Tsui adds hip hop to film fest

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 === Ben Tsui === Ben Tsui shot a film on a $100 budget on 8 mm film for the $100 filme festival. Photo by: Andrew Crossett

SAIT employee Ben Tsui is taking it “old skool” in the short film he created for the recent $100 Film Festival.
Tsui has been involved with the 19-year-old festival for its duration, but this is the first time he’s submitted his own work.
Tsui, gatekeeper for audio visual equipment in SAIT’s ICT department, was commissioned by the festival to create a piece for its annual Film/Music Explosion.
Local musicians and filmmakers team together for this project and present films along with live musical performances by the artists involved.
A couple of months before the festival, Tsui complained to its directors that past events featured a disproportionate amount of folk and rock music. “We need more hip hop,” he told them.
The directors turned the challenge back to Tsui and asked him to send a proposal about what he could do to add a little hip hop into the mix.
Soon after, Tsui and up-and-coming filmmaker Kurt Harder – who Tsui called “a talent to watch”– were making a movie based on original music by local emerging hip-hop artists Infinite P. and Inspiration.
Tsui and Harder reached back into the history of hip hop with their film titled Looking Good.
The film focuses on the lives of the artists in and around their Calgary home and studio.
“We tried to create an ’80s hip-hop feel,” said Tsui.
“It was easy to do,” he said. “These artists have a great ’80s sensibility to them.”
The film and its four-day creation process stayed true to the spirit of the festival. It had to be inventive and original, but also needed to be produced with little financial investment.
It was the first time 18-year-old Harder had shot on 8mm film.
“Judging how it was all going to look was difficult,” said Harder.
Trying to light exterior locations was their main difficulty. “The very low speed of the film didn’t allow us to shoot anything dark,” said Tsui.
Tsui and Harder enjoyed making the film, but both agreed it was a challenge.
“I screwed up a lot, but it was a good learning experience,” said Tsui.
Tsui, is now in the process of re-shooting the film after promising Infinite P. that he would turn it into a full-out HD music video. “I want a music video with a huge cast and features highlights of the city,” said Tsui. “I want it to showcase Calgary.”
This summer, Tsui will turn this film into “old skool ‘80s meets Calgary 2011.”

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