Production Talk - 'White Days' by Lei Yuan Bin


WHITE DAYS involves three characters who are dealing with their own personal crises. The film begins with a young man, whose trip out of the country is abruptly canceled when the friend whom he was supposed to go with dies. He reconnects with his friends back home, including a religious fanatic who has just returned from a pilgrimage to Israel, and a translator who has always wanted to move out of Singapore. Through a series of mordantly funny conversations, these young people gradually realize that what faces them is not the futility of life, but rather the transience and impermanence of it.

Jeremy (J): The content of your film is adamantly bold. Almost in a different cut of its own. What inspired you to start on this project?
Yuan Bin (Y) : The film was inspired by my three friends, particularly Chris Yeo, one of the main male lead, who returned from a pilgrimage from Jerusalem. Vel Ng, the female lead, works a freelance translator, and at that time of filming, wanted to change her job and move to Taipei. Inspired by their real life stories, I tailored a loose narrative around them.

J : Can you share more about what you are trying to protray or evoke in White Days?
Y : WHITE DAYS is a slice of the lives of three young Singaporeans. The story and its characters are inspired by the dreams, hopes and fears of the actors themselves. I hope the film has captured a slice of time in their lives. Through making this film, I’ve discovered that they were all searching for something missing in their lives. Either by going for a religious pilgrimage, watching and making films, or yearning to live somewhere faraway from home. Each of their personal stories seems different on the surface, but deep down they are perhaps the same. This film is a celebration of their continuous search for meaning and purpose in life.

J : Are any of the characters based on real-life examples like friends or incidents?
Y : Yes, a big part of the story is based on real life incidents. Chris and Vel 's characters are very much close to their real life. While Daniel's character is loosely based on my personal experience.

J : There are shades of influences from otehr directors in your film, like Tsai Ming Liang and you've even got a snippet from 'A Tree in Tanjung Malim' by Tan Chui Mui. Coulld you share more about the relationship between these influences and White Days?
Y : I just wanted to pay homage to Tsai Ming Liang and Tan Chui Mui for the great films they made. Furthermore, watching television and films is a recurring motif in White Days- one of the favourite activities of the three friends to pass time with in everyday life.

J : There was a scene in the White Days in which the camera stood still in the living room and all we see is the male and female lead characters going about their banal everyday actitivities, talking about inconsequential matters. What was your motivation behind this scene?
Y : I wanted to capture the sweet friendship between Chris and Vel in a everyday scene.

J : How did you get help to shoot this? In terms of financial and crew support?
Y : I funded the film by myself, and my friends gave support by acting and crewing for the film.
J : What were your biggest challenges in making this film?
Y : The biggest challenge was the process of discovering the story during filming, which was finally realised only in the editing stage.

J : Do you intend to make more and what are some of the ideas you have in mind?
Y : Yes, I hope to make more feature length films about everyday life in Singapore.
J : What are the top 5 movies you wish you'd made? (This is just a fun question, please feel free to not take it TOO seriously or intensely. And note: it's top 5 movies you WISH YOU MADE, not top 5 fave movies!)
Y : Top five movies I wished I made
1) Cafe Lumiere
2) Flight of the Red Balloon
3) Tokyo Story
4) The Sacrifice
5) Three Times

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