"Where there is a will, there is a way" and "Always strive towards your goals" are some of the things that we have often heard or repeated to ourselves but how many have successfully kept at it till they have reached their goal? Director Yoko Chou is one of the select few who have never stopped looking forward during her career as a director for television, with the dream of someday having her very own feature film screened in cinemas nationwide. Now, with the upcoming release of the tear-jerking family drama "Tears Of The Mom" in Malaysia this 14 June, it is clear that Yoko's dream has become more than just a dream. She credits it all to the help and support of her loved ones and friends in the industry, all of whom have helped her to bring her inspiring drama to life as its director and producer, despite being recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Cinema Online had an interview with Yoko Chou at GSC Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Q: Hi, Yoko, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Yoko: I received my early education on filmmaking at Kuo-Kwong Art College in Taiwan. I'm the classmate of Tuo Chung Hua, you may know him as the man who played Old Wu in Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution"; and Doze Niu, the director of "Love", was my junior. We have many stars in the school. I've been in Malaysia for more than 10 years and before this movie, I mainly directed television shows. "Tears Of The Mom" is my directorial debut.
Q: Talking about "Tears Of The Mom", most are wondering why you did most of the work, such as being the film's director and producer. Is it because you were trying to save budget?
Yoko: No, that is not the reason. I just want to ensure the quality of the movie and being more hands on was the only way that I could do that.
Q: The movie was initially set to be released on May. Why was the release date delayed to June?
Yoko: Yes, and as you all know from the movie title, it should have been screened in cinemas in conjunction with the celebration of Mother's Day. Unfortunately, I have to postpone the release date after I received some bad news.
Q: What bad news?
Yoko: [In tears] In March, I went for a medical check-up after I experienced pain on my chest while I was working in front of my computer. The doctor then confirmed that I had breast cancer. Due to health reasons, my team and I decided to amend the release schedule of the movie. However, to take my mind of my condition, I decided to focus my mind on my movie by spending more of my time on the post-production and making myself busy by attending the Asian Film Festival in Hong Kong.
Q: Let's talk about your film's cast, Yoko. How do you grade their effort in the drama?
Yoko: For Amber, she has great potential in acting. The reason I chose her to play Coco is because her own modeling background and her image fits in with her character's story development. She did better than I expected in her emotional scenes, because I wanted her to demonstrate Coco as a tough person despite facing so many hardships in life. When we talk about Johnson, to me, he's a very mature actor. We need someone who is energetic in sports for the male lead. Johnson has it all. He trained very hard for badminton just to be able to shoot a perfect sport scene for the film. I had many opportunities to work with him in the past and he is an actor who does not mind having NGs.
Q: Do you have any message about your new movie to deliver to your Malaysian audience?
Yoko: We have gathered actors and actresses from different races to act in the film as we are trying to realize the concept of "1Malaysia". I hope this is not just a movie that emphasizes on family and friendship values. This movie is also being filmed to promote the importance of living in a harmonious community like what we have in this beautiful nation. So, bring your parents and friends to the cinemas to watch this movie.
Q: Thank you for your time, Yoko and take care.
Yoko: Thank you very much.