A Trip with Mom won Best Short Film - More than $10,000 Award in the 6th Season of MP Film Award Sophie SHUI Writer & Director of Film A Trip with Mom agree to interview with us.
Sophie SHUI, Master of Film, National Taiwan University of Arts. The current screenwriter/director/producer, and the deputy chief executive officer of the Taiwan Film and Cultural Creative Industry Association.
The graduation production "A Trip with Mom" won the first prize of the IM Cross-Strait Youth Film Festival Best Film, the Taipei Film Awards Best Actress Award, the Taiwan International Women's Film Festival Jury Award, and the Oscar-qualified 23rd The Reel Sisters Film Festival. Best short film first prize, and won the 40th Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival (Canadian Screen Qualification Award) "Narrative Jury's Stellar Award" first prize.
About the Film: Synopsis: A Trip with Mom Film Synopsis:
“A Trip with Mom” describes a middle-aged Xia Changming in the countryside. In order to take care of his 80-year-old demented and disabled mother, he lost his job. Under multiple pressures, he pretended to take a trip with his mother but abandoned his mother on the train.
This production is a short film with a realistic style profiling family affection. In this creation of this work, some of the content is based on the personal experience of serving as a caregiver for three times, adapted from the life story of a real case. Through a case of a mother with severe dementia in the play, I want to discuss the double social and economic disadvantages, the experience of caring in a single parent family, and the challenges of long-term care for dementia sufferers. The whole film takes the caregiver’s perspective as the narrative point of view. The main focus is on the internal and external pressures of full-time caregivers, including physical and psychological exhaustion and the economic and social difficulties of the family. It also addresses the conflict between husband and wife.
This film is not intended to deny the goodness and badness of human nature nor meant to highlight the incapability of the government in the making of long-term care policy. Instead, it discusses the impact on the family and the humanity trials behind the rapidly increasing dementia and long-term care problems in an aging society. It attempts to reflect the deep helpless fears and painful desires of people in the tragical ending of abandoned human relations, and bring out the dilemma of the people at the bottom of the society in the face of a long and difficult process of care.
Trailer of "A Trip with Mom"
What was your drive behind making this film?
Sophie SHUI: Because I am much older than my classmates, I have heard many stories of sadness and death. In addition, I have experienced three long-term experiences in caring for my family, and I am particularly touched by the pressure and difficulties faced by caregivers.
How you feel when you are awarded with the MP FILM AWARD Award?
Sophie SHUI: I feel very happy, very honorable, and it is a great encouragement to me.It makes me more sure to insist on filminguntil I couldn't make it.
Can you tell us about the greatest moment during shooting this film?
Sophie SHUI: Being a grandmother actress in her 80s, on a hot day, she followed me for 14 hours of filming, not to mention tired, and I was very touched.
When the actor wanted to be realistic in his performance, he actively asked the extras to hit him on the cheek with a folder, over and over again, without fear of pain, which also touched me.
There are also the staff, who only make a little money, but work every day from morning to night. Their professionalism and dedication also impressed me.
How rigorously did you stick to the script while shooting?
Sophie SHUI: When I am shooting, if there is a problem with the scene or the photographic equipment that cannot be as originally expected, I will adjust the strain flexibly so as not to affect the entire complete shooting plan.
But in the necessary plot details, key dialogues and actor performance, I have to overcome all difficulties and stick to it.
Because the compromises during the shooting were not handled well,when editing afterwards, I will find that some parts are not good enough, which will make me very regretful.
Where there any onset problems During the filming of the film & how did you deal with it?
Sophie SHUI: The hardest part of the film is the abandonment of the mother at the train station. Because the shuttle bus to Suao runs once an hour, it stays for 5 minutes at a time (because it is the starting station, the longest stay), Also, the passengers on the train and on the platform are not the actors arranged by us.
Passengers at the scene are not controlled, as long as one person peeks at the camera, it must be repeated. In addition, the Taiwan Railways only promised to borrow the platform for us to shoot, and it was not possible to shoot in the carriages, so the whole scene adopted a documentary filming method, using the least manpower andstreamlined equipment to get on the car for sneak shots. During the period, we were always worried about being caught.
When the actors are looking at each other, I hope that the eyes of the mother will have multiple levels of emotional expression from the expectation, then the unbelievable, and frightened, to the disappointment and sadness after the final understanding. The first three times of looking at each other did not capture the eyes.
Until the fourth train, we asked the actors to locate and look at each other for one minute, and then take a long shot for this minute of looking at each other until the eyes were captured.
Do you have any advice for young filmmaker out there? Or like yourself?
Sophie SHUI: Don't be afraid of failure, stand up after failure. Don't be afraid of loneliness, loneliness is best for thinking and creating.
Always be curious, always humble, keep learning, keep enthusiasm, keep the original intention, and then put it into action and persevere.
Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful ilmmaker?
A. I don't think people have to go to film school to study in order to become a good director.
However, for me who do not know how to make movies or write scripts, I only started studying after entering the Film Institute of National Taiwan University of the Arts, so I personally affirm the help of professional institutions and film education.
I am very fortunate that I have entered the National Taiwan University of Arts. The most important help is to go beyond the technical level and improve one's narrative and aesthetic appreciation ability.
Which film has inspired you the most?
Sophie SHUI: This is a biographical film directed byHou Hsiao-Hsien. His films always tell the story plainly and plainly, showing us the nostalgic memories of an era.
As the English title of this film shows "The Time to Live and the Time to Die", Hou Hsiao-Hsien's delicate portrayal of growth and death has long surpassed the history of personal growth.
Hou Hsiao-hsien once said that after filming "The Time to Live and the Time to Die", there is an advantage, that is, after reorganizing my home, my parents, my source, and my various things, I can understand the situation and mood of the previous generation.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s observation and mastery of characters and environment, Go beyond simply providing plot conflicts. Behind these things, there are always more abundant emotions and messages.
When most people make autobiographical movies, it is easy to fall into self-indulgence and shrink the pattern; however, when this film recalls the joys, sorrows, sorrows and joys of adolescence, it reveals a child-like colorful dream and an adult-like faint sadness, and there is no noise. In the plot, there is only endless silence, and there is a kind of heart-wrenching pain after watching it.
The childhood of the actor A Xiao in the film is accompanied by a touch of homesickness, the death of relatives one after another, and the final passing of his childhood, which also made him understand the cost and meaning of growth.
Which particular film maker has influenced you the most?
Sophie SHUI: Ang Lee.
I admire that when he went to the United States to study alone, he did not retreat due to language barriers, racial discrimination and other problems.
I admire him for concentrating on cooking at home, writing scripts, and waiting for the opportunity to come during the six years when there was no film to shoot.
I admire him for his gentle and shy nature, but he can give orders at the shooting site and let all personnel obey him.
I admire his original intention, enthusiasm for film preservation, and the courage to use new technology to innovate shooting.
I admire him. When the film did not sell well at the box office and the film critics were frustrated, he still did not give up and continued to shoot. I admire his films for both art and commerce. He is the light of Taiwan.
Which book would you love to make a film out of one day?
Sophie SHUI: PuSongling's "Strange Stories from Liao Zhai" is a representative work of Qing Dynasty novels, and its literary achievements are second to none in Chinese ghost novels.
Mr. PuSongling created a world of ghosts and monsters, which is deeply loved by the general public with strange imagination and poetic language.
The story in "Strange Stories from Liao Zhai" is short and concise. The characters portrayed in the text have distinct personalities and full images. The plot is full of twists and turns, and the structure is complete. It is very suitable for adaptation into a movie.
The woman in PuSongling's book is proficient in everything from piano, chess, calligraphy and painting. Not only has an independent sense of love, but also an independent sense of self, which is very advanced.
The book tells the relationship between love and body appearance through the story of love between people and monsters, which is very interesting.
If you got the opportunity to go back in time & change something in any particular movie of yours, then which movie & what changes will you opt for?
Sophie SHUI: I would choose the movie "A Trip with Mom".
I will add more details in the scene where the actor abandons his mother on the train. For example: Mom suddenly wanted to pee and missed the train; For example, mother was hungry and took out the bread in the bag to eat on the platform... etc.
It will also add a little more description of the affection between mother and son.
If you were to shoot the film again, what would you do differently?
Sophie SHUI: In addition to the above-mentioned details, I will reduce the explanation of motivation in the first half of the film.
I will add more detailed descriptions after the son takes his mother to Taipei in the film.
Also, at the end of the story, try to see if there is a more open-ended possibility.
What is your greatest achievement till date?
Sophie SHUI: 1. In my life, I only knew how to edit news before I was 50 years old. I never thought that one day I could shoot a movie. Moreover, the graduation production "A Trip with Mom" can be shortlisted/winning nearly 100 film festivals, and also eligible to participate in the Oscar Award short film competition.
2. I am very lucky to have a good husband and three lovely children. Their wholehearted support allows me to bravely fulfill my dream.
How do you pick yourself up after a failed film?
Sophie SHUI: We have an old proverb: "Failure is the mother of success." It is the nourishment of my next works. I will humbly review myself, find out the shortcomings, and avoid making the same mistake next time. And I will try to create different types of films and try different ways of telling stories.
I am not afraid of failure, I am only afraid of losing enthusiasm and fighting spirit.
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