Arnold J. Chon
An honors graduate from New York University Tisch School of Arts, Arnold Chon has shot both fiction and commercials projects around the world including Japan, Korea, Australia, and France. He has written and directed films that have competed in such films festivals as New Port Beach Film Festival, Hollyshorts Int’l Film Festival, Hong Kong Underground, and Boston Sci-Fi.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
Hmmm, I wouldn’t mind if I get to be apart of the MPID. In terms of other sci-fi worlds… now that I’m thinking about it, sci-fi world are so bleak… oh! Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as long as I can hitch a ride off of earth before it’s torn down.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?
I connect deeply with Peter Quill / Star-lord (Guardians of The Galaxy). Think more Guardians of the Galaxy and less Infinity War, since he kind screwed the pooch in that movie. In terms of spirit animals, uh, does Gremlins count as a sci-fi movie? If yes, then Gizmo, if no… Then the Goose (Chewy) the cat from Captain Marvel.
Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?
I just finished watching West World (late to the band wagon, HA! cowboy pun) and I would say friend and 100% support cause as far as I’m concerned, humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence is basically what we are, also they could kill us in a heart beat.
In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?
Jackie Chan, since he’s basically a real life cartoon and Russel Crowe with a rotary telephone.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
The short film format is a unique beast to tackle, you could depict a single moment of conflict or a full adventure. My first year at film school I kept pushing myself to writer a short film a film student would make, and while I’m proud of those shorts they definitely my own personal touch. I’ve had so many ideas like a woman trying to have a quiet afternoon during a day of constant disruption or a drunkard trying to get home. Those ideas just didn’t add up to much of a message. At least how i left them. Uh… you’ll know when you find your spark, and it’s different for everyone, but getting to that spark? I like to explore a lot of different mediums, comics, novels, history, video games. Just any storytelling medium for inspiration. Oh! I also love to watch really bad movies (which is different for everyone) cause I can’t help but critique the film which eventually gets me to a new spark.
Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?
Very much so, I got my fair share of sci-fi growing up and while all the movies I make moving forward may not include aliens, killer robots, or space ships I like to think I bring something from sci-fi that I’ve really held on to and that’s a unique story telling experience. The ability to tell an old story with new life in a larger than life scenario that lets you experience the character’s emotions in a way not possible adhering too closely to reality.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
While I do love analog (I have this 35mm Nikon Camera that I love) I’m definitely a techno junkie. The balance for me comes down to one rule: whether it’s analog or digital (technology) their ultimate goal is to accomplish a task, and i’ll always pick the one that makes me forget I’m using it and focus on the task. I like a laptop over a typewriter (even though they’re cool) cause I’d be focused on the limitations of the typewriter and it’s clicks and clacks. On the opposite end I could fill my house with smart home gadgets but it complicates things for me, “why isn’t it connecting?”, “Where my phone?”, “My phone is dead!”. Once technology is as fluid as flipping a light switch i’ll flip over myself.
When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
First it’s finding a Props master and set designer who inspire you and not just get the job done. The people i got on Zenos came in with their own inspirations and brought new life to the film that I would have struggled to translate. In terms of creating objects, it’s about what we understand with technology so far and working backwards. The men in black Neuralizer is simple and after seeing it do it’s thing once, you get it. Same with a lightsaber, much like a sword, there’s a no-no end and a “grabby” end.
Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Star Wars, Dick, uh… together? if only one PRACTICAL! Utopia, so much more to unpack, Post Apocalypse! More fun to see how the dust has settled (MAD MAX!)