Filmmaker Spotlight: Stanley Yung

October’s featured films on X1 International destination includes “#1 Serial Killer” directed by Stanley Yung in the Asian Horror Films collection. We got the chance to speak with Yung about the inspiration behind this horror film and his journey as an Asian-American film director and producer.

Director Stanley Yung (left) and Actor Jason Tobin (right) on set. Image Credit: Stanley Yung
Image Credit: Stanley Yung

Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!

Stanley Yung:#1 Serial Killer” tells the story of a frustrated man who lashes out violently against society because of the racism he’s internalized. Murder helps him blossom as a person, so he aspires to be the greatest serial killer in the world and uses his invisibility as an Asian-American to his advantage. On the surface, it’s a slasher film with blood, gore, and dark comedy, but it’s really about identity politics. I want to shatter the model minority stereotype by depicting a deeply troubled, Asian-American antihero—a character rarely seen on screen.

Image Credit: Stanley Yung

How did you get into filmmaking?

SY: I’ve loved movies ever since I was a kid when my mom dragged me to watch double features at the local discount movie house. Those movies inspired me to tell stories that move people, and I’ve been striving to recreate that kind of catharsis as a storyteller ever since. In high school, I started writing short stories, doing theater, and making short films, but I really learned my chops about indie filmmaking at UCLA Film School and by working for Roger Corman, “King of the B-movies.”

What are some films and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?

SY: I admire David Fincher because of his dark sensibility and his keen eye for always knowing precisely where to put the camera. Michael Mann’s “Heat” is my desert island movie. I’m also inspired by thrillers that manage to smuggle in deeply personal or thought-provoking stories like “It Comes at Night,” “Get Out” and “Hell or High Water.”

Do you have a favorite Asian-American film?

SY: When “Better Luck Tomorrow,” came out, it broke the mold for what Asian-American movies could be and touched a nerve with a younger audience. It inspired a lot of filmmakers, including myself, to make movies that refuse to pull punches. I’m also indebted to “Better Luck Tomorrow” for introducing me to the talents of my lead actor, Jason Tobin.

How does your Asian heritage influence your work?

SY: The stories I tell always come from a very personal point of view, so they naturally reflect my experience growing up as a Chinese-American. There’s a lot of me in the main character of “#1 Serial Killer,” even though he’s a homicidal maniac. Ever since film school, I’ve been intentional about casting Asian actors in my projects, because I want to see characters on screen that look like me and reflect the diversity of my everyday life.

What is your outlook on the state of Asian-American cinema?

SY: The #OscarsSoWhite and #whitewashing campaigns put a spotlight on the vast under-representation of Asians onscreen and behind the camera, but we still have a long way to go. It starts in the writer’s room and in the casting office—we need a critical mass of Asian-American content creators and tastemakers to step out of the shadows and tell their own stories in ways that will change the conversation in society.

Image Credit: Stanley Yung
Image Credit: Stanley Yung

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Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Stanley Yung! Watch “#1 Serial Killer” in the Asian Horror Films collection on your X1 International destination or with XFINITY Stream this October.

For more Filmmaker Spotlights or Asian-American news and entertainment visit XFINITY Asia.