Focus on Made in Melbourne – Sunday Shorts #12: Ghost Man

Ghost Man 2

Ghost Man(鬼佬) by Matthew Victor Pastor:

A human statue seated in a busy Hong Kong street as the modern world passes. An unconfident accountant joins a short course teaching him the skills to seduce women. Two men discuss their frustrations with relationships. These lives will collide and blood will be shed. 

What it means to be a Ghost Man:

Although I made the film in 2012, I find all the recent Aussie media attention around the pickup artist (PUA) Julian Blanc, and his #ChokingGirlsAroundtheWorld being combatted by the #TakeDownJulianBlanc campaign fascinating. (You can read about Julian Blanc here).

Ghost Man is my personal struggle with the idea of the modern man, and what it is to be a Ghost Man. In the film I have a small cameo as a slimy pick-up artist who tells a student the secret to being able to, “Fuck any bitch you want”, and it’s this character who sets the chaos in motion. It’s a movie about men in the modern world.

How the film came to exist:

At the start of 2012 I went through my first real breakup. Through this I decided to reflect on my shortcomings, and as a 22 year old Australian male I did the responsible thing; travel to Hong Kong alone, and medicate through a drinking binge. I didn’t expect to leave with a short film and an award winning feature film (Made In Australia), but looking back it was destiny. What better for the Eurasian mongrel (yes I called myself that) to witness Asian identity first hand – intoxicated.

The first step to making Ghost Man took place on a seedy night in Mong Kok, where I noticed a man painted silver. All the locals took photos of him. I wanted him to be a part of my film so I approached him. Later that night I was at his seedy Chungking Mansion apartment (the same place Wong Kar Wai filmed Chungking express and according to the staff who gave him permission personally) and I was filming the opening scene. I was also offered some substances I won’t disclose, but this spontaneous approach became the basis for my art.

I wrote as the trip unfolded, creating the film from first hand experiences. I met many interesting people in Hong Kong and forced myself to speak to at least 50 strangers a day, believing if I did this I would end up with something valuable. Some people allowed me to sleep at their apartments, some paid for me when I was broke and I entered a relationship with an older, mature aged woman which became the canvas for more art.

Ghost Man 1

The Guerrilla approach:

Making a film under any circumstance is a tough gig. Chaos is a factor most directors try to minimize and manage. With the whole world against the auteur, and it being their precious baby, I understand why filmmakers work in this manner. Ghost Man is unique because I chose to let chaos dictate the films production. I opened the door to let drama into my personal life.

I let the drama monster into my film set, and let it wreck havoc. This mess is evident on screen. I wanted this film to be more of an adventure, for all the people involved. I followed this philosophy for the short Ghost Man and the feature film Made In Australia. At the time I didn’t realize I’d be awarded for my efforts, with Made In Australia winning Best Guerrilla Film at the 2013 Melbourne Underground Film Festival. I shot both films on the Lumix GH2, and took this SLR camera everywhere with me, knowing anything in this Neon-Lit city could become my subject.

A highlight, getting screamed at by Pimps and Madam’s when shooting scenes in the red-light brothel district of Hong Kong. Another was when filming a glass bottle being smashed on someone’s head. The police came down and we had to hustle, explaining we were film students. They were really kind and let us off with the statement “wow, that blood looks so real”.

Selfie on set, after the cops came. 

Selfie on set, after the cops came.

I don’t use the guerrilla method/style as much now. My recent films as part of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) ‘Master’s of Film, Narrative’ are by the book. Going back to study my masters was a way to be re-inspired as making Ghost Man burnt me out emotionally. If I ever need to make another film this way I know how to do it. I also know the emotional toll it can take. I’m currently in pre-production for a new feature film set to shoot early in 2015. It’s meant to be a gritty story, very rough and intense. I’m genuinely considering going Guerrilla…maybe.

“Ghost Man places you in the real life of the characters. It has an underlining message on how pick-up artists prey on the vulnerable, which leads to the destruction of the vulnerable. Now is a relevant time as ever with Julian Blanc being deported from Australia after public outcry”
Hussein Khoder (Film Director/Melbourne Underground Film Festival assistant director, short film curator) 

“I’m very impressed with Ghost Man. It’s pace. The beauty and sorrow were really moving.”
DR INDIGO WILLING (Creator of the AAFF – Australasian film forum)

Matthew Victor Pastor has a distinct nature to his work, his films borrow and fuse a number of elements from contemporary cinema, creating works that are unique and cinematic.”
GARY PARAMANATHAN (Founder of The Colourfest Film Festival) 

Ghost Man will screen in Melbourne, Australia on the 28.11.14 as part of the Made In Melbourne Film Festival.

HD/12 minutes
Australia/Hong Kong

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