Interview with Filmmaker Rachel Kwan (MOONBOY)

MOONBOY, 21min., Canada, Drama
Directed by Rachel Kwan
Following the tragedy of their mother’s passing, class clown Aidan Lee is forced to navigate a world without her in it. Unable to identify with their traditional Chinese father and goofy high school friends, Aidan dresses up in their mother’s drag in hopes of reconnecting.

Get to know the director:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Honestly, survival. It had been a couple years since my mum passed away from ovarian cancer and I was feeling really alone. Not only was it my first year of university, but it was my first time living away from home and I was really struggling with my gender/sexual identity (despite living with my 6 platonic guy friends).

Thankfully, in not knowing what to do in my life, I took my first film class. And for the first time, instead of consuming fiction to escape my reality, I learnt to create fiction to cope with my reality. After writing the first draft of MOONBOY, I felt a level of catharsis and empowerment that I’d never felt before and I knew that feeling had to be shared.

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

Around 4 years. After my pitch made the Crazy 8s semi-finals for the second time, I started to feel the momentum of the crew and community behind me. Though I didn’t make it to the finals, I started to question why I was waiting for someone to give me permission to make it. So I decided to green light the project mid-pandemic while all my film friends were stuck at home. After a year of working as a PA as well as a successful Indiegogo campaign, we were able to fund and complete the film the following year.

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

Transcendent love

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

Definitely dealing with the pandemic during post-production. Getting to connect with others face-to-face has always been one of my favourite parts of the film process; as we were mid-pandemic, majority of my work with the post team had to be done online. And unfortunately, since all work was by volunteer students, we lost some momentum as new projects arose.

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

I was pleasantly surprised by the positive response. I know I’m overcritical of my work (as is the Asian way), but I didn’t expect to have such a wide demographic of people connect to my story the way that they did. It definitely is reassuring.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller––whether that was drawing comic books, writing short stories, or filming stupid sketches with my friends. But it wasn’t until 2015, when my mum died, that made me think of film as real life path. I knew I had found my purpose when I found a career that combined all my favourite creative pastimes as a kid.

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

Recent Answer? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Real answer? She’s the Man.

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

Maybe add a BIPOC-exclusive category so there is more opportunity for marginalized communities to gain programming.

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

Great! Easy to navigate and convenient.

10. What is your favourite meal?

Poutine or ramen

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

I’m currently writing a film based on my group of guy friends––inspired by one friend in particular, Ryan Wilkinson, who we lost to suicide shortly after high school graduation. Since we all met at the age of 4, he continues to be the glue that keeps us together. For me, I don’t know many queer people who got to grow up with a group of straight cis boys as their best friends. So much of me today is because I was given the space to be “one of the boys” and I can’t wait to celebrate them and the friendship we share.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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