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Tiger Ji’s Surreal Short Feature Pluto will be World Premiering at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, January 26, 2018!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 01/22/2018

Tiger Ji’s Surreal Short Feature Pluto will be World Premiering at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, January 26, 2018!


Tiger Ji’s Surreal Short Feature Pluto will be World Premiering at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, January 26, 2018!
 

Here is my interview with Pluto Director Tiger Ji:

Nigrin:  Your surreal feature film Pluto is about a lonely young man who believes that the only way to find joy is to run away to Pluto. Please tell our readers more about your film and why you decided to make it?

Ji: I think Pluto was something that I just had to make. It was so terribly haunting to me, the thought of not being able to get it out. People like me die for these sorts of things. When we can't use words to express our thoughts, we put them into pictures.

Nigrin:  The two lead actors were really great. Tell us about some of these wonderful performers and how you decided to cast them?



 
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Ji: They were great, weren't they? Well I went to school with this boy, Jordan. I was a new kid at the school, and I remember on the first day I saw him, I knew that he'd had to be in my movie. He just had the face of somebody I'd never seen before. And the same was with the girl, Kate. They were good friends in real life, so I guess that made it easier. It was crap though, working with them. Because here I was, this kid who knew nothing about filmmaking, working with these kids who knew nothing about being in movies. I guess I just had the arrogance of directing without knowing about directing, and that's what shaped the movie.

Nigrin:  In your director’s statement you said that Pluto is “very personal” and that it “works on 47 different levels.” Can you comment further on what you mean by this?

Ji: Yes, Pluto was very personal. Ever since I was could remember, there was always this feeling inside of me. I've always felt like a traveler without a destination. I felt like, out there somewhere, there was this beautiful world waiting for me, but when I looked around, everything was just boring and lifeless.

And I don't know about the person watching it, but when I made Pluto, my mentality was that I just wanted to get it out. I didn't care if it was going anywhere, if people were going to like it, or if anybody was even going to watch it. So long as if I'd finished it, it would be good. And, in my opinion, that's what you have to do as a young kid making movies in the 21st century. You gotta be as honest about your films as you can be, and the rest is up to the world. 

Nigrin:  David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return was recently on Showtime and I was struck by the many similarities your film shared with his work. Are you a fan of Lynch's films?

Ji: That's interesting that you say this, because I have never been that interested in Lynch. In fact, his work has never even crossed my mind when I shot Pluto.

It was my emotions that formed this film, I think. I seldom look to another person's work and say, that's what I want to make. Because if that were the case, then you'd be making somebody else's movie, telling somebody else's story.



 
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But if there was anybody that influenced me, it was probably Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan is the best. "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding" or "If You See her, Say Hello" were all that I listened to when I wrote the movie. Or Walt Whitman's poems, "O Captain, my Captain." and "Song of Myself" 

But if you insist, if there was any single film that influenced Pluto, it would be Taste of Cherry by Abbas Kiarostami. 

Nigrin:  Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you can relay to our readers?

Ji:  I hated the process of making the film. Especially the photography. It was terrible. A lot of people always say that the process of making the movie was all that mattered, but I would argue that it's the exact opposite. It's all about the film. The results.

I remember, when I was making the film with my producer, we knew nothing about anything. Our set designer bailed on us last second, and I remember I was in my bedroom, wanting to pull my hair out, and I looked out the window and saw a big pile of dirt in my neighbor's yard. And something came over me. So the next morning, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I got up and bought a wheel barrow and a two shovels from my local Home Depot, and I stole my neighbor's dirt, and I built the set!

It was crazy, I had to learn how to build a set all by myself in one night. I designed it and built it with some dirt, some spray foam, and some paint. I was a maniac, because at the time, I thought that if I could convince myself that making the film was a matter of life and death, then there was no way that I couldn't do it.

I encourage all the people with big dreams, out there, to do the same. 

 

Here is the trailer for Pluto



 

****************************************************************************



 
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Four really amazing short films will precede the equally amazing short feature Pluto. Here is more info on this screening:

165708 - Josephine Massarella (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) Shot entirely in black and white 16mm film, this gorgeous short employs in-camera techniques and chemical manipulation of processed film to study the elasticity of time. A dynamic original score by the acclaimed composer Graham Stewart accompanies the film. 2017; 6 min.

Two Balloons - Mark Smith (Portland, Oregon)  In this touching animated short, two travelers return to a place crossed by stars and clouds where love is at the beginning of everything. 2017; 9 min.

The Inescapable Arrival of Lazlo Petushki - Sven Werner (Glasgow, Scotland)  A young man is about to arrive in a mysterious city by boat, when he finds himself lost in the labyrinthine hull of the ship. Embarking on a surreal journey through the boat, he is chased by the inescapable, by himself, and by the very luggage he was hoping to leave behind. 2017; 11 min.

Lockdown - Max Sokoloff (Los Angeles, California) A tense and riveting short film, about the day high school misfit Julian chose to wear a suit to picture day, and incurs merciless bullying from his peers. His day takes an even darker turn when the school goes into lockdown. 2017; 15 min.

Pluto - Tiger Ji (East Natick, Massachusetts) In this captivating short feature film, a lonely young man believes that the only way to find joy is to run away to Pluto.  2017; 40 min.  

Friday, January 26, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.


Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University


71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends


Information: (848) 932-8482;
www.njfilmfest.com

Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick will be providing free food prior to all the New Jersey Film Festival Screenings!

 




Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.

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