開催レポート > インタビュー
Interview with Singapore's Royston Tan and Joi Chua
At the 11th Osaka Asian Film Festival, director Royston Tan and actress Joi Chua talked about their film "3688", working with China, and bunny rabbit costumes. They were joined by Kent Chan, a senior manager at the film's investor, MM2 Entertainment.
# What came first, the decision to work with Joi Chua or the film's concept?
Royston Tan: The film is an homage to the singer Fong Fei Fei [1953-2012]. After she died, I started to develop the project. And Joi Chua was one of my first choices for the leading role.
# Have you wanted to act in films for some time?
Joi Chua: It never crossed my mind seriously. I've had offers before - only for Singapore films - but I rejected them either because of scheduling issues or the unsuitability of the role. This time around the timing was right. But my main considerations for taking this role was Royston's approach, the film's story, and the character I would portray. When he first came to me, I thought he was crazy to ask me! It's his first movie after seven years of silence. This is my acting debut, so I was shocked and concerned and thought that he was just being irrational.
# Royston, what has changed in the seven years that you've been away?
Tan: The pace of Asian films are now much faster... even art films. It's almost as if art films have become commercial films!
# How has Singapore film environment changed? What held you back?
Tan: There's a healthy ecosystem for talent right now in Singapore, in all aspects. But I had made four features in only four years. And when I looked through the contents of my computer, I realized that I hadn't had a holiday for many years and had lost touch with people that I care about. So I wanted to rediscover my life... and drink. I also made some short documentaries about Singapore during that time.
# And how have project markets changed over the years?
Tan: "3688" was presented at the Golden Horse Project Market in 2013. I returned last year with my next project, 1998, and had many meetings with co-producers. I'm flying back to Taipei later this month to continue discussions with investors. But I know that my next film will be banned in China, so when Mainland investors sat down with me, I immediately told them there was no point discussing the film so we should just chat about our lives.
# Why did MM2 decide to invest in "3688" ?
Kent Chan: We were willing to invest if the musical elements were not so strong. If we have less music and choreography in the film, then the film could appear more contemporary to audiences.
# What's the importance of Malaysia as a co-producer for films from Singapore?
Chan: Our two countries are so close together so to an extent we share many similarities: our culture, our sentimentality, and our humor. Now we are seeing a lot of co-productions between our two countries. MM2, the film's investment company, has an office in both Singapore and Malaysian. But this is officially a Singapore film.
# What is the future of Singapore and Malaysian films in China?
Chan: They is a quota for non-local films in China, which is hard for us to navigate. So we will have to try another way. For example, we can work with VOD platforms to get our films into China. But the pace is now very fast in the Chinese film industry, so we'll see big changes in one or two years.
# Is Singapore cinema becoming more insular?
Tan: Our local cinema is becoming very nostalgic, about everything. Because there are major changes taking place in Singapore now, directors are trying to capture things before they disappear. We are tearing down everything.
# From your first film, 15, to "3688", is it the same Royston Tan?
Tan: I can't answer that question easily. Back then I was angry and would throw this table across the room. Now I've evolved: I'll just stab you in the back! But my next film is something of a return to my earlier work in that it will be small and independent.
# I noticed that you're not wearing a rabbit costume in Osaka...
Tan: For every festival, I had a different rabbit costume that I would wear in public. My idea was simply to embarrass the Singapore government in official photographs.
# Is government censorship opening up in Singapore?
Chan: It's a lot more free now compared to many years ago. Also, we're opening up on language issues. For example, Jack Neo's Chinese New Year release A LONG LONG TIME AGO, which has made S$4 million and is still in cinemas, is not in Mandarin. But for the moment, imported Hong Kong films must still be dubbed in Mandarin.
# How was the box office of "3688" ?
Chan: It surpassed S$0.5 million. And it took a little bit less than that in Malaysia. It was up against many Western tiles that were in the cinema at that time. But we got lots of media coverage. Singapore culture doesn't penetrate so easily, so we pushed Fong Fei Fei as a marketing aspect.
# Joi, would you consider taking a role in a Mainland film?
Chua: I'm working in China already for my music career. I fly to China very often; every month. In terms of roles, I just don't want to be portrayed as a demure girl. My looks may make me appear that way, but my character is very different. My role in "3688" was fantastic for me, because I didn't have to wear any makeup: it was grassroots, unglamorous, and real. I really liked it that way. If I have another role, I want to do something completely unexpected. Perhaps I can play a butch character! And after, maybe a serial killer. Actually, I recently changed my persona in my music career. My new agency in China wanted to try something different. In the past, I mainly sang ballads. But for my newest album, there were influences of rock, folk, and electronic music so it's really very different. I wrote all the songs myself.
Interview conducted by Stephen Cremin