Production Talk - 'When Hainan Meets Teochew' by Han Yew Kwang

The director who brought you 18 grams of love now brings you a new unromantic film...

When Hainan Meets Teochew

An unromantic comedy between a ‘womanly’ man and a ‘manly’ woman. A white bra is what first brings them together. What follows involves a deceased sibling, a musical landlord, a crazy ex-girlfriend, a porn DVD, a dumbbell, a headful of blood and a jar of Hainanese kaya.



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Grace (G): Why Hainan and Teochew?
Yew Kwang (YK): This story is based on true characters. I happened to have a friend who is a ‘womanly’ man and another friend, a ‘manly’ woman. When I asked them what is the chance of them falling in love with each other, they said 1%. So I decided to make “When Hainan Meets Teochew”, and get them to play Hainan and Teochew respectively.

Jeremy (J): So.. what are the distinguishing traits between Hainanese and Teochews?
YK: Not distinguishing traits. But there is a saying that the Hainanese make good husbands, as most of them are caring and can cook well. There is also a saying that if you want to eat a fish, eat a kind of Teochew fish. If you want to get a wife, get a Teochew wife, as most of them are pretty.

G: What is your dialect then?
YK: I am a Hainanese!


G: What can fans of "18 grams of love" look forward/expect from this film?
YK: This film is the opposite of “18 Grams of Love”. No beautiful sets. No beautiful cast. No beautiful dialogues. In fact, it is full of “shitty” dialogue. We’re basically trying to challenge the “romantic comedy” genre, and see if it is still an interesting film to watch if all the beautiful elements are missing. Therefore, we’re creating this “unromantic comedy” genre. But both “Hainan” and “18 Grams” have one thing in common – quirkiness.

G: How long did you take to make this film from the time pre-production started?
YK: The process from pre-pro to production took about a little over 2 months - once the key cast agreed to the film, the process involved scripting, deciding the rest of the cast and crew, discussing logistic matters like budget, schedules, props, wardrobes, locations, etc. The production process has been longer - about 7 months.

J:You have an interesting way to share this production with people - I notice you are like doing 'belated-blogging'. Can you explain the reason behind doing this?
YK:One thing that Chee Nien, the film’s producer wanted to do was to document the entire filming process. Unfortunately, when he came up with the idea and time to do so, we were already way ahead on the filming process. Thus the ‘belated-blogging‘ with the dates indicating what happened when.

G: Tell us more about the casting. I understand that the 2 mains are both non-professional actors.
YK: Yes, Lee Chau Min plays Hainan and Tan Hong Chye plays Teochew. They are good friends of ours. Lee is a production manager and Tan is a stylist. We have worked together on lots of projects. And they are really nice and funny! Lee acted in most of my films as a supporting actress, whereas Tan is a first-time actor.

J: Why is it unromantic? Is it the characters? Or the language? Or the premise?
YK: Everything about this film is unromantic. They two characters meet under the most unromantic circumstance, become enemies then friends under the most unromantic situations. Lastly, they talk and behave in the most unromantic manner.

G: What was the biggest challenge faced while producing this film?
YK: Limited (almost no) budget and scheduling.

G: Any interesting anecdote during production?
YK: There seems to be construction going on whenever and wherever we shoot. We are so fed up that we actually incorporated the noise into the script. One character will say “Hey, can you speak louder, can’t you hear there’s construction going on?” Then the other character will shout to reply in order to cover the noise.

G: What are your views on the film industry here in Singapore?
YK: Lack of commercial films & commercial film directors. Only Jack Neo and Kelvin Tong are constantly making commercial films. We need more commercial films for the industry to grow. It can be indie films but it has to be entertaining and have commercial elements. Most filmmakers are making art-house or personal films, myself included.

Look out for the film's release either in the middle or later part of 2010.

Follow the crew and casts' production journey on facebook


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