By Andrew Hamlin
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Prize-winning film director Jason Karman came over from Indonesia, first to Calgary, then Vancouver, British Columbia. His earliest harsh memories revolve, not surprisingly, around snow.
“I experienced my first blizzard in Edmonton as an 8-year-old while helping my dad earn a living,” recalled Karman, who presents his feature film debut, “Golden Delicious,” at the Seattle Queer Film Festival. I didn’t understand why my parents moved us from Indonesia into such a harsh climate.”
Climate change wasn’t the only thing rocking the young man’s early memories.
“In the late 1980s, I remember starting to feel attraction to the same sex, while in junior high school in Calgary. It was in the locker room, towards one of the jocks. I just remembered him being so beautiful. I felt both fear and excitement.
“In the mid-1990s, I had my first kiss with a man. We were both university students from Alberta learning French in Quebec. He told me that he imagined I was a woman when he kissed me, and that made me feel not worthy and ashamed.”
Karman took a degree in Science, another in Cinematography, and finally graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2019 with a Master of Fine Arts in Film Production and Creative Writing. He credits Sharon McGowan and David Hauka as his most important film teachers, helping him deeply understand a given scene, how to understand a character’s wants and needs, and fit all of these concerns to a longer narrative.
“I started making films casually at the University of Calgary in the mid-1990s. I was part of a film/television club. After seeing my first set of LGBT films, I wanted to understand how the medium worked and in doing so, I was also exploring my sense of self.
“My first script and cast were back in 2004, when I invested $15k of my own money to make my first short film. I had received a diploma in Cinematography and wanted to make films, but nobody was giving me an opportunity, so I created one. I remember one of my instructors in Cinematography telling me how poor the success rate was for graduates, and I refused to be a statistic.”
He’s shot 17 short films over the years, crediting the documentary genre for helping him construct a compelling story, the drama genre for teaching the importance of movement as a crucial aspect of visual language, and thrillers, for giving him the power of economy in storytelling.
“Golden Delicious,” which runs 120 minutes, tells the story of Jake (Cardi Wong), a smart and artistic kid getting ready for his last year in high school. He’s getting ready to go all the way with his long-time girlfriend, Valerie (Parmiss Sehat), but when a hunky, aggressive, and confidently gay basketball player named Aleks (Chris Carson) moves in across the street, Jake has to take a long, tough look at his life. Sexuality, sports, machismo, bullying, and long-standing family tension, all enter the mix.
So far as budgeting the film, Karman explained, working on his short films “helped with applying for grants and attracting sponsors. I also have done IndieGoGo funding in the past, so I was able to use that knowledge when crowdsourcing.
“It took about four years to make. I had read earlier drafts before, but it wasn’t until 2018 that momentum accelerated. I filmed in Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster, specifically New Westminster Secondary.”
Asked about future plans, Karman didn’t say much, but he’s proud that “Golden Delicious” got selected for nine film festivals across North America. He’s currently working on a second feature.
Jason Karman presents his film “Golden Delicious” at the Seattle Queer Film Festival on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m., at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian. Go to:
threedollarbillcinema.org/golden-delicious for more details.
Andrew can be reached at email@example.com.