VIFF 2018 Interview: MANGOSHAKE director Terry Chiu




“Two guys running a lemonade stand but instead of lemons it’s mangos inadvertently start a war with their mango dealer who is a psychopathic old blind man named Nancy because the stand’s representative was over five minutes late to the meeting point.” Director Terry Chiu on MANGOSHAKE which screens at the 2018 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival.


Congratulations on your film playing and welcome to VIFF! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?


Thank you so much! Stoked to share our movie. This is our first time at VIFF and our superstar protagonists and I will be there.


So how did you get into this business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.


I got a bicycle transformed into a unicorn, leading to a unicorn cycle, filmed my main actor Matias riding it around the neighbourhood in a sketchy-man coat for an hour or so on a blazing summer day, did it again for an action scene on a near-frostbite winter afternoon, and today we continue dreaming with a feature where he rides a skateboard and his name is Spaceboy.


How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!


After going through a checkpoint of youthful crescendo angst, I aimed to map out a retrospective of life from my point of view up to during that period, collecting all the relevant notes, memories, emotions, people, and trying to make some sense of it all through an interconnected narrative. Then locked myself away for 42 days, emerging mainly to love my family, eat, do school, and maintain hygiene, until the script was done. Somehow convinced around 50 people who I have known throughout the years to take part in some way or another, said fuck it, took out my life savings with some help from donations, shot it all in one summer, locked myself away to do post until I could not stand the movie anymore, became more existential than ever, took that time to evaluate why I should still believe in the movie, believed again by giving oneself incentive to make an action movie next, finished school, went to a wedding, finished the movie, went to movie casino and submitted it throughout the festivals, got found by guardian angels Adam Cook and Peter Kuplowsky, with their support went back and polished the movie, and now this answer might get edited.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

Pure angst / vain longing and coffee in a tupperware. I didn’t even remember the latter until Matias retold of whenever we were in the car and he in the passenger seat would watch me drink out of the tupperware while driving.

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

I had about an hour and a half drive with Matias mid-shooting day from one location to the next in on-and-off-traffic-jam-heat-stroke conditions, and although we made a pact to keep each other awake so that we would not both pass out—and there might not have been any more coffee in the tupperware—we were close to giving out. The most rewarding moment was when we made it.

I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.

My DP Sammy and I shot between a Sony XDCAM EX1, a Canon 550D, an old-ass 480p camcorder, and an XCEL action camera, depending on the thematic or aesthetic intention of the sequence or shot. We focused on dynamic colour range and changing location selections that would aesthetically reflect the narrative. Photographic composition and movement was a thoroughly conscious element in the storytelling. Every sequence and shot reflects the movie’s thematic progression, so there is a deliberate stylistic evolution throughout the narrative.


What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Vancouver?


Being given the chance to know whether this kind of industry-irrational movie can contribute to expanding the inclusivity of cinematic language with a wider audience.


After the film screens at Vancouver, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?


Hopefully in the Yukon!


What would you say to someone who was being disruptive (talking, texting, leaving halfway, etc) through a movie?


To the talkers and texters, this is not your 40-year-old mancave basement. Please be quiet. To the leavers, I predict they would actually leave within the first five or so minutes, and I would not care because that is when I know that those who remain are down to give the movie a chance.


We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?


That is such a great question. Someone let me know the answer if they get it first. Or listen to Shia and just do it.


And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?



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