When Lawrence Le Lam heard the story of his father, Lami Lam, a legendary DJ called Blue Jet who played banned anti-war rock and roll music in Taiwan in the 1970s, he thought it would be a great idea for a film. The result was a 16 minute short film entitled The Blue Jet that would go on to win the BC Student Shortwork Award at the Whistler Film Festival. The Blue Jet will play at the Vancouver Short Film Festival (VSFF) from Jan. 29–30.
Le Lam, who graduated from Emily Carr University in film studies, says he thought the story would also work well as a feature film someday because there is so much to the story.
“They decided to play this kind of music because it was popular among the youth and also decided to make records and hold underground concerts,” says Le Lam.
A DJ revealed
Le Lam grew up in Richmond, BC in a world of karaoke bars and bubble tea shops. When he was quite young his dad played rock and roll in the car.
“I always remember him singing along to the songs,” says Le Lam.
Over time, Le Lam started asking questions. He eventually found out that his father had played in a band when he was young, played bass and was also a radio DJ.
“He’d say he was only allowed to play one hour of rock and roll a week, but he would play two,” Le Lam says.
The B.C. filmmaker originally wrote the script for The Blue Jet in 2012. His challenge was figuring out how to turn this story into a film.
At first, Lami Lam didn’t think anyone would be interested in his story, notes Le Lam. But later, he realized how interesting the story is.
“It’s not something he necessarily likes to boast about. I’m usually the one telling people about it because I think it’s a cool thing,” says Le Lam.
One film that impacted Le Lam was based on the French book The Man Who Planted Trees. The short animated film of the same name is about a man who plants trees over a span of 30 years in a desolate area in the foothills of the French Alps to bring life back to the region.
“Throughout the story, you hear a lot about this extraordinary character, but you never really get to know him. You admire him from a distance,” Le Lam says.
Le Lam explains he thought that telling his dad’s story through a fan’s perspective would keep the mythos.
Memory, a strange thing
“It’s funny how memory works because the way my dad tells the story there are some inconsistencies with how he tells it and how it actually was. That’s an element I try to bring into the film where the narrator tells you one thing, but you see something else,” says Le Lam.
Le Lam wants to find out about these different worlds he hasn’t been to that also fall within the worlds that he’s seen, such as the Asian and North American crossings.
Le Lam says he wants to work with Asian Canadian performers he’s met through his film project in part because they don’t appear in film enough. His first priority, however, is to explore the Asian North American world around him and find the right people to represent their stories.
For more information, visit www.vsff.com.