This blog highlights some of the interesting interviews I have done as a journalist with the Sun newspaper. I really believe what makes these interview interesting is their honest answers to the questions I throw at them. Hope you enjoy reading these interviews as much as I had fun writing them. If the readers of the blog wants to write to me, they can do at this email(firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thursday, October 19, 2017
I have interviewed film maker Jess Teong who had directed the Malaysian movie The Kid from the Big Apple that had grabbed four awards - for best actor, best supporting actress, best newcomer, and best writing – at the 7th Macau International Movie Festival. Read the full story here
Story with more enticing bite
By Bissme S
TWO years ago, Jess Teong made her debut as a film director with The Kid from the Big Apple, for which she also wrote the screenplay.
The film, which was shot and produced entirely in Malaysia, portrayed the relationship between a Western–raised granddaughter and her traditional grandfather.
It was a roaring success, earning RM6 million at the Malaysian box office, and over RM1.3 million in Singapore.
The film won four awards – for best actor, best supporting actress, best newcomer, and best writing – at the 7th Macau International Movie Festival.
It also won another two awards – for best child actor and the Special Jury award – at the 28th Malaysian Film Festival.
Now, Teong is ready to release its sequel, The Kid From Big Apple 2: Before We Forget, which will open in cinemas on Nov 16.
Award–winning Hong Kong actor Ti Lung and Malaysian child actress Sarah Tan Qin Lin reprise their roles as the grandfather and granddaughter respectively.
Others in the cast include Debbie Goh, Jason Tan, and Leena Lim.
Shooting began last November around Kuala Lumpur, with filming lasting 22 days.
At a recent interview, Teong admits that she is aware of the people’s expectations in this sequel.
“Even if I were to direct a film that has nothing to do with my first film, people will still make a comparison between [them],” says Teong, who is also the managing director of production company Three Pictures Sdn Bhd.
“You just cannot stop people from making comparisons. But I do not feel any pressure.
“I’m the type who will just do my job once I put my mind to it. And I will not allow people’s opinions to influence me.”
Teong says recently, she held a preview screening of the sequel for selected viewers who told her they “loved it”.
She emphasises that both films are very different, with the sequel having a far more complex plot.
“My two films are like my two daughters and they will never be the same. My first film is my younger daughter who is cute and cheeky. My second film is my elder daughter who is quiet and beautiful.
“All I can say [is that] my two daughters have inherited good DNA from their mother.”
Teong also reveals that the sequel centres around a new development with the grandfather.
In the first film, he is seen as a strong, solid individual. In the sequel, he has been diagnosed with dementia.
“Even heroes get old one day,” says Teong.
She wants to address the issue of dementia among older folks, and what role children can play to help their elderly parents cope with the problem.
Teong also has the full support of her two lead actors.
“Ti Lung is picky about his roles,” Teong says. “Initially, he was reluctant to do the sequel.
“But once he read the script, he loved it. In fact, he liked his character far better in the sequel.
“It took him a month to say yes to my first film. For the sequel, it just took him 24 hours to come on board.”
The audience will also see some changes in Sarah, who plays the granddaughter.
She was only 10 years old in the first film, but now, she is a teenager.
In the sequel, her character tries to mend her relationship with her estranged father. Will she succeed?
“Well, you have to watch the film,” says Teong.
She says that Sarah cried upon reading the script. “She was so sad to learn that her character’s grandfather has dementia and has forgotten about her.”
When asked what kind of director she is, Teong says: “I am a very fussy one. But I never shout and quarrel with my cast and crew on the set.
“As I am making a positive film, I must have positive energy on the set. You cannot have positive energy if you are shouting and quarrelling.
“I warned my crew never to utter four–letter words on the set, since we had child actors around.
“In fact, there was a lot of laughter on my set.”
When asked about her filmmaking philosophy, Teong says: “I want my films to have strong content.
“A film with a good story is like a tree with strong roots and ... when a tree has strong roots, it will bear healthy fruits.”
Teong finds a lot of films today rely too much on special effects and big names in the cast, but forget about having a good script.
“Content is king, and you must never forget that,” she says with a smile.