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Interview with Byron Q, writer/director of Las Vegas Story

by Shen Xingzhou

Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Byron Q, an up-and-coming Chinese American filmmaker, because his film Las Vegas Story will have its Asia premiere in this year’s PUFF.

Initially from LA, he moved to San Diego and then San Francisco. Among these three cities, San Diego remains his favourite because of its beach, sunshine, beautiful scenery and relaxing mood.

“LA is just a big culturally mixed city, San Francisco is too “techie”, everyone there wanna create an app! ”

So why did he choose Las Vegas to be the background of the film?

“I used to go vocations in Las Vegas when I was still living in LA. I found this place very interesting, quite like Picasso’s paintings: real and surreal goes hand in hand. The real part is the gap between the rich and the poor. People live outside, far away from the casinos, lead sort of normal lives. But most people there, they do effect by gambling and try to survive.”

Like a quote from the film: “this place (Las Vegas) eats you up. ”

“The surreal part includes the neon light and the stripper clubs, but also, the people. When people came to Las Vegas, they act differently. Remember there’s a black guy in Las Vegas Story? When you first saw him on the screen, the way he walked, talked, dressed, which make you think: What? Is he Snoop Dogg (a famous American rapper)? But no! Ha-ha! He is a normal guy. That’s the funny and weird part, because everyone in Las Vegas, they want to imitate others.”

Real and surreal, is not only a term which Byron used to portray Las Vegas, the city, but also a way to represent the film.

“The stories of the film, they are all real stories based on real people. I did a lot of research before shooting, nearly two years, asking local people, listening to their stories, writing them down then put them together. I had some professional actors and actresses in the film, which for sure can’t avoid certain acting, but for the rest: the family in the film is the real family. The leading actress, she is a real prostitute. The locations: casinos, motels, etc.…they’re all real, which really bring the story alive.”

Mixing real people with actors and actresses has always been Byron’s style. Las Vegas Story, the film title, will bring to the audiences’ minds strippers, money, drugs, gangsters, but in fact, it’s a story about a single mother.

“I have always wanted to make a film about a female character. I know Christina (the leading actress) as a friend for years. After hearing some of her stories, I made up my mind to do a film about her. Personally, I was also raised up by a single mother, that in a way, helps me to understand the character better.”

I asked Byron whether our heroine’s personality was made out to be too perfect to be real.

Byron emphasised: “It’s her! It’s just who she is. Maybe being perfect, becomes her only flaw.”

During filming, Byron rented a house for the whole crew to do shooting. Basically they lived there for one month. “It’s a unique experience.” said he.

They did several scenes inside the biggest casino of Las Vegas, secretly, without people’s knowing. “It’s unbelievable! We accomplished it! ” said he proudly.

Byron studied visual arts film under the renowned French New Wave Director Jean-Pierre Gorin. As a result, some people considered his style a mix of urban themes with French New Wave style.

About Las Vegas Story, the third feature of Byron, what he has to say is: “this film itself is not so much French New Wave, but it conveys somehow the spirit of it. For example, I didn’t focus too much on the plot. With Las Vegas Story, I was trying to build up my own style. Right now I am on my way to evolve, to make something different.”

Yes, at such young age, 29 as we spoke, Byron is now preparing his fourth feature, a sci-fi. “I am open to anything, and I will try different genres.” We, the audience, do have every reason to look forward to his future works.

 

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專訪”Bike與舊電鋼”導演邵攀

文:沈行舟

在結束這次采訪之前,邵攀導演親自彈著鋼琴獻唱。一首約翰列儂的《Real Love》之後,帶著一種自謙,緊接著,跟上了一首自己的原創歌曲《每一種愛情都是一樣的悲傷》,帶著一些所觸,他開始講述這首歌背後的故事,故事裏的環境,環境下的人,人和人的事。

Continue reading “專訪”Bike與舊電鋼”導演邵攀”

PUFF 2014 will open with a local filmmaker night

Opening night of PUFF 2014

4th December 7:00pm at XXX Gallery

The EVE

The Eve is a really cool music video of local independent electronic funk duo Sonic MSG and is directed by videographer Nicola Fan. This is a must see if you like us, are completely sick of watching those karaoke style Cantopop MV!

半張飛
FAST FORWARD

HK / 2013 / 92min / Color / 2.35:1 / Mono
In Cantonese with Chinese and English Subtitles

導演 Dir: 陳英麟 Stephen Chan
演員 Cast: 岑榮駿 Norris Shum, 林雪穎 Klarus Lam, 柴國燊 Samson Chai, 梁嘉進 Eric Leung, 顧嘉琪 Kaki Ku

Synopsis

Discovering a good movie and meeting the right person in your life are similar in many ways, as just one single look, is to change your life.

The story happens when Chan and Mok met in a cinema; one, wimpy and delicate, the other bold and straightforward. Yet, their madness love towards movies, tied them together, to endless conversations, like they have always been together.

The two worked hard to overcome their different personalities and obstacles in their relationship. Together, they held hands, shared laughter and wonderful, theatrical memories, marking the beginning of their absurd but romantic relationship.

As time goes by, Chan tried his best to provide Mok with everything he could in his own way, however things did not turn out the way they wished it would be. Slowly, the difference between them became more and more apparent and their relationship is hanging on a tenuous string.

This movie dedicated to them, is walking towards a finale or merely just a prelude, the reality is yet to be foreseen so easily by Chan…

Director’s statement

“Movies that spread love, faith and joy are all great movies.” – Derek Kwok Chi Kin, director from Hong Kong.

As one that directs a film, also directs the emotions felt by the audience. While some would have the theme of helplessness and darkness, but left a ray of light behind, captivates the audience. While some would have the theme of belief and declaring the power of love, but highlights how the couples’ indiscretion caused them to paint lies over lies.

I didn’t realize nor hope that the people nowadays would get used to such twisted, distorted way of love.

When we were filming this movie, most of us were merely students or fresh graduates. Despite of the tools, we had no more than 10 thousand to film this movie. We have heard many people talking, saying ‘ If you are so confident in the script, why don’t you work on selling it instead so that you could film it with less limitations and a bigger budget?’

Through this movie though, what we would like to accomplish, besides from completing a worth mentioning deed even after 10, 30, 50 years; more importantly is because in the recent years, a few romantic films spreading the message of such ‘Values of New generation’, created such depressing feeling that sends shiver down the spine.

What we wanted to do isn’t something epic or world-changing; on the contrary, we would like to use the romantic movies that grew up with us, in the most cliche way, to lit a tiny flame.

簡介

遇到Mr./Mrs. Right,就如看到一套好電影 – 瞥見一眼,足已改變一生。

陳家富(岑榮駿 飾)在電影院巧遇莫敏兒(林雪穎 飾),二人一個柔弱怕事,一個口直心快,卻湊巧地瘋狂迷戀電影,以使二人滔滔不絕,一見如故。

二人力排性格和生活上的障礙,牽手作伴聊天說笑,共同經歷荒誕如電影情節(?)般的生活逸事,為這段關係譜下了奇特而浪漫的印記。

時間流逝,陳家富一心以自己的方法,努力給予莫敏兒最好的一切,卻偏偏事與願違 – 二人的性格差異逐漸浮現,關係變得若即若離。

這套屬於他們倆的電影,看似是在謝幕或延續當中角力,惟事實卻非如陳家富一直所想般簡單…

導演的話

郭子健導演說過:「宣揚愛、希望、歡樂信念的電影,都是偉大的電影。」

一片之導,主宰觀眾看畢電影後的情緒。有人以世界的無奈、黑暗為名,卻在結局留下充滿希望的註腳,激動人心;也有人以信望愛情為名,宣揚愛情的偉大-但該些電影最終突出的,卻是男女雙方生活上的不檢點,為了留住對方,一個謊言蓋過一個謊言。

我不知道,也不希望現今世界,已習慣了如此扭曲的愛情觀。

我與本片絕大部分的工作人員,在拍攝這部電影之時仍在唸書,或是剛剛畢業;亦因為這個原因,除了攝影上的器材,我們只有不足一萬元去拍攝這部電影。

有很多人跟我們說,「若然對劇本真的有信心,為何不努力將之推銷,以一個較體面的預算和條件拍攝?」

我們藉著電影想達成的,除了是想在各自完全投身社會前,留下一些過了十年、三十年或五十年,仍然值得⼀提的「壯舉」;更重要的是,這數年來部分愛情電影,實在令人為當中編導設立的「新生代價值觀」而看得不快和心寒。

我們想做的,並不是甚麼石破天驚、改變世界的東西;反而,我們只希望藉著曾陪伴我們成長的愛情電影,用最陳腔的濫調,重新為影迷們灌注⼀點點希望。

Screening of the Bridge with director Alia Diab

PUFF presents as a prelude to this year’s main festival, a screening of the short documentary “The Bridge” with the director in attendance to discuss her project.

The Bridge (23 min, USA, 2013) is a documentary about the cross culture conflicts between Arabs and American and the role of media in creating this image and stereotypes.

The Bridge Talk

It’s about what inspired the documentary and incidents that created the need for it. Also about the process of making it and the challenges of being an independent filmmaker.

Location: The Hive Wanchai, 21st Floor, The Phoenix Building, No.23 Luard Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Time: 7:00 – 8:30pm

Free Entry

178

Director’s Bio (Alia Diab)

Born in Bahrain in 1982 and raised in the United Arab Emirates. She started her career in media as an assistant to the Executive Producer for a Reality television show in MBC, one of the largest media channels in the Middle East. Upon project completion Alia moved to the United States to pursue her Masters in Film and Digital Media in the University of Central Florida, Orlando Florida. During her stay she directed short films mostly about the Middle East in order to inform people in the United States about the reality in that part of the world. “The Bridge” is her first documentary, which was inspired by her own life in the United States as an Arab, and by the issues she faced.

Propaganda – the film

One of the most popular films we shown in PUFF 2013 was Propaganda. For those who have not seen it, it is an extremely funny, hard-hitting mockumentary that criticises how the western world use the media, advertising and PR machines to suppress the people. The most interesting thing about the film was the way it was presented as a real piece of propaganda made by the North Korean government and only because it was smuggled out of the hermit kingdom to South Korea by defectors were we able to see it.

The truth is it was made by New Zealand filmmaker Slavko Martinov, who had no prior filmmaking experience and laboured over the project nearly alone for 9 years! The North Korean ploy was used so that people would  noticed such a low budget project from a virtual unknown. Well it worked out beautifully and when PUFF presented the film, we made no mention of the background and let the viewers decide what they were seeing.

To find out more about the film and how the only actor appeared in it, Eugene Chang, was really mistaken as a North Korean spy,  you can visit its website http://propagandafilm.net/Propaganda/

Here is Slavko himself talking about the very interesting back story

Special Live Performance: Film/Rock Opera “The Lives of Hamilton Fish” 9th June (Sun) 7-10pm

Hamilton-FishA unique experience of music and visual, daringly original filmmaker and musician Rachel Mason will be in Hong Kong to sing her rock musical / feature film live at Hidden Agenda.

An amazing coincident about the disparate lives of two people with the same name inspired Rachel to write this suite of songs and the accompany colourful visual.

This is a special presentation as part of PUFF 2013. Free entry for all. PUFF Up Film Club members can reserve their seats. Details in our next member’s news. Just sign up on our website here

Q&A with filmmaker afterwards.

Check out the trailer here and Rachel’s other performance here.

AFG_3184
The Lives of Hamilton Fish (94min, 2013) USA
World Premiere
MG_3730-e1311114672162
Musician, actress and sculptor, creator of “The Lives of Hamilton Fish” Rachel Mason

The Pineapple Underground Film Festival 2013

PUFF is becoming one of the most important indie film festivals in China and is located in the metropolitan hub of Hong Kong.  In 2012, we screened 56 films from 30 countries, over 3 weekends in June 2012.  The program was then screened the 2nd time in October 2012 at the West Kowloon arts and film festival of Clockenflap with over 3000 audience at the film tent, giving the films exposure to Hong Kong and serving as a gateway to Greater China.  7 of the 16 features films we screened were Asia Premieres; 1 was World Premiere and another 2 were Hong Kong Premieres.

PUFF 2012 Trailer original score music written by “Ah Kok” of Hidden Agenda

Photo stills from our 2012 Experimental Highlights –

This Side of Ressurection

Original Title: Deste Lado da Ressurreição(2011)

Directed by: Joaquim Sapinho
(113m, Portugal)

XXX Highlights – What’s New About Love ? 愛情海綿 (93 min, Portugal)

愛情海綿

Original Title : O Que ha de novo no amor ?  (93 min, Portugal)

23 June 2012 ( Sat ) at XXX
由6名年輕電影製片人的6 個當代愛情故事.

Six contemporary love stories by six young and up and coming directors. .

2 Night at XXX 15 June 2012

城市, 是以色列的首都特拉維夫; 地方, 是一個酒吧 ; 時間, 是晚上 ; 人物, 是一個男人和一個女人.

The city is Tel Aviv; the place is a bar; the night is young; a woman just had kissed a man she just met.

for 18 and above / strong adult themes

藝穗會 明天和週五見 ! PUFF at FRINGE CLUB screenings

(78min, UK) Supernatural thriller about 2 medical interns who investigate a patient brought to hospital. She is no ordinary patient.

 

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