World Film Fair (New York) – filmmaking & distribution

world film fair logos - me

The first World Film Fair was held in New York on 26th to 31st October, 2018. Joy House Film Festival was invited to attend this event and we submitted all our 10 finalists’ work and one of our own feature films, The Casting Game, to be judged among thousands of entries from across the world.

The opening dinner was held at Trump Hotel, 1 Central Park West, New York, where many filmmakers and directors from other international festivals attended. Here media asked, “what makes a good film?” & “what makes your film festival different from all the other festivals in the world?” My answers were, “a great story and the right chemistry of characters/ actors, especially the leads and the way the film was shot – cinematography.” (Key points I’ve learned from Australian distributors.) The answer to the second question was, “to spread joy through the many films selected and awareness in diversity – not only through the casting of the actors but through the story itself. My aim is for people to feel uplifted after attending my festival and hope for social change in thought, action and behaviour. To change people’s views – acceptance, forgiveness, kindness and paying it forward. These have been popular themes for Joy House Film Festival films and my own work.”

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The films were shown at The Producer’s Club in uptown New York and Cinepolis in Chelsea. They were screened on rotation from 10am to midnight over four days. Here I was lucky to meet some wonderful filmmakers from New York, Los Angeles and Switzerland. Jillie Simon, Markus Otz, Emine Dursun, Phillip Walker. They were generous in sharing their thoughts about filmmaking. Many shared the importance of choosing people well, ones who are positive and enthusiastic throughout filming and who can actually deliver, in terms of cast and crew. And the importance of selecting great talent. I admire Jillie Simon’s tenacity in casting Eric Roberts in her film, “Hungry.” It took great persistence and it paid off in the end as her film has been selected in many festivals and won over a dozen awards. Well done Jillie!

world film fair people

On closing night, it was a great surprise that our 2018 Joy House Film Festival winner, “Joy and Heron” won best World Film Fair’s international animation award, and “Give me a minute” won best World Film Fair short film in Australia/N.Z/Asia & “The Casting Game” won best World Film Fair feature film in Australia/N.Z./Asia too.

World Film Fair best animation  World Film Fair Give me a minuteWorld Film Fair Best Australian Film

I went to New York with no expectations as I was just happy that our films were selected for exhibition and came back extremely proud and chuffed that our films were well received and won awards. We look forward to World Film Fair 2019.

DISTRIBUTION     

While over in New York I was fortunate to meet distributors outside from World Film Fair. I’d like to share some important food for thought & lessons I’ve learned, as I’d like filmmakers in my shoes to be prepared and receive contract deals too.

Firstly, always make contact before going there and show a press kit of your film, trailer and a private link to your film too. Some distributors may only have time to read your press kit and see your trailer, so carry a USB of the best parts of your film and your whole film too – they’ll probably have time to just watch 10 mins of your film with you. Others do watch your film privately.

Secondly, they’ll ask for the budget breakdown of your film. Who brought in what. Never give a budget based on in-kind work or evaluations, as I learned in Australia in my first ever distribution meeting, that the market value for some work is based on experience and to over value your work as first time filmmakers is perceived to be arrogant / narcissistic. So keep the figures real. Over here I was asked, “Were your E.P.’s on board in title/name only, where they bring in at least a fifth of the budget and finish their work when filming finishes or are your E.P.s on board fully-fledged, finishing after the festival circuit is complete and distribution, and have ownership of rights / profits etc?” Also distributors would like to see a copy of the chain of title – rights to the story and ask what each of you are currently doing.

During conversation, you’ll be asked what made you want to tell your story and why you’re the best person to tell that story. It’s also great to find a connection with the person you’re dealing with, like I did with one here. It’s important to show humility – we talked about how life is too short to hold grudges and the power of forgiveness, and we connected when talking about our fathers.

Once you break down any fronts/barriers a person may have and just be in the moment, (don’t go in with any preconceived ideas or perceptions or expectations, and if you have a good enough product that has won awards, and has been selected into festivals), you have a greater chance in securing a distribution deal. I hope this helps you in reaching your goals and dreams as filmmakers. Don’t ever expect things in life as you’ll be greatly disappointed, just enjoy the ride!

world film fair the producers club

Interview with newly published author – Barton Williams

Barton Cuong Williams was adopted from Saigon, Vietnam in 1975 and raised in Adelaide, South Australia. He graduated as a school teacher and has written an award winning fitness programme for kids and self-published his first book, “Angry Mangry.” His second book, “But what are you?” has now been published by Olympia Publishers.

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J.H.  Who were your role models growing up and why?
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B.W. Actor: Andrew Mc Farlane from Patrol Boat and The Sullivans because I just thought he was cool as a kid. Surf Ironman Champion: Guy Leech because he was one of the youngest ever competitors to win the famous Coolangatta Gold surf ironman competition and I was lifesaving Nipper from the age of 8. And my Mum: She was the most supportive, tough but honest mum, a child could ask for.
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J.H. What drives you to do what you do?
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B.W. I want to set an example for anyone who feels they cannot achieve. I had a challenging start to my childhood and there is not a day go by where I am not grateful for that. I owe it to my family and friends to pay that back in some way, shape or form.
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J.H. What do you like doing best and why?
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B.W. I like being creative. Starting with an idea in my head, writing it down (or typing it down these days) then getting it to a stage that it becomes a finished product. At the moment I am doing more educational writing and fitness writing than ever before!
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J.H. What are the differences between self publishing and having a traditional publisher?
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B.W. I don’t see a huge difference as both these days require social media marketing and a lot of work for all involved. (author and publisher)
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J.H. Why did you want to write this book?
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B.W. This manuscript has been a long time coming. Four years ago I had a documentary made by AFTRS on my childhood which sparked a lot of curiosity. I then felt that kids could really benefit from some of my challenges experienced as a child, hence I wrote “But What Are You?”
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Baby Bart
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J.H. Do you see changes in the Arts with Diversity?
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B.W. Absolutely yes, there is sooooo much more cultural diversity on film and TV. eg. Street Smart (Channel 10) Crazy Rich Asians (feature film), Kens Convenience (Netflix), Master of None (Netflix) I think overall we are seeing ethnic minority groups being represented better but it needs to continue. Sadly Australia has take it’s time in doing so but has come a long way. I believe it has to start with writing diversity which will ultimately lead to casting diversity.
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J.H. What is your advice for future writers?
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B.W. Never give up! My manuscript was rejected by over 10 publishers in Australia and about the same in London. I was not giving up because I believed that this story was worthy of publishing! “But What Are You?” has been a long journey.
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J.H. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
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B.W. I hope to have written more children’s books, produced the stage production of BUT WHAT ARE YOU? which is already in development, having taken it to Edinburgh Scotland Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Hopefully continued to act professionally more and marketed my fitness programs internationally.
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J.H. But does success looks like to you?
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B.W. Repeated work from my publisher, acting agent or business colleagues is what defines success. I am not driven by awards or money but if people want to give them to us, sure we will accept them LOL.
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Interview with Joy House Film Festival’s Best Women’s Filmmaker & People’s Choice Winners – The challenges being a filmmaker!

The Annual Joy House Film Festival was on again at Hoyts cinema on Sept 9th, 2018. The only uplifting festival Downunder that promotes stories of JOY and celebrates DIVERSITY, supported by the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance’s Diversity Committee.

I had the privilege of interviewing our Winners, this week my interview is with our Best Women’s Filmmaker (“Munchies” – Hayley Warnock) and People’s Choice Winner (“That’s Life” – Katharine Rogers).

Munchies    That's life

1) What made you want to produce / make your short film?
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H.W.: I am a self taught stop motion animator. For every stop motion that I make, my aim is for it to be better then the previous one. This particular film Munchies had the biggest, most detailed set i’ve ever made before. It had proper film lighting instead of my desk lamps and I used stop motion computer software to help capture the animation. My overall goal for this film was to keep enhancing my animation skills and tell a story along the way.
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K.R.: Growing up I spent a lot of time watching movies.  They formed a lot of my childhood and I had an understanding of movie images and the power of stories to move people.  When I started telling stories it seemed natural to tell them in a visual medium.
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Hayley Warnock  Hayley Warnock Katharine Katharine Rogers
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2) What do you consider important as a filmmaker and why? 
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H.W.: When you don’t have human characters that people can relate to, I think as an animator you have to work extra hard for your characters performance to be taken seriously, however I think every element that goes into filmmaking is equally important. If you have a message that your audience can take away from your film, and they think about your film after it is shown, then you have created more than just a film.
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K.R.: It always comes back to story.  Everything you do should be informed by the story you’re telling.   And only tell the story if it’s something that matters to do you.
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3) Did you see any challenges whilst making your short film entry?
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H.W.: My biggest challenge while making Munchies was the ability to create realistic smooth movements. Stop motion obviously requires an incredible amount of patience and if you lose focus even for a second you can lose the flow of your movements. After creating all the elements of the set with plasticine or other materials, another challenge arose when I had to move house. It meant carefully picking up and transporting the set across Melbourne. To top it off it also meant tilting the set on its side to fit through the doorframe! It was a delicate process. Luckily there were only a few carrots that didn’t survive the trip.
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K.R.:

It’s always challenging making a short film. No have no budget or very little budget and you’re trying to make everything work to your advantage with only minimum help.   In my case I only had some of the actors for a short window of time, so I had to figure how to get the most out of the time and get the essential shots to tell the story.
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Munchies set  Munchies set
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4) Who inspired you to be a filmmaker and why?
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H.W.: I don’t necessarily get inspiration from any person in particular but rather certain films or single moments in films. When I was much younger I wanted to make films but I didn’t have anybody that wanted to act in them, so thats when I decided to make my first animation. I didn’t need to rely on any actors, I could create my own. However in saying that, YouTube has been an incredible source of inspiration for myself and if I had to pick a singular person, it would be Brit Marling.
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K.R.: ‘m not sure there was just one filmmaker.  There were a number of filmmakers who have influenced me over time.  It changes, a little I think as your tastes change.  I grew up watching MGM musicals so those must have had some influence and then I saw a of arthouse and offbeat cinema which as a young teenager kind of blew my mind, so all that factors in.
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That's life scene That’s Life
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5) How did you discover the annual Joy House Film Festival and why did you want to enter?
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H.W.: When entering film festivals you never really have anything to lose, so when I came across the Joy House Film Festival in the online platform FilmFreeway, I was delighted to read about the festival and subsequently entered. There is something extra special about film festivals hosted in Australia, and it was a great opportunity for my film to reach a wider audience.

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K.R: Three of my films have played at JHFF.  I can’t remember how I discovered it, probably via one of the film festival entry sites.  I think it’s always nice to have a screening in your home town and they’re aren’t masses of short film festivals in Sydney so Joy House Film Festival definitely adds to that landscape.

6) What’s the best thing about the Joy House Film Festival?
H.W.: I was lucky enough to attend the Joy House Film Festival this year. The biggest thing I noticed was that everyone was very supportive of each other with a general vibe of happiness going around! I also loved that it was inside the Hoyts cinema. Everyone’s film looked fantastic on the big screen!
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K.R.: I really like that the festival’s focus is on Joy and Diversity.  There aren’t really any other festivals I can think of that focus on that topic.  A lot of my films are joyful, which is unusual in Australia (lots of shorts made here tend to be quite dark) so it’s nice to have some place to show films that focus on something positive.
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JHFF 2018 poster & peeps v sml
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Joy House Film Festival is always held on the Sunday after Father’s Day in September every year.
Spread the JOY! Pay it forward.

 

Interview with the Winners of Joy House Film Festival 2018 (Youth & Diversity) – challenges being a filmmaker

JHFF on screen 2018

The Annual Joy House Film Festival was on again at Hoyts cinema on Sept 9th, 2018. The only uplifting festival Downunder that promotes stories of JOY and celebrates DIVERSITY, supported by the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance’s Diversity Committee.

I had the privilege of interviewing our Winners, this week our Youth & Diversity winners –   Shejuti Hossain (Creed) & Ehsan Knopf (Digby Webster)

S  Shejuti Hossain

E.  Ehsan Knopf

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1) What made you want to produce / make your short films?
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E.K. : Digby Webster is a short excerpt from a longer feature documentary called “Flying Solo”, inspired by my own diagnosis with a disability, Asperger’s syndrome.
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S.H.: For me, it was about the message that our short film conveyed. Many cross cultural youth in Australia, myself included, face issues with being caught in the middle of two clashing cultures. It becomes an internal conflict where one is torn between wanting to follow the beliefs and traditions that they’ve been brought up with at home, as well as trying to ‘fit in’ to the starkly different culture present in the country/city they live in.
The aim of the film is to contribute to building resilience and social cohesion so that different cultures aren’t seen as opposing cultures. It aims to educate non-islamic people about our side of the story, how our faith isn’t any less than their beliefs, and how we can all live in harmony if we look past our prejudices.
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Digby Digby Webster Documentary
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2) What do you consider important as a filmmaker and why?
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E.K. : Using the craft to offer a glimpse of a world largely unseen by the general public, and using that unique perspective to transforms perceptions around certain subject matter or theme – in this case disability.
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S.H.: Film is a powerful medium to spread a message as, if done well, it can captivate an audience and leave a real impression on them. Humans connect through stories, finding areas they can relate, and learning about something outside of themselves.
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Filmmaking gives one the power to invite an audience into a certain realm for at least the duration of the film, and perhaps open their mind up more, ultimately making our world a more connected and interesting place to live. It can spark discussions, present new ideas and open up space for groups or minorities that didn’t have space before. This is important for the audience as well, as the audience gets the opportunity to have an experience vicariously that they may not have had the chance to do otherwise, perhaps making them more curious about the world they live in.
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3) Did you see any challenges whilst making your short film entry?
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E.K. : The feature film was produced off my own bat – largely edited, financed, produced and directed by me over five years. It required a lot of dedication and self-sacrifice to see it through to the end.
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S.H.: We faced quite a few challenges during the process of creating the short film. We had a very low budget for film, which was the root of many of the difficulties we had.

It was also challenging to film outdoors in Melbourne’s temperamental weather. There were days where there were intense storms and hail – not ideal for shooting a soccer film.

Nevertheless, the dedicated cast and crew persistently overcame these challenges to make this film a success.

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Creed  “Creed”

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4) Who inspired you to be a filmmaker and why?
E.K.: BBC presenter David Attenborough and is passionate interest in the natural world kindled wonder in me – as well as the drive to help in turn kindle it in others.
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S.H. :My parents inspired me to be a filmmaker through their love of film. Although they are not filmmakers themselves, my parents have encouraged a culture within our family of watching movies together, and discussing them, for as long as I can remember. We wouldn’t only talk about the stories, but the interesting way the films were shot, creative decisions from the director, the music, the acting, the subtle and overt messages and so on and so on. They inspired me to look at film as something powerful and malleable, limitless in its ability to tell a story.
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5) How did you discover the annual Joy House Film Festival and why did you want to enter?
E.K. : Through a friend. I thought the festival would be a wonderful opportunity to help reach a new audience with the film – through the short film format and to film festival attendees. Compared to where it had previously had screened, as a two-part feature documentary on ABC’s Compass program.
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S.H: I discovered the Joy House Film Festival through the FilmFreeway portal. I wanted to enter as I admired the theme of ‘Spreading joy and happiness’. I think that’s important, as the day to day things we see on the television and in other media is often not very positive, and I saw this festival as wanting to change that.

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6) What’s the best thing about the Joy House Film Festival?
E.K.: It’s desire to embrace and celebrate diversity.
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S.H. : The best thing is the opportunities being part of the festival opened us up to. Being part of Joy House Film Festival gave us the opportunity to show our film to a wider audience in Sydney, network and take our film to the next level at the World Film Fair.
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JHFF crowd sitting 2018.jpg
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Joy House Film Festival is always held on the Sunday after Father’s Day in September every year.
Spread the JOY! Pay it forward.

Crazy Rich Asians review

Crazy Rich Asians poster

Crazy Rich Asians opened in Australia this week with a buzz. After making 25 million in its second weekend (U.S) it’s shaping up to be one of 2018’s best movies all year. The film has now brought in an estimated $76.8 million domestically, more than doubled the cost of making the film. A sequel is now reportedly in development.

Crazy Rich Asians is based on Kevin Kwan’s best selling novel of the same title and is the second film since Joy Luck Club with a majority Asian Cast. (That’s been 25 years!) Being of Asian descent myself, I’ve never felt so excited seeing an outstanding ensemble cast, with relatable characters, both lead and supporting, who I could identify with – especially the aunties in Singapore.

KK

This film has been celebrated as being ground breaking for everything being Asian-American in Hollywood to portraying strong, self assured female leads, challenging stereotypes about motherhood, womanhood and mother child relationships. Unlike Joy Luck Club, these women are not traditional, tiger mums or immigrant women, they are modern day strong women. I love the broad age range of these women portrayed on film and hope for more movies like this to be made, as it’s proved to be popular with the general public.

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It follows the life of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nick Young (Henry Golding) as they travel to Singapore for Nick’s best friend’s wedding. Little does Rachel know that Nick’s family are royalty in Singapore and about to experience his life of living insanely wealthy. The whole journey is an eye opener for Rachel who has lived modestly in America (New York) her whole life. Rachel then meets Nick’s mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) who doesn’t believe she is good enough for Nick. Here trouble begins for the lovebirds…

Most of the best laughs in the movie come from Awkwafina (Ocean’s Eight)

and Ken Jeong (The Hangover) as Rachel’s college friend Peik Lin.

This was a wonderful feel-good Rom-Com, one of the best I’ve seen

for a long time.

 

I rate this movie a 9/10.

 

Crazy Rich Asians trailer

 

Photos by Jimmy Yang & Crazy Rich Asians & Kevin Kwan.

 

Film Review: Hearts Beat Loud

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Hearts Beat Loud is a wonderful light hearted comedy set in Brooklyn about an ageing hipster musician who forms an unlikely band with his daughter before she heads off into college.

Frank (Nick Offerman) is a longtime widower and single father who runs a struggling record store in Red Hook, Brooklyn which he’s about to lose due to the lack of customers, and despite the support from his landlord love interest Leslie (Toni Collette).

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During a weekly jam session with his daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons), Frank secretly records a song they did and loads it up on a streaming service which becomes a hit. His only challenge is to convince Sam to give up college so they can give their band a shot.

Frank is faced with life challenges – his on again off again relationship with Leslie and his shoplifting mother who has early signs of dementia.

Heats Beat Loud has a wonderful supporting cast which includes: Ted Danson, Sasha Lane and Blythe Danner. This is a wonderful comedy with great natural performances from the whole cast. The music is catchy but not too commercial, written by Keegan DeWitt and performed by the two stars. 8/10

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Photos by Eric Lin/GunPowder & Sky and Hearts Beat Loud.

Directed by Brett HaleyDrama, 1hour 37m

Diversity Spotlight interview with filmmaker – Matthew Victor Pastor

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Matthew Victor Pastor (MVP) is an Australian filmmaker of Filipino heritage. An alumnus of the prestigious Victorian College of the Arts, his Master’s film I am JUPITER I am the BIGGEST PLANET (part 1 of the Filipino-Australian trilogy) was awarded Best Director. Bill Mousoulis the founding editor of Senses of Cinema has described Pastor as “the most dynamic young filmmaker I’ve come across in 35 years of indie film watching in Australia.”
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In 2013 he released MADE IN AUSTRALIA an independent feature film. It was awarded Best Guerrilla Film at the 14th Melbourne Underground Film Festival. In 2017 he released BUTTERFLY FLOWER (71 mins), an experimental feature film. At the 2018 Sinag Maynila Film Festival MELODRAMA / RANDOM / MELBOURNE! (81 mins), was awarded Best Original Score, and was met with positive reviews in Rappler amongst other publications. A pending release is MAGANDA: Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man (97 mins). These two films conclude the Filipino-Australian trilogy. Also in post-production is Repent or Perish (85 mins), which is the story of a young gay Filipino-Australian and his conservative family during the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite. I had the privilege to interview him for this month’s Diversity Spotlight.
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JH: What is your approach in order to make an outstanding three features in 15 months?

MVP: Social media and human are one. It’s how we communicate, and our news feed is directly linked to our emotions. It was while making MELODRAMA / RANDOM / MELBOURNE! (2018) a feature about relationships in the digital age, I decided to transform into a filmmaking machine. I threw away the conventions of filmmaking to be freer. In some way we are all now content creators, we are always making video and image for our audience. My preferred content is a narrative film, the ultimate status update!

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JH: What would most people like to know is how do you find funding for your film? Do you fund them with your own money or is it mainly sponsorships and grants?

MVP: Although I’ve received grants in the past, at this output it’s recently privately or self-funded. The positives about this method are that I keep 100% creative integrity. Melodrama is about a Filipino feminist documentarian and the misguided men around her, MAGANDA! Is about a drug-addicted filmmaker,Repent or Perish! Is about a young gay Filipino, his drug dealing sister and was made during the SSM plebiscite. We have just finished filming A Bigger Jail, about a violent man (who likens himself to an ‘Asian Jesus’) who is released from prison after 20 years. For these stories to be done justice with authenticity, our team needs complete creative control, something we retain since we do it modestly.

JH: Who were your role models growing up? 

MVP: It’s probably been said too many times but man, Jackie Chan. In terms of my aesthetic Shunji Iwai (Film Director).

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JH: How do you find your stories?

MVP: I feel if I’m not emotional about a topic it won’t have weight on the screen. For example with one of my soon to be released features Repent or Perish! (2018) we literally filmed during the SSM plebiscite. It was during an argument with my conservative Christian parents I decided to save my anger and frustration and write a script. Completed in February I am so proud of our brave Asian-Australian cast for telling a story that needs be told.

 JH: What makes a good film script? What motivates you to produce it?

MVP: If the idea has a visceral reaction in me, it’s worth pursuing. Recently my trigger emotion is fear, so I write from anxiety and fear. I’ve found solace for my own pain through watching films that I relate to, so this is my way of giving back.

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JH: What is your casting process?

MVP: Casting actors from our finally growing pool of talent in Melbourne has always been a tough process (especially with Asians)! I have a family of brave diverse actors who I’d like to do a shout out to. Celina Yuen, Alfred Nicdao, Bridget O’Brien, Yuchen Wang, Chi Nguyen, Kevin Pham, Slone Sudiro, Glenn Maynard, Joseph J, Rachel E. Zuasola, Michelle Ryel, Carol Pastor, Lisac Pham, Elliot Ng, Charlie Dao, Charlotte Nicdao, Khoa, Rachel Cecilio & Berlin Lu. When making a new film I cast from the family, and ask these people whom I trust for recommendations.

JH: What do you think about the state of Australian films and TV at the moment in terms of diversity? Do you think there’s been a change in recent years?

MVP: I’m seeing so much talent and it makes my job as a writer/director much easier. Are these talent getting a chance? I’m more interested in truth. Representing truth in the story comes from POC writers/producers/actors living inside their skin day in and out and telling it how it is. Movies like Crazy Rich Asians or shows like Fresh off the Boat mean so much to our growing communities and globally! We need more truth in Australia. Take a walk around Melbourne and see the truth. Take the truth and compare that with what gets screen time in mainstream media. Our eyes don’t lie.

JH: What is your current project?

MVP: We have just finished our first feature for 2018 titled A Bigger Jail (aka misery extravaganza) The film stars fellow VCA graduate Yuchen Wang amongst an amazing ensemble cast of Asian Australians. As for the second half of the year, I will head up to Sydney to collaborate with fellow Filipino-Aussie Felino Dolloso, who has written a great story which he will also star in!

JH: What is your goal? Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

MVP: Dead or a filmmaker. My goal is to live for another 10 years!

 

Photos were provided courtesy of Zhuo Yang, Evangeline Yin & Matthew Victor Pastor.