Interview with Chai Yee Wei and Eric Ng from 'I want you'

I want you stars contestants of popular TV talent reality show ‘The Voice of China’ in a fictional plot of young aspiring singers, set in a school campus. Principal photography started in October 2013 in the city of Sanya, Hainan Island and wrapped up in 17.5 days .

We interview Yee Wei and Eric to find out more about their experience working on the film.

Addressed to Chai YW -

‘I want you’ will open in cinemas this March. How do you think the Singaporean audience will respond to the film oppose to the audience in China?

I am not sure how they will respond to the film, as the Voice of China is not even shown on TV here. But what I am sure they will love the music in the film. For their fans, I am sure they will be glad that there are many songs new and old that will bring a smile to their face.

What compelled you to take up directing ‘I want you’, despite being solely engaged as “Director-for-hire” and not being involved in casting, screen writing etc.?

For me, it is the opportunity to work with these group of artists. They are very popular in China, and to be able to work on this level is very exciting for me. A challenge it may be, because they are after all non actors, but the chance to work on the project that is purely a Chinese production with Chinese crew, will be good experience to have.

Only two other Singaporeans (Derrick Loo as Director of Photography and Eric Ng as Music Director) were involved in the production team of ‘I want you’, and thus filming plus post-shooting processes must have been very different from what you have been used to. Would you kindly share with us your experience?

In terms of the process of filmmaking, it is really not that much different. You get the material (script) and you work with what you have (cast, crew, art). You do script analysis, shots list and so on. What’s really challenging was the time given to execute the entire project. We had no rehearsal time, 17.5 days for shoot and only 2 days to get a final cut. The editor wasn’t someone I was familiar with and I didn’t get to have the final say on the final cut. So I didn’t even get to see the final results until the grading process. Many things wasn’t in my hands. 

Did you have to overcome a cultural barrier to direct this well and how did you overcome it?

There was, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal. Just go with the flow. Language wise was something I was worried about initially, but like I said, it didn’t take too long to get into their lingo. 

Having worked on this, what are the differences between what the china audience likes and Singapore audience?

I think eventually, I try to think universal. Emotions are universal, happiness, sadness, disappointments, etc. I wouldn’t say there are that much differences. When making the film, you go with your instinct more often than not and hope it transcends.

You have dabbled in horror, comedy, youth drama, and now, music drama. Which is your personal favourite so far and which genre can we be expecting from you in your next film?

I love to work on anything that interests me, and I have lots of interests! I personally prefer things with a darker tone to it, and I think you will see me returning to dealing with heavier and darker materials in my future works.

Addressed to Eric -

Hi Eric, you mentioned before that you had an epiphany writing Paper Plane, about the difference between a song and a hit song. Could we be so bold as to ask, what was the direction you initially had in mind for the tracks in ‘I want you’?

Simple. I want ALL….the….songs….to be hit songs!

You had only 8 days to arrange 14 songs and write 2 of them. What inspired you during those 8 days that enabled you to accomplish this mean feat?

Passion. Nothing is impossible without it.

How is the song writing for the film different from the ones you usually do?

Another reason what inspired me to work with these guys is I've watched them on the competition and know what they can accomplish, in terms of song writing, there's not much difference as it's a pop music film. 
The only difference I guess is I can write or arrange the songs more musically challenging as I know they will be able to do it well!

"I want you" will be opening in local cinemas come March 2014.
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