Text by Annie Lu ｜Translation by Elaina Kung
Despite having created box office hits with films like “Cape No. 7” and “KANO,” director Wei Te-sheng still wanted to stick to his original intentions and continue telling the stories of Taiwan. However, the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of his planned production of the film “Taiwan Trilogy.” Overwhelmed by immense frustration and disappointment, Wei Te-sheng’s confidence wavered, causing him to drown in dark thoughts. Yet, a story about a child with cancer, which stayed on his mind for a long time, triggered something within him, allowing him to redefine the concept of “hardship.” This led to his decision to create “BIG,” a film that combines live-action and animation. He hoped to not only encourage himself, but to also heal those who have been stagnant due to illness and setbacks.
童心協力 Children in Unity
The film “BIG” centers around seven children battling with cancer in a hospital ward. Each character possesses unique characteristics and is crafted to reflect the symptoms of their illnesses. Although the children all have different personalities, they are still accepting of one another. While fighting their challenging battles, the children display a resilience that even adults find awe-inspiring. When director Wei Te-sheng was asked about how he directed the child actors, he responded with, “I told them that they were doing the same work as the adults which gave them a sense of responsibility, resulting in them putting in their best efforts. I also let them know that they are an important part of this film as the roles they play provides comfort and solutions for many adults.”
共譜佳作 Creating a Masterpiece Together
In order to leave a deep impression of the seven young heroes in the hearts of the audience, director Wei Te-sheng invited renowned art director Shinji Hashimoto, known for his work with Makoto Shinkai, to co-direct the animation of “BIG.” Although the two had known each other for a while, their collaboration began with the prelude to the “Taiwan Trilogy” during the story of “Danami.” Through their collaboration, they slowly fostered a sense of harmony and agreement and, given his expertise in 2D animation, director Wei Te-sheng was confident in Hashimoto’s abilities. In order to make the animation production for “BIG” even more intricate, Hashimoto even went the extra mile by traveling to Taiwan in order to understand the appearances and personalities of the children.
再續前緣 The Rekindling of Old Connections
Compared to his previous works which predominantly focused on Taiwan’s history, director Wei Te-sheng hopes to deliver the diverse cultural aspects of Taiwan through “BIG.” At the same time, director Wei hopes the audience can relate and discover themselves within the film’s characters, and the varying family dynamics and personalities. Some families might have older parents, some might have successful careers, and others might be divorced, single parents; however, once their children fall ill, they all must face reality. In the film, director Wei Te-sheng brings together the different families in a shared space, where they face minor conflicts but ultimately resolves their problems by supporting each other through difficult times. Director Wei Te-sheng believes that the reflection of a united family is very “Taiwanese”, reminding him of his previous work, “Cape No. 7.” A special aspect of “BIG” is the reunion of actors Chie Tanaka and Jack Kao, allowing them to rekindle old connections. Director Wei Te-sheng mentioned, “I’ve always stayed in contact with them and we have excellent communication and chemistry. I’ve always believed that if they played a real couple in a film, it would be very interesting. Coincidentally, the character Da-shan in the film is around 14 years old, and it’s been around 14 or 15 years since the release of “Cape No. 7”, so I like to think that this film as the second episode.”
演員訪談 Film Interviews – Actors
對於電影製作過程中最難忘的經歷，病童演員也分別提出他們的想法，飾演源源的鄭又菲認為：「是剃髮，因為需要很大的勇氣」飾演大杉的郭大睿則是覺得：「有一場戲要吐，因為我那時候很容易就會吐，只要有一點聲音或味道就會想吐，然後我記得那場戲我看到別人演自己就快受不了，但自己要演又放不開來。 所以魏導當時就跟我說你叫放開來 想像你吞東西又沒吞下去 那場真的超困難，練習的時候我真的差點吐爆。」兩人為了出演《BIG》都非常努力地將自己融入在角色中，並認為這部戲改變自己非常多，未來也希望會繼續朝著演員這條路前進！
When asked about their most memorable experience during the film’s production, the young actors that played the role of children with illnesses shared their thoughts. Child actress Zhen Yu-fei, who played the character Yuan-yuan, said the most unforgettable experience for her was shaving her head, as it required a lot of courage. On the other hand, child actor Max Kuo, who played the character Da-shan replied, “There is a scene where I had to throw up. Usually I can throw up really easily as I am very sensitive to sound and scent. I remember having a hard time holding it in when I was watching the other actors, but when it was my turn, I had a hard time letting myself throw up in front of the camera. Director Wei then told me to let loose and to imagine myself not being able to swallow something properly. That scene was really difficult for me and I almost couldn’t control myself during practice.” Both actors put tremendous effort into playing their roles in “BIG” and said the film greatly impacted them. They look forward to continuing their journey as actors in the future!