The film NEW TURN is the first feature film of Director Doris Wong, and is supervised by Wei Te-Shen, who has won many international film awards. The film depicts a tour around Taiwan, from which four young people find the direction of their life and a sense of fulfillment. While healing their wounds in the mind, they also harvest unexpected friendship and love. The film features Cherry Ngan, winner of Best Leading Actress of the Golden Horse Award, and Zhang Ting-Hu, nominee of Best Leading Actor of the Taiwan Golden Bell Award. Now the film is under busy post production. It is expected that the film will arouse a new wave of road and youth film.
The young director, Doris Wong, obtained his master’s degree of film production from the Department of Film Production of Hong Kong Baptist University, with his major in director production. In college, he won the scholarship of the Academy of Film, HK Baptist University, for two consecutive years; he also won the Best Student Award as a freshman and the Best Works Award as a sophomore. He gained his bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Arts of Hong Kong University, with his major in comparative literature, and was once engaged in film and media study in Canada. Doris Wong has served as the director and screenwriter of many music videos, micro films and advertisements in Hong Kong, including THREE DAYS AFTER MY DEATH directed by Ho Yim. In 2013, with his graduation work, JOURNEY, he was shortlisted as the Best Director of the Global Chinese Universities Students Film and Television Festival Award, the Special Jury Award of the VGIK International Festival and the Best Cinematography of Hangzhou International Micro-films Exhibition.
Q: At which stage is the film NEW TURN?
A: Now we are doing special effect. As there are a lot of CGs, we need to discuss with the post production company, and we have actually finished cutting.
Q： How long do you expect the film to be released?
A： I hope it will be released by the end of the year. What I want to present to the audience is a high quality film, so I will not speed up just to meet some peak seasons. The whole team is detail-oriented. We hope to present the best film, so it might not able to be released even till next year. (Laugh) So I am not sure about the time now.
Q： Why do you want to make such a film?
A： Initially, I heard about traveling around Taiwan island from a friend. It was appealing to me. I made some research and found it was popular among the young people in Taiwan. Many college graduates would make it their present for graduation. Then gradually I became fascinated with the idea. For me, traveling around the island is no small challenge both physically and mentally. So I decided to do it myself.
I was deeply impressed by Taiwan. Previously, when I travelled to Taiwan, I just stayed in Taipei. That time, I left Taipei and saw a completely different Taiwan, a beautiful island of human kindness. Just as a saying goes, “The most beautiful scenery in Taiwan is the human kindness.” Of course, I encountered many difficulties during the trip. At the first day, I was chased by a big yellow dog, the same day when the island was hit by rainstorm and typhoon. I felt that my life was threatened, yet I overcame all the difficulties in the end. I thought that these feelings needed to be recorded, and that’s what motivated me to make the film NEW TURN.
The film tells about the story of a girl who meets another girl with the exactly same look with her in Taiwan, and decides to follow the latter’s footstep to travel around the island. I like watching social news from which I learn that the twins story was inspired by a real event. As shown in a video I previously watched, a South Korean girl who living in France found another girl in the US with the exactly same look with her. Then she found the girl on Facebook and it turned out that they were twins. They were both orphans and adopted by two different families when they were very young. Later I found that it was among many other such stories. There is another self in the world, which really moved me. Later, I told the story to supervisor Wei Te-Shen, who just finished his tour around the island and showed sympathy for the story. That’s how the film New Turn comes into being.
Q： What is the theme that the film intends to express?
A： The four protagonists are all in their 20s and they at a loss as to what to do. Then the tour around the island helps them to grow up. They started the trip not for growth purpose, but to jump out of their comfort zone. Yet the experience helps them grow up. When they return to the same starting point, they have changed a lot. The common theme of road film is about growth, and our film is of no exception. When you take the first step, you will make the difference. Actually, name of the film, New Turn, also implies the theme, as everyone will be different after the new turn. What we want our audience to think about is not only the turning point, but also the people by your side and the road ahead.
Q： The leading actors and actresses are from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, so is it a co-production?
A： Yes, the film is jointly invested by the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Q： Is this the first time that you direct a feature film?
A： Yes, it’s my first feature film. Previously, I participated in the production of some feature films, but I was not the director. At that time, I tried to play many roles including DIT, on-site producer and screenwriter, as I wanted to see the duty of each post. In the end, I found that I still preferred film directing.
Q： Are there any new experience gained after directing the film?
A： First, the whole film is shot in Taiwan. Previously, I had some experience of making film in Hong Kong. Yet after leaving the environment I was familiar with to make a feature film in a new place, I was at a loss initially. Luckily, before shooting the film, Supervisor Wei Te-Shen arranged me to visit a filming site, where I stayed all day long, chatting with people and trying to find out the differences in filming between Hong Kong and Taiwan. I did find out the differences.
First, the atmosphere at the filming site is different. The first day when I went there, I found people were very quiet and even-tempered. Yet in Hong Kong, the crew tends to be in a rush to meet the schedule, so we are in a noisy environment. In Taiwan, there are many female crew members, including both the styling designers, and those in the production department. Yet they both have their own advantages and disadvantages. In Hong Kong, film making is fast while in Taiwan the production is more detail-oriented. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to know about the film-making process in Taiwan before I started shooting, so I really appreciate the help of Director Wei Te-Shen.
Q： Did you encounter any difficulty in the filming process?
A： (laughing) Everywhere. Because the screenplay is quite complicated. It seems that the story is of fresh Taiwan flavor and regarded by many as easy to produce and full of campus love affairs, sunshine and some jokes. However, our story is a road film, which involves a bicycle tour around Taiwan. Thus, we need to shoot scenes of riding bicycle while ensuring high sound quality. This is the first difficulty. Second, we have twins as the protagonists and the actress Cherry Ngan had to act as two persons. Thus, she needed to act twice each scene with different clothes and hairstyles. The two persons also have different emotions. This is another challenge for me. Moreover, we have some scenes of falling off from the bicycles, which involves communication with the action director. As we have no professional action actors, our actors and actresses had to spend a lot of time on preparation.
Q： With the rise of Chinese film, what do you think Hong Kong films should do to improve their influence?
A： Many people are talking about how Hong Kong elements are declining due to co-productions. I do not mean that we should ignore the market. After all, filming is an industry and the mainland has such a big market. Yet I believe what the audience want to see in Hong Kong films is a distinctive Hong Kong flavor. For example, TRIVISA, MAD WORLD and PORT OF CALL, as well as the previously controversial film, TEN YEARS, all reflect the true local culture. I do not mean to exclude non-Hong Kong elements. Just as the Hong Kong films in the 1980s and 1990s, the filmmakers insisted on local content and characteristics regardless of the market. I believe that fine films will always draw the attention of the audience.
Q： Do you have any plan of the next film?
A： The screenplay is in preparation and I have always intended to make films about how people make their choices and how they grow from them. I want to make a film about life, not the kind of art film. I intend to present it in a light way. For example, NEW TURN, which seems to be a youth film about four young people, is actually thought-provoking. The four protagonists are all faced with some problems, yet the chemical reaction among them is interesting. With joy and tears, the theme of choice in life is brought out, which is exactly the kind of film that I want to make.
Words of the Director:
Through departure, you see yourself better and understand the other side of yourself and family, thus you will reflect on your life and values. To look for the twin implies to look for another self, and what’s important is where to go next. After all, we need to go back home and live our previous life, yet the journey makes everything different.