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Sophie Wang, the director of “Signal”: The film shouldn’t stay stagnant22.02.2021

3rd edition of Papaya Rocks Film Festival starts today. Ahead of the event, we speak to the filmmakers who submitted their films to the festival.

More info about the festival and tickets can be found here.

Papaya Rocks Film Festival 2021 Trailer

How are you holding up during these very strange times?

Sophie Wang: There’s been some ups and downs, but I’m holding up well. Thanks to grocery delivery services and funny memes.

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

It has allowed me to attend more film-related events and courses online and I have learned so much about the film industry and the craft of filmmaking. Also, it gave me time to actually work on my screenplays and think more deeply about my projects.

What does it mean to you to be part of Papaya Rocks Film Festival?

I feel really honoured and humbled. I couldn’t believe that my film would be selected by such an awesome festival across the pond! It feels really validating to have your work seen and recognized, it just makes me want to create more and better art.

Can you tell me a little bit about your work? How did this film come about?

It’s a sci-fi film about a father investigating the disappearance of his daughter in a desolate village. It was shot over 3 days in the freezing Canadian winter in Northern Ontario. It came about when my parents and I were driving home after a grocery run. Basically, the radio was on, and the host was talking about the thing called the “Mystery Boom”, which is a naturally occurring loud and scary sound that can be heard in many parts of the world, and scientists haven’t quite figured out why they happen. That piece of information just stuck with me and inspired me to write a story based on a mysterious sound.

What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing your film to life?

The lack of time. Time really flies on set. Although we did a lot of planning during pre-production, we still didn’t anticipate how much time we would need. We rented an Airbnb that we would only have for one day, and we were supposed to leave by noon of the second day that we were there. But we were still not done shooting all the scenes. But thankfully the reservation right after ours cancelled, so we were able to shoot for a few extra hours. Also, the elements. For one of the scenes we had to shoot on a beach, the public bathrooms were closed and it was below 0 degrees. Thank God none of us had to pee.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

I would’ve put a lot more consideration into the setups and payoffs, and I would’ve gone location scouting with the DP and designed our shots around the location.

Describe your film in three words?

Wintery, mysterious, unexpected.

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I’ve always loved watching films since I was a child, so naturally, I minored in Cinema Studies when I was in university. In one of my film classes, a classmate told me about this free workshop for learning filmmaking that is organized by a film festival in Downtown Toronto. I signed up for it just for fun. And after making my first short film through the workshop, I realized that filmmaking is the true calling that I’ve been searching for, and I was hooked ever since.

The film shouldn’t stay stagnant, it can only evolve and last through time by incorporating diversity and new perspectives.

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

“Show, don’t tell”, “you have to be relentless”.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Absolutely. The film shouldn’t stay stagnant, it can only evolve and last through time by incorporating diversity and new perspectives.

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Keep your audience leaning forward.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?

I hope that people found some thrill or excitement in my film.

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