Turtlist Media has been on TaiwaneseAmerican.org’s radar for several months, beginning with the release of The Chains of Attractions short films in August 2008. However, Turtlist founder Jason Lee was far from finished with his project. The recent re-launch of the Turtlist Media website (www.TurtlistMedia.com) provides a more interactive and navigable space where Asian Americans can publicize their work, network with each other, and learn about other talented artists like themselves.
While Turtlist Media was first created as Lee’s independent production company, he ambitiously decided to expand the concept to a networking hub. “The goal of the organization is to encourage Asian America in the arts,” said Lee. “I am trying to feature artists at all different levels. I feel the community’s strength won’t come from where each artist stands professionally, but by building off each other and supporting each other.”
Besides Lee’s own Turtlist films, the website features other talented Asian Americans working in film, music, photography, dance, comedy, and spoken word. The website also features collaborative projects, such as the current “Savor the Flavor” project.
“I think it’s a really cool idea, for certain Asian American composers to sort of ‘donate’ their own instrumentals, and then singers, rappers, and songwriters borrow them from the website, listen to it at home, and hopefully get inspired,” explained Lee.
Although Lee began by contacting other artists to feature on his site, the growth of Turtlist Media has succeeded in bringing artists to him. “At first I would write these long letters about what I’m doing and how they might help me out,” recalled Lee.
“Eventually more and more people started to hear about this idea, through whatever networking or friends of friends, and now people started to email me with their own stuff, which I think is a good sign,” he said with a relieved laugh.
Lee can use a relief nowadays as he juggles multiple projects. His own upcoming Turtlist film “Toilet: The Adventures of a Peculiar Individual” focuses on an Asian American male who isn’t actually peculiar but can’t help but stumble upon awkward situations—a condition many people are all too familiar with.
“He’s a normal Asian American, whatever that means,” said Lee. “They’re everyday situations in college life, but situations where it’s impossible not to respond awkwardly.”
Lee also plans on keeping Turtlist Media in expansion mode, with regular updates being an important feature to keep readers coming back. He hopes one day to assemble a board of hardworking individuals to manage all the different aspects of a continually growing Turtlist Media in order to take on more projects and attract more talent from across the nation.
Meanwhile, as an undergraduate at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, schoolwork also piles onto Lee’s to-do list—sometimes.
“I’ve definitely worked on the website or emailed people instead of writing a paper or studying. It’s really based upon passion—if you really want it you gotta love it, and it’s worth it.”
Bettina Chang is a second-year student at the Medill School of Journalism. Although she was previously involved in a Turtlist Media project, this article was researched and written with as much objectivity as possible. Contact her at email@example.com