Filmmaker Spotlight: Michael Chang
Michael Chang’s Dying Breath competes in the 2017 AudFest Horror Shorts Film Festival
How did you get inspired to become a filmmaker?
“When I was in elementary school, I stumbled upon the film “Princess Mononoke” one night on Cartoon Network and was completely blown away. Up until then, I had never seen such a riveting tale that blended flawless structure, beautiful visuals and music, and a poetic story that centered around environmental conservation and moral ambiguity. As the credits began to roll, I felt an immense flame light up within me—the desire to create something just as thought-provoking and immaculate as Hayao Miyazaki did with his 1997 film.”
What is your favorite part about the short film form?
“What I find exciting about short films is the opportunity to tell a succinct story within a few minutes, as opposed to the length of a feature. In other words, it forces filmmakers to exercise immense constraint and discipline, thus helping them to become better artists in the process.”
Who were the people that supported the making of this film?
“I cannot thank my mother enough, as she donated a generous sum of money to the film’s GoFundMe campaign; she even went on to pitch the film to our distant relatives who subsequently donated as well. Other key people that I owe the film’s success to are my cinematographer/co-writer Leonardo Brito, my editor and composer Artem Bank, and my film professor Joe Kraemer.”
What is your next project?
“Currently, I am in the process of writing a trilogy of feature-length horror scripts that will cover my favorite three horror sub-genres: monster, slasher, and paranormal.”
The independent film business is a difficult one. What keeps you motivated? Where do you see the industry going in the future?
“As a filmmaker and writer, I constantly encounter writer’s block and a sense of inferiority when I compare myself to others. Most of the time, these feelings are pretty mild, but sometimes they can be crippling. To overcome this, I like to think back on the inspirational conversations I had with my favorite film professor, Mathew Bainbridge, when I was a freshman at Towson University. A man overflowing with passion and wisdom, he always had a way to harshly critique my work, yet provide incredibly insightful feedback on how to redirect said criticism and channel it into creating something even better. Because of mentors like him and the current state of Hollywood films, I have full faith that the independent film industry’s golden days are yet to come.”
Which filmmakers, artists or individuals have most influenced your work?
“I credit Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki to be my biggest influence in how I approach storytelling. Another individual who has had a deep impact in my work is French New Wave director Francois Truffaut.”
What advice would you give new filmmakers?
“No matter how long and dark the night is, the sun will always rise. When I graduated from college last year in the spring, I immediately tried my hardest to find both freelance and long-term work. For seven entire months, no one would hire me. Along with breaking up with my significant other, I fell into a deep depression and felt like I was a failure. But come January in the near year of 2017, I landed my first freelance gig and within a month, I’ve had a steady stream of work and my film “Dying Breath” made it through the first round of voting in the Audience Award’s Horror Shorts Film Festival. “Keep moving forward.” — Monty Oum”
Check out Michael’s film here!