I want to make another film

9 03 2015

I’m thinking of making a documentary short about racism in the gay community. God knows it’s an intrinsic problem that most don’t even see as a problem. I have some ideas of how to proceed and what to film, but the time and effort that’ll go into making it is already daunting to me (as someone who has previously made documentary shorts).

Oh, and a budget would be nice but we all know the chance of that happening is pretty much impossible.

Is this all really worth it?

8 06 2014

I’m killing myself looking up queer film festivals around the world to send my film to, but I bet it won’t be accepted in more than three-quarters of them. The more I go through film festivals’ programs, the more I see that they types of films they screen have the gay/lesbian/queer thing very much upfront — and that’s not necessarily the stories that I want to tell. Sure, I made Stay which was super gay, but with something like June, which I think is my best, most artistic film to date, I want to explore other issues than just being gay. Maybe my films are too weird/artsy to fit in to typical film festivals; I’ve been reluctantly submitting my film as an experimental film, which I never considered it to be when I made it. And when my mom came in as I was going crazy, flipping through multiple open tabs on my browser of different film festivals, she asked what I was doing. When I told her I was sending off my film to festivals to get super famous, she told me to stop dreaming and left. I don’t expect to get super famous from my films, but I’d like some validation that my art and my stories are worth seeing, worth showing to other people. I’m thankful June has been screened at the Vancouver Queer Film Fest, though they have screened legitimately weird things, so my film hardly qualifies as too weird for them.

Maybe I was right to give up on film. The acceptances of my writing in various lit mags (despite lots of rejection from other places) has made me feel confident that my stories are worth publishing. I guess I feel like I either have to make clear, narrative films with gay characters facing gay situations, or I shouldn’t be a queer filmmaker if I expect popularity. And I don’t know if I want to do that.

My brain is a pile of mush right now so I will leave my existential crisis at that.

Not part of this year’s Queer Film Fest

11 02 2014

Last term, I had the idea of making a short documentary about the rampant, insidious amount of sexual racism in the gay community in Vancouver. Unfortunately, taking five courses, working part-time, and trying to spend time sending out my writing didn’t allow for the many hours needed to make a documentary. Instead, I opted to write a personal essay about the subject (which I got an A+ on!). Because I wasn’t working on a film to submit to Out on Screen/Vancouver Queer Film Festival, I thought the doc would be a super idea.

But that didn’t happen. And as the deadline for submissions approaches, it’s kinda sad, at least for me, that I won’t be part of The Coast is Queer program this year, like I have been for the past five years. Every year, it’s been an amazing experience to stand in front of an audience and introduce a film that people paid to see. I can’t describe it. After last year’s QFF, I contemplated retiring from film and working more in writing, as it seemed that was a more fruitful avenue for my creative endeavours, but people advised me to keep making films while I write. It’s a lot of time, money, and effort to make a film, much more than writing, and while I would like to do both, realistically, it’s such a huge undertaking (did I mention the money?) that for the most part, I have to do myself. I wish I could, but I’m not sure it’s very sustainable.

So back to this year. Yeah, it’s a little sad that I won’t be seeing my name up on the website and I won’t be up on stage with other fantastic local filmmakers. I remember when I first sat in the audience at Tinseltown. It was minutes away from showtime.

“Are you nervous?” my friend Jacky asked me.

“No,” I responded.

A few minutes later. “Okay, now I’m nervous.”

I remember how fast my heart pounded as I watched On the Bus play, hearing people’s laughter, their “Awwww!” at the end of the film. And then hearing them clap after. It was surreal.

And then to return year after year with new films, some of which I had only recently completed before the screening (shhh, don’t tell anyone). I never felt like my films were guaranteed to get picked for The Coast is Queer program, so it was always a surprise and a delight when I got the email that they were.

I’ll miss that. I wonder if anyone will miss me and my films. I have no idea, since I’m not very popular. I guess I feel like it’s kind of like the end of an era, or the end of my film streak.

But maybe I’ll return next year with a brilliant film. Who knows.

Would anyone like to donate $1300 to me?

9 01 2014

A couple months ago, I was in my room, moving some things around on my desk. I was trying to see if I needed to buy a desktop computer to edit a short scene for an assignment for my film production class when I felt a slight tug on my pants as I moved. The next thing I know, I hear something crash to the floor.

My hard drive. The one with the films I’ve been working on for a few years, as well as all the files to them.

The shell came loose and I easily popped it back into place, and it didn’t seem too damaged. Unfortunately, it made whirring sounds when I plugged it in my laptop, and my computer didn’t detect that anything had been connected.

A few days later, I took it to a repair shop where they ran some diagnostics and determined that the actual components in the hard drive were broken. It would cost at least $750 to repair. I went around to a few other shops, but they all said the same thing.

The last place I went to, which is where my hard drive currently is, they were nice enough to explain exactly what was wrong with it and told me it would cost $1300 to repair the hard drive and then to recover the data. The data of all my films.

I have never been the type of person to ask for help. My friends will attest to that. I always try to solve problems my own way because they’re my problems. But there are times when I do need help, and this is one of those cases.

I honestly don’t like asking for money, but I’m still a student (with a part-time job). And although I technically can afford to pay this, it’s a pretty big hit on my bank account.

So if there’s anyone, say an older, white sugar daddy who likes young Asian guys (kidding, by the way) and would like to help out a struggling filmmaker/artist, I would be beyond grateful and appreciative. I could make and send you a very sparkly thank-you card!

Anyway, thanks for reading this far. If you want to help me out, I’m sure we can arrange something on paypal or something. Send me an email: aaron@theaaronchan.com.

Oh, and have a funky day.


The death of my film career

6 01 2014

I spent the past few minutes submitting my latest film I completed last year, June, to queer film festivals. Only I did it with a sense of defeat. I’ve been telling people for the last while that I’m starting to move away from film; having written and directed short films for the past few years and not gotten much out of it except for a cool thing I can boast about every now and then, filmmaking, as fun as it has been, is so difficult to not just make money from, but to get people interested in.

I’d love to get screened at Outfest, but they’ve rejected all my films, year after year. I’d love to win the Gerry Brunet Award, but I haven’t. I don’t make films for money, but when I put money (and hard work and time and all that) into something I do and don’t get nearly as much after, it leaves you feeling a little deflated.

As with music, the first artsy project I undertook when I was exiting my teens and entering the scary world of the twenty-something, I found that people just didn’t care. And it was hard to make people care, especially when I’m not the type to go around proclaiming how everyone should “listen to my cover on my youtube channel because I’m 5 years old and it would mean so much to me please!” I don’t know what it is. Maybe I just marketed myself poorly when I went around the city and played shows, shows where the other musicians were all guitarists and seemingly more approachable than a gay, Chinese kid playing sad songs on a keyboard.

I’ve been unpopular my whole life, but I guess I thought that people would see through that and get interested in my music because my music was quality. So when I quit music and turned to film, that cycle and that hope began again– only now, I’m declaring the film world the winner, and me the loser.

I like my films. I know they’re not perfect, and I know they may not be super fancy because they’re simple films, but I like to think they’re different and they have a certain quality to them. I like to think I have interesting stories to tell, especially with June, which I’ve spent almost two years developing. I guess I wouldn’t be so reluctant and unenthusiastic about sending out my short film if I didn’t have to pay a submission fee, since it’s not even guaranteed that my film will be shown. And even when it is shown, many film festivals don’t pay, at least not short film filmmakers. So I end up paying a festival to watch my work, potentially paying more money to send an exhibition copy of the film — all in exchange for some people watching my film for 6 minutes.

Is this good enough? Is exposure really good enough? Not for short films. Maybe for features, but most people, I think, don’t really think about short films after (unless they’re exceptional), and even then, it’s unlikely that short film filmmakers get their big break via exposure. It’s difficult for me to justify sending out my film to a festival I feel won’t screen my work when they won’t pay me for it, after I’ve spent a long time working on it. But what else can I do?

I’ll still be sending out June because I spent so much time and effort (and money) on it that it would be a waste to simply let it sit on my computer this year. In a perfect world, short film filmmakers would get more than just exposure. I make films — and music and I write — because I love it. But I can’t use love to rent out equipment for my next film and to pay for film transferring, and for all the people who worked on my film. Wish I could though.

Should I retire from filmmaking?

15 09 2013

Woah, people actually voted!

15 09 2013

I was surprised to see even one vote, but now there are three! Wow! I’m going to keep it at the top of the blog every day so people can see it and vote.

Also, thanks to the three people who voted for their encouragement.

To retire…

26 08 2013

or not to retire from filmmaking? That is the question…

You know you’re film is good…

27 02 2013

when, while editing it and watching it back, it makes you almost cry.

Interview with me!

10 08 2012

Mark Robbins, of gayvancouver.net, interviewed me a little while ago about my new film, Anniversary, which will be screening at the Queer Film Festival this year.  Check it out!


Filmmaker Aaron Chan is out to prove that anniversaries don’t have to be clichés in his new appropriately titled film Anniversary, which premieres at the 2012 Vancouver Queer Film Festival.

“Without giving too much away, everyone tries, or is supposed to do something special for their anniversary,” explains Chan. “In Anniversary, Jorge tries to do just that for his boyfriend. He thinks of typical, romantic things to do but realizes they’re not that great after all, and that it’s better to try and be creative and put a twist on old, clichéd ideas.”

Surprisingly given how the log line reads, this new film from the creator of Stay and Cure(d) is not a comedy.

“I wouldn’t actually call Anniversary a comedy, though I think some people might,” says Chan. “There might be comedic scenes, but overall, it’s a pretty simple drama.”

That isn’t to say Chan has anything against comedies: “My type of humour is wordplay and wit, and gay comedies, I find, just aren’t all that appealing to me because they rely on physical gags a lot. I’m just not sure I could ever be successful at writing a good gay comedy feature film, but maybe someday!”

Currently finishing a final edit that is his final project for a photography course he took at Langara College, Chan admits that he is having a difficult time putting his finger on his inspiration for Anniversary.

“I think I had this idea about romantic gestures kicking around my head for a while, and once I wrote it out and realized it was only a two-page script with no dialogue, I saw the potential to try out some of the tricks I learned in class,” says Chan. “Although this isn’t an experimental film in the sense of it being an art film, I do consider Anniversary to be experimental for me as a photographer and a filmmaker. It’s an exercise in photographic and videographic skills.”

With Anniversary complete, Chan is now looking towards his next projects including a ghost story that just wrapped a couple of weeks ago. But while filmmaking will remain part of his life, Chan says it is taking a back seat as he focuses more on writing.

“Earlier this year, I had two short stories published, a romance short story, and a creative non-fiction story about being gay and out in high school. In the fall, I’m going to UBC full-time in the Creative Writing program,” he says.

Besides, with several films including the critically acclaimed On The Bus under his belt, Chan says he wants to be able to have more control over the treatment that his scripts receive.

“I value my stories and my scripts much more than I used to, so any script that I’m going to turn into a film must be made the best it can be. You only get one go at it, and anything less than what I imagine it to be isn’t good enough. I have to treat my vision of my stories with care and respect because they should be treated that way. It’s not about being egotistical, it’s about the art. It always comes down to the art.”