In "Damn the Past!" I wanted to make a story about characters who shed the chains and tethers of the past to become new and strong again. This film is my message of hope to myself and to everyone that it is possible. The musical utopian dreamworld is here for us now, if we are willing to see it.
When we first meet Mario, he is isolated and singing alone in his imagination. When he finally opens his voice and heart to others, the musical and non-musical worlds collide. By the end of the movie, the singing world is the real world, and everyone can express themselves in song.
Mario’s character is inspired by a lot of people I know. Unable to fully express themselves in everyday life, you can see all the beauty and expression of their being when they sing a song. Singing is a way to express nostalgia and yearning. If you sing when your heart is breaking, you are really singing and it will help you.
I wanted to inject my movie with a sense of the melodrama and crazy expectations of immigrant life while showing the ridiculous side of it at the same time. We have to hold on so tight to everything we have that we sometimes forget to see that there are all kinds of surprises waiting for us if we can only feel a little free.
Working with everyone on this film was an amazing experience for me. The lead actors Jun Hee Lee and Annie K. Rollins blew me away with their singing, dancing, and acting. I loved working on the music with all of my composers. James Yuan somehow managed to create breathtaking images, despite our extraordinarily tiny budget and time constraints. The same goes for the costume designer, makeup artist, and production designer. Abe Sylvia’s choreography made it all come alive. None of it would have been possible without producer Julien Favre, who helped bring it all together.
I dedicate this film to my parents who love music and taught me the joy of singing songs. My father told me to always sing out in a strong voice and my mother always said singing can make you happy.