Tea time with Sarira
How was Sarira born?
The reason for the birth is because I always wanted to shoot a film about religious themes. I like the solemnity and mystery it brings to people. So I wrote the first draft of Sarira‘s script. It was originally about a monk who got testicles cancer. For cancer to have testicles removed, I would like to explore how a monk had identified and discussed his self-identity after the testicles were removed. So I found a real monk to play the role. As I talked with him deeper and deeper, I began to understand some of the most real status quo of their group. Because of the development and expansion of the city, many temples are facing demolition and relocation. To rebuild, they need to find a new source and means to resist the times. In such a big environment, many monks even lost the time and life of chanting. I feel a group of people in the torrent of the era. The status quo of aphasia. I find that this status quo needs to be expressed and recorded more urgently than the discussion of personal identity. So I modified the script to use teeth as symbolic metaphors, and the monks were unable to recite sutras because of toothaches to express their aphasia and aphasia in this era.
Can you tell us a bit about the filming process, from the writing of the script to the shooting?
We lived in the temple where we were shooting the day before the shooting, and I suddenly found that some of the plots originally designed became inapplicable in that space, and I suddenly had some new inspirations and ideas. So I revised it the day before the shooting started. Most of the scripts set new plots and dialogues. With the shooting on the first day, we found the problem again. Because the protagonist has been a monk for twenty years after graduating from the acting major of the film school, his performance has some sense of professionalism in it, and the old monk in the film is an amateur who has not received performance training. He appears more natural and more natural. Simple. After the first day of filming, I found that the performances of the two actors could not be unified in the picture, and the quality of their performances was too different. So I gave up all the materials and the original plot designed on the first day, and started to rethink the performance method that suits them and the plot that is more in line with my desire to express. In the second day of filming, we changed all the shots that starred in. It became a mid-to-long view, turning the old monk’s shot into a close-up shot, and the performance of the two suddenly completed the unity, which became the real and simple feeling I originally wanted. We watched our material after shooting the next day and found that we were very satisfied, and there were a lot of fresh inspirations and events on the shooting site that stimulated us, and made us have many new ideas and creativity, so we began to enjoy the scene. The joy of creation. In the remaining two days of shooting, we will watch the shooting material of the day every night, and then brainstorm to modify the shots and scripts to be shot the next day. In this way, we are in a completely random and uncertain After shooting Sarira in the past four days, we fully enjoyed and experienced the joy of random creation, which also depends on our strong production team to help us deal with many uncertainties.
What do you feel you’ve learnt through this process?
1: Through the shooting of Sarira, I am more sure that the instant inspiration and real space and people’s feedback to the director are more important at the shooting site. It may be a way to make your film better and more unique.
2: While enjoying temporary creation, the director must also respect the previous efforts of the production team, and balance the difficulty of temporary creation and production.
Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?
I am deeply impressed by a Chinese short film Head Rope and Egg Workbook which was shortlisted for the Venice International Film Festival in 2021. It has a stable and cold film temperament, and the director knows how to accumulate emotions and explosive emotions through the lens. I like it very much.
What’s your definition of a good film?
My definition of a good movie is
1: I can feel the director’s attention to people and the times from the film.
2: You can feel the director’s strong thoughts and emotions from the film.
3: Have a unique and mature audiovisual expression.