An interview with Sheng-Ting Shen, director of “All I Need”

Sheng-Ting Shen


«Cinema is a way of escape. Escape from reality we are currently living in.»



Sheng-Ting, Shen is a video editor and filmmaker living in New York City. She was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and started working as a camera assistant intern at Public Television Station in 2016. In 2019, Sheng-Ting decided to follow her dream and came to New York for a film master’s program at City College of New York.

During these years, her film “Bad News” was the finalist for the Oregon short film festival, and “I’m Not Alone, I have the dog” won the Best Mini Short at the Short to the Point Film Festival. She is also an assistant director on film sets and has worked with people who won Tribeca Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Grammy, Academy Award, and more. Sheng-Ting is an all-rounded multitalented person in the film and media industry. Her latest short film, “The Coolest Club,” is currently on its festival run. And her upcoming feature film project “Hugo in the Pigpen” is in the funding process.




“All I Need” is an example of dark comedy. How did you find this type of language and realize it was the best fit to tell this story?


I enjoy using dark comedy as a way of telling stories. Instead of being sad and frustrated, I’ll try to laugh at the situation whenever something bad happens, which is therapeutic. “All I need” is a film using dark comedy to show the stupidness of being overdramatic.




What was the most significant challenge in making the film?
The most challenging aspect of making this film is handling a sensitive subject well. Trying to make the characters funny but without treating any serious situation lightly. When I wrote my first draft, I remember showing it to people, and everyone hated it. I got comments that said it’s not sensitive to “make fun” of this serious topic. After a few rewrites, I slowly figure out how to translate my humor onto the script. I intentionally prepare the actor to perform this character in an overdramatic way.



Thanks to the formation of new professional networks, today it is possible to create beautiful films in the independent circuit with a very low budget, as you did. What are the advantages of independent cinema for you? Are you comfortable with these agile production dynamics?
Compared to decades ago, it is not difficult to make a film now. You do not need a huge crew or fancy equipment. I love watching movies created under a low budget, and I’m always fascinated that they can make a fantastic film with how little funding they have. With “All I Need,” I filmed it with a minimum crew in my apartment. Another one of my films, “I’m not Alone, I have a Dog,” was only filmed with two people. In my opinion, when you got a good story, it is even possible to film it with just your phone.



What are you currently working on?


My latest short film, “The Coolest Club,” is currently on its festival run.
The story is about a video game nerd who wants to win acceptance from his support group, “The Coolest Club,” and chooses the extreme route to prove he is cool enough.
And my upcoming feature film project, “Hugo in the Pigpen,” which got the Excellent Screenplay Award nomination in Taiwan, was written by Jing-Ting, Shih, and is currently in its funding process. It’s about a monster with a human body, and the head of a pig is born.
And as days pass, it is becoming more and more humanlike and is ready to fulfill its ambition to even out the inequality between humans and pigs.