Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Student Director Dreams Large

The student Director gives the male lead his cue.

Hsueh Kuan (Vincent) Lin is a 19 year old senior at Burnaby Central High School, and all he really wants to do is make movies. Sound familiar? Everyone knows a Vincent. You know a Vincent. Still, I have an idea that this fellow will pop up in your future, especially if you’re into MTV. Young Mr. Lin is a recent immigrant from Taiwan, and although he is still struggling with English courses, he already understands the language of cinema. His laudable goal is to become a working movie director, but only after completing university. Like any student director you ever heard of, Vincent canvassed for actors, crew and a musical ensemble among his classmates. The seventeen who stepped forward are largely drawn from Taiwanese families in his neighborhood. They include friends Jimmy Cho and Alex Chang in the lead roles. Like most young film makers, Vincent is self taught, having purchased a Panasonic Digital Video Camcorder and utilizing a new edition of ULEAD Media Studio Pro for editing.

Saying gooodbye - Twilight's Chapter Seven

I heard about the MTV project recently when he asked me to lend him an interesting knife to use in the murder scene, which he planned to film on location in Vancouver’s Gastown. I had already watched two student dramas Vincent filmed last year in Taipei, and was happy to oblige. But I also warned him to be careful exposing a knife in Gastown. Merchants down there have learned to call 911 at the first flash of a blade on the sidewalk. His film is a music video called Twilight’s Chapter Seven, and was inspired by a hit ballad produced by Taiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou. The lyrics evoke mystery and regret, but Vincent’s script sets up a drama involving a revenge killing for a lost love, and it meshes with the music quite well.

I was really delighted to learn that Chinese language Fairchild TV, was running such a contest for budding local film makers. There are very few such opportunities to come along. We do have film professionals sometimes advertise a contest of sorts, but they may require a stiff contestant fees to enter. Such fees or other rules tend to discourage the younger movie makers. For Fairchild’s contest, subject matter was wide open, and the only excluding requirement was that the contestants submit film in a digital medium. This is necessitated by the fact that the main prize is to have your winning film broadcast on Fairchild TV and Talent Vision in Mandarin and Cantonese on cable. Fairchild TV has studios in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto and set a contest deadline of December 29. There are two categories: a Short film of a minute or less, or a Feature of six minutes or less. Vincent stayed up till 4 am on the 29th, editing his feature. The winners are to be announced on January 13, 2007.

Well, my heart goes out to the thousands of students who are pinning their hopes on a career in the film industry. My son is one of them. I recall that during the Christmas holiday I showed him a one page resume I had found downtown and just brought home. A dozen copies of it had been tucked into a lifestyle magazine and somehow forgotten. The job seeker was a 2004 graduate of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, at Concordia University in Montreal. She had earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction, specializing in Film Production. An additional strength is fluency in German. Alas, her only practical work experience has been waitressing in Munich and Montreal. I was a little sad reading that, and I puzzle over the fact that she didn’t try to deceive. She hasn’t learned yet how to lard a resume, and that’s quite something in itself. I fervently hope that someone in the industry threw her a break, just as I hope my son will find his way after graduation.

I frequently speak with university students about film production, screen writing and their courses on our local campuses. I can attest that the Vancouver film schools and animation studios are filled with bright and creative minds. Most of these students, I fear, do not yet realize how incredibly hard it will be to get within sight of a sound stage or into a recording studio. We older folk understand that Film and TV are not equal opportunity employers. They're big business, not a talent show, and stating that unpleasant fact doesn’t add a degree of temperature to the cold water. Isn’t it just better to find ways to help them get started? I hope you will agree, and appreciate why from time-to-time I will introduce some of these young talents here.

No comments: