Meet Kevin Bathman – AAFFN 2015 Event Panelist

An interview with Kevin Bathman, AAFFN 2015 Event panelist by Indigo Willing.

Kevin Bathman. Photo by Dusk Devi.

Kevin Bathman. Photo by Dusk Devi.

WHO:

Kevin Bathman is a visual designer, storyteller, curator, writer and social change advocate based in Sydney. He is interested in using creativity to address environmental, cultural and social justice issues, and believes that the arts is an untapped avenue for catalysing change. As the founder of social enterprise, Coalition of Mischief, Kevin has worked on numerous social justice projects with not-for-profit and arts organisations to help them communicate their message better. In 2013, he co-founded Carnival of the Bold, a movement of arts for social change. Since 2012, Kevin has been researching the history, connections and cross-cultural stories between the Chinese and Indian culture for his project, The Chindian Diaries.

IW:

Why did you get into promoting more diversity in your projects?
KB:
We are fed an abundance of Hollywood films in Australia – but to me, what that industry clear lacks are a diversity of actors, stories and writers. To be honest, I was tired of seeing the Australian arts and creative sector be dominated overwhelmingly by white, male-driven heteronormative narratives. Why was this sector not reflecting what Australia really looks like? When it came time to curate Carnival of the Bold, I made it a point to include diverse voices – voices that we rarely hear or see, voices that more often gets rejected or sidelined due to its “non-mainstream” narrative.
IW:
Describe one of your favourite moments as a festival programmer?
KB:
During Carnival of the Bold, I had received good feedback from audience members that they were excited to hear from culturally diverse artists and social change. A volunteer said this to me, “I gained  a family or ‘tribe’ and a community. To see so many people from different backgrounds coming together and rallying for the same cause gave me joy, hope and a sense of belonging.” That made me feel the work that we did all felt worthwhile.
IW:
What do Australians gain when they see diversity on the screen? What’s the feedback like?
KB:
A new perspective, a new way of living, a new way of thinking. People generally don’t know what they don’t know. In the arts sector, it takes a brave festival and film curator to expose new narratives to audiences. In many respects, they are bound by the marketability of the film/artist and the need to pander to what their audiences are already familiar with. It then takes tremendous effort to convince funders, board members and committee to go down a new path. Once they succeed, you run the risk of audiences not turning up or keeping away due to its “foreign” content.
My hats off to curators out there who really push the boundaries – its never an easy ride.
IW:
What are you working on now? And what are you working on or would love to be doing next?
KB:
I am working on developing partnerships and collaboration for Carnival of the Bold, as well as developing my Chindian project further with organisations/media in India and China. On the work front, I am looking at incorporating a stronger arts element in health initiatives.   Next up I would love to keep studying socially engaged art further, as well as be an advocate for arts and diversity in any projects I am involved in. I would love to keep working with culturally diverse communities and build their capacity to better represent themselves.
For more info about the AAFFN 2015 Event held in Melbourne this year visit:

Dates:

27-28 November 2015

Venue:

Kaleide Theatre, RMIT University, Melbourne

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Meet Joy Hopwood – AAFFN 2015 event panelist

Interview with Joy Hopwood, panelist at the 2015 AAFFN event, by Indigo Willing.

Joy Hopwood

Joy Hopwood

WHO:

Joy Hopwood was a former Presenter of A.B.C.’s Play School, a writer, blogger, teacher, lecturer, public speaker. She was an ambassador for Mission Australia and Cancer Council NSW and was nominated twice for the Australian of the Year awards. Joy was a contributing writer for Growing Up Asian in Australia (Black Inc Books), Chinese Australian Women’s Stories (Jessie St Library / CHAA) and Reflecting on Life (Pearson Education). She wrote and created “The Wong Side of Life” theatre play, and transformed it into a video form titled “Kindness is for Free” ( an anti-bullying & anti-racism initiative in schools). She also founded and is artistic director of the yearly Joy House Film Festival. Joy blogs, writes, acts & makes films.

INTERVIEW:

IW:

Why did you get into promoting more diversity on the screen?
JH:
I founded The Joy House Film Festival, which screens short films of joy & diversity. Due to the lack of diverse representation, I wanted to give a voice to a creative community that isn’t mainstream in the media and therefore our festival not only awards a cash prize for best film but also best Diversity Film and Youth films too, I’m also a founding member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s Diversity Committee which the Joy House Film Festival is proudly supported by.
IW:
Describe one of your favourite moments as a festival programmer?JH:
When viewing submissions from all over the world, it’s so gratifying to receive films with great stories of joy and to see a diverse reflection of characters represented on film.
IW:
What do Australians gain when they see diversity on the screen? What’s the feedback like?JH:
This year’s winner – The Present was the favourite by not only the judges but also the general public too because they didn’t expect to see diversity at its best. The film was about a dog given to a teenager as a present and when he opens his present to see that the dog has a disability – no leg, he dismisses the dog and continues to play with his video game. It’s not until the dog’s love and joy towards the boy that he is captivated by the dog’s charm and personality, not his disability. We then see an unexpected ending….I won’t ruin it for your your readers, but the crowd loved this film. Also we had a great documentary by Pearl Tan called Minority Box which showed diversity too. It was an interview with Australian Indian actors who talk about stereotypes and casting in the entertainment industry. This was also well received by the audience because it’s often a subject that isn’t discussed in the industry and there were many comical answers given by the actors.
 IW:
What are you working on now and doing next?

JH:

I’m busy working on next year’s Joy House Film Festival and busy writing at the moment. I’m also writing a story at the moment and hope to share it with an audience in late 2016.

For more info about the AAFFN 2015 event in Melbourne in November visit:

https://asianaustralianfilmforum.wordpress.com/this-is-2015/

Dates:

27-28 November 2015

Venue:

Kaleide Theatre, RMIT University, Melbourne

Xuống Dưới (Down Under) at the 15th DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival

Australian Asian auteur Matthew Victor Pastor will screen the world premiere of his new short film Xuống Dưới (Down Under) at the 15th DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival. Down Under will be shown on as part of their shorts program ‘We Are The Choices We Make’, starting at 6:00pm on Saturday April 18, 2015.

A surreal painting of moving lights, Xuống Dưới captures the melancholy of lost love and rejection amidst the emptiness that is found in a restless city” – Joyce Ng (Editor, JOM Magazine)

He writes:
“Down Under is very personal film to me. In many ways it’s my suicide note. Death has been on my mind a lot lately, and how love is connected to death. My earlier works, the feature film Made In Australia and the short film Dinky Di Aussie were about my qualms with Australian culture and the Westernization of Asian culture growing up in modern Australia. There is a cultural subtext to this movie as it’s still about two connecting nations represented by my characters, but the emotional core of this film is the idea of how memories act as ghost’s, which haunt us. Even after something as certain as death, the living still can’t forget the imprint the dead have left. The past is a spirit, which can take hold for eternity. I was in love with a beautiful woman while writing this film, but I still couldn’t help continue my narcissistic needs, and my lonely and selfish desires. I love her dearly. This film is my apology, my suicide note, our story.”

The program will be held at US Navy Memorial Burke Theatre located at 701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20004. If you are reading from the US check out his latest film.

Keep updated at www.facebook.com/matthewvictorpastor

TRAILER: https://vimeo.com/123938679

Meet Pearl Tan

Interview with Pearl Tan by AAFFN’s Indigo Willing

Pearl Tan. Photo by Kathy Luu

Pearl Tan. Photo by Kathy Luu

WHO:

Pearl Tan is the director of Pearly Productions, creating independent films and producing videos for businesses and arts organisations. Her work focuses on diversity, as the creator of YouTube series ‘Minority Box’ and as co-chair of the Equity Diversity Committee. She graduated from the NIDA Acting course in 2005. Originally from Western Australia, she also holds a Communications degree majoring in Media Studies from Edith Cowan University. In 2013 she received a Business Leader Postgraduate Scholarship from the University of Sydney to undertake a Master of Commerce, specialising in Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In 2009 she received a Mike Walsh Fellowship to attend the New York Film Academy. She teaches filmmaking at NIDA, screen acting at the Actors Centre Australia and has worked behind the scenes for Channel 7, Channel 9, Network 10, Perth’s 96fm and Faith Martin Casting. Her credits as an actor include Motel (Sydney Theatre Company/Wharf 2Loud), Love’s Triumph (Darlinghurst Theatre) feature films Home Song Stories, Sleeping Beauty and for television Channel 9’s Sea Patrol and ABC’s Nowhere Boys. Follow @PearlyProductns on twitter or visit http://www.pearlyproductions.com for more information.

INTERVIEW:

Tell us about one ‘easy’ and one, ‘oh, so awkward’ experience you had when you first started out in the screen scene?

My first gig out from NIDA was a small role as a nurse in Home Song Stories, directed by the amazing Tony Ayres. I was acting so theatrically and in a hospital scene, pushed a food trolley out in this huge arc towards “the audience” (the camera) then to the patient and Tony said, just move it like you would normally, directly to the patient… and I thought, oh yeah, duh… that felt ‘oh, so awkward’. In the same job there was a scene where I didn’t have any scripted lines, but they wanted us to impro. Joan Chen’s character was in the scene, so I threw a “Hello Aunty” at her, which she had to respond to… so now I can say I’ve acted with her. That was ‘easy’!

Can you describe the first and last time you looked at the screen and thought, yes, this director or actor has made me want to get out there and do more in terms of promoting and seeing diversity on the screen?

My drive to create diverse content comes from quite a personal space. I realised, through the types of roles I was getting auditions for, my range as an actor in Australia was limited by my ethnicity. Seeing the many diverse and immensely talented graduates coming out of drama schools, I really wanted to contribute by working towards expanding the industry to allow them more access to professional work.

Tell us about one of the most ridiculously silly or offensive roles or characters you can recall so far that made you shake your head and feel very frustrated concerning stereotypes about diversity and ethnicity?

I won’t mention specifics, but I do shake my head and feel frustrated when I see a talented actor, from a minority ethnicity, working in an accent, when it seems irrelevant to the story, and I’m aware that their natural accent is Australian. It happens frequently.

What is a classic good example of a film and casting with diversity that isn’t token or stereotypical for you?

Deborah Mailman in ‘The Secret Life of Us’. One of the rare instances on Australian television where the ethnic heritage of a character wasn’t pertinent or referenced in the major storylines.

As a director and filmmaker you have covered comedy and breaking away from ‘dominant’ narratives of family with the short film Babycake, which features a lesbian couple and a gay couple starting a family. The cast is multicultural. And you are in the driving seat as director. Can you share any positive feedback have you had?

My favourite feedback is from gay and lesbian couples who have had children and find the story amusing. One lesbian mother even told me that they were almost offended that the characters almost naturally conceived and were relieved when they didn’t (spoiler!), which makes me laugh. No one talks about the diversity of the cast, which I think is a good thing, as it’s somewhat irrelevant to the story. Some people say it’s quite risky and done in a unique style, which I’ll take as a compliment!

The community of actors in Australia is a richly diverse one, although minorities tend not to get an abundance of the screen time. With Minority Box you have so far covered the challenges that four different populations experience as actors via short interviews (with at least 6 to 8 in each episode): Asian Australians, Indian Australian males, African Australian females and Middle aged women. What are some of the universal issues these actors face?

What I’ve enjoyed the most from creating Minority Box is meeting and talking to the actors off screen. What is remarkable about all of them is their tenacity and acceptance of insecurity that comes with being an actor. I see a beautiful vulnerability in all of them that is a strong, passionate, unapologetic craving to tell great stories and affect people’s lives. Almost all of them have aspirations to create their own work and I get really excited when actors take the power back and leap into producing (hopefully) quality, utterly unique and robust characters.

Keeping the focus for now to Minority Box, what main type of audiences would you like to watch this series and why?

Currently the audience are actors and industry people who have an interest in diversity. They are a wonderfully supportive audience and I am grateful for their eyeballs and subscriptions! I would love for this to open up more widely so that general Australian audiences can have an awareness of the depth of diverse talent in our country and start to demand with ticket sales and their remote controls more uniquely Australian (as opposed to stereotypically Australian) stories.

You were recognised as a finalist for “Best Factual Series” and shortlisted for the “Innovation Award” and “Best Collaboration” Award for Minority Box. What other types of positive outcomes and feedback have you got so far? 

Generally people are very encouraging and excited to see something positive being made (without it being just a whinge-fest). They always ask me when the next episode will be out, which is difficult because I’m doing it in my living room, in my spare time… so it takes me around 6 months to complete one short video! My favourite thing about it is when I hear that actors have been cast from the series (which has happened a couple of times!), or that directors or producers note that they will be more considerate of diverse performers as a result.

Pearly Productions and the Symes Group are launching the Independent Theatre Diversity Fund. What’s the main goals of this fund and why did it become necessary to begin?

The main goals of this fund are to give talented independent producers a way of putting on a show with more ease. We will provide a small cash budget, rehearsal space, a video trailer, stills photography, marketing and social media strategy advice and anything else that I can think of and can find support for! There are wonderful examples of great indigenous work being produced (Sapphires, Redfern Now, Black Comedy etc) that are a result of financial support and mentorship from places like Screen Australia and the Australia Council. Learning from this model, I’d love to support diverse work in a more general way to allow more opportunities for development of these unique storytellers. It also aims to bring awareness at a grassroots level, as it will encourage independent producers seeking financial and in-kind support for their show to analyse whether their production includes diversity; if the answer is yes they can apply and if it’s a no, and they now have a fresh awareness of their lack of diversity… and that in itself is a good outcome.

Who are some of the people you’ve been able to work with who have pushed you hard to achieve and made you further believe in yourself and your vision for the screen?

I don’t think I need much pushing to achieve… I’m probably my own best and worst pusher! My incredibly talented friends are incredibly supportive and inspire me when they take their own risks in creating stories that are important to them. Every time I see a talented actor from a diverse background kicking butt, it inspires me to create more opportunities in anyway I can to get them out there in the hope that there will be more visibility of minorities in the mainstream eventually.

What’s next for you?

I will continue to chip away at producing many more Minority Box videos. I’m currently smack bang in the middle of a Master of Commerce, majoring in Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, on a Business Leader Postgraduate Scholarship. This is giving me the skills to create things like the Independent Theatre Diversity Fund and with 10% of Pearly Production profits now pledged back to diversity in the arts, I hope to expand my business and find more innovative ways to generate more diverse visibility and share more inclusive stories. I’m also getting employed as a director more and more with diverse content, which is really satisfying and fun, and look forward to collaborating with more passionate and like-minded people to create more momentum. As Co-Chair of the Equity Diversity Committee alongside Bali Padda and as a National Performers Committee member with Actors Equity Australia we have a few campaigns around diversity planned that are quite fresh and positive… so much… so much to do, so much we can chip away at changing, it’s all very exciting!

 View the short film Babycake below:

Minority Box Web Interview Series. Photo by Pearl Tan.

Minority Box Web Interview Series. Photo by Pearl Tan.

See some of the universal issues these actors face in ‘The Minority Box’ below:

Asian actresses – http://youtu.be/_XKmwYPBoF8

Indian actors – http://youtu.be/XHwvnxku5h8

African actresses – http://youtu.be/PKaBHaRXXs0

Andy Trieu Interview: Laughter, Determination and Community

 Andy Trieu interview with AAFFN’s Indigo Willing

Photo of Andy Trieu.

Andy Trieu. Photo by Chris David

WHO:

Three-time Australian Champion Martial Artist Andy Trieu expanded his repertoire from competing in tournaments, to performing in roles across stage and screen. Currently he is co-hosting on Australian TV and radio show SBS PopAsia, and is also featuring on TV shows Kitchen Whiz (GO!), Maximum Choppage (ABC2), If You Are the One (SBS2) Rescue (Ch9), and Pyramid (Ch9). Andy was also apart of the top 50 CLEO Bachelors of the year and was a runner up for the national search for hosts on ABC3.

Andy is an ambassador for the charity All Together Now and an advocate of the National Stroke Foundation. He holds a double degree in International Relations and Business (Australian National University).

Q & A

Typecasting was a common theme and lack of opportunities. But I think the industry is definitely changing and more great things are happening in that area.

IW:

It’s been a while since we’ve caught up but last time was when you were a special guest panellist at our AAFFN’s inaugural event in 2011. Let’s get started! When you were growing up did your family always feel you would gravitate towards the entertainment world and if so, what were the long-term ways they’ve always been able to support you to do that? Or did you surprise everyone one day and say ‘I want to get involved with TV and films’ and how did that go?

AT:

I was a very noisy and naughty kid so I think my parents hoped that I would get into a field where I could let that out. Mum originally told me I should be a doctor and I said “Okay, I’ll be a doctor like Jackie Chan”.  She just had to nod. I told her if I got on TV one day I would say “Mum I’m on TV”. That maybe sealed the deal haha.

Mum did very subtle things to show her support, like buying a TV. I just had to then remind her to watch it. Dad bought a TV in his business and would tune into Kitchen Whiz everyday and when customers would walk in he would say, “Well what do you know my son is on TV” as if it were coincidental.  So from their actions they showed me that they cared.

IW:

Many kids and indeed, big kids and adults dream of presenting and acting in some of the stuff you’ve done but don’t know how to start. What was one of the silliest things you did when you first started, and what was one of the most positive things that worked for you in the beginning?

Andy as Kitchen Ninja on Channel 9’s Kitchen Whiz

Andy as Kitchen Ninja on Channel 9’s Kitchen Whiz

AT:

Between working on the shows SBS PopAsia and Kitchen Whiz I can safely say I’ve ticked off all the things that you SHOULDN’T do on TV. A typical week on each show involves rolling down hills, smashing cakes on my face, testing stupid superstations, and making a fool of myself in front of celebrities.

On a random note…

I went into an audition for Disney’s Power Rangers once and I learned the wrong script. That was stupid. I’ve then learnt that preparation is key!

One of the most positive things that worked for me in the beginning which also sounds very cliché, was to be myself.

IW:

You exude a strong and positive energy, and your screen presence has a lot of larrikin going on. The tone is down to earth and you are not afraid to have a laugh. In what ways can humour help bridge differences or further connect people together?

AT:

The great thing about being a childish silly ninja on TV is that it’s not very far from me in real life… I find that humour helps me get a message across to an audience in a more fun and engaging way. People generally have their guards down more when they laugh.

IW:

What are some of the more serious roles you’ve played? And what’s a dream ‘serious’ role that you would like to play one day?

AT:

I always wanted to be a Power Ranger! I came so close so I don’t think I’m ever going to let that one go! Disney I hope you are reading this.

I played a killer named Sef Gonzales on a channel 9 show called Crime Investigations Australia. My siblings were scared of me for about a week.

Also I’ve played the cliché Asian bad gangster guy on the movie Wolverine and Tomorrow When the War Began.

IW:

Who are some people in the Asian Australian community who have been influential to you, including those you’ve worked with and those who you have not so far?

AT:

I’m fortunate to know the lovely Poh (Poh’s Kitchen) and Anh Doh (TV personality) and I love them as presenters. They are awesomely down to earth people. I love their shows and their work ethic.

I would love to work with TV personality Luke Nguyen! I send him a tweet or two every now and then hoping he will notice me but he is a busy man haha. When I started at SBS I went around the building searching every corner for him …#creepy lol.

IW:

Well everyone wants to say hi to Luke – hi from us at AAFFN as well dude. But enough creeping and fanboy and fangirl time over Mr Nguyen. We are busy busy too lol. If we can reflect back to the AAFFN launch event, what were some of the common challenges your peers have faced?

AT:

Typecasting was a common theme and lack of opportunities. But I think the industry is definitely changing and more great things are happening in that area.

IW:

What are some of the ways scriptwriters, TV and filmmakers could be more inclusive of diversity?

AT:

I think this can be done in casting and in finding great stories in the community that include diversity. GO ASIANS!

IW:

In what ways do mates and mentors in the industry currently help you grow as a presenter and actor?

AT:

My team at SBS PopAsia are really awesome! My co-host Jamaica Dela Cruz and our producers Maddy Fryer and Matthew Smith are really experienced and creative. They put time in every week to work on helping me grow as a presenter on TV and radio so I’m really thankful for that. This is done through air checks and constant feedback. They also allow me room to take risks. Something they will probably regret haha.

sbs

IW:

You were a finalist in the CLEO Bachelor of the Year awards, and your mate Thien Nguyen won last year. What was that experience like?

AT:

Being chosen, as a Cleo Bachelor is a real honour because it helps all Asian guys in one form or another be seen in a different light, not just a stereotype.

More importantly it helps you get a date lol.

IW:

Asian Australian men have not been as prominent as models, presenters and so on until recently. What’s changed to make more opportunities to get involved in those professions and roles arise?

AT:

I think it’s because of the increase of great Asian related content from food to Asian pop music. More great content brings more opportunities. To get involved in these projects still requires hard work and persistence in the industry in my opinion.

IW:

Are there any community or charity projects that have been close to your heart and that you’ve been involved with directly or would like to give a shout out too?

AT:

I’m currently an advocate for the National Stroke Foundation and an Ambassador for All Together Now, Australia’s only national charity that has a sole focus of addressing racism. Check them out at http://alltogethernow.org.au

IW:

Let’s talk about the Kitchen Ninja character, one of the roles you’ve done for a while and which looks like lots of fun and reaches a big mainstream audience. What’s some of the best experiences about being in the role?

AT:

I love being a silly Ninja because I get to be silly and ahh…..be a Ninja… that just about sums it up.

But also being able to have creative control over the character, doing Martial Arts and destroying food is very fun. I’ve also learnt so much about cooking and I’ve got a really great co-host Alice Zaslavsky (Masterchef) who keeps me in check.

IW:

You are also part of the SBS Pop Asia family now. What are some of the most fun aspects of your role? Do you and Jamaica think up fun ways to present or do you get to do a lot of the show improvised?

AT:

As a SBS PopAsia presenter we get to meet celebrities! Also create content and interact with people that love the genre! There is definitely a hard work element to it though, on a typical day Jamaica and I come up with content with the producers for our radio show (Download the PopAsia app to listen 5-7pm) whilst writing content for our TV show and then we have to go on air or start filming for the TV program. When we begin shooting there’s not too much room to improvise but we take as many risks as we can.

As FURY in Maximum Choppage

As FURY in Maximum Choppage

IW:

One of your other current and big projects you’re involved with is Maximum Choppage for ABC2 TV. You are working with an amazing team, including a who’s who of Asian Australian talent on and behind the screen.   Can you tell us about your involvement?

AT:

In Maximum Choppage I play a villain named Fury. He is a charismatic, ambitious leader of a gang called the V-teks in Cabramatta and he is determined to take Lawrence’s character down. I had so much fun learning the Martial Arts and doing scenes with people that I use to Fanboy over like Lawerence Leung lol.

Oh I want to congratulate Timothy Ly and thank Matchbox Pictures for getting this project up and giving us all opportunities, especially Julie Eckersley. Starts on Feb 24th on ABC 2.

on set ABC2 TV series Maximum Choppage  as the character FURY with Lawrence Leung.

on set ABC2 TV series Maximum Choppage as the character FURY with Lawrence Leung.

IW:

What is one of the funniest things that’s ever happened in your work?

AT:

When I was new at SBS I walked into the wrong studio and sat in the newsroom thinking that’s where we filmed SBS PopAsia. I later got kicked out!

IW:

What are you working on next?

Hosting Hit Chinese TV show “If you are the one” on SBS2 with Jamaica Dela Cruz

 AT:

Wow you are going to regret you asked this question because I’m about to shamelessly promote everything!

Jamaica and I are hosting a marathon of the hit Chinese TV show If You Are the One on SBS2 on FEB 14th, Prime time at 8:30PM

At SBS PopAsia we are going live and travelling down to Melbourne to do some outside broadcasts on the 19th of FEB at Fed Square.

Also I worked on three films that are coming out this year Unindian, starring cricketer Bret Lee, Alex and Eve, directed by Peter Andrikidis, and Me and my Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse, featuring US star Jim Jeffries, Alex Williamson, Greg Fleet. SBS PopAsia is back every Sunday on TV 9am on SBS2. Oh, and Kitchen Whiz is on telly Saturday’s at 12pm on channel GO!

IW:

What is one of the biggest surprises in your career so far?

 AT:

Biggest surprise ever was when someone came up to me on the street and asked me for a photo and a signature. I was so shocked that I asked them for a photo and a signature. My Mum still doesn’t believe me.

IW:

That’s awesome!

See segment from SBS popAsia at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7-TY5CgJbk

Meet Thien Nguyen: Talking about Cleo Bachelor of the Year 2014, working hard, community fundraising & more

Thien Nguyen

Thien Nguyen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO: Thien Nguyen was born in Australia.  He is a black belt in Hapkido as well as the equivalent for Northern Shaolin Kung fu and studied at Dong Thanh Alliance Training Academy.  He is also the founder of Hard Personal Training and an ambassador the Lenovo and The Protein Bread Co.  As an actor, he won an award for the ‘Best Villian’ at the short action film festival in LA and was nominated for best actor for the feature film Change of Our Lives. AAFFN is stoked to talk to Thien Nguyen for our last feature of the year for 2014.  Interview below by Indigo Willing:

 
To reach my dreams, I break down the task that I have to completed and just do one thing at a time, day after day. It is easy to be discouraged if we want results too quickly. It is critical to love what you do. Never use money as a motivator. Follow your passion is my motto. Success will flow from passion.
 

IW:
This has been a big year for you, including winning the Cleo Bachelor of the Year 2014. We are also very proud to have seen Andy Trieu, another Asian Australian with Vietnamese heritage, be a nominee for the Cleo Bachelor of the Year a couple of years before. Amongst your many other achievements, one of the perks is that your high profiles open up the door for many more multicultural Australian males to be in the modelling, presenting and acting worlds. In terms of other Asian Australians with high profiles in the media, entertainment and arts worlds, who are some of your mentors, role models and inspirations who you feel opened doors for you?

TN:
It has been an amazing year. I was Andy’s Personal Trainer not long ago, and we spoke about how great it was that we were both nominated to be a Cleo Bachelor. To actually win the competition was something beyond my wildest dreams! I have to thank my family for the support. My mum, dad, brother and sister in law, without them nothing would be possible. Maria Tran and Trung Ly have been always there to support me in Martial Arts and Acting. Both are very motivated and are inspiring people. I have never seen anyone else that is so dedicated to their craft. Thang Ngo who is a food blogger for Noodlies is my mentor which I also owe a lot to. He has helped me with my direction and has kept me focused and driven. 

 

IW:
One of the great things about the Vietnamese community is their fundraising not only for Viet related causes, but also for the general community of Australians. Like when the bushfires hit, and floods hit, the Vietnamese community got right in there to lend a helping hand to everyone. What kinds of charity work and fundraising do you do, and why is it an important part of how you spend your time and use your profile?

TN:
I really love how the Vietnamese community gets together to help anyone in need. I have always vowed to use any success that I have to be able to help others that are less fortunate.

I run my own business, Hard Personal Training. Through this I have run charity events for The Fred Hollows Foundation, The Children’s Sunrise Villages and am currently organising an event for Bear Cottage. I believe that every little bit counts. I have also become an ambassador for Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets. There will be a campaign for 2015 which I am fortunate to be apart off.

The best thing in life to me is to be able to give and help others as much as possible. Very few people are ‘overnight successes’. One of the keys to success for most people is hard work.

 

IW:

What’s a typical day’s hard work for you and how do you keep positive and motivated?

TN:

It is quite normal to have good and bad days. The key to being motivated for me is to have a vision that is greater than yourself.

I want to make and impact on the world and to be able to help others that don’t have the basic needs to survive or families that are going through tough situations. To reach my dreams, I break down the task that I have to completed and just do one thing at a time, day after day. It is easy to be discouraged if we want results too quickly. It is critical to love what you do. Never use money as a motivator. Follow your passion is my motto. Success will flow from passion.

 
IW:
What projects in the entertainment world have you been working on and can you tell us about one of your favourite memories and some wisdom you took away from them?

TN:
Change of Our Lives was a community project that was sponsored by The Cancer Council NSW. The feature film was screened at Hoyts cinemas with over 600 people attending the premier. Being able to connect with passionate people and those that want to make a difference in the world was very memorable for me. I am blessed to have made friends for life though the project and have to credit them for helping me succeed.

 

IW:

What are you working on next?

 

TN:

I am signed now to London Management Group and am waiting for what exciting things that have planned for me. So far it has been parties and photoshoots. I guess things can only get better from here.

IW:
If you had a dream project to work on next, say in acting, what type of role would it be and what kind of story?

TN:
My dream role is to be in the Fast and Furious series. I have always looked up to the actor that plays the character Han. It would be cool if I could play his little martial art fanatic brother that enters the car scene and gets caught in all sorts of dramas.

IW:
What advice would you give anyone wanting to get into the arts, modelling and entertainment world?

TN:
Always remember where you came from and the people that got you there. Aside from that, it is a tough world. Keep your head up high, work on your craft and remember that success takes time.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.08.37 pm

 The best thing in life is to be able to give and help others as much as possible.Very few people are ‘overnight successes’. One of the keys to success for most people is hard work. 
 
 
IW:
More broadly, who have been some of the most important people to you in your journey so far?

TN:
My friends, family and mentors are the most important people in my life. They give me motivation and courage to keep moving forward. Success can often be a lonely path. I am grateful to have people supporting me on my journey.

 

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Meet Barton Williams, Actor and Director

 

bwilliams3

AAFFN interview with Barton Williams

by Indigo Willing

WHO:

An orphan from the world’s largest humanitarian adoption program in 1975 called OPERATION BABYLIFT, Huynh Van Cuong as he was known then was airlifted in a cardboard box to Australia.  Adopted into an Australian family and raised in Adelaide South Australia, Barton brings a wealth of acting and life experience to his name. With a B.Ed./B.T and as a former professional water skier, surf lifesaver and martial artist Barton has an array of high level specialty skills. Starting at the tender age of 10 years old Barton has been acting in front of the camera and on stage across South Australia and New South Wales. Barton was trained professionally as an actor at ACTT (Actors College of Theatre and Television) and as a TV presenter at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art). Barton has an extensive range of TV (Home & Away Rescue Special Ops), Film (Motherfish & The Battle of Long Tan) and Theatre (A Quiet Night in Rangoon, How to lose sight) credits to his name. In addition to this Barton is a published children’s author and a producer of kids TV show, OFF THE SHELF.

INTERVIEW:

IW:

What kinds of challenges have you ever faced being accepted as Aussie boy growing up here?

BW:

Having White Anglo Saxon (adoptive) parents, I was exposed to non traditional sports and activities such as acting at a young age, surf life saving ‘nippers’ for kids and water skiing. Whilst I never received a lot of harassment, I did feel like I didn’t belong at times. As all the other so called ‘Asian’ kids did ‘different’ things, it made me feel a little weird.

IW:

How has the Vietnam War and your experience as an adopted orphan given you any special direction or insight as an actor and creative artist?

BW:

It has allowed me to really understand that behaving like a character overrides how you look as a character. Don’t judge a book by its cover until you see how they behave!  Always expect the unexpected and don’t always see the unknown as a bad thing.

bwilliams4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IW:

You were the subject of a film (Precious Cargo) about your biography as a Vietnamese adoptee. What was it like developing that story with Blue Lucine? How was it knowing someone else would act as you?

BW:

Blue Lucine has been pivotal in allowing me to celebrate my adoption. She taught me and through research educated on a things that I have in the past ignored. Seeing other actors act as me or my family was surreal at first but made me incredibly proud too. This was particularly noted because Blue made a point of taking parts of my doco verbatim.

bwilliams1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IW:

You are also a filmmaker, with a short film ‘To The Rescue’ which recently won the Encouragement Award at The Joy House Film Festival in September 2014 in Sydney.   How did that come about and did you draw from your personal experiences as a life saver and having grown up around the beach culture?

BW:

Ha ha ha… “To the Rescue” is actual a concept from a show that I use to produce. Yes, as a former active life saver at Coogee I wanted to share the wonderful service that SLSA and Westpac provide every day in order to help keep our community safe.

IW:

Who are some of your key influences or inspirations so far as feeling diversity is appreciated on the screen and on stage in Australia?

BW:

Where do I start? Khoa Do (Ahn Do’s brother) holds a special place within me, he cast me many years ago in his feature film MOTHERFISH in which I played a Thai Police officer. His gentle nature and creative genius inspires me without a doubt.

Then there are directors like Peter Andrikitis who I love their work and opportunities they provide for casting diversity. Anthony Brandon Wong is the most beautiful and inspiring actor of all time for me. I worked with him briefly on the ABC’s Maximum Choppage which was lovely because prior to that experience it has been during his workshops. Andy Minh Trieu the SBS Pop Asia god and Kitchen Whiz Ninja inspires me daily. His humble warm personality is always so appealing, even since we first worked on a HOT LIES (band) music clip years ago!

Finally, Felino Delloso, the king of screen and TV. This guy is truly amazing, fun, talented and all round great guy. I was blessed to work with him on a play years ago A QUIET NIGHT IN RANGOON and we even worked on Khoa Do’s feature film MOTHERFISH too.

IW:

That’s  an awesome list, almost a Who’s Who right now of Asian Australian talent.  Any other Asian Australians who you recently took away some wisdom from?

BW:

The lovely Ivy Mak, worked with her last week, she plays my wife on a new SBS drama called “The Principal”, starring Alex Dimitriades. Ivy taught me that you can be absolutely beautiful, talented, intelligent and a nice person too…!

IW:

Let’s broaden the question to more universal themes. Name some other favourite actors of any heritage, films etc and why?

BW:

Sooo many… Joel Edgerton and Nash Edgerton, why? Aussie born and bread. Such good physical actors both on the screen and stage. Saw Joel in A streetcar named desire and was in awe!

Cate Blanchett because she is faultless….and soooo grounded…a rarity for such an A-list actress.

Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers….why? because they just let their creative juices flourish and go against the norm which in turn creates stories on film that have us on the edge of our seat.

IW:

What’s some advice you can give others wanting to get on the screen and represent and tell a story?

Hmmmm……work hard….work hard…and be motivated by the chance of success rather than the fear of failure!

bwilliams4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IW:

What’s one of your best memories as an actor or director?

BW:

Hmmmmm……stage memory would have to be a play I did out in Parramatta with the wickedly talented Polish director Michal Imielski. The production took place in 4 rooms of a house in which guests were led through. One of my scenes involved being pushed up against a glass window…yes…I went through it and it cut my right shoulder….and yes we kept running with it.

Hmmmmmm film/TV…..probably RESCUE SPECIAL OPS when director Jeremy Sims had mistaken me for the stunt driver…lol!

Hmmmmm Producing an episode of my kids show where I ran around with the Sydney Swans at the SCG dressed as the character BOULDER complete with shoulder pads and a wrestling belt and headband!

bwilliams5

 

 

 

 

Barton also recently features in DESENSE

IW:

What’s next for you? Where can we see you or your work on the screen or stage?

BW:

Just about to head to QLD in 2 days for a war documentary being shot in Queensland. Then in December back to SBS’ new drama THE PRINCIPAL to work with my lovely wife IVY MAK…making out scene…..doh….no jokes…working with her again which will be fun. Small role on Home & Away as Dr. Nugyen which airs in February. Wish they’d give me the doctor role with surfing at Summer Bay?

I also start rehearsing for a play in early 2015 called DEAD TIME written and produced by the lovely and talented Fleur Beaupert….oh and maybe Peter Andrikidis or Quentin Tarantino might ring me next year….ha ha ha ha ha ha

IW:

Sure, we sure think those directors need to call, call now!

The likes of Tarantino, and you dear readers, can see Barton and Andy Trieu having a good ol’ biff below:

 

All photos used were supplied by Mr Williams for this interview.

Next big AAFFN event planned for 2015 in Melbourne!

Looking forward to a new AAFFN Melbourne event planned for 2015. Check out the inspiring speakers & films we featured last time we hit Melbs at the launch of AAFFN in 2011 – diversity is the goods:

https://asianaustralianfilmforum.wordpress.com/2011event/

 

AAFFN montage

CALL FOR ACTORS – MELBOURNE

 

ACTORS – MELBOURNE

Graeme de Vallance is a Casting Director with A Cast of Thousands. He is casting two web based pilots in Melbourne and is after people for the following roles. Payment for all these roles all inclusive is $400.

“Newsreader episode – We are looking for new comedic talent for a web series pilot. We are looking for guys (Caucasian) and girls (Asian-Australian/Eurasian background) aged 25-30 who can newsread and have a good sense of comic timing. you will need to be able to speak in a US accent.”

Graeme de Vallance
A Cast of Thousands
p +61 2 8411 1048 | m +61 411 494 040
PO Box 459 Pennant Hills. NSW. 1715. Australia.
www.acastofthousands.com.au – Graeme de Vallance graeme@acastofthousands.com.au

Interview with John Green, director & producer: skateboarding films

John Green, filmmaker, skate video director. Photo by Wade McLaughlin

John Green, filmmaker, skate video director. Photo by Wade McLaughlin.

WHO:

John Green is a skateboarder and filmmaker who resides in Brisbane, QLD. He was born in Ormoc City, in The Philippines and moved to Australia when he was one with his Mother and older Brother. Aged 22, he has been skating for almost 10 years and filming skateboarding videos for 5 years. His work includes for numerous companies and organisations such as Picture Wheels, Hoon Skateboards, Holiday SkateboardsHerstwood Skateboards and Skatebiz (as well as international brands).  This includes Co-Filming/Producing a short skate film called “The Grass is Greener” in 2012.  He also filmed and edited ‘The Herstwood Video” in 2013 and is currently working on personal projects.  Below is an interview he did with AAFFN’s Indigo Willing.

What have you been working on recently?

JG:

One thing is “River City Flow” (2014), a project I worked on for a few months, predominately with Gareth Roberston and Andrew ‘Beacho’ Beauchamp.  The idea was for the video to be all city footage and all at night. As word got out about the project, more people wanted to be a part of it, so there’s more involved as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VUPhd9uBic

A more current project for me is “The Hype Squad Video” which is a ‘homie video’ of the “Hype Squad”. Basically our skate crew and our  friends. It’s due to be released in October/November 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9wQUcYofAw – Promo 3

How and around when did your interest in skateboarding become a major part of who you are?

JG:

Growing up I was really into basketball. I started playing at a local club when I was 12. A year later I started skateboarding and did both up until Year 12 (final year of high school). After finishing school and having way more time on my hands I started to skate more and enjoyed playing basketball less. Eventually stopped playing and skateboarding just naturally took over. That’s when the love really started.

Green filming.

Green doing some filming. Photo by Wade McLaughlin

 

 

Is anyone else in your family a skateboarder? Tell us a bit about them if so.

JG:

My older brother skates. He was the one who got me into it. I remember we had a Tasmanian Devil board, that was the graphic anyway. It was like an old school pool shape, it was rad. We use to play around on that when we were real young down the driveway. Then we both got some crappy K-Mart boards, which sucked. When my brother got into high school he got into it more with his friends and started going to the skatepark on weekends. Eventually I started to tag along after getting some secondhand boards and wheels etc. He still skates now, he’s cool.

Does your family ‘get’ and have a pretty good understanding why you are driven to skate and do what you do?

JG:

Not entirely haha I think they are slowly coming to terms and understanding why as I get older.

When I show my parents some videos I’ve done the first thing they tell me is that what we are doing/done is illegal and we shouldn’t be doing it, it’s funny.

In what ways might skaters in Brisbane face challenges that may not exist or be less of a hassle in other cities?

JG:

The major challenge in street skating, not only in Brisbane but everywhere, is the police or security. More so security than police I think, they usually try and be a hero and abuse their power when they kick us out of spots. Another challenge I tend to come across while ‘street skating’ especially in the inner city is the public. Some cities and towns are more accepting and don’t really bother you, but in Brisbane it seems like everyone is against it, in my opinion anyway. You get the same old line “This isn’t a skatepark”.

Louie - Kickflip Fakie

Louie Riley – Kickflip Fakie. Photo by Phil Joe.

How did you get into filming?

JG:

I started filming when I was 16. My parents had some little handy cam which I started taking to the skatepark and filming my friends. I made a few little clips with it, it was fun. I then started to notice the progression of some of my friends and found that I wasn’t as good as they were, nor will I ever be, so…

…I thought why not upgrade my camera and film these guys properly to show the world their amazing talent.

What technology and equipment do you use when you film and edit?  

JG:

Filming wise, for the last 4 years I’ve been using a Sony VX1000 with a MK1 Extreme Fisheye lens. The VX1000 was made in 1995 designed for the war. This camera was, and should still be, the industry standard for skateboarding. All the videos I grew up watching were filmed on the same camera and one of my main influences and favourite filmer, Beagle, is a strong VX1000 advocate. Now days everything has turned High Definition or ‘HD’ with the progression of technology. For this reason I’ve had to accommodate and buy a Panasonic HVX200 which films in HD and is used by many professional skate filmers.

When editing I use an iMac at home and a Mac Book Pro whilst on trip. I mainly use the Adobe programs – Premiere Pro, After Effects, photoshop etc…

What are some of the best memories you have of making skate videos?

All the good times I’ve spent with all my friends. Travelling to new places and meeting new people. But the best memory I have accompanied by the best feeling ever was during the filming process for “The Grass is Greener” a video a good friend of mine Michael Pearse and I made in 2012. I went out skating with my friend Liam. He had this trick he really wanted to do and the deadline for the video was fast approaching. He ending up trying it with no avail for 3/4 hours non stop and by then the sun, my batteries and both our energy levels were gone so we decided to call it quits. I think we went back a couple days later to try again.

[After] Another 3/4 hour session and still no make I looked at Liam and asked if he wants to keep going or try another day to the reply of ‘last shot’ which never means last shot. Next thing I know he’s rolling down the footpath triumphant. It was amazing.

What are some of the biggest challenges or worst moments you remember when filming a clip?

JG:

I try to stay on point with my equipment, making sure everything is working, batteries charged and I have enough tapes to get through the day but there have been times where I’ve slipped up and mid session I’ve run out of batteries or tape and let everyone down.

Usually the biggest challenge is organising everyone! Trying to get them out of bed, ready and out the door every week is hard but all fun in the end.

Hi Five

John Green with Herstwood homies – Hi 5. Photo by Phil Joe.

 

Who are some of the people who inspire you to go out there and make things happen?

JG:

First and foremost are my friends. They’re the guys putting everything on the line and going through the mental/physical battle of skateboarding. I want the best for them and I try to do all I can to help them succeed and progress.

Is getting a budget and payment for skate videos something that happens that often or in Australia, is it more or less done on a shoestring budget for the love?

JG:

Not too often, it’s a very low paying ‘JOB’. There are companies out there that help you out and I really appreciate those guys and give them 100% but…

…if you’re not in it for the love or didn’t start filming for that reason you won’t get very far. Same goes for skateboarding as a career as well.

Any tips for people wanting to make skate videos for board companies etc?

JG:

Like anything you start from the bottom and work your way up. Just keep filming your friends or down at the local park and keep striving to out do your last edit. Over time you progress and start to know whats good and whats not. Be cool and down to earth with people you work with, they will like you more which might open up more opportunities. Unfortunately in skateboarding it is a lot about who you know, keep that in mind.

Beyond skaters, do you think there are other audiences you want to reach or who have already expressed support for what you’re doing?

I think musicians are the most alike to skateboarders. Skating and music go hand in hand. I’ve been asked to film music videos and live sets for some of my friends’ bands. Apart from them I would like the reach the general public and make them see skateboarding in a different perspective and take it as an art form with positive outcomes rather than something negative.

There’s Brisbane skaters for example like Tim Black who is now based in the USA and doing an amazing range of projects as a photographer. Then you have Brisbane and QLD skaters who are indeed musicians, in bands like ‘Dead Wolves’, ‘Deadweight Express’ and ‘Citizen John’, those who are also artists, like Shari White who has a zine and so on.  As well as skate videos, are you doing other creative activities or would like to?  

JG:

I use to play guitar and other instruments growing up, still kind of mess around nowadays but never really have the time to sit down and learn something properly. I do really like taking photos, mainly on film. The whole process of taking a photo and developing it yourself really intrigues me. I always carry around a Canon AE-1 35mm camera, its really fun to use. I’m currently working on putting together a little coffee table book of my photos.

 

Beacho-Ollie

Beacho, Ollie. Photo by Phil Joe.

There are many stereotypes about Asians, some hilarious but also some that hit home, and some just so weird they are obvious fiction.  How did your own life growing up in Australia challenge some?

JG:

Growing up in Australia definitely changed the food I eat regularly to what I would be eating if I grew up in Asia. I mean I do eat a lot of rice but I can’t go past a Cheese and Bacon meat pie and a beer!

Can’t argue with that statement to close an interview with a quintessential Asian Australian and freshly talented filmmaker not afraid of taking risks and getting out there with a camera. Pies and beer. That’s certainly part of living the dream for all of us. 

Look out for John’s future work in “The Hype Squad Video” and more. Watch River City Flow below: