Lights, cam­era, ac­tion!

Filmmaker shares a be­hind-the-scenes look at his own story

The Kids Post - - Ask The Expert - by Sa­man­tha Peksa

Yung Chang, doc­u­men­tary filmmaker and Up­per Canada Col­lege alum, has worked on a num­ber of well-re­ceived films, in­clud­ing Up the Yangtze (2008), China Heavy­weight (2012) and The Fruit Hunter (2012).

The bud­ding, young au­teur is cur­rently work­ing on his first nar­ra­tive fea­ture film, Egg­plant. A road trip film noir fol­low­ing a prewed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher (prewed­ding pho­tog­ra­phy is pop­u­lar in China).

For­merly a board­ing stu­dent at UCC (from Grade 8 on), with the rest of his fam­ily out in Whitby, Chang be­came rather in­de­pen­dent at a young age.

“I always felt quite iso­lated as a per­son, as a Chi­nese kid grow­ing up in a Cana­dian world. Or to counter that, as a Chi­ne­seCana­dian step­ping into the Chi­nese cul­ture,” says Chang. “What I re­ally val­ued were some of the men­tors I had at UCC, like Mr. de Pencier, who took a per­sonal in­ter­est in help­ing and en­cour­ag­ing stu­dents.”

“I re­mem­ber say­ing to Yung, ‘Don’t cen­sor your thoughts. Ev­ery cre­ative act is ag­gres­sive, and you can’t be afraid to el­bow your way in,’ ” says Adam de Pencier, Chang’s for­mer English teacher and cur­rent head of school at Trafal­gar Cas­tle School. “He took this to heart and re­ally had quite a wide ar­ray of in­ter­ests at Up­per Canada.”

Af­ter spend­ing his Grade 10 year, un­hap­pily, at a public school, Chang re­turned to UCC and dis­cov­ered a love for pho­tog­ra­phy and then film.

“Those last three years were very im­por­tant for me,” says Chang.

When asked for the most cru­cial piece of ad­vice he could of­fer to young film­mak­ers, Chang re­sponds, rather elo­quently, “The key thing is to have per­se­ver­ance. I think for ev­ery filmmaker there is this itch, that pas­sion, that lit­tle nugget of in­spi­ra­tion that you can’t let go of. That’s what you need to cul­ti­vate and nur­ture. It’s some­thing that can ebb and flow. My ad­vice would be to never let go of that itch.”

“Film­mak­ing is a fickle busi­ness. You have to be of a cer­tain ilk to want to make films, cer­tainly doc­u­men­tary films,” Chang adds. “It’s not a Stephen Spiel­berg, James Cameron type of busi­ness of film­mak­ing — mean­ing you’re not nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to be a bil­lion­aire. But, in say­ing that, I’ve been very for­tu­nate. I’ve trav­elled the world, more so than any­one in my cir­cle of friends. I’ve met un­be­liev­able peo­ple from all walks of life.”

Yung Chang in China (2010) dur­ing the mak­ing of ‘China Heavy­weight’

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