Interview with Filmmaker Tony He (I BOT)

I BOT was the winner of BEST LONG FORM SHORT FILM at the June 2022 FANTASY/SCI-FI Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

My favorite Sci-Fi films are never those blockbusters. I mean I do enjoy watching them. But it’s films like Gattaca or District 9 that really draw my attention and provoke my thoughts. I’m curious of how human beings are affected by the development of technology and science, in the sense of psychological, social or moral. Back to this story. The rhythm of lifestyle is speeding up as the technology grows, everyone is competing with each other and is expected to be more efficient at work. Where does this lead us to? How can we balance our work life and our private life? In China, where we traditionally honor family value, this overwhelming modern lifestyle has brought us many side effects. This film is like an experiment, a hypothesis of what if the recent situation goes extreme.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

I’ve had this idea since late 2020. The writing process took me about half a year. When it’s done, it’s nothing like the original story. The pre production didn’t take too long. Thanks to all my lovely friends, I’m able to have everything ready within a month. The shoot lasted for 6 days. However, I’ve devoted almost half a year to finish the post. Partially because I got some other gigs (Finally after the pandemic!). And I need to wait for the VFX because the VFX artist got his gigs too.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Funnily dark!

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

I would say the biggest obstacle is editing. The script was not so good so I had to reconstruct the whole storyline during the post. It took me quite a while to figure out how to cross-cut the present timeline and the flashbacks. It’s not easy to be clear and emotional at the same time.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I feel surprised! I didn’t expect people would all get my message and enjoy it. I was worried about whether I made the theme clear enough. And I thank those people who said good things about the main actor. He really worked hard on his role and I believe he deserves the happiness when he hears you guys’ words. So thank you!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

When I just got admitted to university. I wasn’t one of those kids who starts their love for film since very young. I’m more into poems and philosophy when I’m in high school. But the year when I got admitted to university, I watched Avatar in the cinema. It just blew my mind. I was obsessed by its stunning visuals and was lost in thoughts. Thoughts about morality and the future of humans. I think that’s when I decided to make a film just like Cameron.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Well, Avatar I guess. Looking forward to the 2nd one! I guess it’s finally coming out?

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I can’t think of anything else yet. It is perfect for me at the moment. I like the feedback part and I love that the festival is truly helping us to promote our films. Not all festivals do that.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It’s easier for me to search for the best suitable festivals. Saves me quite some time. However, there are more and more fraud ones out there, I have to take some time to choose.

10. What is your favorite meal?

steamed dumplings filled with minced meat and gravy!(The key is the soup inside! Juicy!)

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes. I’m working on a feature version of I Bot. Still working on the script and I suppose it’s gonna take some time. But I know it’s worth it! Maybe I’ll submit it to your fantastic festival in the near future!


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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