It Gets Better, and GLSEN: A Resource for LGBTQ Students
Risks and challenges
Making art is hard! But it's also gay. And we're great at being gay!
Many films get abandoned, go over budget, or never see the light of day. However, our experienced team is passionate about telling this story and we will do our best to deliver on the promises of this Kickstarter campaign. We owe it to our high school selves!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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