By Staff Writer Ansh Patel
Senior Ivy Chan and Sophomore Sophie Chan were recently selected as finalists for the White House Student Film Festival where they created and submitted a film under the theme of “The World I Want to Live In.” Because of this distinction, the sisters visited the White House on October 2 to take part in the event. The Smoke Signal interviewed Ivy Chan about her accomplishment.
The Smoke Signal: When did you first become interested in film?
Ivy Chan: I had previously tinkered with my home camera and got into photography in fifth grade but I did not realize my interest in film until seventh grade, when I worked on a biology film project. The process of scripting, storyboarding, filming, and editing was intriguing to me and seeing an idea jump from paper to screen was a process I found I enjoyed.
SS: Do you have any past experience in film making?
IC: I have made a number of films as school projects in subjects such as biology, physics, Chinese, and English. I also won first place in a regional film competition held by the SoundPost Youth Foundation to raise the public awareness about water conservation.
SS: How did you learn about the White House Student Film Festival?
IC: I first heard of it two years ago from friends, but was not able to squeeze in time to do it as it took place during the school year. This year, the announcement was much later than usual. I literally thought that it was cancelled and completely missed it until I came back from California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science in early August. God’s blessings overflow; I came across it and I had a few days to turn it around before the deadline of August 15.
SS: Did you receive help from any mentors along the way?
IC: Part of the “prize” of the SoundPost film competition was a one-on-one workshop with a professional filmmaker, where I got some guidance on lighting, and sound design. I also wanted to give credit to MSJTV, which is the club I’ve belonged to since my freshman year, where I got mentorship on videography. Specific to the production of this film, I brainstormed with my parents and sister, Sophie Chan, and collected the story about my grandmother in Taiwan. I led most of the work in creating my film with some assistance from Sophie. In one particular shot, I worked with Sophie to create ambient classroom noises.
SS: Could you go into some detail about how your grandmother inspired you to create your video?
IC: Prior to chatting with my grandmother, I did some research regarding educational opportunities for girls around the world and found some depressing statistics, but learning the details of my grandmother’s story helped me confirm that girls’ education was the topic I wanted to advocate for, as men and women were created equal in the image of God. I felt extremely blessed to have this opportunity to speak for girls.
SS: Will you participate in other film festivals in the future?
IC: I do hope to continue entering in film festivals as they are wonderful opportunities to improve technically and get connected with a network of filmmakers and people from outside my community.
SS: What did you learn from your experience?
IC: From this experience, I learned much about story development and improved my stop motion animation techniques [sic]. I also fully appreciate the power of digital media, which can cover a lot within a very short period of time.
SS: How was the competition?
IC: It was absolutely awesome. I’ve been to Washington D.C. once but getting to go into the White House was special. I got to connect with other invited students during the final round on the first day of the event. I also met with a number of officials of the Office of Digital Strategy, which serves as a bridge between the public and the White House. The highlight of my trip was on the second day, which was the very first South by South Lawn (SXSL). Similar to South by Southwest in Austin TX, SXSL is a platform bringing musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and thinkers together to foster innovation. It was fun to walk around the South Lawn and network with professionals with different backgrounds. Last but not least, an exciting moment was meeting with President Obama and the other filmmakers inside the White House.
Photo by Staff Writer Stephanie Dutra