FOREVER WEE LI LIN
"Forever" isn’t a romantic comedy- despite what its poster and trailer may suggest to audiences. What was your inspiration behind the film?
This film was inspired by a real character, who was much darker, more of an "Alex Forest" in Fatal Attraction-type of gal, but I wanted Joey to feel she was a heroine, someone who could be in a rom com, the girl everyone roots for, but alas, she is not, she is well meaning but has flawed methodologies! We thought the poster and trailer would be more palatable for audiences and the truth is, the film is still pretty light (at least in our warped minds :)
There is a satirical jibe in the movie that applies to love, relationships, marriage and the Government’s approach to the above. What is your personal view of these subjects?
I used to make quite a few Government videos on such subjects and I think a person should go through any means to find their potential mate and romance, be it in a bar or at a place like SDS. So I think there is a sweetness and sincerity to what the Government is doing to help singles and I completely support and endorse it- heck I made quite a few good videos for them!
But FOREVER is really about this one particular person I met and how she inspired me to write Joey and come up with a fictional company W.E.D (the Wedding Education Department). I wanted to create an interesting character and highlight both the contradiction and similarities between her occupation of promoting romance and her own personal romantic methodologies. One scene from the film I liked was when we see all the W.E.D counsellors calling singles to 'badger' them to attend a singles tea dance (kind of like how you get pestered by credit card companies or slimming centres) and how Joey prank calls Gin a few times with her insane love messages. Sometimes we just don't know how to properly romance the ones we want to win over.
Comedy is a tricky thing, especially comedy that is meant to be offbeat and even subversive. How would you describe the tone that you tried to achieve in this offbeat and maybe even mildly subversive film?
I was going for something along of the lines of "Muriel's Wedding" and "The King of Comedy", amongst two of my favorite films. They are primarily character studies of eccentric, flawed characters who embark on a wayward quest. It is a tricky, challenging balance to do dark comedy and I'm grateful the actors did as well as they could with what we gave them.
How did you settle on Joanna as your lead actress, especially since this is her feature film debut?
We auditioned many fine actresses for the part and there were a few we were seriously considering, but Joanna was really Joey and her wonderful voice found itself into the role and soundtrack, which really added to the film. Jo was a real collaborator to the project, giving solid ideas towards the script/Joey and loaning us props and of course writing the lyrics to the theme song. She is very generous and really a bright bright spark. There is nothing she cannot do.
What about the casting of Taiwanese actor Mo Tzu-Yi? What did you think he brought to the role of Gin?
Xiao Mo (as we affectionately call him) is understatedly handsome and has a shyness and naivety which I originally wasn't looking for in Gin. But as I thought about casting Xiao Mo, these characteristics crept its way into Gin.
Xiao Mo is probably the best actor I’ve ever worked with in terms of professionalism and ability. On a personal level he is sincere, unpretentious, and kinda goofy, like me, so we got along very well. I really hope I can work with him again- he gives Taiwanese actors a great name.
How would you describe the chemistry between Joanna and Tzu-Yi in the film?
Joey and Gin are from different worlds and sometimes the most unusual choice is the right one.
The art direction and the cinematography on this film is an achievement in itself. Can you share with us what ideas both Charles and Gerald brought to the look of the film?
Thanks! Charles, my husband, did a splendid job with only $10k to play with and a group of newbie but talented interns as his art team- I think it’s a colossal achievement. He is an artist and he could paint and build things so that helped, he didn't need someone else to "make it" he would just dig in and do it himself. He worked so hard on the shoot and there were some tough days, I’m glad our marriage survived it!
Gerald has a great eye and a very easy disposition, really pleasant to work with. Gerald and I used "Napoleon Dynamite" as a visual reference which is also heavy on art direction and had kind of a flat look which gave each frame a slightly cartoony and heightened feel, which is what I wanted for the film.
What other film genres do you hope to venture into in future? What sort of ideas interest you as a filmmaker?
Firstly, I’d like to make more films in English! My next script is a straight up musical comedy and I’m working (along with other writers) on a historical romance, an emo-drama (yes, I believe there is such a genre), a sports film and a horror piece.
I’m interested in stories that have something new to offer audiences and I'm interested in entertaining audiences. I really hope the two are not mutually exclusive!
. FOREVER is out on DVD and available at all leading stores!