Production Talk: 4th SSFA - Ying & Summer by Gladys Ng

Although the 4th SSFA is over, this is a special mention to Ying & Summer by Gladys Ng, which was nominated for Best Fiction, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Performance for this year's SSFA 2013.

Ying & Summer  explores the immigrant experience through the eyes of Ying, a young shy Chinese girl settling in within the urban landscape of Melbourne.  She seems content and free of burdens, yet there is something missing in her self-contained life and she quietly searches for the warmth of a companion.

Is Summer the characters supposed to be Chinese or half-Chinese?
During the script development stage, I'd never planned for the character of Summer to be of any specific ethnicity, although I knew clearly that she had to be a mix of east and west, metaphorically and/or physically. In the case of the film, I think you can say that she is Eurasian.

A romantic crush aside, does the film in its choice of an immigrant character and a supposed native, amount to piece of social observation?

The characters were crafted from a mix of experiences, observations and imagination. It was not my intention to make a film of social commentary but the characters were inspired from real immigrants. The setting, as well, was authentic to my observations of the lifestyles of immigrants.

The identity of Summer is very mysterious. Could you share more about how this character was crafted?
Summer is charismatic and enigmatic. Her character was designed to be mysterious, and that's why Ying is curious to know more about her. She is drawn to Summer, who seemed comfortable and balanced where she is.

The film has a very whimsical, dreamy and creamy look. Could you share about your art direction in the film and what you were trying to achieve?

The look you describe applied to the style we adopted for Ying's apartment, in which, I wanted to express her innocence. When I say innocence, I mean that Ying takes in what she sees for what it is; she is like a blank piece of paper, taking in the world.  The style best represented this emotion quality.

How are the 2 actresses like in real life and how did you get them into the depths of the role?

Jenny is actually really chatty in person. Charlotte is Summer. The both of them are as charming and lovely in person as on screen. They were really easy to work with, perhaps it's the age.

This was the first time I worked with actors around my age group so I felt at ease sharing my ideas and listening to their interpretations. Plus, Jenny and Charlotte are open to trying new things so I could be a little experimental with the directing techniques.

But, at the end of it, they're both really smart girls so it didn't take much for them to understand what I'm trying to say.

Working with Ferdinard, who played the Dumpling Chef, was a fantastic experience too. I thought his performance was underrated. I was really intimidated at first because when we met for the first time, he had already researched and analysed the character in depth. But he was being professional and I learned a lot from him


Thank you, Gladys for sharing your thoughts and production pictures with us!

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