L-R: Dino Lee, Vivian Sung, Darren Wang and Frankie Chen posing with their Malaysian school uniforms.
Taiwanese television drama producer Frankie Chen makes her directorial debut with romantic comedy, "Our Times".
The movie stars actress Vivian Sung, actor Darren Wang and singer-actor Dino Lee, who also sings the movie's soundtrack, "Wo Men Qing Chun (我们青春)".
Set in 1994, "Our Times" tells the story of Lin Zhen Xin (Vivian), a plain high school girl who falls in love with the popular OuYang Fei Fan (Dino). When she finds out that he is going out with the school beauty, she seeks help from Xu Tai Yu (Darren), the school gangster, to get OuYang's attention.
During the movie's press conference at One World Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur recently, the cast and director revealed some of the challenges they faced during filming, what they think of their characters and how they find it odd that people tend to thank them after watching the movie.
A still from "Our Times".
Cinema Online: "Our Times" is the kind of movie that takes the audiences back in time to when they were naïve and innocent, what made you [the director] decide to make this movie?
Frankie: I had this idea back in 2011. I want to show a story where it is relatable to everyone – be it male or female – the feeling we had during our first love. But since I'm not young anymore, I don't want the story to be only about first love. It would be more like I am recalling my past. I want to attract people of my age and not just teenagers. The way teenagers view this film is simple. For them, it is just a touching film. But I believe that the audiences will view it as something that will rekindle their precious memory.
Back when you were in high school, did you have your own Xu Tai Yu?
Yes, I did. I also had my own OuYang Fei Fan. My OuYang Fei Fan is similar to the one in the movie; the eyes, the nose and the face shape, but mine had better grades.
You initially wanted Darren Wang to portray OuYang Fei Fan, is that true? Did you see him as a good student?
Yes, I did. But I was mistaken [laughs]. I think that this kind of mistake is normal. It was only afterward that I realise he doesn't fit the good guy character.
"Our Times" cast and director showing off their haughty poses.
For the cast members, do you think that your respective roles are similar to who you are or completely different?
Darren: I think I'm a bully like Xu Tai Yu, who likes to make fun of girls. Because the more I like that girl, the more I want to bully her. That is the way I express my feelings to her. The difference between me and Xu Tai Yu is that he is a dominating person, whereas I am a nicer person [laughs].
Frankie: He [Darren] didn't really have time to prepare for his role, to build his character. So I was always scolding him to do better. But he's not scared of me at all!
Vivian: I am similar to Lin Zhen Xin in the way how we both will wholeheartedly and sincerely treat a person. But we are different because Lin Zhen Xin is someone who follows her intuition and emotions when she does something, while I am more of a rational person because I always think ahead before I do certain things.
There were times when I disagreed with her actions, not to mention her looks and her style are also terrible. But after playing as her, I started to like the character and I respect the way she lives her life because she does it in the most honest way.
Dino: I'm not like my character at all. I'm sort of weird and my grade is not so good [laughs]. OuYang Fei Fan is too perfect.
Vivian, when you realised that you had to act as someone that's not so attractive, how did you feel?
Vivian: I asked the director whether she was trying to torment me [laughs]. I thought that she was teasing me. All I did was smile naturally and the director said that I look like the people from that generation.
I don't have any friends from that generation, my current friends all know how to dress up well. Then I found out that the people from the '90s really dressed like that.
Lin Zhen Xin is a very homely character.
What is the biggest challenge for each of you in portraying your respective roles?
Dino: Since this is my first movie, the pressure I felt is higher, because I have no acting experience at all. So I took acting workshops and learnt from an acting teacher.
Vivian: One of the biggest challenges for all of us is that the movie takes place in the '90s. So when we took classes we noticed that it was different because right now, when we work, we use our phones to take note of something, but the people from that time used notebook and manually jotted them down.
Darren: I think one of the biggest challenges for us was the weather. It was winter at the time and we had to wear autumn school uniforms. The wind was so chilly and we had to overcome that.
How has the reception for the movie been in Taiwan?
Frankie: A lot of people, they watch it two times, three times. It does seem funny to me when they thanked me after watching the movie. It makes me wonder why would they thank me?
A lot of youngsters, after they watch the movie they will tell their parents "this is a movie for your generation" and the parents and their kid will go watch the movie. It's gotten a good reception in Taiwan. I am happy with the result, I hope that it will be the same here.
Vivian: That's true, people thanked us for it! I've watched the move five to six times. Every time it's always a different feeling, thought and reaction. Remember to watch it in cinemas from this 22 October!
Cinema Online, 22 October 2015