STOP10 Apr 2017: 'Lullaby' by Stanley Xu

Filmmaker Stanley Xu sought to tell a story about people who are '√≠nvisible' in our lives and looked for inspiration, not in the Home Team, but right at home. We are all guilty of taking some people for granted at home, so this is a film that will remind you to save some time for the people at home and appreciate their presence. Before it's TOO LATE.

Lullaby has competed in a few film festivals including the Hawaii International Film Festival, Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival, the Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival (Philippines). It gets its Singapore premiere this month as you can watch it at the 5th Singapore Chinese Film Festival in from 28 April to 7 May.

Here is his interview with SINdie:

What inspired your film Lullaby? Is it based on real people or experiences?

Lullaby was part of a school assignment in collaboration with Honour Singapore, during my final year in Film, Sound & Video, Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The theme for the assignment was "Honour The Invisible People". All my ideas initially were about the marginalised people, such as immigrants, foreign workers and etc. However, I find those to be too common. Hence, I started to probe deeper, to look closer and reflect on my daily observations.

The inspiration for this film came from my mother, and this film is dedicated to her as well. My mother is gradually ageing. As years past by, I can see that she is becoming physically weaker as compared to her past youthful self. It may not be something major, but to me, just the observation of our loved ones' ageing process is already pretty scary. The thought of what will happen in the end to all human beings (death & mortality), may eventually happen to our loved ones is truly very haunting to me. Hence, I hope that my film reminds us all to to be more appreciative to our loved ones, to not take them for granted, and to cherish our times with them.

What was it like working with your actors? Did they have any prior acting experience?

Both my actors are freelancers with prior acting experience. However, I didn't want to find familiar faces. This is because the last thing I would want is for the audience to recognise the actors, and that automatically alienates the audience with the characters in the film. What I wanted in my film is authenticity. For example, the grandma character, I wanted to find someone that acts like a real grandma, a grandma that behaves as per normal in our everyday life, a grandma that we all can identify and relate with. Ultimately, what I wanted to achieve was for the audience to be able to find reflection of their own grandmothers or children within the film. Hence, to me, authenticity is very crucial in the film.

I really enjoyed the film shoot a lot, mainly because it's just so fun to work with both the actress and the child actor. To be honest, they are the highlight and core of the film, without the both of them, this film wouldn't have work. I let both actress and the child actor to develop their own lines instead of memorising what's had already been written in the script. This is because I think that it would deliver a more authentic and natural performance, and I want them to be free and not be bounded by the script. So what I did was to give them an objective, and then let them react to each other and see how it plays out. Ultimately that works out really well, as I had a lot of surprises coming from the both of them very naturally, which I eventually kept in the final cut of the film.

Tell us more about the filming process. How long did it take? How much did it cost?

The film's budget is about $3000. I spent about a month from conceptualisation to the completion of the script. Finding the kind of old HDB I wanted for the film was not easy. We went to knock on many doors, as well as searching for it on the internet, but to no avail. It's only when we visited our actress house that we realised her place fits perfectly the location that we are looking for. Once we had found our actors and locations, we are set to shoot. The production took about 2 days in total. The post-production took slightly longer, nearing 2 months that includes editing, sound mixing and colour grading.

What do you hope people will take away from Lullaby?

I hope that my film is able to remind us all to be more appreciative towards our loved ones, to not take them for granted, and to cherish our times with them while they are still here with us.

The film will be screened under the Singapore Shorts section of the 5th Singapore Chinese Film Festival 1 May, Monday, 7pm. The screening will be held at the National Museum Gallery Theatre.

Written by Colin Low

For the full list of April 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.
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