Written By : N.Y.A.F.F' 09
Coverage by Nobuhiro Hosoki
Director Wai Ka-Fai
Q: You initially started off with a TV program, how did you make the transition into film?
Wai Ka-Fai: I spent 10 years working for TVB(Television Broadcasts Limited). I had a very successful career there. During that time, there were a lot of film production companies which were always looking for the new talent for TV industry production teams. One day they asked me to join the film production team, but I was hesitant at first, because film industry was a little bit foreign to me at that time.
Then, the Hong Kong actor, Chow Yun-Fat came to me and asked me to be involved in his film production. Chow Yun-Fat was very famous in Hong Kong at the time, and he would be going to Hollywood soon back then. So I thought if I didn't take the opportunity now, it won't come again in the future. That's why I made the transition.
Q: That was "Peace Hotel" right?
Wai Ka-Fai: Yes, that's right!
Q: How did you meet Johnny To and end up forming the production "Milkyway Image"?
Wai Ka-Fai: The first time we met together was when I was working for TVB. TVB was expanding the genre, sort of the TV-Movie type of production at that time. And they always invited one government production team and one guy from creative screenwriters team to collaborate together. I was picked in creative screenwriters team to write the screenplay, and Johnny To was very successful in the government production team, and we did a couple of TV series together after that.
Q: When you initially established "Milkyway Image," were you sort of avoiding the commercial type of filmmaking and pursuing the "Film Noir" type of filmmaking?
Wai Ka-Fai: There were so many filmmakers making commercial films back then, so I was inclined to do a more extreme kind of topic. Later on I was also versatile myself to commercial filmmaking as well.
Q: Ok, let's talk about "Written By." how did you come up with this concept? I heard that your film "Turn Left, and Turn Right" was originally based on a comic book, so I'm assuming that you did draw the idea from some of the books you read?
Wai Ka-Fai: Yeah, "Turn Left, and Turn Right" was based on a comic book, but "Written By" was not an adaptation of anything. It is actually a movie by itself.
Q: You mean your experience was more like it?
Wai Ka-Fai: No, actually after the "Mad Detective," I wanted to do something light, and more simple: that's how I started to have the idea of "Written by", but as it progressed it got to be a much more complicated script.
Q: You worked with Lau Ching Wan and Kelly Lin so many times. What were their elements that fascinated you most?
Wai Ka-Fai: First of all, Lau Ching Wan. We worked together a lot when we were in TVB stage. Lau Ching Wan was an amazing newcomer: he was able to bring life to the character that I wrote. That's why I came back to Lau Ching Wan so many times. And for Kelly, ever since I watched her in "My Left Eye Sees Ghosts", Kelly is sort of like Lau Ching Wan, in a sense she's more like Lau Ching Wan's wife. So in "Mad Detective," they become a couple, and in "Written By" they become husband and wife.
Q: This is a very complicated story. How did you map out the story with writer Au Kin-Yee?
Wai Ka-Fai: Au Kin-Yee is sort of my student in a sense; he's extremely devoted and hard working. We went to do some production work in India. I was very impressed how he worked under the tough conditions. This film was a lot about the female feelings, So Au's input was very crucial to this film as a female perspective.
Q: Did you do any research on blind people to help give actors input? And talk about any special camera work for that particular element?
Wai Ka-Fai: At the beginning when the part is still unclear, I had a conviction that we needed two blind characters in the movie, so I sent Lau Ching Wan and Mia Yam to a blind school for two months to learn how to talk, to type, to walk, and we actually filmed them in action for twenty hours or so. Then we watched both acts together and threw in some ideas after that.
That was very influential. And because two characters are blind, and they write books--when you write books, a lot of times the imagination is in your mind. So when we actually did the filming, we used sharp colors for more of the unrealistic settings to create a surreal kind of feeling.
Q: Have you read any book that changed your life?
Wai Ka-Fai: There's no one single book that influenced me most, but there's a variety of books that I did read before I made this film. Mostly abut life and death, religion, psychology, losing someone you love. Everything influenced me in a way for this creation.
Q: In the movie, Melody asks herself at the end, "Who's writing a novel in reality" People tend to leave this aspect to God, but actually people are the ones to write the novel, wouldn't you agree on that?
Wai Ka-Fai: I think it's complicated, because everyone in our life is questioning "Is there anyone controlling their life and overseeing everything? It's always a complicated issue.