SANDCASTLE INTERVIEW WITH BOO JUNFENG
Sandcastle, along with your other short films all have
to do with the sand and/or the sea. Do you draw inspiration
from these elements?
The only way to escape the claustrophobia in Singapore
is to look outwards. Even then, the horizon is constantly
cluttered with ships. I thought it was interesting to
place En in such a geographical context; his world and
the things that he has been learning all his life exist within the confines
of this island. And as he doubts the received doctrines
with which he has been brought up, he only has enough
courage to bring himself to the water's edge.
How close are En's stories in Sandcastle to that of
the elements that concerned the grandmother's dementia
were from my own experience. The rest is fictional.
The need to question, and to come of age by questioning,
I believe is something many people experience.
How was the casting of the main characters (En, Mother,
Grandmother, Ying) decided?
was a challenge trying to find someone to play En. I
needed a boy who looked 18, but had the maturity to
understand and deliver the internal conflicts that En
goes through in the story. I got to know Josh when I
was working with his band (The Fire
Fight) on a music video for a campaign for Youth.sg.
I asked him to come for the audition and was impressed
by how he could internalise the lines very instinctively.
I decided there and then that Josh would play En. It
was a huge relief as we had
spent months auditioning people for the role.
saw Elena Chia in Anthony Chen's Ah-Ma, and felt that
she could be suitable for the role. Elena is a veteran
stage actress, and was very open to experimenting during
workshops and rehearsals.
Chen is a professional dancer with local dance company
Arts Fission. I needed a girl with an authentic Chinese
accent and got her contact from Wee Li Lin. I'm
really happy with our casting decisions - I think the
actors carried their roles very well, and it was a joy
working with them.
What was it that made you decide to make your first
feature film after a series of shorts? How different
is this experience?
has always been my dream to make a feature film, but
I didn't think the opportunity would come so soon. I
see it as a learning experience and a progression from
the short films that I have been making. The main difference
is in the time it took to make a feature. My short films
typically took about a month to write, and 3-5 days
to shoot; Sandcastle took me 18 months to write, and
3 weeks to shoot. It takes a lot of discipline and stamina
to have a feature film completed. The biggest challenge
for me was in understanding how the narrative structure
of a full-length movie works. Writing a 90-minute narrative
is very different from writing 15-minute short film
scripts. I had to rewrite the script eight times before
the story took shape.
What was it like for a young director like you to make
a feature film which travelled to Cannes?
was a very emotional experience to know that a story
I had written in my bedroom could be presented at a
place like Cannes. I was very glad a few of my closest
friends and collaborators - Fran Borgia (producer),
Sharon Loh (cinematographer) and Lim Ting Li (sound
designer) - could be there with me. They are people
who have believed in what I was doing from the very
start, and we went through thick and thin making my
short films and Sandcastle.
What do you think of the local filmmaking industry?
And what role do you see yourself playing?
think the films produced in recent years are diverse
and exciting. I'm proud to be a part of the film community.
What is in the pipeline for you next?
I'll be travelling with Sandcastle for the rest of the
year. I'll probably start to develop a second film next
opens in theaters 26 August 2010