Friday is a big day for Rockford filmmaker Bing Liu: his documentary Minding the Gap will be available to millions of viewers on the streaming service Hulu.
Since the movie’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January, he’s been going almost non-stop.
Bing spoke to us from Los Angeles Airport while waiting for a flight to New York to attend Minding the Gap‘s NYC theatrical opening.
“I just feel like the last 10 years have been insane,” Liu said Thursday. “When I first started doing films, I was 19. I got a job as a production assistant. And I was working at Target on (East) State Street and also, like, as a waiter and a dishwasher at Primo’s pizza. I didn’t realize for the next 10 years I’d just be able to freelance and work in films.”
As busy as the last year or so has been, Liu’s journey took about a decade. The Guilford High School graduate is a product of Rock Valley College’s Mass Communications Department.
Minding the Gap got him noticed. The film follows the struggles of three young men growing up in Rockford.
“The people in the film gave so much of themselves, they gave years of not only allowing me to tell their story, but they’re really vulnerable and really put themselves out there. I really hope that people can see the bravery in that, and the courage in that, and send a lot of love to the people that are actually in the film.”
Liu’s biggest struggle may have been bankrolling the film himself.
“They say, when you make a film, there’s good, [there’s] fast, and [there’s] cheap, and you pick two,” he said. “And, for the longest time, I had to pick good and cheap. It was a really slow burn, and it took a long time.”
That really sped up after the film was selected into Sundance. Liu says he submitted, what he called, a very rough cut.
Once he got in, last November, there was a rush to get the film ready for the January Sundance screenings.
The Hulu release, he says, is very different.
“Not every person has access to film festivals in their communities. So, yeah, this is going to reach everybody that I think I wanted to make the film for, originally – the kid who’s 12 years old, who has duct tape on his shoes; somebody else in another part of the country who just doesn’t feel like they’re as well connected with what’s going on in bigger cities. So, I’m really excited,” he said.
There are theatrical runs scheduled for this weekend in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston.
But Liu’s really looking forward to bringing Minding the Gap home, when it makes its Rockford debut at the Mosaic Film Festival at the Nordloff Center, downtown.
“Yeah, it’s going to be really exciting,” he said. “I’m really excited to bring the community together in Rockford and really get a realistic look at our community and talk about things.”
Liu will attend the Rockford screening and several planned events.
Click here for more information about the Mosaic World Film Festival.