Interview with Li-Wei Chiu, director of Barkley

barkley-dir-LI-WEICHIULi-Wei Chiu, director of the feature film in competition Barkley talks to Be there! Corfu Animation Festival.

How did the Barkley feature film got started? Was it a TV series before that?


Yes, Barkley was started from TV Series. Due to it is getting popular in Taiwan and some of Asia area that we started to give it a thought to deliver it into a movie.

What is the difference between directing a feature and a TV series? And how long did it take you to complete, from the idea to post-production?

TV series is more like a part of daily life. It has several episodes with different story in each one, but there's a main storyline for it. The purpose is means to connect the audience with the storyline and the characters during the series. But movie will have to make all these happen in less than 90mins. During that time, it has to build up such conflict to inspire the curiosity and motivate the audience for the interest of finding out the answer of the story. Thus, from the beginning of creating the story, the pace and the scene are very different from directing the TV series.

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Barkley is an idea from my childhood. When I started to bring it back was about 5 years ago, but just an independent operation from writing the scripts and other arrangements in my spare time at work. When we really start to make this movie, it took us about 20 months with almost 500 artists.

You say that Barkley is the first co-production in animated features between Taiwan and Mainland China. How this was shaped, and what is the form of this co-production? Two different studios working in parallel or something different?

We take co-production is a good way of making a movies. It's not only risk spreading for all the investors, but also a way to let people from different area have more chances to know this movie.

Because of the experience of co-production, this time that give us a chance to think outside the box, and take care of the audience from different areas in order to gain better publicity.

There were not just two studios participated in the production. Besides studio2 Animation Lab leading from Taiwan, our teams are several studios/company with almost 500 artists from such as Beijing, Tianjin, Wuhan, Dalian, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Shanghai...in Mainland China.

Therefore, it’s very important to have same aims and vision, and then is the teamwork . We have also learned a lot from this experience from no matter the method of telling the story or the way of cooperation.

You really like very humane topics, climate change in Weather Boy, now our relationships with animals and the powers in Barkley. But you don't have superheroes in your film. Any
comments on that?

Individualism or superheroes is rarely to see in Asia, Even we look back to Chinese classical literature such us《Romance of the Three Kingdoms》or other era of chaos like World War II or the fight against colonization at modern times. They are mostly a group of people to against the bad environment. Talking about the story of a (or some) nobody, that how they help each other to achieve their goal.

Moreover, our audience are mainly kids or teenagers, what they have seen may keep in mind even they thought they forgot. If we could plant a seed in their mind, or someday when they are interest in this topic, and work for it. It will be a good thing. Instead of making a movie for just entertainment or commercially, we’d like to add more meaning in it.

Take my previous film "Weather boy" for example, climate change might caused by the excessive of greenhouse gas emission since the industrialization. These results are not cause by the young people, but the reality is cruel, they have to face it and deal with it. We as adults or a film maker,have responsibility to let them know what is happening and what will, rather than just a imaginary wonderland for entertainment.

Meanwhile, Barkley is talking about the relationship between human and animals. For a long time, human being holding a superior attitude while animals been looked down as beasts and brutes under an unequal relationship. The attitude is also a part of reasons of the
world became chaos today. If we could take empathy to everything, the world would become better and wonderful.

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For a long time, human being holding a superior attitude while animals been looked down as beasts and brutes under an unequal relationship. The attitude is also a part of reasons of the world became chaos today. If we could take empathy to everything, the world would become better and wonderful.

I was particularly impressed by the captive tiger in the film used as a monster. Was it an idea that you had from the beginning?

There's a character in Chinese folk legend, called Aunt Tigress(Hu Gupo). It says that she will come out at night and eating the kids, many kids in Asia afraid this character, and then fear for the tigers.

And...I just want to rehabilitate for this character, to realize the reason behind her behaviour. My thinking for everything is to avoid prejudiced, and try to know the reason behind it. We sometimes judge a book by its cover or judge a person who kill someone as a killer, but didn't think about maybe they are doing this for self-protection. Vise versa, I suppose this character maybe has its own reasons.

Were you always interested in making animated films from the very beginning? And what are your animation heroes (animators, directors, studios)?

My idol of animation is Miyazaki Hayao from Japan. He is an model, since he can gently tell a story while bringing out a heavy issue. We firstly enjoy in his film simply with the story and scene, but the effect after the film has always so strong that keep in your mind for couple days.

The issues he mentions usually are a cruel reality and right to the point. Not over-insolent or directly standing on the stage to say it, but give you a story to introspection. The way is also a representation of the Philosophy of life for Asia people.

With the new tools and software, how easy is it now to make an animated feature in Taiwan?

Making animation film has always a technical art. In another words, animation has always making by the most advanced technology in that times. Let' s say from nearly a hundred years recent, when computer was just invention, it was very huge and difficult to do the nomogram. However, as the progress of technology, nowadays making animation is getting easier, and could be very simple or complicate. You can simply use mobile phone for filming and making animation.

Any next plans from now on?

Well...I do have some ideas are preparing, they are some issues I have always care about. In all my films till now, I have talked from the bringing of the earth and how human beings deal with environments in“Weather Boy”to nowadays in “Barkley”.

I show people to think about the way to deal with animals. For the next, I would like to talk about the future, which is exploring the heaven. But now just beginning from an idea, everything is still preparing..

Anything that you'd like to say to the Greek audience in Corfu who's watching the film for the very first time?

In fact, I have no specific to say to Greek audience, but I'd like to hear something from audience in Corfu that any comment from them. Last but not least, hope they can enjoy the movie of Barkley.