Could you tell us a little bit more about the Little Guilin quarry? How did you find out about it?
I grew up in a HDB flat very close to it and have lived there since I was 11 years old which makes that more than 20 years ago when I started walking past it every day.
What is behind the idea of the protagonist’s interest in it? Is it based on a real life experience?
Yes, it was based on something that I had experienced myself. Firstly, being so familiar with Little Guilin since young, I always drew parallels between this strange manmade quarry that was named after a famous landmark in China and to Singapore, another strange paradox of a city-state. Secondly, without giving away too much info, the protagonist was inspired by experiences with my mother who was a real estate agent and my observations of Singaporeans who have extreme obsessions over owning a home or the desperation for space in a country with little affordable residential space.
Can you tell us more about the context in which the film was produced? I understand it’s one of a series of shorts…
It involved a few selected Singaporean filmmakers making a short film about a certain space that tied back to the idea of Void Deck which in Singapore refers to the communal space shared by dwellers in government-type flats. I had always wanted to make a film about this quarry so it was not difficult to envision this space at the quarry as my void deck and it was always something I was intrigued by growing up around it especially in land-starved Singapore.
What sorts of projects would you like to focus on? You have a multicultural background. Are you keen to work in Singapore or Britain?
I like to focus on making films in Asia for the time being but I do hope to explore working overseas as I am always looking for new creative collaborators for the next project. I am Eurasian by race, part Chinese, Japanese, British-Portuguese but culturally I am Singaporean so my roots will always originate from Singapore. I have studied for a period of time in Britain so that’s also a place I do miss and hope to return to one day.
What sort of freedoms would you say the short format allows?
I like that the short format frees us as both the filmmaker as well as the audience from the ‘rules’ and expectations of a feature film in different ways, like if you don’t have a typical 3 act structure but a strong character driven short, it can work well in a short film format. I also like that you are more inclined to leave certain details out so the audience can leave more to the imagination as well. Negative space is just as important as positive space in any composition, I believe the same for film.
If you’ve already been to Clermont-Ferrand, could you share with us an anecdote or story from the festival? If not, what are your expectations for this year?
I hope to meet more new filmmakers and friends from the industry as well as get an idea of the reception of my film from the audiences at Clermont-Ferrand. Also am really excited to watch the other shorts!