On the 29th March 2013, I did a private screening of my debut short film Going Home to some close friends and family members. Adrian Lai, one of my mentors for the film did a short interview with me on my motivations for the film and filming in general.
Here's the gist of the interview (together with some pictures of the making of the film)
You're a corporate kinda guy. What made you want to do a short film?
I'm a movie geek. I have an intense passion for films. When I was growing up, I watched alot of Hong Kong dramas, movies and read alot of HK comics. Such movies appeal to me because of its storyline. I particularly like the heroic bloodshed genre - those earlier gangster movies done by John Woo and starring Chow Yun Fat. It explored serious Asian themes such as brotherhood, sacrifice, violence and family. Those movies were raw as compared to Hollywood movies, which were more polished and rehearsed.
When I was a kid, I used to spend hours in the bathroom imagining and acting out my own movies. Haha. So perhaps filming is a step up (from the bathroom acting days) in realising the stories I've always wanted to tell.
Why did you choose such a theme (death)? It's morbid.
Death is one of the taboo topics I realised many of us, especially Asians, then to avoid. But the point of my story is that if we are certain where we are going when we die, we don't have to worry and instead start to live. Mother Teresa once quoted, "Death is nothing else but going home to God, the bond of love will be unbroken for all eternity."
That's why I wanted to tell this story of Ann; her accepting death and embracing life thereafter because she knew where she was going when she dies. You see her deciding to spend more time with her friends, living in the now watching a father pushing his kid on a swing and just enjoying the scenery at a beautiful lake. In fact, she was preparing for her death by intentionally going to a photo studio to take a nice professional photo of herself as her funeral photo.
What movies did you use as inspiration for Going Home as you were writing the script?
50/50 starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt
A Korean movie called Christmas in August
And the fairly recent Japanese movie Departures
How did you go about casting for the film?
I've always liked working with people who are not your usual suspects. Yes, functional skills are important but passion is more important. I like grooming them and unleashing their potential. I chose my ex-colleague, Anne Lim, because of a similar experience she went through as the main character in the film. I wanted passion rather than acting skills. That's how Anne agreed to take on the lead.
What's your favourite part of film making?
I was humbled to find out that filming is not a solo project. You need a team. And I really enjoyed the journey of making this film. I told myself whether this film will have 10 views or 100,000 views, it doesn't really matter because I learnt a new skill along the way and enjoyed my time working with the actors and crew. I'm a result oriented person and for me to say that, it's actually quite a big deal.
Any advice for those deciding to try shooting their first film?
Get a mentor. Zhiwei and Adrian were great mentors.
Learn the process. Zhiwei forced me to go through the step-by-step process of filmaking; scripting, storyboarding etc.
You need a team, and with some technical folks in your team. Someone who knows how to operate the camera and do post production.
Feed your cast and crew.
View 50+ more photos of the making of Going Home here
Going Home from Kausern Hieu on Vimeo.