Production Talk: I Have Loved (Lai Weijie & Elizabeth Wijaya)

Directed by Elizabeth Wijaya & Lai Weijie
Produced by Tan Bee Thiam & Sherman Lai
Country of production: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Production Company: 13 Little Pictures, E&W Films

Marie has had a whirlwind romance with Harold, the older gentleman who has swept her off her feet. Now married, they are on honeymoon in Cambodia. But things do not go as planned. Over the years, Marie returns alone to come to terms with what happened.

What was the inspiration behind I Have Loved?

The idea came about from a trip we took in 2008. We went from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, Sihanouville, Kampot, Kep, Bokor Hill and back to Siem Reap. We decided to set the feature in Siem Reap as we were interested in the paradoxes and dynamics of the interaction between the town and the millennial-old Angkor temples.

It's interesting to read about the metaphors of shooting in Siem Reap in your Director's Statement, accentuated by it intended as a "love note to Cambodia". Sounds like it left lasting impressions along the way?

Cambodia definitely left a lasting impression on us. Its a place you don't forget. We've made some wonderful friends along the way.

Any key takeaway lessons/anecdotes you have learnt from scripting/directing this film?

We learnt how important it was for the script to be clear! Being careful about things like "Ext Day" or "Ext Night" makes the shoot more efficient. In terms of directing, I think we both learnt alot on communicating our ideas. We were really happy with the crew as every member was really committed. We were initially concerned about shooting for three and a half weeks in a foreign country. In the end, we were impressed with how well the team worked together. On some days, even when people were ill, they insisted on being on set and carrying on with the work-- that really touched and motivated us.

I understand that this is also your thesis film for NYU Tisch Asia? How has the journey been and how does it feel to have made it this far?

This was a development of Weijie's thesis short film. The experience of being in Tisch was valuable. The experience is probably still too close to home to really reflect on.

What's next for both for you after 'I have loved'?

We are both currently working full-time, Elizabeth as a teacher and Weijie as a producer. We are starting to develop another project, but it is still in the early stages.
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