Interview Express Vincent Chui

The style of your previous movie, Leaving in Sorrow, was very different. It was closer to a documentary, with its Dogme style (no music, natural light...). Fear of Intimacy is different, sometimes closer to a thriller. Why this change of style?

I always like thriller. Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors and vertigo is definely master piece not only as a thriller but a romance. Of course I am satisfied with the overall result of Leaving in Sorrow, however, I found the narrative was too loose. So I made up my mind to make a genre movie. I spent long time with my scriptwriter, Anna Lai, and finally came up with the idea of Fear of Intimacy

Looking back to Leaving in Sorrow, what do you think about this experience of Dogme as a director?

When I was directing Leaving In Sorrow, I always think about a whole scene rather than a shot. I let the characters to motivate the camera. The camera was simply a tool to capture the feeling, emotions of the characters. I had never asked them to act for a single angle.

The timeline is also different, it's not continuous anymore, the action jumps from one period to another, in the future or in the past. Why did you use this method?

The narrative structure of FOI was written quite clearly on the first draft. So i would say it's the idea of Anna, and I just executed it. I actually don't like flashback that much unless it's the structure of the film. So we work on it, and make them an essential to the film.

Where did you find the main idea for this story?

As I said, Anna has the idea and I like Vertigo. A mysterious, beautiful woman missing without a trace on a beach, it's mesmerizing.

The house on the sea shore doesn't feel like a typical Hong-Kongese place.Why did you choose it?

Well, she was supposed to be vanished in a shopping in the 1st draft. However, due to technical problem, we start thinking about the altenatives. When we visited Shek O, I like the geographical relation between the house and beach. You can see the beach from the house. The idea of taking the last picture of the girl from the balcony was actually from Tony Leung Ka Fai. I think the picture works quite well in the movie.

FOI is a thriller, but looking at the character of Tony Leung Ka-Fai, he is a journalist who was a reporter but had to turn commercial. Is it a way to talk about the difficulty to be an independent director in the HK movie industry?

It's not only the case of the indie filmmakers. It's not easy to survive in a highly materialized city like Hong Kong. Turning commercial is not evil. But everyone should have his/her bottom line.

Do you think that genre movies can be a good compromise for independent directors to find an audience on one hand, and also give a message on the other hand?

I don't even see it as compromise. I love genre movies. Vertigo is my all time favorite. I also believe that one can only tell a story that he or she truely believe in. So, it's not a compromise to me at all, but, it does not apply to every indie filmmakers.

Tony Leung Ka-Fai is a big name in HK movie industry. Was it easy to convince him to work on this small production?

He had the experience in working  on indie film before, love will tear us apart by yu luk wai. He also used to work on different scale of production. He is flexible, I guess. I just sent him the script, then met with him and chatted about the details. The producer took care of the money and that's it.

How was it to work with him?

He is nice, easy to work with.  Since he is a very experienced actor, I didn't have to direct him but discuss with him. As I told you, I like to have the characters to motivate the camera. He understood it very well and contributed a lot.

MOK Nga-Lun had a promising beginning of career with Bullets over Summer and Skyline Cruisers, but then disappeared from movies during a few years. How did she arrive on this project?

First, I guess she prefer to use her real name which Michelle Saram. I always like her. I found that she could act quite natural and it would fit the overall tone of FOI. I went to Singapore to invite her.
  • April 2005