Interview with Wee Li Lin, director of Gone Shopping Recut
Some of you may have heard of the film Gone Shopping released last August, but many of you have not. Partly due to poor publicity and taking a huge risk in a theatrical release, Gone Shopping came and gone quickly. But like the phoenix that rises out from the ashes, Gone Shopping is re-cut, re-made and renewed. Director Wee Li Lin, amidst her busy schedule, has taken time off to answer some of my burning questions.
LL (Li Lin): I felt the film could be better and I needed some time away from it and ponder over some personal thoughts as well as external criticism about the theatrical edit. I also wanted the film to travel, which the theatrical cut was having some trouble doing.
This new edit of the film is doing good now, it is a tighter, more coherent film after the re-edit and its also travelling to some good festivals and has gotten an international distributor. I’m happy I decided to do this recut.
TN: With the recut, it’s akin to releasing a new movie again. Did you employ any new strategies or changed certain procedures to make it different from the first?
LL: Well, its not really akin to releasing a new movie again as I’m not doing theatrical release in Singapore, and I have not done my DVD release yet. Our Singapore theatrical release was small, and I realised that a lot of people here still haven’t seen the film. So we are now just concentrating on the DVD release which is going to be in early August. But I did re-design new collateral (DVD cover and poster) for the festival screenings. For the DVD release, there will also be a new design of the film which the DVD company is working on.
I think one of the main things the theatrical release (through its poster and trailer) conveyed was that it was a very dark film, which Gone Shopping is not. So one of the things we (myself, the DVD company Innoform and my Singapore sales agent Objectifs) are mindful of, is to dispel the notion of the film being very dark and to give the right message of the film as a dramaedy which is what it is. The film is also largely in Mandarin, which again, a lot of people didn’t know. In fact most people thought the film was in English during that time. So that is also something we were also mindful of.
TN: Now that you’ve done the re-cut, what are some of the things we can expect compared to the previous version (without giving too much of the movie away)?
LL: This new edit has some scenes which were left on the cutting room floor (the first time round) which are back in, and I’m glad because some of them were really great scenes. Some scenes from the theatrical edit that weren’t working so well were taken out. The story is the same but the flow and pace is better. There is also some new voice over by Clara (Kym Ng) that comes out in significant junctures throughout the film. It is not a drastic change, but the little things done seem to have made the film significantly better.
TN: Are you hoping to reach an international audience as well, seeing that you’ve participated in a variety of film festivals?
LL: Yes, its been a great joy to see how the film was received in Italy and Shanghai where it played, and I will soon be going to Korea for another festival, plus one of my actors will be attending a festival in New York for the film. Its interesting to observe what different people find compelling and funny, and conversely what they find uninteresting or annoying. Throughout it all i have found that universally, women 40 or above seem to be the most affected from my film.
While I was at the Shanghai International Film Festival, one 50-year-old American lady who is a distributor told me she saw many films over the past month and in her daily work, and my film really resonated with her and even though I didn’t know her really. I could see she had been crying and we hugged â€“ it was intense, haha. And in Italy after the screening, 30 over people mobbed me for autographs and photos. It was surreal and a major (but thankfully short lived) ego trip.
TN: Local filmmakers may eventually face problems such as a low viewership from the Singapore audience or have difficulty finding distributors (and probably many more problems). What is the one important thing that you have realised that Singaporean filmmakers should/should not do?
LL: Having gone through the experience of theatrically releasing Gone Shopping last year, I feel to do the festival route is better for indie films unless you are Raintree or Jack Neo. It’s too risky to open just like that; it’s better to collect some goodwill and accolades along the way first as Singaporeans give Singaporean films a very hard time.
TN: Is there a fear of people’s mindset being “Oh! I’ve watched it before. It shouldn’t be much different. So I’m not going to watch it.”? Which group of people is your film targeting this time round?
LL: I think a lot of people have not seen Gone Shopping, as proven from the dismal box office last August. Haha! So I’m hoping for anyone and everyone else to hopefully own it on DVD or to catch it in Sinema sometime later this year. I feel the film has something for everyone (and not just ladies 40 and above!) and I hope people take a chance on it and be pleasantly surprised.
TN: I heard you are currently working on a new film project. Could you share with us a little about it?
LL: I am working on two new scripts, one which I am writing and one that is written by another writer. The one that will likely be set in motion first is the one that I am writing, its a dark comedy thriller about a female stalker. Its based on a true story. Its been a good start so far, in fact the concept has been invited to be a presenting project in the NAFF – Network of Asian Fantastic Films (part of the Puchon Fantastic Film Festival) next month.
TN:So when is the expected date of release for Gone Shopping recut?
LL: The DVD is going to be launched in early August this year.