November 26, 2018
BahamasLocal.com had the pleasure of granting filmmaker Hanxiong Bo with his first ever interview so he could tell us all about his film "Haircut" that is going to be featured in the upcoming Bahamas International Film Festival.
Obligatory first set of questions: Will you be coming to The Bahamas for the 15th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival and if so will it be your first time here? Also, did you know that the Bahamas has quite a sizable and influential Chinese community?
Sorry, I’d love to come but I’m afraid I may not be able to attend the festival because of my budget issue. But I have never been to Bahamas before, it’s one of my dream places to visit. Personally, I’m not quite familiar with Bahamas’ Chinese community, but I know Bahamas is a country with diverse ethnic groups. I’d like to learn more history about that.
2. With that being said, your short film "Haircut", beyond being a romance film, comments on the migratory nature of Chinese people and the social issues that come with Chinese people becoming submerged in other cultures and societies. What is it that you want audiences to take away from this film and is it something that you think can resonate beyond just a Chinese audience?
I believe every audience can have his or her own take away from this film. I tried my best to be objective and observative, to capture the nuances in a relationship influenced by other cultures and societies, which would speak to people who have their own thoughts on what they saw. Two people in this situation try their best to adapt to a new environment and their progress of fitting in goes into different directions. And I think there is something very universal about relationship and people from different cultures trying to digest what they learn in a new environment anywhere in the world. And most importantly, it’s a film about relationships that I think people can find their little “self” in both of the characters.
3. So as mentioned the film is called, "Haircut". What inspired you to want to make a film that centered around the act of getting a haircut?
This film is inspired by my own experience actually. At first, being given a haircut by my ex-girlfriend was just a fun thing to do, and a way to save some money since a haircut costs a lot more in the U.S. than having one in China. So gradually, it becomes a monthly thing for our relationship. And I found that giving haircuts to each other is also a normal thing to other people I know in any kind of relationship. I found it’s very interesting that haircut is almost like a ritual that shows the changes of a relationship. People have to react and “communicate” to each other during a haircut. So I started to borrow some of my own experience and other people’s experience and wrote this script.
4. In the planning stages, did you always know what you wanted the film to be about in terms dialogue and theme or did you just have the "haircut" idea and everything else just fell in place around it?
In the writing stage, I knew what each scene was about, and what “message” or theme each scene should convey. I wrote some simple dialogue and a goal just to show the actors what’s gonna happen in each scene, and I worked with my two fantastic actors together to come up with ideas to achieve the goal during the rehearsals. And we also found fresh and interesting moments on set too. Since there are also some improvisations, every scene is actually quite long. The last scene itself originally is about 6 mins long.
5. Was the hair on the lead male actor always his actually hair? Was he actually getting haircuts or was he wearing wigs and/or hair caps in certain scenes?
The only scene with his real hair is the last scene, the long one. We used wigs in all other scenes, and we shot the film backward except the last scene so that we can cut a wig from long to short.
6. It seems simple enough, but honestly how difficult was this film to shoot?
It was a three-day shoot, and we planed everything beforehand. We built a set for all the scenes in this film in a soundstage. Technically, I think it was not that hard. The biggest challenge was to help my actors really believe in this was the relationship they were having, because their chemistry in this relationship kept changing scene by scene, and it had to feel real, fresh and natural at that moment. I and my actors spent a lot of time on rehearsals. And I had to find a way to surprise them during each take to keep them feel fresh on set. We shot at least 15 takes for each scene to capture the nuances and natural performances.
7. What's next for you academically and film wise?
I finished shooting my new short in September, it's about a family story happens during the "one-child" policy in China. I will try to finish it this year and focus on developing it to a feature next year.
If you would like to see the short film "Haircut" it will be featured in the 15th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival. It will be showing Thursday, November 29th 3:10pm @ Galleria Cinema Marathon Mall Screen B and Saturday, December 1st 12:00pm @ Inagua Room, Baha Mar Convention Center.