An Interview with Lee Hsiang-hsiu (Director)
This Work Could Only Be Expressed on Film
Q: A lot of recent documentaries are shot in video, but this work is shot in film.
LH: I used film to express the breadth of the sea. I’d learned how to shoot with film as a student, but the basic thing was that I used film in order to express the majesty and texture of the sea, and the atmosphere of the light and shadows. Also, one of the main “aims” of this work was to use film to precisely show textures, and capture the atmosphere of struggle and co-existence between the fishermen and nature. Digital video is extremely convenient, since you can shoot even with just one person. However, when shooting with a film camera you need to put together a team of at least three or four people and build a film crew, and you need budget for film, and labor costs get expensive. In terms of financing it was very tough and I borrowed money, but I have no regrets. I think film was the best choice in order to shoot a work dealing with this theme.
Q: How many days did you film?
LH: Pre-production was one year, and two years for filming.
Q: The film says that for deep-sea fishing, the boats don’t come back for as long as six months. You spent a long time with the fishermen on the boat.
LH: The boat we filmed was fishing for mackerel, so it went out for about one month. The film crew went on board with the intention of staying on the boat for a month, but a typhoon came and the boat returned to shore a little earlier.
Q: Were there difficulties with the filming?
LH: For filming on a boat, it was tough dealing with the film crew’s seasickness and stabilizing the equipment when the waves got big. Caring for their health and dealing with seasickness was difficult. And it was tough because the weather, time and place for lowering the nets have to fit with the fishermen. And one unfortunate thing was that since I’m a woman, I couldn’t get on the boat and go out fishing. If I had been able to board the boat and film while living together with them, I could have filmed something from a woman’s perspective, which would have been different from the fishermen on land.
Q: The music is wonderful.
LH: I met a good composer. He’s also interested in the sea, and so he really grasped my ideas. Also, he understood the emotions of the fishermen from the continent and the Philippines who had left their countries to come and work, so he composed music that matches each situation.
Q: Why did you select that place as the film location?
LH: I picked it because I’d been there twice before, and the beautiful scenery left a very strong impression.
Q: In the director’s statement in the catalog, you comment, “In the end, I’m always the one that benefits most.” What did you gain from this work?
LH: Every time I shoot a documentary, I talk to many people and learn a lot. This time, through the filming I learned about the connection with the Taiwan’s fishing industry and the foreign fishermen and their feelings as people coming to work from abroad. I also learned about the difficulties fishermen are encountering with the decreasing catches due to global warming and problems about successors for fishermen.
When you film a documentary, you get to understand human beings. It’s fascinating because you really understand the internal workings about the attitude with which those people are approaching life.
(Compiled by Kusunose Kaori)
Interviewers: Kusunose Kaori, Nishiya Mariko / Interpreter: Higuchi Yuko
Photography: Kaito Yoshimasa / Video: Yamaguchi Mika / 2005-10-09