James Lee and his three directors – (L-R) Edmund Yeo with Cinnamon Lion, Leroy Low and Ng Ken Kin.
Local filmmakers Leroy Low, Edmund Yeo and Ng Ken Kin sat with Cinema Online for an exclusive interview on their horror shorts that will be featured in the omnibus short film "3 Doors Of Horrors". The three shorts, "I Miss You Two", "Floating Sun" and "Horror Mission" are directed by Leroy, Edmund and Ng respectively. Leroy is best known for directing cinematic music videos for popular local artists such as Vchuan, PinkTan, Kit Teo and Ke Qing. Edmund was the youngest Malaysian director selected for the Venice film festival for his film "Kingyo" in 2009 and went on to win various awards at film festivals. As for Ng, he is a regular in the Malaysian TV industry.
Aside from these nuggets of information, we ask the filmmakers to tell us more about their horror shorts, how they were inspired, and their favourite horror films.
Cinema Online's interview with Leroy Low, Edmund Yeo and Ng Ken Kin was conducted at Cinema Online's HQ on 15 August 2013.
Can you tell us a little about your short films?
Leroy: Basically the storyline for "I Miss You Two" was inspired by a friend of mine. This happened when he was in primary school. The storyline is set in a secondary school because it was hard to find primary school children to star in the film. This guy is sleeping in a dark classroom. Suddenly, two girls come to ask for his help to accompany them to their classroom to get something, and when the three of them arrived at the classroom something happened.
Ng: "Horror Mission" is about a film production that goes awry when the actress playing the ghost is possessed.
Edmund: "Floating Sun" is about this beautiful woman writer who writes the story based on this Form 6 friend of hers who drowned in an accident. So when she starts writing this story, she had visions of her drowned friend and also has flashbacks of her past when they were together.
How did you come up with the ideas for this film?
N: I think being in the industry we hear a lot of spooky stories on set. I personally have never encountered any of that before and I find these stories interesting. I think that this is one way to pay tribute to the industry by telling these stories.
E: I got it from this Japanese short story that I read couple of years back. I've been staying in Japan for the last few years, so my inspiration usually comes from Japanese literature; however I read them in English, because my Japanese is not that good. I also got the idea from old school horror films like "The Shining" and "Rosemary's Baby". I don't really think that I'm trying to tell a horror story because it might not be even that scary [Laughs]. It's more like a love story and story of loneliness and delusions, packaged with horror elements.
Director for "I Miss You Two", Leroy Low.
Some of the cast in the horror shots are quite well-known. How did you decide on whom to cast?
L: Actually the two girls we casted were from a casting manager who introduced me to them. They are really just normal teenagers. Their faces were really suitable for the short because they looked really ghostly, but they won't be acting as a ghost in my story. The main lead was casted from Facebook, he is quite famous among the teenagers, and does acting in Sarawak. Then there is pop singer Nick Chung, who is quite famous in Malaysia and is also from Sarawak.
N: Tommy Kuan and Charlene Meng is currently in this TV2 sitcom called "88 Kopitiam" and I think they have very good chemistry, because in the sitcom they play husband and wife. So I was thinking it would be quite cool to have them to play the lead roles because I really like their chemistry. For Candy, the actress who is being possessed has to be bigger than Charlene, and Amelia, who has a theatre background, is quite a tall girl and I knew she will be perfect for the role. I wanted somebody bigger than Charlene so that we can see that she's very intimidating.
E: My film has a mixture of established TV and film actors like Steve Yap and Emily Lim. I also mixed in models/actresses like Daphne Low and Candy Lee. I have worked with Candy before in a short film I produced last year, but the others I've never worked with before. Despite the fact that most of them are veterans as they have been in a lot of TV stuff and films, they haven't had the chance to showcase themselves as not too many of us watch local TV series. At first, I thought since this was for YouTube, they would not take projects like this because YouTube filmmakers are more interested in making viral videos, but for me I wanted to make an actual short film, so I enlisted their help, and they read the script and they liked it.
Director for "Floating Sun", Edmund Yeo.
So what made you want to go into filming?
L: I think it's because I like to watch movies and I want to tell my own stories as I love to create stories. My favourite subject was writing. I also prefer to draw, and when I was a child I hoped to become a comic book artist but instead I became a storyboard artist.
N: As for me, I really enjoyed watching movies since I was young and I got into my teens I realize I really like art, but I don't have any other skills. I can't play instruments, I can't draw, I can't do anything, so this is one way for me to be in art.
E: My story is pretty much the same. I mean, you wouldn't want to be a director if you don't like movies right? I've been in love with cinema since I was a kid watching films with my parents. Maybe I've always been curious, even from young to my teens I've been watching films that are not in the cinema. Like there was this time, I was thirteen and I was watching "Casablanca" every weekend and I was memorizing all the lines. I can't remember when was it that I didn't want to be a director, even during Standard One, I was this crazy fat boy who went around saying that I want to be a film director. To be practical, it seems like a difficult job and a faraway dream that you cannot get. It so lonely to be in love with cinema, but that's my only way to escape and of course I also like to write, so even if I can't be a filmmaker maybe I can be novelist. Thanks to technology and fate, I end up making films and writing my own stuff.
Director for "I Miss You Two", Leroy Low.
Leroy, previously you were a director of few music videos, so what was it like directing a horror film this time?
L: Basically at the beginning, I was just doing short films to experiment, such as music videos. It came to a point where I wanted to take on new challenges, so I decided to try making a short horror film. Maybe next time I would try to do an action film or some science fiction. But no matter what I'm filming, I try to incorporate a message in them. Yes, filming a music video and horror film has its differences, mainly that music videos you have beautiful people running around, crying and lip-synching, but not much.
What are your upcoming plans? Any projects lined up for you guys after this?
L: No, I'm just looking for investors! [Laughs]
E: Feature length films which I will be producing with my partner. We will start shooting in October. As for my own, I might want to do them in December or January, if I get the money. For the time being I'm just writing.
What are your favourite horror films?
L: The current people's favourite, "The Conjuring". I have watched for three times already.
N: I think mine would be "The Shining"; it's just a really brilliant masterpiece. I also like zombie films by George A. Romero.
E: I'm not really a fan of horror movies! [Laughs] I watch almost every kind of film except for horror. I do watch horror movies when I hear rave reviews about them, such as "The Conjuring". Between comedy and horror, I prefer to watch comedy because it makes you feel good.
"3 Doors Of Horrors" will premiere on the Doghouse73 Pictures YouTube channel on 17 August at 8pm!
Cinema Online, 16 August 2013