Maymay had the opportunity to interview actor/writer/director Alonzo Jones about his awarding winning short film, Eli’s Liquor Store. Mr. Jones was extremely generous with his time, and his consideration and kindness towards Maymay is greatly appreciated.
Here is the interview:
1.) What are you hoping people will get out of watching your film?
We hoped that people would get an understanding that, even though sometimes they don’t stand out, problems do exist; i.e. stereotypes, misconceptions, etc. and the first step in avoiding conflicts such as what we’re dealing with right now, is taking preventative measures.
2.) How did you come up with the story for Eli’s Liquor Store?
Well, At the time we, me and my co-writer/co-director Arnold Chun, were primarily working as actors. I’m black and my co-writer/co-directer is Korean and we felt that the roles that were available to us were the stereotypical black and Asian roles, so we decided to start writing materials that we would prefer to act in. In the midst of working on an action/comedy script we began to talk and realized A LOT of similarities and differences in our races. That sparked conversations on things we dealt with like and subtle and blatant racisms. So we decided to deal with the stereotype of Asian’s opening liquor stores in the ‘hood’ and flip it, where an African-American opens a liquor store in Korea-Town L.A. We then started jotting down some scenarios and Eli’s Liquor Store was born.
3.) Did you have a real life experience with this situation in the film?
All of the scenarios in this film are based off of things that we have witnessed or been a part of.
4.) Your movie showed me that no matter what you do or where you go there will always be ungrateful people.Was that the message you were trying to send?
We weren’t trying to say that people are “ungrateful”. Basically, those situations were a metaphor for ALL bad situations and attitudes. The message that we were trying to convey was that no matter how hopeless things feel, you HAVE to acknowledge and deal with these situations and attitudes in a positive way. That is the ONLY way to achieve the change that we all want.
5.) With everything that has been going on in the news do you think civil rights has taken a step backwards?
I believe its taken a hit, but I’m hopeful that things will get better. Its VERY unfortunate that people have to lose their lives before these issues are put in the news. And at the risk of sounding too political, PEOPLE of ALL colors are victimized, but only a select few are publicized.
6.) Is there anything you would like to share or add that I didn’t ask about?
Basically, we would like to simple like to emphasis the last line in the movie..
” We all need to wake up.. I believe people can change.. and I hope for all our sakes, that it happens soon.”
Eli’s Liquor Store is set in Koreatown circa 1999. It’s the story of Elijah Gooden, a 43-year-old African-American man from Atlanta, Georgia. With a degree from Georgia Tech University, he worked in corporate America before moving his family to Los Angeles to start his own business. He and his family experience culture shock and adversity as they struggle to build their livelihood in an area dominated by Asian-American business owners. It is worlds apart from what he knew in Atlanta, and despite the varying degrees of suspicion, contempt, resentment and prejudice that he faces, Gooden makes a challenge to overlook racial lines and focuses on the humanity of every person in hopes of building better relationships.