BLT-Sunny Hills Similarities?

We thought we'd share this question from Tom L., and Justin's personal response. This is a question that has come up in past Q&As, and we thought it would be important to address it here. We hope it helps to clarify any confusion.

"Is it true that BLT is based on the Stuart Tay murder case in Orange County?" -Tom L., Houston, TX

The impetus of "Better Luck Tomorrow" was inspired by a rash of news stories about violence and teenagers, an issue that lately seems to pop up every other week. At the time, I worked a lot with youth in both media and sports, and I felt that if I were to take 10 credit cards and make a film, it would deal with the issues that were important to me, and to the people I knew and worked with. This question regarding similarities to the Sunny Hills case has been asked in Q&A's before. My response has always been the same: that "Better Luck Tomorrow" is not based on Stuart Tay's murder. I only know of the tragic event through newspapers and television, like everyone else. At the very beginning of the writing process, I made a conscious decision not to base it on that, or any other, real event. I didn't know the people or the details of what exactly happened, and out of respect to the people associated with the case and their families, I did not want to misrepresent them. Also, as an artist I wanted to explore and deal with issues and themes that are independent of true people and events.

Since the completion of the film I've talked to people who are both familiar with the Stuart Tay case and have also seen "BLT", and they have assured me that even though there are some similarities between the two, the characters and plot lines are completely different from the real people and events.

Additionally, I have spoken to Angela Oh, who is one of the lawyers involved in the original case. It seems that an unnamed reporter, who perhaps wanted to drum up controversy, claimed that I denied ever knowing that the case existed. This couldn't be further from the truth. I explained to Angela that I have never denied knowing about the incident. On the contrary, it was the knowing of the incident, along with several other instances of teen violence depicted in the news media, that inspired me to explore the fictional story and characters of "Better Luck Tomorrow". Angela seemed relieved. Her only concern was the unfounded rumor.

I hope this answers a lot of your questions. However, if there are still some concerns, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the details of the Stuart Tay case, and then watch "Better Luck Tomorrow". Once you compare the facts to fiction, it will be very clear.