Interview with Filmmaker Bang Xiao (CHINESE SANTA)

1. What motivated you to make this film?

This film was a school project and when I was assigned to make a short film, I browsed all the ideas that I had and made notes before. I found that I made a note about telling a story about employment discrimination: if a Chinese woman can be Santa? But to be honest, in the year that I had stayed in America, I didn’t feel a lot of employment discrimination, which made me doubt if this story would be touching. During that time, I had a chat with one of my friends who loves to follow those minor influencers on the internet. Her favor of those minor influencers made me think deeply about whether these minors film those videos willingly, or they just act under their parents’ guidance. I’m a person who likes to work with children so I thought I would add a kid in my film! Eventually, I want to tell more about a maternal relationship with the setting that a Chinese woman dresses up like Santa.

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

We made this film with a class schedule: We filmed this short film three days in total, and the post-production took about two to three weeks.

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

Heart-warming, and childlike.

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

Our cast of that minor character changed two days before the production. When we filmed this film, the COVID-19 situation was still serious, so we need everyone on set to have been vaccinated. This was written on our casting post, so we suggested that everyone who came for the casting should have seen that. However, the mother of the little girl we decided on two weeks before the production, told us they don’t and won’t have the vaccination, right on the week of our production. We tried to ask our professor if we can still keep the little girl because she was a minor, but to keep our cohort healthy, we eventually decided to find another minor.

As we met the minor actors, I thought the little boy we see in the final work was the best one, but I didn’t have confidence to direct a boy instead of a girl. To be honest, I wrote the story from a little girl’s perspective, so I was not sure if the story could happen to a little boy. Thankfully, my producer was a supporting man who told me the story was totally applicable to a little boy, and when I met the minor actor, I did think little boys are just the same cute as little girls~

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

I felt really touched because I haven’t really heard the comments from audiences who are not related to the filmmaking process of this film before. These feedbacks are really valuable as they injected some confidence in me for what I want to make in the future.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I realized that I wanted to make films when I was in junior school, when I was like 13 or 14 years old. The initial motivation was to work with celebrities, but as I know more about the film, I fell in love with the film itself, or to be more specifically, I fell in love with the story-telling process.

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

Cloud Atlas. It might not be the films that I would make, but the story in this movie really resonates with my values, so I wrote my undergraduate thesis about analyzing this film.

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 think the feedback of the audiences from your festival is really valuable!

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

I only used and know about one festival platform, and it’s FilmFreeway. The general experience was great.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I love a loooooot of Chinese food, and it’s super hard for me to decide which one is my favorite🤣. If I have to choose one, I would go for the Green Pepper Shredded Pork(青椒肉丝). Actually, when we filmed this film, I provided the crew with Chinese dishes in lunch boxes, and I believe I ordered this dish for my meal box.

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

I’m doing a documentary about Afghan Refugee Relief in another class in our school this semester, and I think I would focus more on writing in the short future, cause I always believe that a good film should be based on a good story. I have some ideas that I want to develop into written scripts.

By matthewtoffolo

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

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