(Photo courtesy of Derrick Lui)
When a film takes seven years to come to completion, you know it’s dedication.
Derrick Lui, director and producer of 1400, first started out on his quest to produce this film in 2008.
However, due to the nature of the film that was meant to be without a script, Lui faced with many challenges, and hit a dead end many times.
“No one was willing to fund this film, so I poured a lot of the resources into it myself,” said Lui.
The irony however, is that the final product was scripted. In 2013, the film was close to getting picked up by a production house but needed a script to get funding.
“We never ended up getting the funds anyway, but since a close friend had already put in so much effort, we used it,” he said.
The film eventually had its world premiere at the Montreal Film Festival in Canada in August last year.
“Because 1400 was made with no resources, funding, or support, I was happy if the film had gotten accepted into any film festival, so the fact that it got accepted to do a world premiere in Montreal, it was a really big achievement for us,” said Lui.
The 39-year-old father of three, whose eldest daughter is now six, admitted that it was tough trying to make a film while raising three children aged between three and six.
“When I first started making this film, my eldest was only one.
He added that he was thankful for his wife, as she took care of the children while he spent hours away from home working on the film.
“My wife is not the kind who would make a big fuss when she disagrees with something, but I knew she wasn’t happy with what I was doing – she wasn’t really seeing why I was doing this.
“I was away for long hours, time that could have been spent at home with her and the kids, and spent money that could have been spent on them,” he said.
However, things changed when the film premiered in Singapore on 11 February, at GV Vivo City, as his wife finally saw the fruit of his labour.
“I think at that moment, she understood. It’s like giving birth, when you see all that hard work and long days culminate in something so amazing – that feeling – it’s hard to put in words,” he said.
Lui said he never categorised 1400 as indie or commercial, because the moment a filmmaker does that, it defines the mindset that comes with it.
“Films shouldn’t be categorised and labeled, and I want my film to be in between the two.”
What’s important is that the film carries a message with it, that the audience can bring home and reflect upon.
He explained, “Based on the feedback I received, one audience wrote that after watching 1400, it made him look back and think about his life.”
After the screening, Lui’s initial worries are now behind him, as he has since gotten requests for future collaborations.
When asked when the film would be screened in cinemas, Lui said audiences will have to wait until mid-year, although the dates are yet to be confirmed.
“We’ve submitted the film for more international festivals, so only after that, we will look at screening them in cinemas in Singapore.”
With the success of the film, Lui made clear that it was a collective effort.
“This success is certainly not mine alone; every single person involved put in their hard work and effort, and it would not have happened if not for them.”
Although he has produced and directed many shorts in the past, this is Lui’s first feature film.
“It has taken me 16 years to get to where I am today, but it’s only the beginning. I have more to do,” he said.
Lui’s journey in filmmaking will continue with his next feature film, Warrior of Love.
The film will once again revolve around the topic of love, but with the added excitement of modified race cars.
“I love cars, and I think telling stories about love is my strength. So this upcoming film will be a combination of two things I love most.”
The film is currently in its pre-production stages.