Renowned as being synonymous with “Chinese 3D Image,” Director Charlie Chu leads a very ordinary life. However, his life journey is just as dramatic as one of his script.
As a 35 year-old man whose career is at its peak, Director Chu was found to have a brain tumor as large as his fist and was told that he had less than 6 months to live. Courageous enough to risk surgery, he survived with side effects such as partial deafness, partial blindness, and facial paralysis. Even so, he believes that he should still make the most of his life.
After winning the “Creative Arts Award,” which is also known as the 3D Academy Award from Hollywood in 2013, Director Chu has been recognized with numerous awards in the field of 3D imaging. All of these achievements started from scratch. Since 2008 when Director Chu began to use 3D technology, he has spent more than 3,000 days and nights and traveled more than 220,000 kilometers to film about 300 artisans whose crafts are about to disappear together with Taiwan’s ever-changing landscape.
Having heard life’s warning bell resonating in his ears, Director Chu believes that “life that seems to go toward a faraway place is actually coming inward to our heart” and makes a wish to devote himself to 3D filming and let the world see the beauty of Taiwan. With a shortage of financial support, Director Chu created the very first 3D mobile movie truck in Taiwan. Since 2014, the 3D mobile movie truck has traveled 130,000 kilometers to 316 cities and towns as well as 1,200 elementary schools in rural areas in more than 1,200 days, bringing the 3D documentary film about Taiwan to 130,000 children and adults. He endeavors to give back to the land and children through his professional artistic presentation.
Perhaps there are many difficulties in life, but he always believes that “perhaps the road is rocky, but no matter how rocky it is, we should keep going fearlessly. Just do it!”
Q：How do you start your day?
A：My day consists of two modes.
In Taipei: Every morning after I clean myself up, I will take my dog out and buy a traditional Taiwanese breakfast (yam and rice porridge) and then drive to my farm in Jinshan. I am always happy to tour around my farm and pull out the weeds as a form of exercise.
In Other Places for Work: Every morning after I wake up, I will take a walk around the neighborhood and then return for my breakfast, which is usually a boiled egg, a banana, and a cup of oatmeal. After breakfast, I will sit in the doorway and appreciate the scenery.
Q：Where do you visit the most?
A：Jinboli Old Street and my farm in Jinshan. I go to my farm almost every day to plow the soil and fix something there. I also buy hot buns, yam and rice porridge at Jinboli Old Street and bring them to my farm. I am actually an Otaku who likes to stay at home except for work and do not like to visit crowded places.
Q：Which restaurant do you often visit?
A：Compared to restaurants, I prefer to taste food from local vendors to savor the local tastes.
If you have an opportunity to visit Jinshan, try Jinshan Wang’s Meat Buns at Jinboli Old Street or A-Lang’s Tempura at the traditional market. A-Lang’s Tempura has 36 years of reputation, and the tempura is prepared and fried every day, which is full of traditional flavors and taste. I also recommend taro pastry, a seasonal product that is available only in June and July.
Jinshan Wang’s Meat Buns http://kswang.com.tw/about.html
Q：What do you do for leisure after work?
A：I am often exhausted after work, so after I get home and take a shower, I like indulge in my favorite form of entertainment, reading. I also like to listen to music, surf the Internet to look for information, and browse Facebook pages. Instead of saying they are my entertainment, I would say that I prefer to experience the joy of life as I believe that “wholeheartedly living your life brings you experiences, and wholehearted experiences bring affection.”
Q：You have made many films so far. Have you ever come across anything interesting or impressive during your filming?
A：The most interesting thing is that in the process of filming, we always face new challenges.
Many people ask me why I make 3D films. Honestly, I don’t know (Laugh). I believe that we have to learn and do everything we are interested in, and only when we do it will we know what might happen. I never know in advance the genre of my next film or what kinds of people I will meet. I don’t even know if I am going to receive awards with Director Ang Lee or cooperate with Director Hou to make films one day. This is what makes filming interesting and what makes this job fascinating.
Q：If you were not a director, what would you do?
A：An orator. I like to share, and I think that it is great to empower others through sharing my own stories. Although I have been invited to speak in more than 300 events, I am still adjusting and practicing my speech delivery and speaking style. Even though I am good at public speaking with good fluency and flow, I still have to practice constantly and add new experiences to my speech.
Q：What advice will you give to young people who want to develop their profession in the field of directing?
A：In terms of global trends, the film and television industry is promising. However, you have to evaluate your ability first and consider if you can adapt yourself to the lifestyle of this industry. This is an era where anyone could become a director with cellphones and digital cameras available. The ease in which such digital devices can be obtained makes it easy to enter this industry. However, the biggest problem is that many young people do not have a solid background in basic logical theories. In this industry, apprenticeships used to be very common. A junior staff member can learn to use the camera after helping load and unload all the equipment and devices for 3 years. In these 3 years, the junior has to learn some basic skills such as composition and lighting that serve as the foundation for future work. The foundation of professionalism for every profession is built step by step instead of all at once.
Q：What book have you recently read? Do you have any realizations or feelings about the book?
A：Recently I reread “Dao De Jing” by Laozi. The first time I read it, I only had a literal understanding. After having many life experiences and reading it again, I can understand more of the underlying messages. Whenever I come across passages I don’t understand, I will read the interpretations of others posted on the Internet, which is quite interesting because everyone is different due to their personal experiences and perspectives.
Q：What do you find the most interesting or appealing in Taiwan?
A：Taiwan is a small island surrounded by the ocean and is rich in natural and ecological resources. The migration of the Euploea Butterfly and Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly at Pingtung’s Mount Kavulungan are considered the two biggest winter migrations of butterflies in the world. Taiwan is not big, but it has a marvelous natural phenomenon that can be compared with Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Migration. The town of Hengchun, located in the southernmost part of Taiwan, is close to the ocean and has a romantic atmosphere. The weather there is like spring all year round. Hengchun became famous because of Director Te-Sheng Wei’s film, “Cape No. 7.” With the history of an ancient town that is exceptionally rich in natural resources, Hengchun is the place closest to the sun on the island because of its narrow cape pointing to the equator.
Taiwan is a very interesting place with every scenery including mountains and oceans.
Q：Are there any tourist scenic spots you recommend?
A：Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei’s backyard garden, has many scenic spots worth visiting. It is a small area with diverse landscapes. For example, Qingtiangang Grassland is a lava terrace formed by a lava flow from the Tatun Volcano Group. Menghuanhu is rich in ornithological ecology. If you have sufficient time, you can spend a day touring the north coast through Yangjin Road, visiting Jinboli Old Street, seeing Queen’s Head in Yehliu, and enjoying seafood at Gui Hou Harbour. There is good food and fun places to visit along Yanjin Road.
Yehliu Geopark http://www.ylgeopark.org.tw/content/index/index.aspx
Yangmingshan National Park http://www.ymsnp.gov.tw/
Q：What are your expectations of staying at the Hotel?
A：A clean room. It would be fantastic if there was a window through which I can see green plants or magnificent nature.
Q：What is your impression of the hotels of Taipei Inn Group?
A：I think the Taipei Inn Group is very careful about running its hotels with every hotel designed with a different style. Meticulous efforts have gone into the design of each hotel by combining the original building and embedding cultural and creative artifacts.
CityInn Hotel Plus Taichung Station Branch impresses me a lot. It is located at a convenient location right behind Taichung Train Station. Its lobby is clean and bright. What is even more important is that the service staff are very friendly. The day I stayed in the hotel I felt welcomed because the hotel staff knew that I had to go to work at 5 a.m. the next day and asked me if they should prepare my breakfast to take out when I left. The heartwarming interaction between people is irreplaceable.