SCUD Hong Kong Film Director on his latest work “VOYAGE”(遊), PART 1
SCUD: “I used to live precariously, harboring latent signs of DEPRESSION. Those were dark periods where I cannot plan or work. I was fighting my inner demons. Departures of loved ones fueled painful feelings of loss. I therefore decided to make my “VOYAGE”遊 film project addressing how mental angst can wreck a person’s life.”
1. Voyage is going to be your latest film to hit the screen. Can you tell us what the film is about and what are the themes explored?
“Voyage” is my 5th film and may be the last of my productions for some time. While there’re far more films I want to make, a lot of things are pointing to at least a break.
Like many hinging their passions on art and love, I used to live dangerously with depression for long. There were periods when I could neither plan nor commit to anything weeks away. Departures of loved ones complicated the feelings, and prompted me to make a film out of such unspeakable mental and spiritual statuses.
Starting with my own experience and those confided to me, “Voyage” was then enriched by profound stories from my actors, especially Leni Speidel, my leading actress of the film, who even brought her family to realize the unforgettable scenario. As usually I am in debt to artists collaborating with me.
It is worth mentioning that the film appeared to come to own life during the making. While I thought I was making a film of suicide and other premature deaths, I found myself shooting more and more after life scenes and it unfolded to me in the editing room to be a very different film, one that unveils the subconscious or unconscious of the film maker’s desperation to look beyond the supposing end of life.
Is life a dream, an imagination, or just a projection of our wishes? “Voyage” is for those who rather believe there being no end to the voyage of life, and is dedicated to the people who have departed but have never left our hearts.
2. It is also your first film, as we understand it, to be shot entirely in English? What are your motivations for doing an English language film, and how does the language relate to the story in the film?
I shot the film in English because it is a more universal topic and story than my earlier works. It may be more convenient to my European and American audiences while the impact to Chinese audiences are minimal. It is slightly easier for me to make as majority of the cast is English speaking, though the film has very little dialogue anyway.
3. Audiences have come to expect controversial themes like homosexuality, rape and incest in your previous outings. How will Voyage be different from the others, and do you expect to raise even more eyebrows?
I guess i will always meet the expectations of my audiences on new, controversial themes, for I reckon that being an important value of mine. The scenes of various spectacular deaths may raise many eyebrows but the profound meanings behind are what I wish can be revealed to my audiences, albeit in an atypical way.
4. It looks like a significant part of Voyage will be taking place on the sea or in water. Do you find an artistic quality to this medium that you feel or felt you had to explore? How does the setting in Voyage help to shape the overall look and feel in the film?
Indeed I have a deep obsession with sea, the absolute isolation and freedom. There is a psychologic test that says your feeling to the sea is your perception to life. I guess I was the first to shoot on the circular rafts, an unique scene of Hong Kong beaches, in my first two films, with totally naked boys and girls of course. The vessel the leading man sails on in “Voyage” is a moving version of that fantasy.
5. A lone voyage out at sea. Stories about departed people…. There seems to be an emphasis on the themes of isolation and possibly loneliness in Voyage. Is that what you intended?
Absolutely, and the helplessness, the freedom, the despair, the unrestrained imaginations in a confined dungeon that is so perfect an analogy of life…
6. Another theme that is clearly portrayed in Voyage has got to be depression. Do you have any personal experiences with depression, either in yourself or people that you know? How do you think depression affects people? How does it affect the lead character in Voyage?
I have never been really acquainted with anyone not depressed, and depressed people live in a different world from those who are so lucky and also so pathetically unlucky to be out of it. People like the lead character in the film want to have their ironic stories heard, and I am doing exactly that thru “Voyage”.