BAAFF: What has been your experience making films in Boston?
Chan: The Boston film scene is still very young. It’s often difficult to find the right people for your projects, but you can also get lucky and get someone amazing. For example, for my new film I needed to cast a 50s to 60s Asian female actor. I thought it would be challenging, but I managed to get Tina Chen, a Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actress!
Furthermore, the passion is definitely here in Boston. Most filmmakers and actors have a full time job (I’m an electrical engineer), so that means that they really have the desire to make these films in addition to their daily jobs. They’re not as influenced by the business aspect of things, I find. Some actors in other cities can be very “polished” and lose the rawness of the product.
BAAFF: How much does being Asian American come into your work?
Chan: It colors my viewpoint, of course. I mean, I don’t go out to make specifically Asian American films, but I’m inspired by things that happen in my own life. I’ve made three films: one was inspired by people-watching on the subway, and it was a silent film. That didn’t really have anything specific to do with being Asian American. The next was about adopting my son and being married to a man. This explored many themes, of course, including the interracial relationship from father to son. Descendants of the Past is more directly related to my ethnicity; it’s about my mother and grandfather’s immigration to North America, from the viewpoint of their grandson. It explores why one’s cultural background is so important.
BAAFF: What has been your experience with BAAFF?
Chan: I love how intimate the festival is. Last time, I got to personally know Susan [Chinsen, Festival Director] and many other volunteers. It was so great to meet everyone and maintain those relationships after the fact. I went to opening night and saw White Frog. I remember feeling like all the filmmakers were treated with respect and each of us were acknowledged during that night. I mean, some people would fly in from the west coast and incur those travel costs, so you want to know that you’ll really get to participate and be recognized when you get there. BAAFF is really good about that.
The venues were also great. I believe my screening was at the Paramount, which is a legit theater. Other film festivals have butchered the films they show: wrong aspect ratio, bad color, you name it. It’s disappointing to pay a fee and travel and see those results. But the BAAFF screening was at a great modern venue and went really well.
Thanks Albert! To learn more about his film and Chanal Productions, visit www.descendantsofthepast.com and www.chanalproductions.com.
By: Robert Woo
Image credit: http://www.descendantsofthepast.com/