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The Milton Measure

Filmmaker Tze Chun ‘98 Shares Wisdom at Graduation

by Daming Cui on Friday, June 9th, 2017

A well-decorated, award-winning film director and writer, Tze Chun ‘98 is this year’s graduation day speaker. The Class of 2017 wanted to select a speaker in the entertainment industry who could share some insight into how Milton-acquired experiences or skills have affected his or her life. Chun is most well-known for his feature film Children of Invention, which won multiple awards, and having his work screened at over 50 film festivals including the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, according to the film’s website.

The movie revolves around an Asian American, single-parent immigrant family living in Boston. Elaine Cheng, the mother with a financial crisis plaguing her own household, chooses to resort to pyramid schemes in order to gain some extra money for her children. Not only does she lose money, but she also gets arrested by the police for her illegal activities. The children, then, become the protagonists of this feature film.

Having his own mother buy into a number of pyramid schemes when he was a child, Chun drew his heartwarming movie loosely on his own experience. “When I wrote the film, I was writing a personal story about the world I grew up in — a subculture of Americans trying to get-rich-quick in order to get themselves out of a financial hole,” said Tze, according to an interview in 2009. He further added, “I didn’t foresee the current financial crisis. But with the economy tanking now and foreclosures going through the roof, it seems like everyone’s living through some version of what the Chengs go through in the film.”

In an interview with Scott Myers from the Black List, Chun talked about his road to movie making. Born in Chicago and raised in Boston, Chun did not have a wealthy upbringing. His mother was raised in Singapore as an orphan. Growing up, she was not lucky enough to receive much closeness from the adults — the only time she experienced some affection was when the employees of the orphanage brought her to the movies, where she would sit on their laps and cherish the moving images in front of her. His mother delighted in this precious intimacy with adults, and the link between movies and happiness was thus formed in her mind.

When Chun was growing up, his mother wanted her family to have the very same experience, and his love for visual arts grew because of this. As a child, he first found interest in painting and wanted to become a comic book artist. However, at Milton, he found his true passion in Mr. Zilliax’s freshman English class. There was one particular class that Chun holds dear to his memory: a class in which his teacher dissected a movie into bits, analyzing every single component of The Graduate and painstakingly pausing every few seconds. “Though I’d grown up watching a lot of movies,” Chun said, “It was the first time I had actually seen all the potential to be creative within the medium. There was something very exciting about it.”

Impassioned by this newfound interest, Chun started to make movies with his friends on a video recorder. He stayed in school on weekends and taught himself skills essential to the process of filmmaking — shooting and editing. While he was focused on moving pictures, he was still very much interested and involved in his old passion: painting. He runs a stunning Tumblr page of his work and also paints portraits during his free time.

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Posted by Daming Cui on Jun 9 2017. Filed under News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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