STOP10 Nov 2017: 'Falling' by Tang Kang Sheng

Love songs are a time-honoured tradition, and songs about falling out of love and breaking up are just the other side of the coin. As The Eagles sang with lyrical succinctness, "There was no final scene, no frozen frame. I just watched it slowly fade away." 

One of nine Singapore films featured in the Citizen Cinema section of the upcoming FreedomFilmFest 2017, Falling centres around the final scenes of a relationship and the couple coming to terms with their break up.

SINdie spoke with the team behind Falling: director Kang Sheng, writer Wei Ting and producer Sin Yee.

'Falling' focuses on a couple who are struggling to come to terms with their break up. What inspired you and your writer to tackle this storyline? 

Wei Ting: Having been through some break ups, I was captivated by how a person can be forced to confront with so many complex emotions and factors in a relationship over the span of a single night. 

With the pressure of a ticking clock, we are often forced to come to an agreement even when there isn't a simple one. Amidst the emotional chaos, the day still has to break and life carries on. Writing this was a way to come to terms with it myself. 

Kang Sheng: When Wei Ting brought the idea to me, the fact that it featured two girls breaking up concerned me as I was afraid that I might have a very "male gaze" upon the film, also the same-gender relationship topic had been done in so many different ways already. 

But working with her on the script I found that my personal way into the story was the idea of the relationship breaking down from very fundamental differences within each other that neither characters could reconcile with and not due to their sexuality. 

The harder both fought for the relationship was the very reason they were pushing each other apart and this was something I identified with. 

How was the production process and what are some of the challenges you faced? 

Sin Yee: We spent a good 80% of our pre-production on casting. The characters from the script had a very specific and delicate vibe so it was a very casting process. 

When we finally managed to cast Felicia and Zhi Qi, they were unfamiliar with each other. We wanted to make sure that the romantic relationship was believable and genuine, so we put in a lot of effort building their chemistry and I would like to believe that our hard work paid off to a large extent. 

Making a film on the side is definitely not as easy. Everyone in the team had their own work schedules and it took a lot of understanding and compromise for our production timeline to work. We had to shoot overnight and it was more stressful and tiring especially after a long day at work. 

We made it happen by feeding on each other's energy and positivity. Also most importantly to have trust and faith in each other as well. 

Kang Sheng: The choice to do the film in long takes posed a great challenge to the stamina on both the actresses and the crew, this was deliberate so that audiences would spend as much in real time with the characters as possible. 

We had booked the cheapest chalet for the actresses to bond them and also rehearse the script plus improvise as much because when it got to set it was like race to beat the sunrise. I am really grateful for the cast and crew that pulled this through together with me.

Is there a certain mood you are going for in the film? Do you think you achieved it? 

Kang Sheng: My previous film was largely improvisational and therefore for this film I still wanted an authentic feel but more calculated in nature. I wanted to capture the confusion along with the never ending debate during a break up that was reflected in the script. How vulnerable you truly feel and how lonely the city becomes in those moments. 

I would like to say that I did not manage to achieve all that I had set out to do, it still reflects my inexperience with the medium. It is a great learning experience when I share the film with people and they give me their feedback and critique. 

Who and what are some of your filmic inspirations (directors, movies, etc)? 

Kang Sheng: Richard Linklater, Mike Leigh, Joe Sandberg and John Hughes are definitely inspirations. I remember when I saw Art of Flirting by Kan Lume it really reshaped the way I saw film-making as well. 

I am going to keep it brief because if I keep going on this response is going to be longer than the entire interview combined. 

Could you share what sparked your interest in exploring the fractures within human connections and the exploration of the perception of memory in your films? 

Kang Sheng: I'm someone who is quite a "woodblock" to be honest. Over the years after experiences with failed romances or friendships, in order to cope I became very curious in understanding the accountability people hold towards one another and how it sometimes lead to an expiry in that connection. 

How we can fall out over a tiny misunderstanding and revisit years later to realise that each other's perception of that incident is totally different. To put it simply, making films of such nature is a way for me to make sense of the world around me. Unless my next experience is racing fast cars through the streets of Singapore then that's a different story.

Catch Falling on 12th November at The Projector under Citizen Cinema The event is free. Registration is here

Here is the program schedule for FreedomFilmFest 2017

Nov 11, Sat
2.00 - 4.00 pm An insignificant Man (India)
4.20 - 5.00 pm Sittwe (Myanmar))
5.30 - 7.00 pm Red Clothes (Cambodia)
7.40 - 10.00 pm  Selfie with the Prime Minister, Diary for Prasana, The Hills & the Sea (Malaysia)
Nov 12, Sun
2.00 - 5.00 pm Citizen Cinema (9 selected Singapore shirt films & awards ceremony)
5.15 - 6.00 pm Panel Discussion: Film Censorship in Singapore: A Dialogue

Interview by Jacqueline Lee

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