31 October 2008,
5pm at Pariss International Seafood Buffet Restaurant
You make your debut feature film that takes a year to
conceptualize and a month to complete the screenplay.
Then you run into problems securing financial interest,
before being forced into heavy debt before its release.
But because you believe in your craft, you pressed on.
Miraculously, your film becomes a box office and critical
success. Not only do you manage to clear your debt,
the film becomes a nationwide sensation and goes on
to represent your country to compete in the 81st Academy
Awards under the Best Foreign Film category.
can be sure that as a filmmaker, this roller coaster
ride will change your life forever. And this is exactly
how Taiwanese director Wei Te-sheng feels upon looking
back at what has happened since he got the inspiration
to make Cape No. 7 in July 2004.
box office success has definitely changed my life,"
the soft spoken filmmaker tells movieXclusive.com in
Mandarin when he was in Singapore for a promotional
tour of his debut film, Cape No. 7.
were three possibilities we foresaw when we started
the project," recalls 40-year-old Wei, who is married
with a six-year-old son.
the film would do badly at the box office and get lousy
reviews, then I would never be able to make a film again.
Two, it would get average box office returns and decent
reviews, and then I may be able to get by. Three, it
would earn a lot of money and get rave reviews, and
this is the best case scenario."
took a bet, that is what we got, and I’m very
thankful for that."
film career began when he got a job in a small production
company some 20 years ago. Over the years, he got involved
in several prominent local feature films like Edward
Yang’s Mahjong (1996) and Chen Kuo-fu’s
Double Vision (2002). He also shot a number of shorts
himself along the way.
2004, he raised NT$2.5 million to shoot the trailer
for a historical epic entitled Swwdiq Bale, but because
of countless financial constraints, he ended up making
Cape No. 7 first instead. What Wei didn’t expect
was the phenomenon that followed, including a whopping
box office receipt that has soared over NT$400 million,
making it the second top selling film in Taiwan history.
The movie standing in its way is Steven Spielberg’s
1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park.
it’s just that dinosaur standing in our way now,"
Wei laughs heartily.
No. 7 tells the story of how seven unlikely individuals
come together with their aspirations to form a band.
This is interwoven with another plot line which involves
seven unsent love letters penned 60 years ago.
casually in a brown vest and jeans, Wei says that this
is a story he truly feels for: “I would like the
audience to feel the same emotions I had when I wrote
inspiration for the script came from a report Wei read
years ago about a postman who successfully delivered
a piece of mail addressed in the old Japanese style.
asked about which cast member was the easiest to direct,
the humble director says without hesitation that it
was Chie Tanaka, who plays a Japanese model-turned-translator,
simply because of the acting experience she had in her
hasn’t had much exposure in Japan, so I hope this
film can show the world how talented she is," states
Wei, between taking sips of warm water because of his
the other hand, Yin Wei-min, who plays the drummer in
the band, was a challenge for Wei to direct, because
the actor’s personality is totally unlike the
character he plays in the film.
character he plays appears to be carefree and wild,
but Ying is a very serious person in real life, and
it takes quite an amount of alcohol to relax him and
get him into character," reveals Wei with a chuckle.
film has also garnered nine nominations at the upcoming
45th Taiwan Golden Horse Awards, including Best Feature
Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best
new Performer. So which prize does Wei most look forward
got to be Best Feature Film, because everyone’s
efforts will be recognized. But we have some strong
competition here," says Wei, referring to other
big budgeted movies like Peter Chan’s The Warlords
and Feng Xiaogang’s Assembly.
the director is very confident that Ma Ju-Lung, who
plays a loud spoken local town council representative
in Cape No. 7, will take home the Best Supporting Actor
really very good, and I can tell you that there is more
than 90 per cent chance that he will take home the Golden
7 opens 27 November and is reviewed here