Based in Portland, OR, Alberta Poon is a first-generation Chinese-American director and screenwriter known for her surreal-like imagery, lush soundscapes, and fondness for vibrant punches of color—creating bold worlds that embody beauty and humor in a fun and refreshing light. Alberta’s work explores the themes of the Asian-American diaspora experience using comedy to grab the attention of people that might otherwise tune out.
Q. What inspired you to start making films?
A. As a kid my dad was super into photography and making home videos of the fam. I would always “steal” his cameras and make really ridiculous content to subject my friends and family to. This is back in the day when a camcorder was on VHS and you had to edit in camera. I guess that drive to make absurd content never left me and now as an adult I make a living in this line of work.
Q. What do you like best about Portland’s film scene?
A. I really love how supportive most people are of each other’s projects regardless of budget. I know that I have a great pool of talent that are always down-to-clown even if it’s just for the sake of an inside joke or a TikTok that only seven people will see.
Q. It was so fun having your music video for ‘Worry With You’ by Sleater Kinney at our first Music Video Program at BFF21 last year – what did you learn as a director when making that video?
A. Making that music video taught me that I am unstoppable LOL. Carrie Brownstein reached out to me and told me Sleater Kinney needed a music video conceptualized, shot, edited, and delivered in three weeks. This is basically an impossible ask, but if Carrie Brownstein reaches out to you, you pop an Adderall or two and go to town!
Q. How does directing a music video differentiate from directing a narrative or documentary film? Or any other kind of film for that matter?
A. Music videos are a blast because you can get super experimental with everything. If you get too weird with narrative or commercial work everyone wants to reign you in because it might not work or they fear change. With music videos I think it’s encouraged to be as out there as possible. It’s a great medium to explore your wildest ideas and be put on a pedestal for doing so.
Q. If you could give any advice to future female filmmakers what would it be?
A. Don’t treat other women as competition, make them your allies and support each other.
Q. In your opinion, what stands out most to you about being a woman in the film industry? Do you find it to be more challenging or more empowering?
A. Definitely both. Being a WOC absolutely has its challenges. People don’t take you seriously, you get paid less, and if you’re confident people can read that as being a diva or a threat. I find being a WOC director empowering when I’m confident that my POV is unique in a sea of sameness.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A.The project I am focusing on the most right now is my pilot Cult-de-sac which is based on my experience growing up as the only Asian girl in Mormon Utah. I don’t plan on making this myself—the hope is to get a production company interested and see where that goes. Aiming for the stars here!
Q. What kind of topics or narratives do you hope film festivals bring forth in 2022?
A. It would be great to see more film festivals curate more diverse filmmakers without drawing attention to it and making a category specifically calling out the programming block “diverse filmmakers” or whatever. Just program more underrepresented filmmakers into your regular lineups until we are not underrepresented anymore. Boom, done—easy-peasy.
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