More Food for the Gods

By VFS Web Team, on November 5, 2008

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2014","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignleft size-full wp-image-2745","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"220","height":"220","title":"Beverly Wu as Xionko","alt":""}}]]We last wrote about Food for the Gods -- Film grad H. Scott Hughes's VFS film -- when it first starting racking up festival and TV exposure. Since then, the success has continued, with FFTGscreening at the Route 66 Film Festival and taking Second Place in the Audience Favorite Directorial Debut Award, as well as being an Official Selection of the 12th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF).
The VAFF screening is this Saturday, November 8th, 11 AM, at Cinemark Tinseltown theatres in Vancouver. The screening will be followed by a director Q&A. In attendance will be co-writer and Writing grad Phillip Matte, actor and VFS Acting grad Beverly Wu, as well as a number of the film's stars.
It seemed like the perfect time to catch up with the FFTGfolks, so we spoke with Writer/Director Scott, Co-Writer Phillip, and Actor Beverly about the process of making this unique sci-fi film.
Tell us a bit about who did what on Food for the Gods.

Scott: I had a superb team encompassing several VFS departments. Food for the Gods (or FFTG for short) was made largely by the same two Film program teams I had worked with on my two previous VFS films. Dutywas co-written by myself and FFTGassistant director Jon Corbiere and directed by FFTGart director Ken MacLeod. Crazy Old Woman was written by myself, directed by FFTGproducer Joe Fang, and DP'ed by FFTGproduction designer, Reto Mueller. Reto's award-worthy work on FFTGis feature quality. Reto worked through the summer break chopping wood and building a life-sized village in a forest near West Vancouver, then rebuilt its interiors on a VFS sound stage.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2015","attributes":{"class":"media-image size-full wp-image-2746 alignright","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"220","height":"285","title":"Love in Food for the Gods","alt":""}}]]
Co-starring with FFTGlead, Yvette Lu (Sheenyana), is VFS acting grad (and Valedictorian) Beverly Wu. Beverly delivered a captivating performance as Sheenyana's manipulative cousin: Her Royal Highness, Xionko, Princess Heir of Kyontawa... In addition to a brilliant performance onscreen, Beverly also showcases her talents as a singer on FFTG's original soundtrack, co-composed and scored by myself and Yvette Lu.
VFS Makeup alum, Nikhol Xu, helped design the cultural look of the Kyontawa people -- from the ornate face paint of a Kyontawa General (Vincent Ternida) to the soft and subtle beauty of Queen Shogami (Yuki Morita). Well trained in prosthetics, Nikhol also created a very realistic 2nd or 3rd degree burn which she applied to Beverly Wu's chest.
And of course, VFS Writing alum Phillip Matte was an incredible co-writer and a wonderful friend.
The script is an adaptation of a short story, and co-written by Scott and Philip. What was the process there?
Scott: Food for the Gods was a six-page short story originally written by my mother, Patricia C. Hughes. I rewrote it into a one page treatment, one of three drama pitches I came up with prior to midterm.
Phillip: I went to one of the Film Production students' pitch sessions that was hosted by our own [Writing and Film instructor] Brian Casilio. Well, I'd had some success with partnerships with the Film program while I was taking studies in '05, so I went to pitch my short entitled Cindy & The Starfish. Suffice to say that I was blown away with the detail of Scott Hughes' proposed project Food for the Gods, and I instantly knew I liked the idea - in part, because of its sci-fi bend, which has always been my passion!
Scott: I had already begun writing a first draft, fleshing out the characters. But immediately, I liked Phillip and his ideas. He brought something. We shared a love of thoughtful sci-fi drama... . It was as though we were mind reading, because he knew these characters as well as I did.
Any big challenges in shooting sci-fi?
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"2016","attributes":{"class":"media-image alignleft size-full wp-image-2747","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"220","height":"220","title":"Xionko Revived","alt":""}}]]Beverly: I had braces! And really, you can explain away almost anything on a sci-fi film, but notbraces in a primitive tent village slightly savage culture that still used wooden daggers... I really had to focus on not smiling, or opening my mouth in any way, basically (how fortunate that I didn't have many lines at all!), which was really weird.
I remember on the last day of filming, where I shoot myself with a phaser-type weapon, and have to be resuscitated by the astronauts with a breathing mask, defibrillator and the whole deal, there were a couple takes that were written off because you could see the edge of something metallic and shiny ...in my mouth. It's truly weird not being in control of, and not having your entire face and body to work with, as an actor.
Scott: It was an extremely tough sell, particularly when talking about a student production with virtually no budget.
While we made no apologies for Food for the Gods being a sci-fi film, it's sci-fi only by circumstance that it takes place on another world in another time. That beautiful, pristine world resembles the old growth rainforests of Beautiful British Columbia-where we filmed on location. There was no need to create a paradise world; it already surrounded us-and that's the beauty I wanted to capture. No expensive sets, it was all there for free: the mountains, the trees, the rivers and waterfalls, the wet green moss on the forest floors.
These were the natural backdrops, not of a special effects bonanza, but of a touching romantic drama in the tradition of Ang Lee and Wong Kar-wai. Indeed, I was flattered when panelists, questioning actresses Yvette Lu and Beverly Wu at the New Asia Film Festival in Richmond, compared Food for the Gods to Wong Kar-wai's romantic masterpiece, 2046. This is a film about love and loss. I'm pleased VFS chose to back it. By doing so, they put a lot of trust in me. I'm grateful.
Thank you Scott, Phillip, and Beverly... and congrats to you and everyone who worked on the film!