"Young and Fabulous" is more than just cosplay
Writer: Erny Suzira
(L-R) Director Joyce Lee, Joshua Tan, Jordan Ng and Joyce Chu.
After experiencing a great amount of success in Singapore, "Young and Fabulous" has finally come to Malaysian screens on 1 September 2016, in hopes to get the same amount of success as its neighbouring country.
Director Joyce Lee along with cast Joyce Chu, Joshua Tan and Jordan Ng visited Malaysia to promote the coming-of-age youth dramedy which is touted as Singapore's first cosplay-themed movie.
The film received generally positive reception for its fresh concept after being screened in Singapore back in May.
As for the story, it is about three friends on a journey of self-discovery, overcoming challenges and obstacles to fulfil their dreams through their interest in cosplaying.
During the director and cast's stop in Malaysia, they told Cinema Online what the film is truly about and what they wish to deliver through it.
Cinema Online: Hi Joyce Lee, how did you come up with the concept of the movie?
Joyce Lee: I still remember that we spent about two years on the script. I actually wanted to make a film that I meant for the youngsters because most of the films in Singapore are targeted towards the mature audience. So I thought about creating a movie that can encourage the youngsters to chase their dreams because Singapore today is still a very controlled environment.
Even though we tried to promote creativity, kids who grow up through the education process in Singapore, studying and going to tuition classes, have no time for themselves. And parents usually would want their kids to grow up becoming a doctor or lawyer because they consider those jobs to be a safe path for their children. Like recently, we won a gold medal at the Olympics. So if everybody were to go down the same path, Singapore will not win any gold medal. That's what I want to encourage the youngsters, to try something different from the usual safe path, and continue pursuing their dreams. That's how the concept came about.
Why cosplay then?
Joyce Lee: Cosplay is currently a rising pop culture in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. So if I want to encourage the youngsters, I have to give the characters a certain talent like singing, dancing, or acting, but all these genres have been covered before. Before this movie, I was actually a distributor for movies. So because of my background, I released a lot of Japanese films like "Death Note" and others, so I have a very strong fan base. Also, I know a number of cosplayers because they are our fans. So when I talked to them, I empathised with them and thought that it would be a good idea to make cosplay as the theme because it's considered a very niche genre and a lot of people still find the activity to be weird, so I feel that we should go deep into it, and it is something that I want to do for the community as well.
This is director Joyce Lee's first feature film.
Would you say that this film would only appeal to those who understand the cosplay pop culture?
Joyce Lee: I wouldn't think so because cosplay is only a vehicle to bring out the story. We are not going very in depth in that as it is more about family, parenting, and pursuing your dreams.
Why did it take so long for you to release the film in Malaysia as it was released in May back in Singapore?
Joyce Lee: That was the strategy actually. We wanted to focus on Singapore first, because it's our first movie and investment. I'm also the producer of the film, and I'm a huge control freak. I did a lot, from the campaigns to the posters and trailers, all of them were edited by me. So if I were to release it concurrently in two countries, I don't think I'll be able to handle that.
Question to Joyce, the actress. You are obviously very experienced with YouTube, and this is your first movie, what would you say is the biggest difference between the two platforms and what have you learned from the experience?
Joyce Chu: For YouTube videos, you get to retake a scene many times, and you can edit them yourself which is different from acting in movies. Also, while shooting YouTube videos, there's only you and the camera, so it is more comfortable for you to be yourself.
Joyce Lee: Meaning she's very uncomfortable with us in the movie. [laughs]
Joyce Chu: The movie is a completely new experience to me. First of all there's a lot of cast and crew members when shooting a scene and it's quite stressful because you know that you can't afford to make any mistakes because you'll be dragging everybody else.
Joshua Tan: I would like to say something on behalf of Joyce. Going from that kind of background to a full-fledged film is a super different experience. I remember my first time acting in film, and I have no prior acting experience, the experience was overwhelming. Imagine going into a film set with over 50 cast and crew, and all you can do is to hope that you wouldn't screw up as these people will be watching you, and there will be extras hoping to learn something from you, supporting actors and experienced actors will be there too, and you don't want to let them down.
The director and cast at the press conference.
How was the casting process like?
Joyce Lee: Frankly speaking, it was a very tedious process. Because the situation in Singapore right now is that there are a lot of established actors but they have already reached a certain mature age. We are trying very hard to find new talents for the next generation, and this is a coming-of-age movie, so there are many names on the wish list. Initially, I was considering of having Joshua to play the role of the main character Royston. Because of his role in "Ah Boys to Men", his role as Ken Chow is similar to Royston as they are both a momma's boy. Then Aloysius came along, and I thought that maybe we should give Joshua something different.
Joshua Tan: That is actually one of the main reasons why I signed up immediately for this film – the opportunity to play a completely different character. I have never come close to playing a character like Hao Ren, so that's why I signed up for this film almost without any hesitation.
Joyce Lee: Though we have some people who rejected us, but in the end, we got a very interesting combination. Like Joyce Chu is very well known on social media, Joshua is super popular in movies, Aloysius is known for his dramas, Quan Yi Fong is a very good host, and Gurmit is a very good comedian!
Joshua Tan: Combine us together and we complete the whole entertainment team!
For Joshua and Joyce Chu, when you both first received the script and found out about the theme of the movie which is kind of Japanese-oriented, did you spend time doing research about what cosplay is?
Joshua Tan: For me, the Japanese element doesn't really hit me when I read the script. Yes, cosplay is a Japanese culture, but it didn't really strike me that much during the script read. Cosplay is more of a medium to tell the story. It's not so much about cosplay but more on family, relationships, growing up and chasing your dreams.
Joyce Chu: I'm completely different from Joshua, it hit me right from the start when I read the script. I like anime a lot. It was due to my brother's influence because he likes watching a lot of anime like Naruto, Pokemon, Digimon, and others. Even though those animes are more catered towards boys, I ended up watching them as well. I never tried cosplay before because I never got the courage to do so, but I've always admired it. So when I received and read the script, I was super excited and couldn't wait to try out all the outfits!
Joshua and Joyce share their experience.
Joshua also mentions that he wants to try a variety of roles.
Joyce, this film is your acting debut, so would you want to continue going down this career path?
Cinema Online, 07 September 2016
Joyce Chu: Yes, definitely! I would especially want to thank Joyce Lee, because after this movie, I realised that acting has become part of my interest, something that I would love to do.
Joshua Tan: I can tell that she loves acting because after working with someone, you can always tell whether they are passionate about their job. So I can tell that she genuinely enjoys acting, a bit too much maybe! [laughs] But she definitely has the skills to be in this line. So I'm quite happy that I'm able to work with her. Hopefully there will be future opportunities for us to work together again.