Film director Feng Kai takes on a father figure role with his cast in Din Tao: Leader Of The Parade, writes Loong Wai Ting
FIRST time Taiwanese film director Feng Kai shows no sign of slowing down. Instead, the 50-year-old takes on the role of a leader and father figure to his cast and crew as evidenced from the making of his latest film, Din Tao: Leader of the Parade.
He did this particularly in relation to his lead cast members Allen Ko You-lun and Crystal Lin Yu-hsuan. Feng was accompanied by You-lun and Yu-hsuan at a press conference to promote the movie in Kuala Lumpur recently.
“Prior to filming Din Tao (the movie), I had no idea what din tao was,” Feng says, adding that he spent almost two years researching the temple performance that is unique to Taiwan.
“My objective is not really reenacting the performance onscreen, rather, it’s about showing the positive spirit that goes with each performance,” he adds.
Born in 1961, Feng spent his formative years on sets of television dramas (his father is a famous producer, Chou Yo). He is currently known for making well-received (in Taiwan) drama series such as Green Forest, My Home, Unique Flavour and Heaven’s Wedding Gown.
When Feng experienced writer’s block a few years ago, a friend suggested that he venture into the film industry, something he was not familiar with. Describing the experience as a “great leap forward” he eventually dedicated two years of his time learning the basics of filmmaking.
“In making movies, I think language is not really important. It is just a form of communication for you to get your message across,” he says.
Din Tao carries a very strong Taiwanese flavour that is part of the Taiwanese culture and “I want it to appear as authentic as possible”.
The inspiration for making the movie came after a visit to the Jiu Tian Folk Drum and Arts Group which was founded in 1995 by drummer Shue Chen-rong in Taichung, Taiwan. The group is often credited for its blending-of-folk-drumming, acrobatics and traditional dances.
The group first caught media attention in Taiwan when Shue sent his members to carry a giant statue of the deity Prince Nezha on their backs across Taiwan by foot (as shown at the end of the movie).
In 2011, the group completed a seven-day ultra marathon (250 km) across the Sahara Desert in October, where its members carried the 17kg statue of Prince Nezha on their backs.
Playing A-Tai, a rebellious kid with a dream to prove his worth, Ko shared his experience playing the din tao-style drums. “I thought it was all easy, where I had to just ‘drum around’ and look good in camera. But it was all hard work and after days of continuous drumming and practice, my hands developed blisters and the skin peeled off. I remembered once when the director called for a lunch break, I could hardly lift my chopsticks,” he said with a smile.
Ko, who is also the son of the late stuntman/actor, Blackie Ko Shou-liang, said his relationship between his onscreen father, Uncle Da, played by A-Hsi (real name Chen Po-cheng) reminded him of his own father.
“I had a hard time getting into the emotion for some of the scenes. Feng pulled me aside and told me to give everything I could. He told me to treat A-Hsi as my own father,” he said.
Feng, who is in no hurry to make another movie, said he wants to continue producing television series.
“A great movie takes time to develop. I have not received any script yet, so there is no need to rush,” he said, adding that he will also be casting Lin in his next TV series but nothing has been confirmed.
A-Tai (Ko), is a young man who dreams about making it big in the United States. He returns to his hometown in Taichung to become a din tao performer.
He has never been on good terms with his father, Uncle Da (A-Hsi), who also runs the din tao troupe.
While Uncle Da struggles to meet challenges by a long-standing rival troupe headed by Wu Cheng (Liao Chun), A-Tai decides to put an end to it by leading his father’s own demoralised troupe in a cross-country journey in search of inspiration.
Din Tao: Leader Of The Parade opened last week