Matthew Victor Pastor is a local filmmaker who makes bold narrative films about identity in modern Australia. Born in Dandenong, and of Filipino/Malaysian heritage he tells stories of his upbringing within the Filipino family. Screening next week as part of the 33rd Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, ‘I am JUPITER I am the BIGGEST PLANET’ tells the story of a Filipino Mom in the harsh entertainment district of the Philippines. We recently caught up with Matt to learn how he got into filmmaking and what inspires his work.
How did you get into making films and why?
As an only child I always gravitated to storytelling. Dad used to take me to the local video store. For the most part I would rent Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee films. By my early teen years I was recreating these films on the 30 second video function on the Sony Cybershot digital camera with my friends. I think I started to notice how much I loved film when we studied Gattaca in high school. I’d be reciting quotes from the film to my crush, “I never saved anything for the swim back”, I’d say, which upon reflection is embarrassing. I guess I was always a dreamer.
Tell us about your past projects/films. What has been your most treasured creation?
In 2013 I wrote and directed a microbudget feature called Made In Australia. The film was a raw open wound, something I swing between loving and hating depending on how I’m feeling. It’s important to me because despite the adolescent diary page narrative structure, it set the framework for my themes. It’s confessional narrative also allowed the many Asian actors involved to develop their characters, something we are lacking in Western media. Although it was awarded ‘Best Guerrilla Film’ at the 2013 Melbourne Underground Film Festival and had a brief run, there’s no way to see it, as I won’t be releasing it… ever.
Tell us the story behind your recent short film,I am JUPITER I am the BIGGEST PLANET. Why this story?
In 1988, my mummy Carol migrated to Australia. She married my father Victor, who had been an Australian citizen since the 60’s. As a child I’d been back to the Philippines, but in my teenage years my mother prohibited it. In some ways this is a story about finding the motherland. In some ways it’s about praising the strong Filipino mother figures and what they endure. There are no words in I am JUPITER I am the BIGGEST PLANET, because words would dilute the message. Without giving too much away there is a 3 minute long shot where the Filipino mother stares into the soul of the audience, and for me expresses more than anything I could write.
Where did you grow up and has it influenced what you create?
I grew up around the Dandenong, Noble Park and Springvale area. My high school was in the 3174. I loved it. I think being in that environment set me up for writing honest and true tales of suburban Australia. In recent years I’d taken my work overseas to Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Philippines but recently we have been shooting new feature in my original hood. Funnily enough it’s an action/martial arts comedy called MAGANDA: Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man, much like what I’d rented from the video store growing up. We even shot part of it at my parent’s house with my cousins. A proud Pinoy film set in Melbourne.
What is your current project/ art work?
Currently for 2017 we are set to release a 71 minute experimental work called BUTTERFLY FLOWER: Please Wait To Be Seated. Also there’s the MAGANDA film I was talking about earlier. A lot of my work recently has been setting up for travel, as JUPITER has played Bangkok, Manila and is about to in Los Angeles and then Malaysia. I have a short attention span, and applications, writing things take way more energy and strength than filmmaking. Films come naturally, that’s the fun stuff.
Who or what inspires your work?
My family. I just need an hour with Mum and Dad and I’ve got plenty to write.
Where do you feel most creative?
I feel most creative around high stimulation energetic people. I’m like a sponge, absorbing all the energy. I’ve noticed recently I’ve slowed down a bit, probably due to my current situation.
Whose work are you digging at the moment?
This isn’t in film but I just heard Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, and all I can say is damn. Actually Kendrick’s music vids are awesome, expanding on the narrative of the music. There’s a Hong Kong film director named Scud who makes daring works, which I admire. I watched The Fate of the Furious in the cinema last week, which I enjoyed. I rock the shaved head like Vin Disel and Dwayne Johnson, so it feels good to see that up on the screen.
What advice would you give to those considering pursuing a career in filmmaking? You went to film school, is this a necessary step or can you get there another way?
Most important advice is to make films and anticipate rejection. I’m nowhere near where I want to be as an artist, and film school was something I did, and part of my journey. I even got rejected into film school, and only got in because someone dropped out. To be honest I’m always in some need for structure, and film school helps me focus, with the main goal of making more films. It’s kind of hard to stop making films when the course your in requires you to make films to pass. Also rejection. They need to teach a course in rejection. I’ve been rejected hundreds of times over and over again, every artist has. It’s normal to be rejected. It doesn’t mean you aren’t of quality, its just part of it. Eventually you’ll start to surprise yourself, which is a great feeling.
What’s the biggest compliment you’ve received from an audience member?
I don’t want to go into too much detail, but someone once took the time to defend my work, which at the time meant a lot to me. It’s hard making personal stories, and to defend me and give power back to the characters on the screen, is a beautiful act.
Tell us about the upcoming film festival where your film is screening? We hear you’re going to LA, what are you looking forward to?
I’m very excited about Los Angeles and being one of the nominees at the 33rd Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. JUPITER is up for the ‘Golden Reel’, which is an Academy Award qualifying prize, so fingers crossed. Winning is a long shot, but right now I’m just happy to be welcomed into super talented Asian American community.
Where can we find and follow your work online?
Festival Info: http://festival.