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Vancouver Film Festival 2012 Interview – THE UNLIKELY GIRL director Wei Ling Chang

The Unlikely Girl - At VIFF
by Jason Whyte

“"The Unlikely Girl" is a sexy noir thriller that explores the fine line between truth and reality. It's a story about a young American exchange student in France who finds herself caught in a love triangle with a local boy and her host family's daughter. Everything is not what it seems and you are left wondering who's telling the truth and what makes a person real.” Director Wei Ling Chang on “The Unlikely Girl” which screens at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.

Is this your first film in the Vancouver International Film Festival? Do you plan to attend Vancouver for the screenings?

"The Unlikely Girl" is my first film in the Vancouver International Film Festival and I will be attending the screenings.

Could you give me a little look into your background and what led you to the desire to want to make film?

I never went to film school. I was a psych major in college and took a few film classes. I think that was when I caught my filmmaking bug. I love writing and directing but when I was younger, I didn't have much to write about. After a decade of working in TV and directing short films on the side, I got better at writing and was ready to embark on my first feature.

How did this project come together?

It all happened pretty quickly. I wrote the script in a few months, raised the budget from private investors in two. Within four months of completing the script, we were in Paris casting and prepping. I never shopped the project around to studios or production companies. I worked on a couple of projects as a producer before this one, shopping around a director's projects, pulling together financing only to see it fall apart in the last minute so this time I decided to go small and just do it.

What was the biggest challenge in the making of this movie?

The biggest challenge in making "The Unlikely Girl" for me personally was not having an assistant director on set. For various reasons, we ended up without an AD on set. It was crazy. My producer AD’ed at first, then one of our production assistants; she helped me run the set while I directed. I don't even know how we survived without one. My advice to all filmmakers; don't skimp on a good assistant director!

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.

The film was shot on Canon 5D and 7D. I love the look of the camera and budget-wise it made sense.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are? Any inspirations for this film in particular?

Stanley Kubrick is my biggest inspiration. I love his films. For "The Unlikely Girl", the inspiration came from a book entitled "The Labyrinths of Reason". The premise sprung from the liar's paradox. If you like puzzles and paradoxes, I highly recommend this book.

Please tell me some filmmakers or talent that you would love to work with, even if money was no object.

I'm not sure where to begin. There are many talents I would love to work with. Off the top of my head there is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams and Jon Hamm. There are loads of cinematographers I would love to work with too.

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

For studio films critical response is probably less important because big budget movies often draw on star power and they have the marketing budget to reach out to a mass audience. For indie films or festival titles, I think good critic response is crucial. We don't have the same kind of tools to get the attention the film deserves so we depend on word of mouth and good film reviews to help us spread the word and find our audience.

If your film could play in any movie theatre or "space" in the world, which one would you choose?

I would choose all available platforms. I personally prefer the theatrical experience because I think movies are meant to be seen on the big screen. I'm old fashioned that way but I also want my movie to be seen so any platform that works for the audience works for me.

No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start, and especially for those with films in the festival circuit?

Write a script with minimal locations, characters and a small and realistic budget in mind. Set a firm principal photography start date; when people ask you about your movie, tell them this is your start date. Keep repeating it to yourself and it becomes real. Have a Plan A budget and Plan B budget. Plan A is your ideal budget with Brad Pitt starring, Scott Rudin producing and pigs flying…don't be discouraged, they do fly on occasions; Plan B is the small and realistic budget you based your script on -- this is the budget you know you can make the film on even if it means you shoot it on your camcorder or 7D in your mother's backyard. Tell yourself the only way the movie won't get made is if you die. That's how I got my movie made.

How can people keep in touch with the film at this point in the festival circuit?

They can stay in touch by checking out and liking our Facebook page We will be posting all news and updates re the film on our Facebook page.

And finally, what is your all time favorite movie and why?

I don't have one favorite movie. I love all genres. In film noir, "Vertigo" and "Mildred Pierce"; in horror, "The Shining", the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street"; in sci-fi: "2001: A Space Odyssey", the 70’s "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"; in comedy "Shaolin Soccer". I also love "In the Mood For Love", "Sukiyaki Western Django", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". I'm going to watch "Looper" when it comes out. Maybe that will be my new favorite film.

This is one of the official selections in this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival lineup. For more information on films screening at this year’s fest, showtimes, updates and other general info, point your browser to

Be sure to follow instant happenings of VIFF ’12 on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a Tweetphoto or two. #viff12 is the official hashtag.

Jason Whyte,

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 10/07/12 03:16:57
last updated: 10/07/12 03:17:33
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