Take Off Your Shoes and Explain Your Philosophy of Love / by next new wave

Author: Elise Shick

Do you believe in the existence of love? It can be in any form. Does care equal to love? I don't know. Can you draw your philosophy of love? I don't know what is philosophy, never mind love, I'm very bad at drawing. You are blushing! No, I'm drunk. If there's only one way I can answer you, it would be a film telling you 'I just want you to love me'. 

Your Fassbinder Is Not My Fassbinder

Two green coconuts, two ice Milos, one table, four persons, ABC Bistro. The perfect ending after a banal conversation. Sidi, Davy, Jacky and I walked back to hotel, entered the conference hall, and started discussing about love. I came back from the washroom getting ready to set my writing mode on. 'Elise, you will be Jacky's assistant to help him explaining what is love', Davy said abruptly. 'Oh man...' I murmured to myself but couldn't go against his order. Sidi was laughing at the side, probably thinking what bunch of insane monkeys these people are. But he too, is one of us, perhaps the most insane of all.

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In May 2017, I had a private conversation with Jacky about his perception and my perception of love. He inserted part of the conversation in his new script and I hated him so much for that. I felt betrayed because I thought it was something very confidential between us. Nevertheless, each person has different way of expressing their creativity and put them into work. Hong Sang-soo, the South Korean film director for example, employs this kind of approach in making films. Jacky might be inspired by him somehow. 

The moment had passed, I let go of this awful feelings of hatred and betrayal. Who knows in the midst of tight writing schedule Davy wanted me to be his assistant. Fine. If I refused to do it, I would have no time for my blog, no time for shower, no energy for my internal interview session, so on, so on. 'Take off your shoes', Davy said with a reference to a West German filmmaker Fassbinder. If I wasn't mistaken, this I Just Want You To Love Me was also derived from Fassbinder's I Only Want You To Love Me. Hello guys, where was your originality? 

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Anyway, Jacky and I capitulated and took off our shoes, standing in front of the white board with markers in our hands. Jacky explained his philosophy of love to me in Mandarin without any difficulty. I, on the other hand, translated with difficulty his complex yet simple philosophy of love into English so that Davy and Sidi could understand. You know why it was complex and simple at the same time? Jacky denied the existence of love in this world. He worshipped the existence of care that led to relationship. Relationship was what he cared about in the end. The video Davy had recorded using his phone became a testimony of Jacky's denial of love. It also became the starting point of the film I Just Want You To Love Me.

I Challenge Each Of You To Write One Script On This

I was added into a chat group consisted of 6 members (4 volunteers, 2 staffs) and I knew what was going to happen. So here were the rules: (1) Each of us was given 30 minutes to write a one-page script based on the script written by the other member (sequence was already set); (2) The scriptwriter would also be the director of his or her own script: (3) The members would take turns to act in each other's film. Unlisted rules: (5) Didn't know who would be the cinematographer; (5) Zero-budget; (6) Deduct another year off from your life-span due to sleep deprivation. 

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Chapter 1 'Bus Stop' and Chapter 2 'Documentary of Jacky's Soul'

Sathis was the first one to begin. He wrote a script about a millennial girl (Elise) who bumped into a stranger (Jacky) at a bus stop and who then eventually fell in love with her. The next one was Chloe. Chloe wrote a mockumentary script about Jacky's philosophy of love starring Jacky, Isyraqi and her own voice as the interviewer. She was stuck on the halfway. No surprise, it was easy to stuck in his concept of love. No matter how, her end product was astounding.

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Chapter 3 'Transform' and Chapter 4 'Zhang Xue Jing'

Isyraqi was in the queue after Chloe. His story was the first turning point of everything. Jacky ate a pill invented by Chloe (a doctor graduated from London) and woke up finding himself becoming a woman (Elise).  Then, it was Jacky's turn. His script was about Isyraqi who finally realised that he was a homosexual after witnessing the process of Jacky turning back from a woman to a man. Isyraqi was in love with Jacky (I wasn't sure if this was fictional).

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Chapter 5 'A Soul Trapped in Chrysanthemum' and Chapter 6 'I Don't Know Love'

Next, it was my turn. I wanted to write something about crime and suspense but it turned out to be an unexpected comedy. Forget it. In my script, Isyraqi was a homosexual psychopath who accidentally bumped into Sathis (who admired Isyraqi secretively) and murdered him later in the carpark where Jacky intended to bring his first date. For all the time, Isyraqi and Chloe wanted to execute Jacky's dream about his first date. But the truth was that Jacky was the one plotting the crime. Han Loong wrote the final part of the script concluding that Jacky doesn't know what is love. His work was quite dream-like. The twists and turns of the plot had ridicule the whole script and we couldn't control how quickly it expanded into a nonsensical comedy. 

Make A Twenty Two-Minutes Film In Less Than Twelve Hours

We all succumbed to the fact that this script will never return to its mellow and mature original state that we saw during the script development stage. Jacky and I thought that we would never be able to finish the film anyhow due to time constraint. Nonetheless, the shooting went quite well even though it progressed slowly in the beginning. We were helping each other in major and minor things including continuity. Special thanks to the BTS team Lai, and also Rou Ning and Sy Yi who agreed to help us without a slight of hesitation. Why were they doing this? Rou Ning and Sy Yi were the participants of last year's workshop. For sure, they missed the experience of waking up for all night just to make films together. 

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Yes, we are young and reckless. We didn't have a second thought when Jacky said 'Let's make a film together'. We didn't consider too much about other things. We didn't prepare anything. We probably neglected the participants a little bit. We put our job aside first. We didn't think about the topsy-turvy situation that all these might lead to. We had the passion, urge, and friendship that all together made this a spontaneity. We wanted it and we did it. 

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Photo taken and edited by Carlo Francisco Manatad.

The film was a surprise. It was light but dense with meaningful moments at the same time. I believe that throughout the spectrum of time, this experience of working together without too much consideration and rationale, burning our lungs and livers alive, dozing off on set, trafficking pillows out from the hotel, bearing funny smell in the carpark and etc. will be bookmarked as one of our crazy times.