Director's Statement from Melissa Johnson
I was a 6'4", 127-pound 8th grade girl. Basketball saved me. Eventually, I became the captain of the Harvard University team. Sick of clichéd sports movies that were mainly told about men's teams, I decided to make a film that de-emphasized "the big win" and instead demonstrated basketball as THE tool a young girl uses to figure out who she is between adolescence and adulthood. I envisioned an irreverent, funny, and deeply emotional film shot in cinéma vérité style. When I met Emily Tay I immediately knew that this was the story I had been looking for. Basketball had saved her too.
I first saw Emily in February 2008 at Lavieties Pavilion, the Harvard home gym. I had heard about this girl, "The Asian Sensation," "A one-woman Cirque du Soleil." I was in town filming "Act As If", a short documentary about my friend and former coach, Kathy Delaney-Smith.
While the team practiced in a flurry around me I had to quickly pick a few players to interview. My eye immediately went to Emily. Throughout my 13-year career as a player, I played with and against hundreds of young women, but that number only included a handful of Asians and no one from Burma. Emily jumped and hung in the air like a guy and made daring behind-the-back passes the likes of which I had never seen before in this gym. It was impossible not to stare. My director of photography leaned over to whisper, "You can pick whoever you want, but it's my responsibility to tell you that the camera loves that girl."
Coach Delaney-Smith warned me that Emily was notoriously, even painfully shy, and sure enough, she declined the interview. My curiosity was piqued — what athletic star, ranked Top 25 nationally for assists, brimming with cockiness on the court (at a school known for its ambitious students no less) would shirk the spotlight? What was this kid's story?
After prodding from her coach, Emily relented. She was my final interview, late in the locker room on a Sunday evening. Her nervousness gave way to an incredible recounting of her life.
By the end we were all crying, Emily, me — even my cameraman. I walked out of the bright locker room into the vacant dark gym, overwhelmed and knowing that I had to make this film.
I believe that NO LOOK PASS is a film that needed to be made and just so happened to call upon me to make it. I accept this responsibility as an honor and feel tremendously excited to share it with the world.