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Stuck "In Between Floors"

Writer: Erny Suzira


Alvin Wong and Dawn Cheong, the main characters of "In Between Floors".

"In Between Floors" is a dialogue-driven film directed by Bernice Low which also serves as her directorial debut. The film was originally titled "Between Floors" but was then changed to "In Between Floors" due to another American independent film that had already used the title.

The director explained that the film was called "In Between Floors" not only because of its literal situation of an elevator stuck in between floors, but also an underlying meaning where it represents the idea of being out of your comfort zone, because when you are in between floors, you are neither here nor there. Thus, the concept can be applied to both of the protagonists of the film since they are stuck in an elevator as two opposite individuals who do not normally communicate or interact with one another on a typical day, hence putting them out of their comfort zone.

"In Between Floors" stars Alvin Wong and Dawn Cheong as the two very different individuals derived from the common Chinese stereotype; an Ah Beng and a Banana, who both get stuck in an elevator and are forced to communicate. Cinema Online met the pair to ask them a few questions on how they managed to portray their stereotypes on screen.

Hi Alvin and Dawn! Can you tell us more about your roles for "In Between Floors"?

Alvin: I am your regular everyday guy. The typical Chinese guy that you see every day. But he is not so Chinese to the point that he cannot speak English at all. He is a Chinese educated guy that went to a primary Chinese school who probably switched to a catholic school in high school and then studied accountancy in university. He is an evolved Ah Beng in a sense that he has a little English knowledge. Also, I am a water filter seller with an accountancy degree in this movie.

Dawn: Her name is Sharon Tong, she is a 'ghost tweeter' and she writes tweets for other people, nothing political, just fun stuff. She lived overseas for many years and finally came back to Malaysia, which is why she is a Banana. She can be quite high strung and on-the-goal kind of girl. She is someone who has a list of things that she needs to do at the end of the day. She is also a regular person that you see who hangs out with friends after work for a glass of wine or maybe a cup of coffee.

Since the two characters are so stereotypical, do you both enjoy playing it?
Alvin:
To be honest, to me this role is not much fun because I am pretty much myself. But I enjoy the dynamics a lot. The dynamics of meeting her, the cultural clash, how we both take a peek into each other's world, I love that, but character wise, I am okay, it is like playing myself.

Dawn: Well, I think what Bernice did is really smart, she is a new director, so, she is the one who wrote and directed this movie. She purposely finds actors who are similar to the characters that they played and I think regular characters are very interesting because what we are doing is like taking a microscope and zooming in to the everyday people and finding out how their lives are like, instead of seeing the character in a very shallow way. So this film is specifically about two different people in society which we see every day but we don't really invest on these characters in real life.


Alvin and Dawn as Kenth and Sharon; two individuals that cannot communicate.

How was it like shooting this movie? Since it was a shot in a pretty short time span of only four days...
Alvin:
Well to begin with; this was the first movie that I acted in where I am in every single scene. There are not much of breaks or intervals during the shoot and the longest break I had would be for lunch or dinner.

Dawn: I think it was quite a rush, but this is the most organised shoot I have ever been on. There are pros and cons to this; one of the pros is that we were only shooting in one place the whole time. Because it is such a small place, everything is within earshot. So, it was very organised.

Dawn: Because we knew that we only had four days, the biggest thing that we were fighting were with the time and sound. These two were a bit of a problem for us.

I also think Bernice is very structured. For example when it rains, she would film other things, it is not like we would be taking a break. So when one thing fell apart, we would bring in another scene. We'll do this scene while we wait for the other scene.

So most of the shooting takes place inside an elevator?
Alvin: Ninety percent of it.
Dawn: I think it was ninety-five percent.

Are there any particular scenes that you find memorable?
Alvin:
Yeah, there is this loop. There is this one line that Dawn kept getting wrong. It is like she is in the loop of wrong grammar. I will never forget that loop.

Dawn: It happened twice. I don't even know why I kept saying the wrong line.

Alvin: Yeah, she knew it was wrong but she kept on doing it.

Will there be a sequel to this film and will the both of you return for the sequel?
Bernice:
We talked about it actually. The idea that we have for the sequel is have them both play the opposites of their stereotype in this film. So, same situation, but they play completely opposite people, Alvin becomes the Banana and Dawn becomes the Ah Lian.

Dawn: There are some details in the sequel which I think is quite genius.

Alvin: Though we're still deciding where we are going to be stuck at.

Bernice: If we really do the sequel, I would definitely make Dawn learn Cantonese.

Alvin: You have to learn how to selfie too and every right angle.


Alvin as a guy with a "Captain America" shield and Dawn as a cow girl with a teapot?

What was it like working with Bernice?
Dawn:
I think it is very important to acknowledge your director and writer because you don't get this as an actor especially in Malaysia, where you get to work with the writer and director. Writers have their own ideas, but it is the emotional journey of the character that sometimes I feel some writers don't know how to get. They end up writing a whole lot instead of just observing what broken and full dialogues sounds like, what conflict sounds like from different characters, and not just the ideas they are fighting about. How you express or write these dialogues say a lot about your characters and I think a lot of writers don't really have that, they just think about the vision and message but not the character. Thus, I think the only people who can express that are the actors because they are the ones who are going to play these characters. So I think what Bernice did was really smart and risky, because it is up to us and our input into her script, and I think that's very brave of her to let go of the script.

Since you're done with this film, what projects are you both currently working on right now?
Dawn:
I'm in a contract where I am not supposed to reveal.

Alvin: I'm shooting a very long Chinese drama and the shoot is going to go on until mid-January. It is a very interesting show about five persons who happen to be at the same place at the same time and get struck by lightning, causing their souls to be swapped. So in this drama, I play a gangster and an ex-convict, but after the lightning strikes, a soul of a girl gets into my body. Also, my soul goes into the body of a fifty-year-old aunty.

Who would be the last person you would want to be stuck in an elevator with?
Dawn:
Probably a schizophrenic. I am petrified of mental illness. It is my biggest fear. So if I am stuck with someone with a mental illness, it would freak me out. I would die. No offense.

Alvin: Maybe somebody who has no physical existence. Imagine you are in an elevator, alone, and you hear someone whispering, "Hey dude, can you see me?".

Thank you for having this interview with us, we wish both of you the best of luck!
Dawn:
It is our pleasure, thank you too.

Alvin: Thank you and all the best to you too.


Cinema Online, 24 November 2014

Related Movies:
In Between Floors (27 Nov 2014)

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