“It Tested Who I Am”: ‘Minding the Gap’ Director Bing Liu On Surviving Awards Season

“I’m two years into my second film that we're gunning for the Sundance deadline for this year, and developing a third film,” he shares with Deadline. “A lot of spinning plates.”
Liu considers it a good time of life to be devoting his full energies to filmmaking.
It won a Special Jury Award there for Breakthrough Filmmaking, recognizing how skillfully Liu told the story of growing up in Rockford, Illinois where he and friends Zack Mulligan and Keire Johnson gravitated toward skateboarding to escape families torn by emotional abuse. “It never ends,” jokes Bing Liu, who’s been on an incredible run with his film Minding the Gap, beginning in January 2018 with the world premiere at Sundance.
The film has traveled across cultures in part because the phenomenon of domestic violence extends far beyond the boundaries of one Rust Belt town.
“It's a different sort of animal,” as far as the Emmys go, Liu notes. “'Which episode do we pick to represent cinematography?’ It's a whole different beast.”
“But it takes a lot of work and you see that work being done by Keire throughout the film. He puts himself in really vulnerable places and he confronts really hurtful things that are complex and that no one is really giving him a guide for. But he tries to figure it out anyway.” “I think that the point of the film is that they can be broken—certainly, that there are huge ramifications for the cycle not being broken,” Liu states.
It's happening everywhere. It's just the fact that we don't talk about it and it's easier to relegate it to, 'Oh no, that just happens in like working-class communities.’” “Violence in the home isn't particular to Rockford,” Liu comments. “It's across the spectrum.
“Having to revisit that conversation over and over in crafting that scene [in edit] and fitting it in the film wasn't easy,” he acknowledges, “so I think we should respect and honor the work that it takes to break that cycle as well.”
“I don't have a mortgage or kids or anything. I’m 30, so I feel like I can do that. I burn the candle at three ends,” he laughs. I certainly see people who have kids and have other things going on, and for me, it's in a way like not having a lot of other obligations outside of work helps me focus.”” /> I just burn a lot of candles. “I'm just a workaholic.
Directing a documentary that resonates deeply with critics and audiences comes with what might be called an enviable downside: an awards season that tests a filmmaker’s endurance.
“When I went to Mainland China it was like, 'Ooh, I don't know whether this film is going to translate at all, it's such an Americana story,' but they loved it as well,” Liu observes. It really spoke to the sense of those halcyon youthful days, kind of like how kids think of summer when they're 15 years old.” “At a festival in Poland, the translation of the title was ‘Tomorrow or the Day After Tomorrow,’ which I thought was quiet poetic.
The Hulu Original documentary has screened around the world, from North America to Europe and Asia.
Now attention shifts to the Emmy Awards, where Minding the Gap could earn nominations in multiple categories. The film claimed Best Documentary at the IDA Awards last December, and won numerous other awards en route to an Oscar nomination earlier this year.
A subtext to Minding the Gap is whether cycles of domestic violence go on indefinitely.
Liu brought his sensitive eye to another project that’s in the running for Emmy consideration, the Starz documentary series America to Me. He was among the segment directors on the project by doc legend Steve James, which explores issues of race, class and privilege in a diverse Chicago high school.
For Liu, 30, the long awards process has led to some soul-searching.
“I’m just seeing where it goes.” “Part of what has been great about the awards campaign that has already happened, that whole experience, is I'm learning how this all works,” Liu tells Deadline.
“You get a lot of opportunities to ‘posture’ over and over and over again. And there's different ways of dealing with that, with sort of putting yourself out there. For me I feel like I was trying to get something out of it too so that it didn't feel like a job to go and 'campaign.' I tried to make every interview…just new and exciting and this new territory of understanding about the film or the industry so that it felt beneficial for everybody.” “I think it tested who I am,” the director reveals.
Late in the process of making the film Liu decided to include a scene where he confronted his mother over the abuse he sustained at the hands of his stepfather.
He hasn’t let the intensity of awards season distract him from attending to other work.

Motion Picture Sound Editors Cue Up Stephen H. Flick For Career Honor

The MPSE Career Achievement Award recognizes sound artists who have distinguished themselves by meritorious works as both an individual and fellow contributor to the art of sound for feature film, television and gaming and for setting an example of excellence for others to follow.” />
The honor will be presented February 17 during the 66th annual MPSE Golden Reel Awards in Los Angeles. Flick to receive of its 2018 MPSE Career Achievement Award. The Motion Picture Sound Editors has set supervising sound editor Stephen H.
He also scored Oscar noms for Poltergeist, Die Hard and Total Recall and has three Emmy Awards, for HBO's Deadlwood (2004) and John Adams (2008) and TNT's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007). A two-time Sound Editing Oscar winner for Speed (1995) and Robocop (1988) — the latter being a Special Academy Award — Flick has worked on more than 150 films and TV shows over four decades.
Flick's many other credits include Apollo 13, Pulp Fiction, Spider-Man, Batman Returns, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Twister, Jackie Brown  and 48 Hrs. A master of traditional and cutting-edge sound editing techniques, he is known for his collaborative approach toward sound production.
“Stephen is a true innovator and the epitome of the sound artist,” said MPSE President Tom McCarthy. “He creates sound that blends organically with picture and brings the film’s world and story to life.”