Monday, August 27, 2007

MTV Canada Interview

MTV LIVE: Jeff Chiba Stearns Interview

In November 2007 I attended the Regent Park Film Festival in Toronto. The fest was kind enough to fly me out and my filmmaker friend Allan Tong let me crash on his couch while I was there. I got in Wednesday night and Allan and I stayed up late discussing film. Not good since I had to be up early and at a screening of my animated film, "What Are You Anyways?" the next morning. Thursday was nuts. I had two screenings with over 200 kids in each screening. I've never seen such a diverse audience before. Every ethnicity was in that room! I've never had such a great reaction to my film before either. The kids were laughing, hooting, and cheering through out the film. In between screenings I met up for lunch with fellow Hapa filmmaker, Karen Suzuki, and we talked about Hapa things and filmmaking. She's almost finished her feature length doc on Hapas titled, Hapaness. I also ate the fattiest omlette ever. I could see the butter oozing out every time I cut off a piece. After lunch it was back for a 1:30pm screening. I finally finished my last question and answer around 3:30pm that day and then it was off to the MTV studio for a live interview on their show MTV LIVE.

I was greeted by Teddy, a producer of the show, and taken to get my make-up done. Which was good since the bags under my eyes were especially baggy due to being hung over and jet lagged. After that I sat in the green room (which wasn't at all green) and waited to go on air. The actual set was amazing considering it used to be a Masonic Temple. It was in a large concert hall with a live audience. The interview went great. Aliya Jasmine Sovan did the interview and she could relate to the mixed-race experience because she herself is a huge blend of various ethnicities. Although, when she introduced me, she said I openly called myself a half-breed...which is a term I actually really hate. It was great to talk a bit with her after the interview about her experiences growing up mixed-race. Super nice girl and cute too! After the interview I stuck around and checked out the band performing on the show, Mutemath, who played an amazing set. A really fresh sounding band and innovative.

After the MTV taping, I got back to Allan's and we hit up some Vietnamese food. Friday was nuts too. I headed off to the Japanese Cultural Centre for some meetings. I did an interview with the Nikkei Voice newspaper while I was there too. Then I headed up to Regent Park to do an interview for a multicultural documentary called the M word. Right after that, I had to conduct an animation workshop with some grade 8 students at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School. Finally around 3:30pm I was off for the day. First thing was to find some food. I was so busy, I didn't have time to eat anything all day. Toronto definitely isn't short of great food. It is seriously the most ethnically diverse city I've ever been to. Everywhere you look, there is a different type of restaurant. Ate some amazing East Indian fast food across from the Muchmusic studio. The butter chicken is amazing! Across the street, Muchmusic was taping an episode of their show Much On Demand. I wandered over and checked that out. Lots of screaming teenagers which annoyed me so I left. That night I met up with an old roommate who had just moved to Toronto. Went to some bar called Spirits. The waiter totally ripped us off of $20 after we paid because he said we were short...although we had given him the entire amount of the bill plus good tip. So we ended up giving him another 20 just to shut him up. That's the TO for ya! Although, we succeeded in getting pretty wasted and finding my way back to the apartment was pretty crazy.

Saturday was pretty good. Had a screening at 4pm so I got to sleep in a bit. Wandered around downtown Toronto and Chinatown for a while. Man, if you need illegal DVD's that's the place to be. Stopped by the Reel Asian Film Festival offices and had lunch with Deanna the director of the festival and her husband at a great French restaurant. After lunch I hit up Kensington Street. If you need vintage clothes, that's the place to be. The 4pm screening of my film went great. Screened with a great film called Peace Tree by Mitra Sen. Great Q&A from the audience. Afterwards I headed home.

My good friend Norman Yeung, also a filmmaker, called me up and invited me out with his friends. We headed out and ended up at a place called the White Orchid. Its an old Karaoke Bar that has been transformed into a night club. It was full of art kids dancin' it up to some Drum and Bass. Jagar was on sale and so I succeeded in getting Norman and I really drunk. By the end of the night we ended up at some Toronto indy rock band's house. Everyone was singing Karaoke and eating fortune cookies. Weird. Norman and I caught a cab back downtown. As we head back downtown, I look over at Norman and he's sitting there holding a plastic bag. I have no idea where this bag came from but he proceeds to puke in the bag at least three times. Each time appologizing to the cab driver and explaining that he didn't get any on the seat. We finally get home to Queen Street. Norman drops his bag of puke on the street and stumbles home. I finally get back to the apartment and pass out!

Sunday, I had planned to go to Niagara Falls. Although I didn't get out of bed till noon so I didn't go. Finally I get my stuff together, eat the left over butter chicken in the fridge and head to the closing film at the Regent Park. There I meet my buddy David Eng, also a filmmaker. We head out after the screening and get a coffee and cake at a great little place up in the Annex district. For a Sunday night that place was vibrant with life. I get home that night and packed up for the Monday departure back to Kelowna. Overall, great trip, lots of catching up with old T-dot friends and made a few new ones. Definitely looking forward to going back soon!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"What Are You Anyways?" (Trailer)

"What Are You Anyways?"

Created in 2005, "What Are You Anyways?" has gone on to screen at over 40 international film festivals and win 7 awards including the Elan for Best Short Animation at the Canadian Awards for Electronic and Animated Arts 2006. This September I will be traveling with the film to Taipei, Taiwan to the 2007 Taiwan International Animation Festival where the film will be screening. I can only post a trailer for the film since the NFB distributes the film for private and educational sales. Full length DVD's can be ordered at

The film is 11 minutes long and is still finding success on the film festival circuit along with being used in school across North America. The film deals with mixed-race identity, racism, multiculturalism, tolerance, and finding pride for one's ethnic background. The film was funded by the CBC, NAJC, and NFB and has aired on the CBC twice in 2005, once in a primetime slot.

Follow the adventures of the Super Nip as filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns explores his cultural backgrounds growing up a mix of Japanese and Caucasian in a small white-bred Canadian city. This short classically animated film looks at particular periods in Jeff’s life where he battled with finding an identity being a half minority - from his childhood origins to the epic showdown against the monster truck drivin’ redneck crew. “What Are You Anyways?” is a humorous yet serious story of struggle and love and finding one’s identity through the trials and tribulations of growing up.

(copyright 2005 Jeff Chiba Stearns)

Kip and Kyle

Kip and Kyle

Made back in 2000 while I was at the Emily Carr Institute studying animation, Kip and Kyle is the first film I ever made and took me over three months to animate. I went into a kindergarten classroom and recorded children at play. Two boys playing in a sandbox in the corner of the room intrigued me with their exaggerated actions as they played with toy cars. I took a 30 sound clip of them playing and animated it. I wanted the piece to be as energetic as the boys playing, so I made sure that the animation was really rough, with boiling lines, and full of life. The animation was created by animating directly on paper using only a black ink pen. The film was aquired by the CBC in 2004 and aired on their program ZeD, March 1st, 2004.

(copyright 2000 Jeff Chiba Stearns)