Production Talk - '7th July' by Kimberly Leng

It began with telling a story with two women. On a random day of the year, what would one be expecting out from the ordinary lives of two women? Inspired by a deaf friend who raises a hearing child on her own, 7th of July was thus born.

In what circumstances was this film conceived?
It was an academic requirement that this film was conceived. I chose to tell a story from a hearing-impaired mother's perspective because I wonder what it must be like to raise a child as a handicapped mother raising a child who was not handicapped. How would they deal with the psychological, physical and social ramifications of such a unique arrangement? Would they feel like they would have to overcompensate on their physical inadequacies? And what would be the dynamics of a relationship of this particular kind? Parental love can be expressed in many ways but what I was interested in was specifically how this particular character would express her love for her daughter. I often wondered how it would feel like sleeping in bed with the prospect of never being able to hear your child calling for you. I could go on and on, but at the end of the day, I could only make a short film on this subject matter and hence the story I wanted to tell had to be considerably simplified.

So, how did you go about writing this script?
We began working with several treatments as the biggest challenge was simplifying the story with such a complex subject that is being targeted on. Upon locking down our final treatment, Jeannie Chia the writer began working on the script which was further developed as we continue to research on the deaf society such as meeting with an Audiologist who assisted us on perceiving the deaf world and reading up various articles on true stories of CODA, Children of Deaf Adult. The research was intense as we both had to discover a world that was not within our boundaries to begin with.

I must say it's hard to miss the fact that you have gotten such a stellar cast, featuring Yeo Yann Yann, as one of your leads! So how did you go about casting for 7th July?
She was god sent to this film. Yann Yann chanced upon the Casting call in Lasalle and the next thing we knew, she nailed the audition and was on board with us in this production. Casting for the deaf mother was certainly the biggest challenge for the film as it was not easy for the actor to deliver a sensitive yet realistic and close to heart character of a deaf person. From signing to singing with a deaf voice, the chosen actor must go through an intensive series of rehearsals and workshops to deliver a natural performance of a deaf character like Lyna. I must say I am very grateful that Yann Yann took the time to participate with me in this as she was also juggling with another rehearsal at the same time.

Being dubbed as "Probably the most sentimentally-engaging film of the showcase", could you share more about what goes behind the scenes which constituted to that?
Spontaneity and improvisation from the cast would probably be the catalytic factor that drove the scenes within the film to a different dimension.

How was this film made possible?
The Puttnam School of Film from Lasalle which groomed everyone of us into capable filmmaking students gave us the opportunity to create this film and of course, the support of the cast, crew and sponsors which gave us their time and energy for this production.

What were your biggest challenges you've met during production and how did you managed to overcome them?
Time and cast constraints, as we had to shoot day scenes in a location which was mainly available only at night for us. We also had to plan the shoot schedule strategically as both our lead actors have their own respective rehearsals to attend. With the help of our very capable team mates during pre-production, things just fall into place on its own as very thorough planning really promises a smooth shoot throughout the production.

Any interesting anecdotes to share about the production?
Battling with 40 cockroaches in the middle of the night while shooting on set and having to pray everyday to ensure good weather and a smooth shoot. Overall, we've been really blessed in many ways throughout this shoot.

How do you feel after graduating with your thesis film?
Great sense of achievement and feeling really relieved.

Any future plans?
Taking 7th of July to the film festival circuit and if another lucky day comes by,perhaps someone might like to further develop this film and bring this short film to the next level!

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