Jet Magazine Interviews Sammi about her first directing Short Film

Love Drawing More and More
J: In recent years, you have become more creative, such as writing and drawing for columns and now you will be directing for the first time, when did you decide to proceed in this direction?
S: I liked drawing since I was little, I am especially drawn to colors. I got influenced by my friends who studied arts, through conversation I decided to be brave and start drawing again. After a year of drawing, I don’t think I have improved much. The things I want to draw I never can do as it requires very high skill level. Sometimes I want to draw objects with layers, but I simply lack that skill level. That’s why I leaned towards more abstract drawing, I do worry that people try to use my drawing to guess what I am thinking though.

J: What does drawing brings you?
S: Drawing is now already a part of my life. I am not a very talkative person so drawing is a good outlet for me to express myself. Sometimes it is not necessary to share the finished drawing, I have saved quite a few. Drawing is also a good way for releasing certain emotions. Images and thoughts that cannot be expressed by words, a batch of colors that nobody will understand precisely pinpoint the emotions I wish to let out. Looking back at my own drawing, I can recall what I was feeling then.

Beauty Obsession
J: For Fai Yeung’s Twelve Flowers, what theme had you planned for your portion of the short film?
S: At the beginning when Fai Yeung gave me a bunch of demos, some are quite upbeat, but I prefer the one that was a little moody. Thereafter, I have lots of imageries and stories flowing in my head. At the beginning, the stories are very complicated and dramatic, but then I realize it would be impossible to produce it in a 5 minute short film. I realize that simplistic is key, otherwise people will get totally lost. It will be a success if I can relay one message. The message I have chosen is beauty obsession. The film will be set in a hotel room and involves two female, one young and one elderly. I want to use beautiful imageries to express the difficulty women have in dealing with lost of outer beauty as age progresses.

J: What style will you use in the short film?
S: The thought process is extremely troublesome for me as I tend to like more moody and sad ending. But the media would then for certain use it to claim I am depressed, so I am quite scared. This actually greatly affects my creativity. Currently, I am debating on a crowd pleasing happy ending or an ending that I personally preferred. Someone is filming the topic loneliness, I chose obsession, I want to present obsession at all angles, both positive and negative. Although, from hearing the music, I feel that it should be a sad ending.

J: Have you ask friends to help?
S: I can certainly ask friends from the entertainment circle to help in acting and filming the film but I rather convey a more expermential and rough version to the audience. I don’t want it to be too boxed in. I would prefer, through lesser known actors and filmographer, energize some new ideas. So I think a 60% plan ahead is enough, it is more fun when there is an element of experimentation during filming. Also, I don’t have high expectation. As long as the filming process is fun and the duration of the film is a full 5 minute, I will be satisified.

Sammi’s Book Corner
J: Fai Yeung said that his plan for Twelve Flowers was due to his love for The Dream Of The Red Chamber. He feels that the women in that story is very much still alive in today’s society, do you agree?
(Note: I am not sure if I translate correctly what Sammi said below as I don’t recognize a few of those Chinese characters, so I am guessing.)
S: I don’t particular like The Dream of The Red Chamber, I have a slight prejudice on Chinese literature. I find that they tend to portray the characters too close-mindedly. Also, sometimes they describe them too acridly, I cannot stand that. I did not have a huge reaction on The Dream of The Red Chamber. Certainly, the characters are still among us. After all, a successful piece of literature relies greatly on the author’s ability to describe personality and emotions.

J: What books have you read lately? Can you give us one or two recommendation?
S: I love literature, especially ones from France, Japan, South Africa etc. I know there are many worthwhile Chinese literature, but at this point in time, I still cannot connect with them. There are three books that I think is noteworthy. First is South African author J.M. Coetzee’s "Life and Time of Michael K". No major reasoning is needed for this recommendation as Coetzee (2003 Noble Prize In Literature winner) is an author that I love and admire. The second recommendation is Stanley Hoffman’s "The Master Described by The Master". It’s a book containing conversation pieces among various Nobel Prize In Literature winners and literary greats. This book both widens and deepens my appreciation and understanding of literature. The last book I want to recommend is John Wood’s "Leaving Microsoft To Change The World". John Wood, a past leader of Microsoft division in China, left
a bright future in Microsoft behind to pursue another job and ideal. After reading his book, I realize I can also do the same.

Wish To Have a Grasp On Everything
J: So many events have happens these few years, what is your outlook on life?
S: Life is a series of learning. The theme is all but one word – love. I love the influence by Christianity. I have been a believer for over ten years but only recently had I started to mention it openly, consequently I am also more into it and will often go to Bible study. For example, starting this month, I am quitting smoking. Everyone pray for my success, this gives me lots of inner strength, it’s like a commitment I made with them. This commitment greatly decreases my desire to smoke every time I have the urge to pick up a cigarette.

J: Is it inconvenient for you to go to Bible study group, you being Sammi Cheng and all?
S: The Bible study group I attend consists mostly of people from the entertainment world. Of course, there are normal people as well. But the funny thing is, once I get there, I totally disassociate myself from my status. I don’t consider myself "Sammi"and neither do others, the feeling is great, very comfortable.

J: What is the one thing you most desire at this stage?
S: At this moment, what I want most is freedom. Artists often lack freedom, when that’s not possible, we want at least some sort of control. For example, choice of project and procedures. Earning wages is not for materialistic things, instead it is for earning a choice. Maybe one day I wish to stop for awhile, then I do not need to worry about cost of living. I had a good rest last year, so this year I will work hard.

J: What have you learned the most during your year long rest?
S: It is ok to stop working, it is not necessary to use busy as an excuse to not do something you enjoy. If you are willing, it is possible. I cannot say that I was happy like a bird the entire year. Of course there is low point and I have shed some tears. But looking back, it is well worth it. At the very least, I now truly understand life, what lifestyle I most desire and what things I need the most.

So What If I Am Stubborn
J: When will your next concert be?
S: The concert will be held in May. Right now we have not settle on a theme or any details of the show. Since the last concert consists very few dancing portion, I think this time more will be included. I haven’t dance for awhile already, I think my fans probably want to see me dance.

J: You will be recording new songs soon. What is your mind set on music production now?
S: For this recording, I am going in with a comfortable and relax feel. The recording is a gift for my fans. Of course I will be happy if people likes it. In the old days, releasing cd was done becau
se it is required and how well the cd fair in the market is very important. Those are not important anymore, so it is actually more enjoyable. I have chosen not to put out a full album. Instead I will try a different delivery method. Before, on a full album consisting of ten songs, there might be three or even four tracks that I am not very satisfy with. So instead of that, why not just work on track by track so that there are no regrets. First, this will result in less pressure. Secondly, is due to my stubbornness. Since I have a choice now, why not allow my stubbornness to show a bit?

J: When did you start viewing work in this manner?
S: It is probably around the 2001 Jade Solid Gold award. It was the third time I won "Most Popular Female Artist". I was completely satisfied with all that I have accomplished and figure it is time to learn to relax more and enjoy work more. Coincidently, that was the time I was busy with movies, so I didn’t have to do any specific planning, everything just fell into place.

J: What type of movies do you most wish to act in?
S: I like movies that are a bit of the weird/silly side, I don’t mind if the pace is a bit slow. I also like movies that with heavy emotional scripts. Unfortunately there are very few companies that are willing to finance these type of movies. Actually all along, during my year of rest, I have been discussing possible movie projects with people. But every single time, the project fell through due to either scheduling conflicts between directors and actors or financial backing difficulty. But that’s ok, there is no hurry.

J: Do you have any movie recommendation for us?
S: I just finish watching Memories Of Matsuko on DVD. I remember director Lam Yik Wah once said that "It is possible to film Everlasting Regret in this manner". Go watch, I agree.

Fai Yeung, Sammi `Gold Pin` Meeting
J: Why did you invite Sammi to be a director in Twelve Flowers?
C: At the beginning, I just wanted to ask her to sing during the encore portion. But during dinner one time, she learned that there will be short films in the concert and wanted to participate. This year is my tenth year anniversary in music composition. I wanted to find a singer that can represent my last ten years of work. Now that Sammi is directing, it is actually really difficult to find a replacement.

J: Aside from this, have you ever gone to art festival?
(Note: I can only translate the first half of Keith’s reply as I am not familiar with the Chinese names translation of the artists that he mentioned later.)
C: I like to watching dancing the most in art festival as it is a rare occurrence in HK. It is hard to attract audience when ticket pricing is too high. Consequently during art festival, I always go and buy tickets to view them. Of course, I also support music event.
S: I have never formally watch anything at the art festival. But in recent years, I have began to like watching musicals. For example, I went to watch Lam Yik Wah’s Happy Prince with Wallace. Of course I also went to watch Bo Chu Je’s A Sentimental Journey and Red Boat. I would like to see more musicals in the future.

Hi-Tech Sadness
J: When was your first collaboration?
C: The first time we will together was in 1999 for How To Shed Tear. All along, I feel that Sammi’s song gives a very good representation of Hong Kong music in the 90’s. She has a hi-tech sadness vibe. Hong Kong is a complicated city, her singing on love songs always consists a sadness feel, that’s why I wrote those songs for her. For example, in the Last Time I Cried album, I really like how she project the heartfelt sadness.
S: Actually that was the only time I make sure I have learned the songs front and back before I enter the recording studio, I was hoping that you think I am very professional, ha ha. Fai Yeung’s song often touches me, I like his melody, I guess we are a good match.

J: Is sadness your real personality?
(Note: Not translating Keith’s reference to a North American (I assume) actor. I never could understand them.)
C: My trait actually do lean towards sadness but I refuse to live my life as a sad person. I am a very forward person and I can’t hide my sadness. I am quite a logical person so it is hard for me to believe in God, but she once said to me "Just believe, don’t question". At that moment, that to me sounds like "Your mother is a woman" type of phrase. As I gain more experience, I find what she is saying makes more sense.
S: I am the complete opposite. I view myself as a logical person but in fact, in my friends eyes, I am definitely a `feeling` person. After some thoughts, I guess I am kind of a feeling person. Through the help of the media, I have been able to masterfully portray a very sad/depressed person. As this is actually not the case, I would like to jump into that world and pretend to be depressed. He once recommend the French novel Les Larmes de l’assassin (Anne-Laure Bondoux) to me. We both coincidently like the same phrase in the novel, so in a sense this reflects a common thread between us.

Friends That You Don’t Collaborate With
J: Why do you think you get along so well with Fai Yeung?
S: When I talk with Fai Yeung, he gives me lots of inputs and views. Sometimes we have different view point. When that occurs, we discuss and argue but the end result is often something we both could not have imagine, that’s the treasure of friendship. He is a bookworm, he gives me lots of book as gift. In an effort to not be overtaken by him, I also read with all my strength. It is hard to find such a friend, someone that can broaden your horizon.
C: I really enjoy the relationship we have. I don’t mind if she release an album that does not consist of my composition. We have well surpassed that stage. In this business, people often mixes friends and work. Once that you can work well with professionally need to be a good friend. Similarly, it is very well possible that you can’t work with a friend.

J: Can you please describe each others strong and weak point?
C: She has great insights. Often, out of the blue, she can makes me see the light with one or two phrases. Her weakness is my strong point. I wish she can be more up-tempo. I am someone who must always have something going on in my life. She on the otherhand, takes things slowly and in stride. Combining the two of us together should be very good.
S: Fai Yeung strong suit is his logic. Weak point is that in his mind, he already has a definite image of things, so it is really hard to change his mind.

J: You will be starting work very soon, any goals?
S: My goal right now is that for every work I involved myself in, it must be done well. I will not let quantity influence quality. If the quality is good, I might very well increase quantity so long as I feel that I can handle it and has a desire to do so.Love Drawing More and More J: In recent years, you have become more creative, such as writing and drawing for columns and now you will be directing for the first time, when did you decide to proceed in this direction? S: I liked drawing since I was little, I am especially drawn to colors. I got influenced by my friends who studied arts, through conversation I decided to be brave and start drawing again. After a year of drawing, I don’t think I have improved much. The things I want to draw I never can do as it requires very high skill level. Sometimes I want to draw objects with layers, but I simply lack that skill level. That’s why I leaned towards more abstract drawing, I do worry that people try to use my drawing to guess what I am thinking though. J: What does drawing brings you? S: Drawing is now already a part of my life. I am not a very talkative person so drawing is a good outlet for me to express myself. Sometimes it is not necessary to share the finished drawing, I have saved quite a few. Drawing is also a good way for releasing certain emotions. Images and thoughts that cannot b
e expressed by words, a batch of colors that nobody will understand precisely pinpoint the emotions I wish to let out. Looking back at my own drawing, I can recall what I was feeling then. Beauty Obsession J: For Fai Yeung’s Twelve Flowers, what theme had you planned for your portion of the short film? S: At the beginning when Fai Yeung gave me a bunch of demos, some are quite upbeat, but I prefer the one that was a little moody. Thereafter, I have lots of imageries and stories flowing in my head. At the beginning, the stories are very complicated and dramatic, but then I realize it would be impossible to produce it in a 5 minute short film. I realize that simplistic is key, otherwise people will get totally lost. It will be a success if I can relay one message. The message I have chosen is beauty obsession. The film will be set in a hotel room and involves two female, one young and one elderly. I want to use beautiful imageries to express the difficulty women have in dealing with lost of outer beauty as age progresses. J: What style will you use in the short film? S: The thought process is extremely troublesome for me as I tend to like more moody and sad ending. But the media would then for certain use it to claim I am depressed, so I am quite scared. This actually greatly affects my creativity. Currently, I am debating on a crowd pleasing happy ending or an ending that I personally preferred. Someone is filming the topic loneliness, I chose obsession, I want to present obsession at all angles, both positive and negative. Although, from hearing the music, I feel that it should be a sad ending. J: Have you ask friends to help? S: I can certainly ask friends from the entertainment circle to help in acting and filming the film but I rather convey a more expermential and rough version to the audience. I don’t want it to be too boxed in. I would prefer, through lesser known actors and filmographer, energize some new ideas. So I think a 60% plan ahead is enough, it is more fun when there is an element of experimentation during filming. Also, I don’t have high expectation. As long as the filming process is fun and the duration of the film is a full 5 minute, I will be satisified. Sammi’s Book Corner J: Fai Yeung said that his plan for Twelve Flowers was due to his love for The Dream Of The Red Chamber. He feels that the women in that story is very much still alive in today’s society, do you agree? (Note: I am not sure if I translate correctly what Sammi said below as I don’t recognize a few of those Chinese characters, so I am guessing.) S: I don’t particular like The Dream of The Red Chamber, I have a slight prejudice on Chinese literature. I find that they tend to portray the characters too close-mindedly. Also, sometimes they describe them too acridly, I cannot stand that. I did not have a huge reaction on The Dream of The Red Chamber. Certainly, the characters are still among us. After all, a successful piece of literature relies greatly on the author’s ability to describe personality and emotions. J: What books have you read lately? Can you give us one or two recommendation? S: I love literature, especially ones from France, Japan, South Africa etc. I know there are many worthwhile Chinese literature, but at this point in time, I still cannot connect with them. There are three books that I think is noteworthy. First is South African author J.M. Coetzee’s "Life and Time of Michael K". No major reasoning is needed for this recommendation as Coetzee (2003 Noble Prize In Literature winner) is an author that I love and admire. The second recommendation is Stanley Hoffman’s "The Master Described by The Master". It’s a book containing conversation pieces among various Nobel Prize In Literature winners and literary greats. This book both widens and deepens my appreciation and understanding of literature. The last book I want to recommend is John Wood’s "Leaving Microsoft To Change The World". John Wood, a past leader of Microsoft division in China, left a bright future in Microsoft behind to pursue another job and ideal. After reading his book, I realize I can also do the same. Wish To Have a Grasp On Everything J: So many events have happens these few years, what is your outlook on life? S: Life is a series of learning. The theme is all but one word – love. I love the influence by Christianity. I have been a believer for over ten years but only recently had I started to mention it openly, consequently I am also more into it and will often go to Bible study. For example, starting this month, I am quitting smoking. Everyone pray for my success, this gives me lots of inner strength, it’s like a commitment I made with them. This commitment greatly decreases my desire to smoke every time I have the urge to pick up a cigarette. J: Is it inconvenient for you to go to Bible study group, you being Sammi Cheng and all? S: The Bible study group I attend consists mostly of people from the entertainment world. Of course, there are normal people as well. But the funny thing is, once I get there, I totally disassociate myself from my status. I don’t consider myself "Sammi"and neither do others, the feeling is great, very comfortable. J: What is the one thing you most desire at this stage? S: At this moment, what I want most is freedom. Artists often lack freedom, when that’s not possible, we want at least some sort of control. For example, choice of project and procedures. Earning wages is not for materialistic things, instead it is for earning a choice. Maybe one day I wish to stop for awhile, then I do not need to worry about cost of living. I had a good rest last year, so this year I will work hard. J: What have you learned the most during your year long rest? S: It is ok to stop working, it is not necessary to use busy as an excuse to not do something you enjoy. If you are willing, it is possible. I cannot say that I was happy like a bird the entire year. Of course there is low point and I have shed some tears. But looking back, it is well worth it. At the very least, I now truly understand life, what lifestyle I most desire and what things I need the most. So What If I Am Stubborn J: When will your next concert be? S: The concert will be held in May. Right now we have not settle on a theme or any details of the show. Since the last concert consists very few dancing portion, I think this time more will be included. I haven’t dance for awhile already, I think my fans probably want to see me dance. J: You will be recording new songs soon. What is your mind set on music production now? S: For this recording, I am going in with a comfortable and relax feel. The recording is a gift for my fans. Of course I will be happy if people likes it. In the old days, releasing cd was done because it is required and how well the cd fair in the market is very important. Those are not important anymore, so it is actually more enjoyable. I have chosen not to put out a full album. Instead I will try a different delivery method. Before, on a full album consisting of ten songs, there might be three or even four tracks that I am not very satisfy with. So instead of that, why not just work on track by track so that there are no regrets. First, this will result in less pressure. Secondly, is due to my stubbornness. Since I have a choice now, why not allow my stubbornness to show a bit? J: When did you start viewing work in this manner? S: It is probably around the 2001 Jade Solid Gold award. It was the third time I won "Most Popular Female Artist". I was completely satisfied with all that I have accomplished and figure it is time to learn to relax more and enjoy work more. Coincidently, that was the time I was busy with movies, so I didn’t have to do any specific planning, everything just fell into place. J: What type of movies do you most wish to act in? S: I like movies that are a bit of the weird/silly side, I don’t mind if the pace is a bit slow. I also like movies that with heavy emotional scripts. Unfortunately there are very few companies that are willing to finance these type of movies. Actually all along, during my year o
f rest, I have been discussing possible movie projects with people. But every single time, the project fell through due to either scheduling conflicts between directors and actors or financial backing difficulty. But that’s ok, there is no hurry. J: Do you have any movie recommendation for us? S: I just finish watching Memories Of Matsuko on DVD. I remember director Lam Yik Wah once said that "It is possible to film Everlasting Regret in this manner". Go watch, I agree. Fai Yeung, Sammi `Gold Pin` Meeting J: Why did you invite Sammi to be a director in Twelve Flowers? C: At the beginning, I just wanted to ask her to sing during the encore portion. But during dinner one time, she learned that there will be short films in the concert and wanted to participate. This year is my tenth year anniversary in music composition. I wanted to find a singer that can represent my last ten years of work. Now that Sammi is directing, it is actually really difficult to find a replacement. J: Aside from this, have you ever gone to art festival? (Note: I can only translate the first half of Keith’s reply as I am not familiar with the Chinese names translation of the artists that he mentioned later.) C: I like to watching dancing the most in art festival as it is a rare occurrence in HK. It is hard to attract audience when ticket pricing is too high. Consequently during art festival, I always go and buy tickets to view them. Of course, I also support music event. S: I have never formally watch anything at the art festival. But in recent years, I have began to like watching musicals. For example, I went to watch Lam Yik Wah’s Happy Prince with Wallace. Of course I also went to watch Bo Chu Je’s A Sentimental Journey and Red Boat. I would like to see more musicals in the future. Hi-Tech Sadness J: When was your first collaboration? C: The first time we will together was in 1999 for How To Shed Tear. All along, I feel that Sammi’s song gives a very good representation of Hong Kong music in the 90’s. She has a hi-tech sadness vibe. Hong Kong is a complicated city, her singing on love songs always consists a sadness feel, that’s why I wrote those songs for her. For example, in the Last Time I Cried album, I really like how she project the heartfelt sadness. S: Actually that was the only time I make sure I have learned the songs front and back before I enter the recording studio, I was hoping that you think I am very professional, ha ha. Fai Yeung’s song often touches me, I like his melody, I guess we are a good match. J: Is sadness your real personality? (Note: Not translating Keith’s reference to a North American (I assume) actor. I never could understand them.) C: My trait actually do lean towards sadness but I refuse to live my life as a sad person. I am a very forward person and I can’t hide my sadness. I am quite a logical person so it is hard for me to believe in God, but she once said to me "Just believe, don’t question". At that moment, that to me sounds like "Your mother is a woman" type of phrase. As I gain more experience, I find what she is saying makes more sense. S: I am the complete opposite. I view myself as a logical person but in fact, in my friends eyes, I am definitely a `feeling` person. After some thoughts, I guess I am kind of a feeling person. Through the help of the media, I have been able to masterfully portray a very sad/depressed person. As this is actually not the case, I would like to jump into that world and pretend to be depressed. He once recommend the French novel Les Larmes de l’assassin (Anne-Laure Bondoux) to me. We both coincidently like the same phrase in the novel, so in a sense this reflects a common thread between us. Friends That You Don’t Collaborate With J: Why do you think you get along so well with Fai Yeung? S: When I talk with Fai Yeung, he gives me lots of inputs and views. Sometimes we have different view point. When that occurs, we discuss and argue but the end result is often something we both could not have imagine, that’s the treasure of friendship. He is a bookworm, he gives me lots of book as gift. In an effort to not be overtaken by him, I also read with all my strength. It is hard to find such a friend, someone that can broaden your horizon. C: I really enjoy the relationship we have. I don’t mind if she release an album that does not consist of my composition. We have well surpassed that stage. In this business, people often mixes friends and work. Once that you can work well with professionally need to be a good friend. Similarly, it is very well possible that you can’t work with a friend. J: Can you please describe each others strong and weak point? C: She has great insights. Often, out of the blue, she can makes me see the light with one or two phrases. Her weakness is my strong point. I wish she can be more up-tempo. I am someone who must always have something going on in my life. She on the otherhand, takes things slowly and in stride. Combining the two of us together should be very good. S: Fai Yeung strong suit is his logic. Weak point is that in his mind, he already has a definite image of things, so it is really hard to change his mind. J: You will be starting work very soon, any goals? S: My goal right now is that for every work I involved myself in, it must be done well. I will not let quantity influence quality. If the quality is good, I might very well increase quantity so long as I feel that I can handle it and has a desire to do so.

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