|courtesy of mingpao.com|
|courtesy of mingpao.com|
Based on the real life struggle of the Paralympic Games athlete So Wa Wai, the film ZERO TO HERO (MA MA DIK SUN KEI SIU JI) was produced by and starred Sandra Ng Kwan Yu. She was used to making commercial films. She admitted that at first boss Louis Koo Tin Lok introduced new director Jimmy Wan Chi Man to her, but she understood that investing in sports films, musical films and the likes would have certain risk. With the belief that "life needs hope", and with Koo Tin Lok telling her, "I put up the money you put up the effort", in the end they overcame all the hardship to finish the film.
Kwan Yu pointed out that before the production began she and the director prepared for several months, especially when the budget was only HK$ 30 million. The film had many running and special effect scenes, but could not neglect the mother and son relationship. Thus the calculation had to be accurate and precise. Did boss Koo Tin Lok pound her chest? Kwan Yu said, "Koo Tin Lok only told me to do what I could. I understood that we couldn't make the movies without any limit. It would become a bottomless pit!" Kwan Yu stated that she already took a 2/3 pay cut for her acting salary. The producer fee was also included within. "Ultimately this was something I wanted to do, it meant something so I didn't mind. Mr. Koo and I have worked together for years. For his founding film GOLDEN CHICKEN S (GUM GAI SSS) we were already working together. I had a lot of trust in me. He said, 'If you say it's OK it is'. So anything that went over the budget was taken from my salary!"
Kwan Yu said that before the film went into production she first received the agreement from So Wa Wai's Mama "So Ma" for the rights, then went to get an understanding from So Wa Wai for research. "I talked many times with So Ma, and I very greatly touched to learn about how tough a time So Ma had in raising Wai Jai. So Man did not mind even sharing private stuff, but I said that we weren't shooting private things. We hoped to take the feeling to turn it into the character. In addition I wouldn't be impersonating her, I thought with the experience I would naturally resemble her!"
Did So Ma have any opinion of casting this time? Kwan Yu said no. Although So Ma has not yet watched the film, she visited the set during the shoot. When she saw to 1 to 1 scale set of her former residence, she was reminded of how she raised her son. Kwan Yu planned to hold a special screening for her. "So Ma said that she was afraid she would cry then, I said you definitely would cry. Actually if someone made a movie about Ng Kwan Yu, I would cry too. Next time I would find someone to shoot me first, but I might as well wait until I would be 90!"
Kwan Yu admitted that earlier she had Lunar New Year films and commercial films well in hand. This time producing an inspirational film truly was a huge challenge, thus she put a lot of effort and time into the script. From the half a year of editing to before the production began every department needed to table read the script. Aside from So Wa Wai's real life story, the film also had some fictional parts. Among them were touching but tearjerking scenes. Kwan Yu said, "I cried from the beginning to the end, from the first scene when I carried my son to the hospital I was crying. The director said that if you couldn't cry, he would drop two drops of fake emotions (eye drops) or slap me hard. However actually if the scene wasn't written well it would be meaningless!" The most memorable for her was the argument scene with her son. "I almost had heart problems from making it. It took two or three full nights. Because lights off was at 11PM at the rented campground, every night I wanted to shoot a little better but ended up having to turn off the lights!" However she praised the adult version So Wa Wai actor Leung Chung Hang as very professional. "Maybe because of his stage background, once before the cameras rolled he hug me hard and said, "I miss my Ma". Then we took our marks. After the shoot our emotions still couldn't be stopped. Then I asked whether this was the technique that the Performing Art Academy required, to dig at where you hurt!" Leung Chung Hang admitted that his mother already passed. Ultimately playing a character required to have a part of him inside, so he had to put the realest side on display! Kwan Yu said that actually all three actors who played So Wa Wai in different stages were very outstanding and actually went beyond expectation.
Leung Chung Hang said that while exploring the role of the adult So Wa Wai, before the performance he met with him to run and play video games. However he did not "poke" him to talk about the past, because he already knew everything in his autobiography. Instead he wanted to know about his life and everyday movements and gestures. "Because this time wasn't a real documentary, it added created stories that were able to fill any hole. However the greatest difficulty was to imitate how he talked, because everyone would have to pay a lot of attention in order to be able to hear Wai Jai talk. Acting however couldn't be like this, yet I couldn't lose the soul of Wai Jai's speech. Thus the director, the younger version's Fung Ho Yeung and I all worked hard on practicing it." Before his performance he also hired a coach to help him train, ate four full meals a day and egg white. However after a nightly run he would burn everything off. Who was faster between him and So Wa Wai? Leung Chung Hang said, "Of course I couldn't beat him, he is a gold medalist!"