A complete interview with Yiwen Cao
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to director Yiwen Cao for taking the time to answer our questions.
Whole team of Liverpool Indie Awards is wishing you the very best in all your future projects. We hope to see more of your exceptional work in the years to come. Thank you once again!
The short film Graduation is a story about how both KOLs’ irresponsible opinions on short videos and Internet companies’ unemployment make a common programmer breakdown. During the epidemic of COVID-19, Internet enterprises used the word “Graduation” to replace “Layoff” to enhance its behavior. And some KOLs asserts that “Programmers are easy to make a million dollars.” to draw people’s attention. Unluckily, their irresponsible words cheated the main role’s mother, and she began to be unsatisfied with her child. In the end, the pure programmer can’t stand loneliness and failure then die. Until the last time, he/she still dreams of being rehired. That’s pathetic. At the very beginning, Miss Hong Hong wanted to create a story to show the conflicts between short videos and real lives. I thought this kind of stories may bring some positive power or deep thinking to audience. Some people may think it’s helpful. So we did brainstorm then made it.
No matter we make features or shorts, the most significant target is to heal audience, in other words, to give them energy. We might not use regular ways like saying some positive words or show some happy stories directly. Oppositely, we often do some cruel things to our main roles. And we often leave open endings. Though the main role’s life is tough, it not the end. Just like a theory in ancient China about “Yin and Yang”. To some degree, you can regard Yang as the positive power and Yin is the negative one. These two kinds of powers are always changing. Sometimes one of them may take 90% of the space, sometimes half to half, and sometimes one only takes may just 1%. But they always both exists, and no one can absolutely “kill” the other. Yin and Yang are always active to keep the space balance. Thus, there is also not 100% despair. The solution depends on how you regard the thing and what’s your expectation. Last but not at least, this time in Graduation, I used a main role who may hard to be distinguished gender. We did it on purpose. Because we want to tell audience that appearance doesn’t matter. No matter what you like, we are all human being. And we are under the same pressure. It’s not necessary to definite people too clearly.
Generally, a film making team is like a body: writer is the brain, which can produce the story; director is the heart, which is always energetic; cinematographers are eyes, to record what happened; and producer is the blood circulatory system, who organizes and sends nutrition to the whole body… However, the most important part is not any one of them. Without oxygen, though the body have every single cell, it can’t work. And audience is the oxygen, which can decide the body lives or dies. Thus, to ensure a project’s success, I should always think about what audiences are thinking, to give something that they may can benefit.
To be honest, the biggest challenge always confuses me is how to approach more and more audiences. As filmmakers, we are obligated to overcome any difficulty to finish projects. Only if you always keep audience in your mind and insist to produce films which can give people mental power, your determination will help you solve any negative situation.
Since the short film Graduation is almost a sole act play, we use the way of one-take in every scene to record actress’ performance. Luckily, workmates and I cooperate smoothly in sets. And I am proud of my workmates ’performance.
Every time we try our best to shoot films, but we always feel regret about something have already happened. Flawlessness is unavoidable. This time, our team just made an experimental short. And I hope that there would be more and more skillful people, especially independent and creative girls to join us, to make a long feature.
For this question, I want to introduce my next project for you. It is a feature, about how a common girl realizes that the social pressure is unbearable then fight for people who suffer the similar situation with her. Though it is 21st Century, there are still many girls cannot get educated and choose whom they marry with. According to the estimation of United Nations Children’s Fund, there are more than 6.5 billion girls under 18 ages have children marriages. And this figure will increase around 150 million every year. We believe that women can choose their marriages absolutely based on their own thoughts is a significant symbol of gender equality. Thus, we want to make films to encourage people who suffer a lot to be themselves and change their lives.
Before being a director, please be a decent and responsible person. Many people claims that they love films. But most of them just want to be rich and famous. In the deep of their hearts, they just love money. And they even don’t know what spirits they would like to convey to audience. This industry already has too many people who are eager to get quick success. I hope new directors can explore their inner heart first: to find what kind of spirit or mental power they want to convey to audience, then keep this thought to their soul, and have the courage to overcome every difficulty. Life is a marathon, fame and money are just some snacks supplied from pavilions beside lanes. The purpose of setting those pavilions is encouraging people to keep running. But most people are indulged in them until they die. How muddled and pathetic they are! As directors, you can use your films to help audience awaken and return to the right lane. Thus, directors should be decent and responsible people at first, then make films to encourage others.
This time is very easy, because I am the leading actress. And the short film is almost a sole play. But according to my previous experience, I prefer to do strict casting when selecting actors, so it can save time when shooting. And I would like to let actors do rehearsal before the formal acting. Thus, we can change actors to more suitable roles.
Since the story is a little heavy, I use suspensible sound design to indicate the main role’s pressure’s changing. So, audience can feel the same feeling and understand why the main role collapses.
That’s a good question. And please allow me to answer it by an impromptu poem:
Some born in morning, some die at night.
Snowflake spins a second, blossom pink with smile.
Winter doom to encounter, wind bites thy eyes.
Whoever immerses in criticism, time will tell why.