Meet Matthew Victor Pastor

Matt Pastor AAFFN

Matt Victor Pastor in Hong Kong. Image by Alexander Lo.


Matthew Victor Pastor is a young Aussie storyteller who communicates through the language of cinema. He has crafted a selection of films, which have been featured at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, Melbourne International Student Film Festival, The Age Fringe Festival and Colourfest. He stands alone because of his determination to document the identify crises that is pervasive amongst first/second generation Australian born Asians. A determination born from a love of his medium; after completing his first feature film at 21 (Love with the Poet) – a privately funded totally independent affair – Pastor became depressed with the expectations of his culture and refused to show the world his labour of love, starting a career as a property agent in Hong Kong. However the allure of the moving image was too ingrained on the young artist’s heart and despite advice to stabilize financially living as an expatriate in Hong Kong, he instead decided to jump headfirst into his feature film titled ‘Made in Australia’. Rounding up a Hong Kong film crew he completed the film whilst sleeping on couches and hustling for cash. Now residing in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia the young artist aims to continuously produce boundary pushing cinema and art in hopes to inspire others.


You have been a filmmaker for a number of years now, moving from short films like RANDOM that screened at Colour Film Fest, GHOST MAN which will also screen in film festivals, to now your first feature, MADE IN AUSTRALIA.   You have a very existential quality to your films, that I’ve likened to a cross between a Wim Wenders and Hal Hartley tone of loneliness, but with a Stanley Kurbrick angst thrown in, and yet this really Australian, and Asian, and Asian Australian vibe at the same time.  Let’s talk about that:

How would you describe the emotive textures of your films and driving narratives?


Instinctively I gravitate towards interesting people. Wanderers, outsiders, dreamers and artists. These are the people that I surround myself with. They populate my reality, so in turn my films tend to be personal and about these kinds of people. Much of film-making is out of one’s control, the concept of capturing emotion is limiting, so I tend to let go of all control to create a movie. For my last three films (RANDOM, GHOST MAN AND MADE IN AUSTRALIA), the films titles open with “THE FOLLOWING CHARACTERS ARE PLAYING THEMSELVES”, and with this text alone I’ve submitted to the person/performer to make my film work. Of course there’s a map, but that’s dictated by circumstance. For example, whilst making “Made In Australia”, which we filmed in Hong Kong, we were supposed to film a scene in which my character has destructive sexual relations with his lover. Before filming I went down to the 7/11 to buy some alcohol, some Hennessey to smash down and get me in the emotional zone, and on the way back there’s a construction site, so I call the team to come downstairs. As opposed to shooting the sex scene, I completely make up another scene (some metaphorical surreal scene which is now in the final edit) and we film it then and there guerrilla style in a construction site. So the next day I’m on the way to 7/11 and there’s this big wooden wall up, last night’s set is now enclosed from the public. If I had waited 8 hours I’d never had that amazing scene, but my emotional response was to film the scene then and there. This was the same with “Ghost Man” and how I met the street performer in Mong Kok after a random cold approach. Suddenly it’s 3am, I’m at his seedy Chung King Mansion apartment and this stranger is a living breathing part of my movie. Everything in my films comes from a real emotional response happening at the time including how one’s self-hood is revealed.


You act in your films and direct, sometimes in the lead. Any special preparation? Is it hard to watch yourself and what do you learn about yourself each time from these experiences?


I’m a terrible actor. If someone were to ask me to act, I would not know what to do. I only play myself in films, therefore it’s not exactly acting, kind of like shining my subconscious outwards. As I said earlier, everything is an emotional response to how I’m feeling at the time, and since my last three films have been about angst, infidelity and heartbreak, it would seem I’ve got some unresolved issues I’ve probably got to work out. Since “Made In Australia” is my autobiographical film, it’s near impossible for me to watch over without getting emotional. It’s the time stamp of when I lost my innocence and experienced an out of the body experience from a broken heart. For example in the opening of “Made In Australia”, I’m standing naked on the beach, and we focus on a self inflected wounds and scars over my body. This externalises that the following film is going to be raw, in fact it shows how much this film hurt to make. I’m massively insecure about my penis size, but I open with a close-up of it. It’s like I’m humiliating myself! The contradiction is I felt I needed to make this film to function as a human being, so in turn I hurt myself to create, but it’s essential to my well being.


Tell us about working with your real life friends, associates and sometimes, partners. Is it hard to balance fact with fiction?


I’m a sucker for sentiment. I think by capturing it as it’s happening I freeze time. I can watch the film and live in the past. Especially with my past relationships, many experiences which end up in my films, I can watch over these moments in my fictionalised world and linger there. With “Made In Australia”, it’s the narrative of a real relationship breakdown as it’s happening, and because of that it’s only brought me a deep sense of longing to live it all again. I loved every moment of making that film, because the love and the heartbreak was real to me. During the edit all I could think about was being back under those Neon Lights in Hong Kong, living all those moments for eternity. I don’t really see it as a negative anymore, I’m just too in love with everything that I went through to make the movie.


There’s a growing number of Asian Australian stories making it to the screen and gaining audiences. Does anyone inspire you who has achieved this?


I dug “The Home Song Stories” by Tony Ayres. That film was dope. I love Alice Pung and her writing, she’s hit the Australian market with her novels and it’s great to see there are artists in Australia making movies, writing novels about our experiences in Australia. I’m definitely inspired by these guys, Khoa Do included, but my favourite Australian Film would have to be HAIL. Now Amiel Courtin-Wilson might not be Asian Australian but that man made a damn good film. I think he filmed a movie in Cambodia recently. That’s cool. Regardless I want to see more Australian Asians unashamed, pushing buttons and stuffs like that.


Who are your other inspirations?


I like Harmony Korine, Vincent Gallo, Sion Sono and Paul Thomas Anderson. They are all Gods of movie making. Musically I like Kanye West. That dudes a God of music. He even released a song called “I Am a God”, in which includes the lyrics “Hurry up with my Damn Croissant’s”. I think there’s something endearing about that kind of narcissism. I also like African American culture, they’re so damn creative. I like people who think out of the box and are unashamed.


What kinds of stories or projects do you want to be involved with in the future


I’d like to one day write/direct the great Modern Asian-Australian story. Like a Magnolia multi-narrative epic with an Ensemble cast of Asians in Australia as their lives intersect and collide. A movie which will do what Spike Lee’s, Do The Right Thing did for the African Americans. One day.


Matt Pastor was interviewed by AAFFN’s Indigo Willing.

Posted on 28/06/2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: