09/07/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Interview: Charlyne Yi Cuts and Pastes Paper Heart

Charlyne Yi has just finished a not-that-lengthy explanation of how her film, Paper Heart, came to be -- when she goes wide-eyed and laughs.

"Wow -- I was getting pretty bored with that while I was talking -- like I was falling asleep while I was talking," she says in astonishment. "Even while I was talking, I was wondering, 'Why is this taking so long? What if Jimmy Fallon falls asleep when I tell this on his show?' I'm so sorry to put you through that."

Honestly, it wasn't as bad as all that. And Yi, 23, drinking coffee in the lobby of New York's Algonquin Hotel, is honestly surprised to be sitting here, along with actor Jake Johnson, talking about what she thought of as her little movie, Paper Hearts, which opens today (8.07.09) in New York and Los Angeles.

"We thought this would go straight to DVD," Yi says. "So this is awesome. It's like proof the movie exists."

The difference between expectations and reality? The 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where Paper Heart won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award (despite not actually having a script) -- and got picked up for release by Overture Films.

"Sundance changed the movie completely," Yi says. "We wouldn't be here now. We wouldn't be touring with this movie now. It's exciting that a wider audience would see it."

Adds Johnson, "It was just this intimate project that we were all doing together, that we all had control of. After Sundance, it was something somebody else owned, that we were just part of."

"Wow," Yi says, struck by the realization. "It comes out tomorrow. I'm really nervous."

Says Johnson, "I hope it finds an audience. That would be pretty cool -- to have a movie we did -- and a percentage of the population that saw it and enjoyed it."

"I don't know -- it takes a lot to get me to actually go out to see a movie," Yi says. "I wonder if anyone will show up."

Paper Heart is part-documentary, part semi-scripted narrative -- and all Yi.

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