Comic relief

By  Liu Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-15 08:57
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Comic relief

Q: You have used the latest digital high definition cameras this time and many advanced technologies at the Beijing Olympics' Opening Ceremony. Have you ever thought of making a science fiction film?

A: I do want to make one, but I have not found the right story. Of course it is also about money. It would be huge for us to spend $10 million on a sci-fi project, but in Hollywood it is nothing. We may have good sci-fi concepts, but we don't have enough money to make it visually as good.

Q: How about cooperating with Hollywood companies to make one?

A: I don't want to get on that boat. I am just a second- or third-class filmmaker on that boat. I know it clearly.

I don't speak English. How can I direct an English-language film if I cannot tell which is the best take among three from an actor? Even three takes for such a simple line as "OK" are different - and as a director you have to pick the best one.

Many Hollywood producers have come to me looking to collaborate, especially after Hero, but I always say, 'No'. Otherwise I would end up becoming a third-class director, instead of being a top one.

Q: As the leader of Chinese cinema do you consider you have responsibilities?

A: Let me use the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing Olympics as an example. Why did the world marvel at it? Because it never thought such an old China could express itself in such a fashionable way!

When I raised the idea of using multimedia, many experts thought it would be impossible because it would be too difficult to solve the technological problems. They did not think we had enough time and experience.

They tried hard to make me give up - and I did have to give up sometimes. I remember once the government leaders visited and they were extremely anxious when they found the LED panels still did not light.

I feel so lucky that I insisted and made it. I had to shoulder the responsibility to create the image of a new and fashionable China to stun the world.

But back to your question. After the Olympics, I am once again just an ordinary film director. I really do not want to take on such great responsibilities any more.

When you do something for the sake of responsibility you have to give up on impulse and freedom.

Now, I do not want to give myself too much pressure. I want to maintain my excitement, joy and passion to try something I never tried before, such as the Noodle film.

Q: People call you a Superman, always energetic. What do you do when you're not working?

A: It is true that I cannot stand goofing off. I must do something.

I sleep little. When I do not have to work, I still stay up, reading, watching films and the TV, or surfing on the Internet. I do not go to bed before 4 or 5 in the morning.

I watch all kinds of TV shows, news and series. I cast Yan Ni, the leading actress, because the TV series starring her was often broadcast after midnight. And it was so funny. The other actor, Sun Honglei, heads the hit TV series Lurk, which I accidentally saw at night and got a crush on.

People around me are surprised that I know lots of new things. For instance, the film's theme song, I am Only a Legend, is a popular Internet slang. I wrote the lyrics for the song, in just 40 minutes.

Young people just love this kind of slang. No reason. Experts could discuss for hours why such slang is popular but they wouldn't be able to come to a conclusion. It just works. The only thing you have to know about winning over young people is to break the old rules.