Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 17, Ed. 1 Friday, September 9, 2011 Page: 30 of 48
. For his upcoming'Pit
SStop,' Texas filmmaker
Yen Tan'tackles another
ARNOU) WAYNE JONES I Life+Style Editor
Writing coaches often tell authors, "Write what you
know." But for Yen Tan, the more interesting assign-
ment is, "Write what you can't get out of your head."
Back in 2004 — when he was still living in Dallas, Tan wrote a
draft screenplay called Pit Stop, about two gay men in small-
town Texas who begin a romance. It wasn't anything he knew
about from personal experience.
"It's hard to pinpoint what drew me to the story," he says. "I
have a tendency to pick up on tilings that don't register with oth-
ers. Being gay and middle class in small-town America is very
foreign to me — it's odd there are gay people who choose to live
in small towns. What's the decision behind that?"
He liked the script, but he couldn't seem to get it off the
ground financially or creatively. Instead, he made Ciao, which be-
came his biggest hit as a filmmaker (it scored an honorable men-
tion at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival in 2008). But Pit
Stop drifted around in the back of his head until 2009, when he
submitted it to the OutFest L.A. screenwriting lab.
Yen Tan hopes to
raise money for a
spring start date
to shoot 'Pit
Stop,' about small
town gay life in
I ' V
"Hearing the comments by other filmmakers, I knew I had
something and had underestimated its potential," he says. Tan
immediately started in on rewrites, including making the cast
"The big change in the script is that two major characters are
Latino now. It was all-white originally, but that was not entirely
accurate of the Texas landscape," Tan says. He
also consulted with colleagues to make sure he
got the feel of Podunk, Texas right.
"Thankfully I'm a bit paranoid about those
things," he laughs. "I would verify and re-verify
[what I wrote about small-town Texas and gay
Latinos], I'd ask my friends who know, 'Is this
right or just totally made up?' And I usually rely on my actors to
put it right — is this what an American would say or is it totally
ESL [English as a Second Language]? But I am also trying to
make these elements work within the framework of my ideas.
PIT STOP LAUNCH EVENT
231W. Jefferson St Sept 14.630 p.m.
v UnitedStatesArtists.org y
hopes to begin filming in the spring, either around Austin or in
the DFW area, but needs to raise money first. Tan was lucky
enough to snag a grant targeted to Texas filmmakers, but he also
wants to raise money from individual investors. That's why this
week, he's teaming with OutTakes Dallas and the Texas Theatre
to showcase his movie and allow people to contribute via United
States Artists, a high-prestige donation site that
allows people to make tax-deductible contribu-
tions and comes with matching grants.
"We'll bo showing clips from Ciao and do a
staged reading of some scenes from Pit Stop,"
he explains. "We're also trying to set up Inter-
net stations so people can donate on the spot. But
to me it's not about raising all the money at one time — just to
kick it off." He's still trying to set up his goals for the fundrais-
ing, but Tan estimates something less than $20,000 would make a
huge difference. In fact, he's learned how to do more with less
The issue now isn't the script — it's getting the film made. He ever since moving to Austin last year.
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 17, Ed. 1 Friday, September 9, 2011, newspaper, September 9, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239184/m1/30/ocr/: accessed April 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.