Making it real

Making it real

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Oliver Tsang
Barbara Wong talks about directing and acting in her new film about a website for the recently dumped, writes Barry C Chung

In the upcoming romantic comedy Break Up Club, Barbara Wong Chun-chun reverts to her indie roots by taking a more hands-on approach to filmmaking. As well as directing, she's credited with co-producing, co-writing and starring in the film. Young Post spoke to Wong and all her different personae.

Sunday Young Post: How did you come up with the idea for Break Up Club - disgruntled dumpees go online to register couples they know, and if they break up, the site user gets their love back?

Wong: Actually, it was inspired by a manga, which has been adapted into a famous Japanese film called Death Note. In Death Note, [if you want to kill someone], that person dies when you write a note [within] 10 seconds. It's inspired by it, but it's not the same.

So me and my partner, [co-producer and co-writer] Lawrence Cheng wrote the script. We were trying to find something young people could relate to because, nowadays, people are very into different websites. They even get up in the morning and check sites telling their horoscope for the day. And they believe it. It doesn't matter if what happened today doesn't match, they still check it.

And also for someone who fell out of love or was dumped, their psychology is to do whatever they can to get back the girl or guy at that moment.

SYP: You star in some of the films you make. Do you prefer to be in front of or behind the camera?

W: I totally prefer to be behind the camera. I started as an actress so a lot of people would ask: would you like to direct yourself, or be the main character? I say no, because when I'm directing I'm very intense in trying to make everything work out. So I don't want to pay attention to one more level, of myself acting and then judging myself as a director. I think it would affect my focus on the whole thing.

But this film is different. The reality and the drama are mixed together, so I think it's essential that me and my partner Lawrence play ourselves. The crew in the film is the real crew; we didn't ask any actor to act. Because my crew and I are really ourselves, the whole thing goes to a deeper level.

SYP: What would you say is your trademark, something distinctly Barbara Wong?

W: My name in Chinese is Wong Chun-chun - "chun" means "real". So, I think I'm a very real and truthful person, and that is reflected in my films because they are always very direct, very much expressing reality which is not sugar-coated. I like to face the truth to express the reality - so that might be it.

SYP: Is there anything about yourself that is a bit odd?

W: I think I'm a very daring person and I have a lot of guts, but I'm very scared of dogs - even small puppies - and cats. I'm the leader on set and I tell people what to do, and give instructions. But when I reach a location and there's a dog, I'll say: "You go first." And that is shocking to people.

SYP: So you don't like dogs or you're scared of them?

W: I'm scared of animals that are fluffy, with hair, but mainly cats and dogs. I don't dislike them, I'm just scared of them.

Break Up Club opens June 16

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