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Filmmaker explores the thin line between sanity and psychosis in 'The Purgation'

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Filmmaker Elaine Chu's love for Japanese and Korean horror movies has led to the launch of her new project "The Purgation" on where she's trying to raise $66,666.

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Chu recently answered a few questions.

Tell us about your upcoming project "The Purgation"

The Purgation is a psychological thriller. The story is about a woman who is terrorized by an evil entity that she discovers inside an abandoned insane asylum. In order to survive, she must travel that thin line between sanity and psychosis.

What inspired you to create this project?

My hometown of Marshfield, Wisconsin is the site of an old county asylum. After the asylum closed, there were several reports of hauntings related to the gruesome deaths of various patients and staff members who used to live there. As a child I used to bring my camcorder into the asylum’s ruins and shoot homemade horror movies with my friends.

This project came about as a combination of my memories of the abandoned asylum and my desire to tell truly a disturbing story. Personally, I prefer horror movies that warp the mind and make you feel unsettled rather than the typical slasher films which are more about pushing the boundaries of gore. I love Japanese and Korean horror movies like The Ring and A Tale of Two Sisters. I get upset whenever Hollywood remakes a hit Asian movie without casting Asian American leads. So, I made a conscious effort to cast an Asian American lead for my film, The Purgation, because I was inspired by Asian cinema. I also have a diverse supporting cast because I’m committed to opening up artistic avenues for all people of color.

What challenges have you faced as an Asian American female filmmaker?

My parents emigrated from Hong Kong. Understandably, they’ve worked hard to survive in the United States, so they expect me to follow one of the traditional pathways to success - business, law, or medicine. They’ve never considered my film career as anything more than a crazy hobby. Luckily, when I first started to seriously pursue film I was able to flourish with the help of Asian Am arts organizations such as Theatre Rice, Bindlestiff, and AATC (Asian American Theatre Company).

I think being Asian American, and female, gives me a unique perspective to tell stories. However, I don’t have as many role models to look up to. Less than 5% of Hollywood directors are female, and a smaller percentage are Asian American.

I started a director’s blog at - which I hope will be a useful resource for other aspiring Asian American female directors.

Here in Los Angeles, I’ve worked on mainly mainstream projects where I’m often the only Asian American, and one of the only females on crew. I’ve worked with men who are supportive and made me feel welcome on set, but one day I’d like to see a world where a majority-female crew is not uncommon. I’d like to see more women helping women get ahead in the film industry.

There is power in numbers. People tend to hire people that they can more easily relate to. So, I get why most crews are men. I’d want to work with my friends too. To change that imbalance, more women need to get in the positions of power that are behind the camera. As a director/writer, you have the power to empower other women through the stories you tell. You can create roles that would typically go to men but cast women instead – for example – the head of a tech company, or a team of scientists that discover the cure for cancer, or even a female president. We can inspire young girls to shoot for the stars – if they see it, they can do it.

Where can supporters contribute to your project?

We currently have a shoestring budget to start shooting in spring of 2014. Fortunately, I have a team of committed actors and crew members who are willing to volunteer their talents to see this indie film through to completion. However, there are some expenses that can’t be avoided – permit fees, location rentals, and insurance, to name a few examples, so I’m crowd funding to help offset those costs.

You can contribute at:
Every dollar helps!

When can audiences expect to see the film released?

I’ll be submitting to several film festivals such as Sundance and AAIFF. My plan is to do a theatrical release in September, before the bulk of horror films are released for Halloween.

You can track the progress of the film at:


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