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Festival Interview: "Open Your Mouth and Say...Mr. Chi Pig" director Sean Patrick Shaul

Open Your Mouth and Say...Mr. Chi Pig
by Jason Whyte

“Open Your Mouth And Say… Mr. Chi Pig tells the story of Ken Chinn, better known as Mr. Chi Pig, front man for Canadian punks legends SNFU. The film recounts his life throughout the birth of the band, their rise and Mr. Chi Pig’s fall from the limelight and his attempt to start all over.” Director Sean Shaul on the film “Open Your Mouth and Say Mr. Chi Pig”, which screened recently at the Victoria Film Festival and is currently on the festival circuit.

Is this your first film at the Victoria Film Festival? Tell me about your festival experience, and if you plan to attend Victoria for the film’s screenings.

This is my first experience at VFF, I truly enjoyed the opening gala and met a lot of other devoted filmmakers. I didn’t make it to our film’s screening but I heard it went well and played to a full house.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background, and what led you to the industry.

Both myself and co-producer Craig Laviolette are originally from Edmonton. We moved out to Vancouver (myself in 2001, Craig in 2004) and began making short films together. We found that our filmmaking chemistry was right so we moved on to a feature doc.

How did this whole project come together? (This can include the screenwriting process as well.)

We were in search of our next project when a mutual friend of ours and Chi’s was telling how moved she was by seeing Chi sing “Hurt” by Johnny Cash and how the song really reflected his life. I began thinking that the average Canadian has no idea what this legendary fixture in the punk community had been struggling with or how hard he was trying to pull his life back together. I set up a meeting with Mr. Pig and figured I’d pitch the idea of a bio-doc to him. He responded with “I don’t know why anyone would care about my life, but if you want to do the film you have my blessing”.

Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

We shot it on a Panasonic HVX200 and the film’s “look” came from shooting on the road with a two man crew and a minimal budget. The feel this created mirrors the DIY feel of the punk music from the Eighties and fit the film perfect.

Out of the entire production, what was the most difficult aspect of making this film? Also, what was the most pleasurable moment?

Most pleasurable would have been the Jello Biafra interview because I’ve been a fan of the Dead Kennedys since I was 12. They were the first punk music I ever heard and they had a large impact on my life, so meeting the front man was amazing. The travel was nice too: Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Whistler, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Francisco were a few of the stops we made on this project. The worst part was trying to find funding and legal fees.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc)? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

I’m influenced by anyone who doesn’t wait for someone to give them a cheque before they will work. Films like Paranormal Activity, Blair With Project and Night Of The Living Dead (1968) were made by truly dedicated filmmaker who believed in their OWN project before anyone else did.

How has the film been received at other festivals or screenings? Do you have any interesting stories about how this film has screened before?

The film has played at Accolade in California, Levente in Italy and has just been accepted to the Canada International Film Festival where it won the Rising Star Award for Excellence in Filmmaking.

If you weren’t making movies, what other line or work do you feel you’d be in?

I don’t know…. maybe interviewing filmmakers? Either that or something to do with indie films.

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

The media response to a film is important because it give exposure to an audience a certain film may have not seen. Even a bad review can a least let people know your film exists.

If you could offer a nickel’s worth of free advice to someone who wanted to make movies, what nuggets of wisdom would you offer?

Everyone wants to do the fun stuff, directing, story development, the on set duties. If you can find people around you who won’t complain when they have heaps of paperwork to do or when they have to log footage or sleep in stinky, rented KIA Spectra then you have found a great crew member. Oh, and beware the freebies, sometimes things can cost more than money.

What do you love the most about film and the filmmaking business?

I love the fact that the industry is constantly changing and reinventing itself. Jobs like “Accountant” or “Priest” rarely have room for new ideas.

A question that is easy for some but not for others and always gets a different response: what is your favourite film of all time?

Top five is the best you are getting: Night of the Living Dead ‘68, Big Lebowski, Casino, Fubar, and Session 9… is it too early to say Shutter Island?

Note: While “Open Your Mouth and Say…Mr. Chi Pig” recently played the Victoria Film Festival, the film is continuing on the film festival circuit and the DVD is available through There is also a Facebook group HERE to follow festival screenings and other news on the film.

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 02/18/10 04:28:01
last updated: 02/18/10 04:28:45
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