Exclusive interview with Silvia Chen

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What gave you the inspiration to write and direct this story?

I started my career as a producer (and still mainly working as one). This is my first time writing and directing an original short film.
I wanted to make a 3-5 minute short as a start. The inspiration is partially from seeing my parents’ relationship. They’ve been married for 38 years and are still married. They run a small business together, which means they’re basically together 24/7. It’s hard to believe how they can stand each other for such a long time– of course, a lot of fights.

In this story, no matter what’s stopping the two characters from breaking up (because of love, financial situation, children..etc). Maybe they don’t have other choices, maybe they never thought about leaving each other. Nevertheless, they both know life has to go on (No matter if the problems between them are fixable). As if they’re in the crucible–and that’s marriage.

Are you working on a new project at the moment or are you planning to? Is there anybody you’d like to thank?

I’m currently working on several new projects as the producer. 3 short films in pre-production. and 2 features are in development. I work closely with the writer-directors. I’m also in the process of writing a TV pilot.

What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?

The story itself. I am deeply convinced of one thing: a good script is the cornerstone of a great film. Without a good story/script, all other production values won’t make it a good film. 

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living? What are the values or ethics that guide you as a producer?

Something I have always kept in my heart since my teenage years is the aspiration to bring positive changes to the world, either big or small ones. I’ve always thought the film medium, is one of the most powerful ways to accomplish this. Movies are a marvelous approach to convey messages, to create mutual conversations about a variety of topics and concepts; even strangers can share a moment together. As an introvert, it takes effort for me to build connections with people I’m not familiar with, but the film gives me a way to walk a path into relationships with people. Movies resonate with diverse audiences, the voice can travel across borders, and create deep bonds between different cultures and languages–which brings people around the world together. Independent films embody all of the above and I love them for it as they don’t always have formulas–so they are more authentic. They tell stories with much more of a spontaneous creative spirit, and they are funded by something we believe fully with our hearts.

I started my career as a TV commercial producer. I fell in love with the entire process of production TV commercials: receiving the advertisement agency’s creative brief, developing the storyboard with the director, hiring a crew, shaping the production design and visual style, casting talents, scouting locations, working with each head of departments–overseeing every aspect of the production until that final deliverable. It is incredible to see the transformation all the way from concept to a final product on the screen and celebrate the achievement with the team. I am the first-born in my family having two younger siblings. Thus I feel the most comfortable when I am needed and when I carry responsibilities.

Filmmaking is teamwork, not a one-man job. One of the most important skills for a filmmaker is communicating. In addition to the filmmaking know-how, knowing the “people skills” is essential. It’s my belief that a good creative producer should always see the big picture, attempt to think ahead of everything, be ready for any incident or minor inconveniences, work closely with the crew, and oversee every aspect of the production: development, budgeting, scheduling, crewing, location scouting, casting, on-location shooting, post-production, and the final deliverable. To lead the crew with acute pacing. Keeping a safe physical and set and psychological safe environment is paramount. All of this while being trustworthy and a nice person.

Independent filmmakers usually struggle with a budget. When something can’t be achieved due to time or money (or both), instead of just killing the initial idea, I feel it is important to discuss with the director and HOD to see if any alternative can be found. And I say this not just in a compromising sense, but to find solutions that could help us elevate the production value. I am always striving to find the best way to tell the story and make the best possible movie. One music video I produced, the directors wanted to shoot an underwater scene in the ocean. After evaluating the safety and budget, we decided to shoot in a 5-meter deep swimming pool with professional lifeguards, scuba divers, and gear. The shots turned out stunningly beautiful and won the best music video at The Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan.

It goes without saying that after each production, all the hassle, predicaments, and stress we’ve all gone through then became trivial. Because I know we’ve done the best possible work I could. And then I’m up for making another film. 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film/acting?

Be open-minded, and never stop learning. Be kind and fair to people.

Is filmmaking/acting a good career choice?

For me, yes.
A 9-5 office job suffocates me. Production job allows me to travel, to meet different people, to know their stories, and to learn from them. Every project is different, there’s not really a fixed format that fits all. I enjoy and embrace challenges.

Official website: https://silviachenfilms.wordpress.com/

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/silvia-chen-producer