Action, Cut, Reprise! An interview with Stanley Xu on his short film 'Reprise'


Premiered in the Wide Angle - Asian short film competition at the 24th Busan International Film Festival, Reprise, by Singapore filmmaker Stanley Xu, is one of those double-layered dramas that toy with role play and blur the lines between real life and reel life. Pardon the pun, Reprise is quite a cliché but with palatable dialogue. A boy and a girl who were actually lovers in the past find themselves having to role play a break-up. Nuanced acting and eye candy lift this film above its tired concept, sparing you from wanting to say 'CUT'. 

Here is our interview with Stanley on his short film.

Is this short film based on a personal experience on set? 

Nope, it was loosely based on a personal experience I had when I was attending the acting classes in my film school. One of the assignment was to act out a moment based on our real life past experience. However when I try to recall moments from the past, a lot of the details are actually uncertain. Also, those details seem to be malleable as they changes slightly every time based on my emotional state when I recalled them. This observation made me realised that memories are very subjective and are not fully real, and similar to fiction particularly cinema, both are just our own adaptations from reality. 


Did you direct the actors closely or were they given a lot of room to improvise? 

I directed them quite closely as we were only given very limited time to film on that location. However during the rehearsal, I gave them a few scenarios to improvise on to build on their characters’ past relationship and memories. 

The director cut the actress in the middle of her takes because she was presumably overdoing it. But when she kissed her co-actor, I am surprised the director did not cut the take. Why is that so? 

The director cut the actress not because she was overdoing it. The first NG was because she didn’t continue her lines. The second NG was because she said a line that’s not written in the script. The third NG was because the hug was too awkward. And during the last take, when the actress’s real life emotions and memories began to merge with the scene she was performing, the actress and the character sort of become one. Hence, there are different possibilities for the audiences’ interpretation for that last take as to whether is it a filming of a scene, or is it her memory. 


I am actually more interested in the director character’s directorial vision in the film than the two actors. Can you share a bit about what kind of love story this ‘director’ was trying to achieve? 

Nothing special in particular, he’s just a young director trying to make a cliché romantic love story that’s all. 

Where are these actors from? Are they your course mates? 

Nope, we selected 22 out of 100+ applicants for the audition from an open casting call we’d posted on Facebook, before finally choosing our final 2 main leads. 

Interview by Varun Naidu

Reprise 漣漪 - Teaser from Stanley Xu Ruiyang 許瑞洋 on Vimeo.

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