Filmmaker Interview – Experience Old Hong Kong With Esther Cheung’s In Passing

Esther Cheung is an artist who is based in Toronto and is a recent Sheridan College graduate. In Passing is a film that she worked on during her final year there, it portrays 70s Hong Kong through the eyes of her parents. With a strong liking and appreciation for Art and Cinema, she finds Animation to be the perfect blend of both worlds. Being a Canadian born Chinese, she hopes to create animated films that would allow her to explore her cultural identity and heritage.

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In Passing- A portrait of seventies Hong Kong as my parents remember it.

Cartoons Underground: What is the inspiration behind your film?

Esther: The catalyst for making the film was finding out my parents grew up in the same apartment complex and didn’t meet each other until later. I was inspired by the details and differences in their childhoods growing up in old Hong Kong and how different it was from my own upbringing. The film took a massive inspiration from Hong Kong itself, especially as I spent a summer there researching and where I did most of the pre-production of the film.

Cartoons Underground: How does your background/history or personality translate into your work?

Esther: Being a Canadian born Chinese was an interesting experience growing up, and I believe this greatly shaped the film. The whole act of creating In Passing was learning about my cultural heritage and exploring what shaped my parents to be who they are, and therefore, why I am the way I am.

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Cartoons Underground: How would you describe your style/genre?

Esther: Everything I draw or create is rooted in something real: either something I’ve researched, came across or have experienced. I would say my work is rooted in real life and in the non-fiction realm. However, visually, I try to keep pushing things to look wackier.

Cartoons Underground: What inspired you to pursue animation/filmmaking?

Esther: I am very blessed to have my parents invest in my drawing aspirations at a young age by putting me in art classes. After that, I have my friends to thank for opening my eyes to the possibility of animation as a career, and my family to thank for pushing me in that direction.

Cartoons Underground: What are you most excited about in the animation scene, in your country?

Esther:  Canada currently has a thriving animation scene in service work. I am excited for the future as the industry in this country grows and allows independent creators to make original content with their own unique voices!

Cartoons Underground: As a woman in the industry, how do you think the industry has changed for the better? Do you think it still has a long way to go?

Esther: I am pretty new to the industry. But personally, I have been fortunate enough to have groups of friends and coworkers who are very supportive of me and who trust my ability to do what I do – irrespective of my gender.

Cartoons Underground: What is one thing you are proud of having done or accomplished – in your work or in your personal life?

Esther: Finishing this film was very rewarding with a massive feeling of accomplishment! Experiencing the whole process from start to finish, and tackling a project of this size makes me want to do it all over again.

Cartoons Underground: What do you wish you could do more or do better?

Esther: I would love to be able to make another short film! I am currently developing more ideas in my downtime. I hope I can pass on what I’ve learnt from making In Passing into my next short!

Cartoons Underground: What’s your favourite thing in the world right now that you can’t get enough of? (Art, Food, Activity, Song)

Esther: I just moved out to the west coast and can’t get enough of the mountains! I have been trying to go hiking every weekend.

Cartoons Underground: What is one thing you want people to know about you?

Esther: I want to make another film! I am developing some new ideas and would love to see how I can get them made.

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