Spotlight: Charles Chau On The Emotional Journey In ‘Hanging On’


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‘Hanging On’ was the most-watched, most-loved short film last month, our February 2016 Viddsee Shortee! The Hong-Kong based director Chau Mau Leong (Charles) shared with us his notes on the production.

Here are the insights on his creative vision.

#1 – Based On A True Story, Crafted Around Five Sentences!

Opening with a scene at the telecommunications office was a way to introduce the father’s attachment to an obsolete voice mail function, says Charles. Five sentences was all the dialogue he needed to set the scene, and to steer the emotional journey over 12-minutes.

As the telecommunications officers contemplate rolling back on the voice mail function, specifically for the elderly father, the viewer is drawn into the urgency in the father’s psychological and emotional state of mind.

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With this one deft and expertly executed introduction, the flashbacks in the protagonist’s relationship with his daughter is understood instinctively.

#2 – The Emotional Cues With The Use Of Music

With the story structure in place, Charles spent most of his post-production resources on music. He was determined to shape the soul of the film, to guide the viewer through the emotional journey.

There were two songs he had in mind. The first was a Korean song 그리운얼굴 (the title translates to ‘Nostalgic Face’), and the second was a famous tune by Hong Kong singer Leo Ku, 愛得太遲 (which translates to ‘Loving, Too Late’).

He and his team laboured to obtain copyrights for both songs, and to have the latter song recorded and rearranged.

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“The lyrics in Leo’s 愛得太遲 moved me to tears,” says Charles. “It’s a coincidence that the lyrics is what my short film is about. It resonated with me and I was convinced that it should be in the short film, no matter what the cost!”

#3 – Working With The Renown Actor Sam Tsui 周文亮

Throughout the production, he trusted each actor and gave just sufficient direction for the actors to explore how they could best deliver and interpret the story and character.

Charles was already halfway through production before the renown veteran actor Sam Tsui came onboard. As Sam played the protagonist and had to deliver the story and emotional drama effectively, Charles sat down with him to tackle each scene.

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“It’s sheer luck and fate (that we managed to get Sam Tsui onboard), and I’m forever grateful for this blessing!”

Watch ‘Hanging On’ by Chau Man Leong (Hong Kong) on Viddsee:

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#4 – On The Perception Of A Silent, Loving Father

Generally speaking, Mother’s Day celebrations seemed to be more important than Father’s Day celebrations, says Charles, who had just become a father himself.

It’s not that he didn’t think agree that mothers and their selfless nature shouldn’t be lauded. Charles thought that fatherhood suffers from the perception that it’s of a silent, less communicative nature. Love and the expression of love was harder to deliver.

When this true story came to him, and with a script in mind, Charles was determined to make ‘Hanging On’ for what it is, and specifically produced for this generation of web-savvy audiences. He was determined to create a product that would carry a message about appreciation, however simple it may be.

A clip from the short film with text message reading "I'll be back for dinner with you."
A clip from the short film with text message reading “I’ll be back for dinner with you.”

“I wanted the message to move people to do something, even if it’s a simple meal, or just a hug, about creating beautiful memories… and not a sense of regret.”

#5 – On Future Works

Charles had worked on an novel adaptation, a love story, and is hoping to complete its sequel this year. He also demurred on our congratulatory remarks receiving the Viddsee Shortee February 2016 award, and other festival titles lauded to him by his peers for ‘Hanging On’.

“I only have a small wish, that is to make produce one non-commercial short film each year. The Internet is a great place for meaningful, inspirational messages, and I hope that this positivity will continue to spread!”

We’re wishing you the best, and more power to you, Sir!

Just one more! Watch the January favourite ‘Selfish People’ on Viddsee, a Korean thriller about karma!

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