Paul Booth chats to Filmmaker Michael Ng…

Michael Ng recently directed his first short Peace by Piece and it premiered at The 33rd Hawaii International Film Festival. After a long week at the festival, Mike graciously took the time to chat with Influx.

Paul Booth: Tell us about Peace by Piece.

Michael Ng: Peace by Piece is my first foray into writing, producing, and directing. It is a dramatic short about a woman whose life gets turned upside down when she receives troubling news regarding her father. She is forced to decide whether to reach out to the man from whom she has been estranged for more than twenty years.

PB: You wrote, produced and directed. Did you act as well? Which hat was the hardest to wear?

MN: Actually, I prefer not to act in my own films. I am so critical of myself that I would probably drive my cast and crew up the wall. We’ll never be able to move forward because I would demand to do numerous takes…maybe hundreds just to get it perfect, which we all know is impossible. Haha!

MN: For me, writing is the most difficult part. It has always been a weakness of mine. It requires focus, discipline, creativity, and a whole lot of patience. As a writer, you need to be able to sit in front of a computer, tune everything out, and type away for hours at a time. I’m the kind of person that can barely sit still for ten minutes.

PB: How did the screenings at the Hawaii International Film Festival go?

MN: It was a whirlwind experience. It was nerve-racking and exhilarating at the same time. We had two sold out screenings, but the true highlight was seeing my cast, crew, family, and friends in the audience. They made my first experience so much more special. The tremendous outpouring of love and support is something that I will never forget or take for granted.

PB: What made you want to direct this film?

MN: Not too many people know this about me, but I’ve been wanting to try my hand at directing for a very long time. Probably about 10 years now. I just never had the courage to actually do it. Now that I’m older, I felt that it was time…time to stop dreaming and start doing.

PB: You are also an accomplished actor. Have you acted in Theatre, T.V. or Film?

MN: Yes, I actually started my career on the stage and I slowly worked my way into the T.V. and Film industry. I graduated from the Kaimuki High School Performing Arts Center in Honolulu and went on to receive my Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I’ve done everything from Shakespeare, Musicals, Sketch Comedy, Children’s Theatre, Kabuki, you name it.

In 2012, ABC was producing a new series created by Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Chicago Code) and Karl Gajdusek (Oblivion) titled Last Resort and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. They took a chance on me and cast me in a principal role starring opposite Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman, Robert Patrick, among others. Unfortunately, the series didn’t last as long as we had hoped, but being able to work and learn from powerhouse actors, masterful directors, and brilliant writers was an absolute dream come true. I am forever grateful for the opportunity.

PB: What is next for you? Any acting gigs?

MN: I just worked on Cameron Crowe’s new, yet to be titled feature that’s being filmed here in Hawaii. I play a tech guy in the movie and it’s currently set to be released late next year. In the meantime, I would love to write, produce, and direct more films. I’ve collected a lot of stories over the years so it would be nice to start turning those ideas into something more than just images in my mind.

PB: What was the best part of directing? What did you learn the most about directing, you did not know before?

MN: For me, the best part about directing is being able to see your ideas and vision come to life. I still have a lot to learn and I’m not even close to being perfect, but I am proud of how far I’ve come and I hope to continue growing as a filmmaker.

Helming a project is not as easy as it looks. It takes a lot of time, work, and dedication. Going into this, I wasn’t aware of the amount of work and time it takes to complete a film. “Peace by Piece” took me six months from start to finish and that’s working everyday for at least 8 hours a day. There were no days off because there’s always something that needed to be done. Even when you’re not physically working on the film, you’re constantly thinking about it. And when something goes wrong or does not work out as planned, you need to be able to think on your feet. But that is what makes this job so exciting and when you finally get to see the film in it’s final form, it is the most rewarding sense of accomplishment one can feel. I wouldn’t trade this experience in for the world.

PB: What is your message to other filmmakers.

MN: Keep inspiring and continue sharing your stories.

Interview by Paul Booth, Lead Entertainment Writer

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