10 minutes with Li Nanxing at the DVD launch of 'The Ultimate Winner'

Li Nanxing, youthful as ever

TV veteran Li Nanxing and a bevy of other familiar Channel 8 stars stirred up some human traffic at the new Nex Mall at Serangoon. They were there to launch the DVD of Nanxing's recent film 'The Ultimate Winner'. Despite his age, Nanxing still looks in his 30s and more tanned than usual, almost like a mark of the directorial achievement on his own skin. For the fans out there who can't get enough of Nanxing and the other stars, here is what we captured from the event. For those who want to get a quick peek into the mind of Li Nanxing the director, I (Jeremy) sat down with him for a 1-1 interview. Here it is....

Can't decide if there were more DVDs in the shop or humans
'So many stars to get autographs from, who to start from?'

Deep in thought: Can you feel his directorial aura?

Gracious moments: Constance Song, Nanxing's co-star was a hit too

Another shot of 'everlasting youth' written all over Nanxing

Nanxing takes to directing his fans as well

Jeremy (J): What’s the difference between being an actor and director?

Nanxing (N): The difference is that as a director, you need to look at everything, the big picture, from the actors down to the props. You are basically responsible for everything and it’s a big responsibility. Your team and your actors need to know exactly what you want and what you envision. And you need to communicate that.

And when the product is out, you face the judgement and bear the responsibility for whether it turns out good or bad. And you need to account for the artistic choices and direction you chose for your film.

J: Is this your first time being a director?

N: Yes first time. Never directed, even on TV before.

J: What are your greatest joys of being a director?

N: Haha, I feel more pressure than pleasure! (laughs). I guess the joy comes when you finish the entire piece of work and as you watch it before you, you feel a sense of accomplishment – what you have envisioned has materialised. Of course, I can’t say The Ultimate Winner is a perfect piece of work. There are plusses and minuses. I may lack the experience and the perspective of an experienced director. I must say I gave myself a lot of pressure so there were occasions during the production when I could decide fully what I wanted. There were also times I was overly ambitious but only coming to realise that my team may not have been able to deliver.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was having to condense a scene or story into a short span of time. Back when I was doing TV, there was more airtime and a full 10-minute gambling scene could be presented. You had time and space to give the audience a head and a tail but in film, you do not have the luxury of time and if you drag, the audience will be bored. They will then tell you they prefer to watch my drama serials. So you need to tell the story in a short span of time. So I made it a point to try to achieve that, which I admit was very challenging.

J: Why did you choose the topic of gambling?

N: Well we have 2 IRs and it has brought to us more drama in our lives and this you can easily get a sense of it by just flipping the papers. So in fact, this movie has a message. It is telling you gambling is a game you can control and you should know where to draw the line and not be lost in greed. Humans being humans get carried away easily. A person who does not normally gamble can be lured into gambling by stories from the papers about how so and so could earn loads from just a $50 bill. So people get tempted easily.

There is a saying that losing is a privilege and winning is a trap. If you are not careful, you can fall easily into this trap. You will get lost and think you are on a lucky streak and not know where to draw the line. But by the time they know where, it may be a little too late. So we to tell our audience to ‘know where your limits are’.

J: What are the biggest challenges in filmmaking in Singapore?

N: It was very expensive to make a film, especially in terms of locations and equipment. There is always a time limit working against you in Singapore. They only give you 8 hours a day to shoot or if you overrun, maybe 10 hours. So costs of production are high.

J: Compared to overseas?

N: Yes, production costs are lower overseas. Anyway, this is how I see it. Many locations gave me huge time constraints, telling me this space is only available for this span of time, if you miss, you need to wait for another two weeks. It was something I could lose sleep over!

J: So how long did you take to shoot this film?

N: 23 days. But there were long days we had.

J: Any last words for our readers and why they should get themselves a copy of 'The Ultimate Winner'?

N: As mentioned, the movie has a message. That we all need to know our limits and not fall into the gambling trap. So we hope that we can share this through the movie.
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