THE TEN-DAY INTERVIEW 10 Questions and Answers with If It's Not Now, Then When? director Lee James at the half way mark.
1. Hi Lee! Thanks for being a part of our 2016 Spring Festival. First, what was the initial seed that made you want to make If It's Not Now, Then When?
It was inspired by one of the dozen stories that I have wrote, and at that time I worked with Tan whom is a dancer in a theater production. Felt I have found the person to play the role and decide to start writing it into a movie.
2 You wrote this film as well. What was your writing process like and how long did it take you to finish the script?
The writing process took about a year where I wrote it in a short story first like one of my previous film Things We Do When We Fall in Love before going into treatment. Partly during that period I was very influenced by Raymond Carver's writings.
3 You've already directed close to 10 feature films in a span of 10 years. How do you do it?
I've always kept the cost of my movies really low especially when they're not genre mainstream films. To keep them like small little projects where I don't have to concern about making the money back. Hence most of the time they were shot on mini DV before the arrival of DSLR technology.
4 The cast in this film does such a great job how did you find them all and what was it like working together?
The actress playing the daughter is a contemporary dancer, it's her first acting role, the mother and brother are experienced actors from the theater and film industry. This movie in fact we had the least rehearsals compared to all my other movies, because the nature of the story. It was more about developing the chemistry and trust between the actors.
5 My favorite scene is where the daughter (Bee Hung Tan) and the brother (Kenny Gan) sing together. It's the first time you see either one of them smile and seem to truly enjoy the company of someone else. How long did it take to get that scene right?
We just had 2 takes as that scene was supposed to show that they're having fun , goofing around and not about how good they could sing. It was challenging for the actors because in their mind they want to sing it properly and perfectly.
6 What's the scene you're most proud of?
My favorite scene is the singing scene between the two siblings. And also because its one of my favorite song by the late HK singer Leslie Cheung.
7 What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker?
It didn't really made me want to become a filmmaker yet that time, but the film that changed my view on cinema would be Wong Kar Wai's Days of Being Wild. It kind of opened up my view on films because prior to this I grew up on a diet of commercial genre films from Hollywood & HK between 80s to 90s.
8 You're also the founder of Doghouse 73 pictures. Can you tell us a little bit about what Doghouse 73 does and why you decided to form it?
Doghouse 73 Pictures now focuses only on producing short films and later these year we'll produce a feature film. And distribution method will solely be on the Internet, we also produces branded content for brands and agencies as main source of income.
9 What is the indie film scene like in Malaysia? How difficult is it to make films there and where do you see the future of Malaysian cinema going?
The indie scene in Malaysia is picking up at a slow pace due to the market size. The fact that even local mainstream commercial films doesn't do very well either as local audiences still prefer box office Hollywood films. I believe Internet will be the future for Malaysia indie films for it to strive and sustain.
10 What's next?
We'll be focusing more on making short films for my YouTube channel and feature films to be distribute on line in VOD platforms and services. The feature film will be a horror thriller call "Dark Patrol"
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