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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

James Chean: An Indie Filmmaker

James Chean has spent the last 30 years making films in the US, but is now back here working on a project with respected Myanmar director U Kyee Myint. IT has been over 29 years since James Chean left Myanmar for America. He was just 14 years old at the time.

“Since my parents moved to America, I had no choice but to go with them,” he said.
It proved a fortuitous turn of events for the teenager, as by his second year there he was appearing in Chinese action films as a stunt man.
He quickly made the transition to behind the camera and by 18 he was working as a cinematographer. By 23 he had already added the titles of production assistant and director to his CV.
At 33, he has the films The Last Eve, Sunset Society, The Singer Downstairs, Silent Scream and Alibi to his name and has received mentions in US film industry bibles such as Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter.

He followed up a stint as assistant editor at Paramount Pictures and MGM studios from 1985 to 1986 with work on music videos and commercials, then in 1996 started his own film company KYC Production.

“I wanted to make my own films so I started the production company in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Since its inception, KYC has been involved in numerous film and video projects,” he says.
With filmmaking success in the US well under his belt, he has been lured back to his place of birth by the opportunity to work with legendary Myanmar director U Kyee Myint on a film.
“I came back mainly for a visit,” he said while in Yangon earlier this month, adding that he misses his homeland.

“But I also really want to make a Myanmar movie with U Kyee Myint.”The pair met when Chean visited Myanmar 10 years ago. “I had stopped making movies for a few years,” U Kyee Myint said.The meeting with Chean inspired him to get back to work.

“When I met Mr Chean and we talked about Myanmar movies, I saw that he was really interested in making a movie in Myanmar,” he said. The pair have started working on a script. But in the meantime, Chean is off to South Korea where his film The Last Eve is being shown.
“I will be back but I can’t say exactly when yet,” he said with a smile.

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