Placed in Blog
I’m very glad to share with you all “The Places We Should Have Gone”. It is a short that I shot while on vacation 5 months ago when I was traveling around Taiwan with my family. It is also a personal project not only in how it was shot, but also in its context.
The feeling of regret or wishing for another chance is common when a couple separates. Whoever is at fault usually searches for sympathy as they have realized in hindsight their mistakes. In “Places” Becky has returned from a 6 month internship and runs into her exboyfriend. Based on the flashbacks we see that prior to her leaving, she made many efforts to keep him close, but he was not so receptive for whatever reason. While his rejection of her ideas to take trips may not have directly been the reason for their breakup, it’s enough to show his attitude toward the relationship and how much he had come to value it and her. Fast forward to her return from the job, we can see that she is not totally over it. And to her surprise, the ex-boyfriend has come to realize how he mistreated her. Whether or not she gives him another chance is left open, but the ending line is what I wanted to emphasize… When people break up, they usually handle it in one of two ways. They either push themselves to forget about it and move on, or they wallow in depression, holding on. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s good to do either. Trying to forget means getting rid of all the experiences and lessons. Dwelling means not accepting and growing from the same experiences/lessons. When Becky says “I will do neither”, she’s saying, I can move on, while still remembering why.
Prior to leaving for the trip, I knew that I wanted to make a video while I was out there. 10 days, going all around Taiwan, I had to come back with something. A few things were of major concern, however. I didn’t know anyone out there to act, I didn’t really know where I would be visiting, I knew I wouldn’t have anyone to rely on to help shoot, oh…and I didn’t have any story idea whatsoever.
A couple days into the trip, struggling to come up with a concept, I was hitting major writer’s block. Nothing was sticking, but I couldn’t pause the trip. So I just started to take random video of the places I was seeing. From the north, to the south, the east…all parts of the island we were visiting. As the days went on, I had accumulated various shots from different locations, but still no story. When I started to think about how I could utilize all the random footage, a rough idea started to form.
Another issue was that I didn’t bring a microphone. I definitely wanted to have dialogue and sound, so I knew capturing audio would be a challenge. This limiting factor also played into the formation of the story. Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to capture live audio well, I thought about how I could use their voices in other contexts to push the story. This is why most of the short is in narrated flashbacks, and in the final voicemail; because all that audio was recorded separately and did not have to be dubbed.
As I said, I didn’t know anyone in Taiwan who could act. Thankfully through a friend, Joan, I was introduced via email to Daniel and Anna, neither of whom are real actors, but were just friends of Joan’s. I had never met them before or seen them act, but I believed that I’d be able to work it through with them, and so on the a leap of faith, I found my actors.
While I already had a lot of scenery shots from the 8 days of traveling, the majority of the short still had to be shot. Of course, this had to happen on the LAST DAY of the trip. Actually, the final NIGHT. Thankfully, I did have one friend in Taipei, Jesse (who also happened to write all the beautiful music). We chose to meet up at a night market near his apartment. This is also where we met the actors for the first time. For the next few hours we ran around the night market, shot at Jesse’s apt, and begged the 7-11 manager to let us shoot by the window. 3am and we were done. I woke up the next morning and flew back to the US.
POST AND MUSIC
Of course, with such a tight schedule, I did miss some shots that I wanted, but just had to make it work. As I put down the rough sequences I sent over clips to Jesse for him to start working on the music. Going back and forth a few times, we finally found the right sounds and melodies. Jesse perfectly captured the moods, and in most cases enhanced them, with the music. If you enjoyed it, be sure to check his stuff out at Songs for Cinema.
I wrote the original script in English and Anna, the actress, was the one who translated it to Chinese for the shoot. Going back to do subtitles wasn’t as difficult since I do understand mandarin better than I can speak, and Anna stuck to the lines really well. For a few lines though, I had to call on some of my more skilled Chinese speaking friends to confirm that the subtitles I chose were the best. As for the title, I asked my Mom and Dad to come up with a more poetic translation, rather than a direct translation. In case you were wondering, the Chinese title roughly translates to, as my mom explained, “If I can go see the places with you again (the boy regreted and wished for one more chance)” but it sounds so much better in Chinese, haha.
Thanks so much for reading this far. Hope you enjoyed the project. I know it’s not like our typical stuff, but making videos like this here and there helps remind me how WF first started; just us, with a camera, going out and making stuff that’s meaningful to us. I hope we can always keep that spirit.