Woodstock Film Festival - "Children of Invention" Q&A - Oct. 3, 2009
Q&A with Director Tze Chun, Cast & Crew
Woodstock Film Festival
October 3, 2009
The second half of “Children of Invention,” Tze Chun’s touching drama about two inventive Asian-American children, older brother Raymond (played by Michael Chen) and younger sister Tina (played by Crystal Chiu), who must take care of themselves after their mother disappears after her involvement in pyramid scheme, received great applause from the audience after its screening at the Woodstock Film Festival. I missed the first half of the film (as indicated in my previous post), so I hope that I will soon be able to watch it in its entirety. By the way, “Children of Invention” received the festival’s James Lyons Award Honorable Mention for Best Editing of a Feature Narrative to editor Anna Boden (“Half Nelson,” “Sugar”).
Others who came up for the Q&A, in addition to Chun, included producer Mynette Louie, actor Michael Chen, composer Todd Griffin, and Peter Brogna, the filmmaker whose short, “A Lot of Chocolate” played before “Children of Invention.” The Q&A was lead by Lincoln Blogs’ Michael Lerman, who threw out the first question to director Chun, how autobiographical is the film? Chun said between the ages of eight and 14, he spent a lot of time going around to pyramid scheme seminars with his mom and little sister. While there are some personal aspects of his life in the film, a lot of it is fabricated. His mom is very loving. After a screening of the film in Dallas recently, a woman came up to him and offered him to be a part of her pyramid scheme.
An audience member asked Chun how he found the two child actors, and what was it like to work with them? For his previous short film “Windowbreaker,” he and producer Louie went to Chinese schools to find kids, but for “Children of Invention,” a much more scripted and demanding film, looked at 250 kids from various Chinese schools in New York, but they couldn’t find anybody. With luck, a friend of his who was casting a scene for Transformers 2, showed them the audition tapes with Chen and Chiu who are innocently eating ice cream in front of a green screen, until a giant robot appears. Their reaction was so genuine, so they brought them in. He said they thought they would improvise a lot of the movie, but the two actors had memorized the entire script on the first day of shooting. They even changed the way they filmed the movie based around these actors. They really wanted to showcase them. There are longer takes and whole pages of dialogue where they’re just walking around.
When asked if “Children of Invention” will be receiving a commercial release, Chun said there might be a limited self-release in New York and Boston. Louie said they actually have been selling the DVD while they’ve been on the festival circuit, and they’re really happy they decided to do this, because they’ve basically doubled the advance that any of their friends films.