Winter is coming, so it’s time to sit under a warm blanket with a cup of tea during these cold evenings and remember the sunny May days in which the largest event in the field of filmmaking happened: Cannes Film Festival 2018 and especially its newly-found diamond Wei Shu Jun. His brilliant film Yan Bian Shao Nian got Special Jury Distinction among the best selected short films, that is why we could not leave it without giving it our special attention. In the film a Chinese teenager with Korean roots who lives in a border village would like to go to South Korea. In order to fulfil his dream he goes to town looking for his father. He can’t even imagine which adventures await him during this search…
“I think that the main thing which popularity should be based on is the recognition of your own style of work, not your face.”
Cannes Film Festival
According to Wei, Cannes Film Festival only left good impressions. Everything was great, including the movies and the filmmakers. However, the director does not seem to be used to certain circumstances. He was not accustomed to the European weather and food, however such details did not spoil the whole atmosphere of the event. The director remembers: “Cannes and its staff really gave me and my film a very high treatment. I was impressed with the fact that filmmakers respect each other, even though they are rivals.” Moreover, Wei had an opportunity to meet some famous people connected to filmmaking, such as the Chinese director Jia Zhangke, the Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda, the British-American director Christopher Nolan and the actress Cate Blanchett. Wei adds: “This event was precious for me in terms of experience. It’s a magnificent festival of high art films, therefore it’s a special place where the best filmmakers gather.”
Wei was sometimes in awe of such a demanding audience, but enjoyed the process of showing his movie. The director was surrounded with films, films and again films which let him feel the magnificent atmosphere of the festival. Wei Shu Jun could not even imagine that Yan Bian Shao Nian would be chosen for the Special Jury Distinction. He says: “Of course, I looked forward to the beginning of the festival, nonetheless until the last moment before the start I was really nervous.”
Wei Shu Jun laughs: “More people know me now. This part makes me more popular, but I think that the main thing which popularity should be based on is the recognition of your own style of work, not your face.” The director does not have any special love or resentment for being in the public eye, as it does not seem to be so important for him.
Inner world of the main hero
While watching On the Border (the English translation of Yan Bian Shao Nian) you must think that there is a parallel between the biography of Wei Shu Jun and the movie’s main character and that the director got his inspiration and idea for this film remembering his teens. Nevertheless, this is not true. The plot has nothing in common with Wei’s young years. He says: “My personal experience and the boy’s are totally different, but the adolescent psychology is similar. I think at this age the whole world seems to be similar for each youngster, as well as their inner worlds.”
The Chinese director used to work as a sound mixer in a couple of films (for instance, in the short drama If You’re Serious, 2013). Wei comments: “I studied recording in my bachelor’s degree, and I got a master’s degree in directing.” Despite this fact, it was not Wei who governed the processes of musical accompaniment of Yan Bian Shao Nian. It was completed by another person Zhao Wang. Wei Shu Jun just heard it and chose the most appropriate variant. The Chinese director says: “I prefer working with movies rather than with music. Although, to my mind, music is a great piece of art as well. I studied classical music in my childhood, however, now it turned out that I can also be a rapper.”
Recently Wei has released his own song. If you are interested you can listen to the song and estimate the talented director yourself here. However, this is not the end of the list of Wei’s capabilities. He was an actor at the age of 14 and played roles in several movies and TV dramas. This does again confirm the famous proverb “a talented person is talented in everything”. Wei laughs: “I don’t know where this experience of being an actor came from.”
Tips for future filmmakers
Being quite experienced in the sphere of filmmaking, Wei Shu Jun would like to give some tips for rookies who do not know how to achieve their goals and get an amazing result on the screen. First of all, you should watch the best movies directed by the most prominent people. Take notes for yourself, look at the way how they work so that you can also use some good ideas for your own future projects. Secondly, practise more, as without this you will never become successful. During the practice you gain the valuable experience, therefore you can make your next film much better than the previous one, considering all your drawbacks and mistakes. And last but not least, communicate with people who have a common interest with you. Obviously, this is an endless resource for your inspiration and improvement of your movie concept.
Plans for the future
Wei Shu Jun definitely wants to develop his filmmaking skills in the future. Now he is in the process of writing the script of his first full-length film, so soon his dedicated audience will be able to enjoy a new project on an even grander scale.
Photos used in this article belong to Wei Shu Jun.