Diversity Spotlight interview with filmmaker – Matthew Victor Pastor

matt 3

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.”
*
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.
*

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!

Mat 1

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).

matt 2

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.

matt 4

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.

Diversity Spotlight: Interview with Andy Trieu (SBS)

Andy Trieu, is an Australian host, actor and martial artist. He was born in Canberra, Australia to Vietnamese parents. Originally a martial artist, Andy expanded his repertoire from competing in tournaments to performing in roles across stage and screen. He has acted and presented on the on programmes such as Kitchen Whiz as the Kitchen Ninja, minor role in Rescue: Special Ops and Crime Investigations. He has also appeared on SBS network shows Houso’s, Bollywood Star and is a current a host on SBS PopAsia. He also acted in the 2015 ABC TV comedy Maximum Choppage as Fury and has just finished a comedy series for Channel Ten called “Street Smart” which  airs in August.

Andy 1 sml.jpg

JOY: What made you want to get into the film/TV industry?

ANDY: Jackie Chan! I watched a lot of Kung fu movies.

I first got cast in a small Martial Arts film and I caught the performing bug from there. I also got my start being a Ninja on a kids TV show,  “Kitchen Whiz” . After 495 episodes there was no turning back… Ninjas don’t turn back.

JOY: Who were your role models growing up & why?

ANDY: Jackie Chan!

But when I started my career in presenting I looked up to Anh Do. He’s had a great career playing roles that suited his personality and skill sets and I guess I wanted that.

He was such a household name that you could tell people you were “Trying to Anh Do” if they asked you about future aspirations.

I also like a lot of the SBS presenters like Lee Lin Chin,  Marc Fennell, Jan Fran, Mark Humphries. They do great work and it’s very inspiring.

Andy 2 sml.jpg

JOY: How did you get started in your career?

ANDY: Well I had time and I said “Yes” A LOT. If anyone had something for me to do I would do it…hold a boom pole, be a camera assistant, dance like monkey… I would do it. I eventually built up a portfolio of work and got an agent and started landing work after every first audition.. BOOM! Just kidding…it took me more than 30 auditions before I could land an acting job and those roles were like “Asian Tourist Guy 2”. #livingthedream

Saying “Yes” and dancing like a monkey eventually helped me build contacts in the industry and I was given the opportunity to work on projects like Tomorrow When the War Began, Wolverine, Hacksaw Ridge, and finally Home and Away (Asian Tourist Guy 2). Getting my start in TV has been thanks to the good people I’ve met that believed in my weirdness. Those people for me were producers Matthew Boughen and Monica O’Brien who gave me opportunities on commercial networks and Maddy Fryer at SBS.

JOY: Do you think there’s a positive change in the TV/Film industries for more diversity?

ANDY: Yes! There is definitely a demand for ethnic stories and diverse faces on screen that reflect our community. It’s looking up every year, more contributions of a diversity of cultures to the continuing development of Australian society.

JOY: What are you working on now?

ANDY: I just completed a comedy series for Channel Ten called “Street Smart” which  airs in August! I’m also coming on my 5th year at SBS, hosting and creating segments for SBS PopAsia, Australia’s number #1 destination for Asian Pop and Pop culture. Other than that a Kung fu TV show in the pipeline 😉

Andy 3.jpg

JOY: What is your dream role & why?

ANDY: Other than my amazing job right now I have two. One would be to lead an action Kung fu comedy show and the other would be to host a fun lifestyle travel program. I think boarding these two projects would seem like I had gone full circle.

JOY: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? What do you think you’ll be doing?

ANDY: I’ll stil be here buddy…still here explaining to my parents why I don’t have a real job.

JOY: What’s your advice for graduates / up and coming actors trying to get in the industry?

ANDY: I would say take control. Start building a portfolio of work, whether that’s creating it for youtube or helping others with their projects.

Get out there and meet people. You never know, you might meet someone that recognises your potential and are willing to make sacrifices to see you get there.

Finally, work on yourself. Take Acting classes, yoga, gym, pilates, meditation, pole dancing….wait. Focus on staying positive and oozing good energy because that will make you amazing to work with!

Anyway hope to see you on set.

Photos courtesy of Andy Trieu.