Side by Side: United States

Filming in the USThe pace of Side by Side picked up in early 2014 with filming in eight cities across the United States. On our own turf, we were comfortable acting as producer, director, and crew. We booked studios and ordered what little equipment was needed — mainly lights and electrical. We carried our camera, tripods, mic, recorder, field monitor, and EyeDirect.

Glenn recruited participants through social media, and talked with everyone who expressed an interest in the project. In the end, we traveled to those cities where the most people had raised their hand. We started close to home with 7 interviews in Denver, 6 in Seattle, and 5 in Portland. Back to Denver for a week then east to New York (15) and Washington D.C. (5). A week after that, 6 interviews in Boston. Our final stops in Chicago and Minneapolis added 12 more voices. By mid-March, 56 Korean American adoptees had shared their life experiences.

These were the first Side by Side interviews we filmed in English. Hearing them, with the full grasp of our native language, was overwhelming. We asked people to tell us about their lives from beginning to end. But in reality most of us talk about ourselves in snippets. This full arc was more emotional and many were surprised by the genuine hurt, hope, sadness, joy, and relief that rose to the surface. 56 versions of the truth.

Exhausting days, but the nights were full of good company. We now know where to get the best Korean food in every city we visited. We were invited into homes, met friends and families, took a million photos, and were prodded more than once to reveal something about our own life stories. Tit for tat.

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