Emmanuel Li
Music For The End Of The World
Screening Session: BLOCK 3  
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
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Would the apocalypse really be all that bad? Teenage Freddie certainly doesn't think so, as he boogies his troubles away on a gorgeous sunny hill...

Hi Emmanuel thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

Hiya! I’m just about managing to stay sane during these times by throwing myself into creative work and discovering new films and art.

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Absolutely. Being shut in and isolated for so long gave me a lot of time to reflect, imagine and consolidate my feelings to be able to express them. I think one of the reasons everyone was having weird dreams at the beginning of lockdown is that our brains were helping us escape mundanity and our four walls every night.

Congratulations on having your film selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?

Some of my most impactful and memorable cinema experiences were at the Genesis, so even though it’s a shame my film won’t be screening there due to a certain pandemic, it’s an honour to be included in the programme of such an esteemed festival associated with the cinema, and I’m very excited to see the other shorts!

Can you tell me a little bit about Music For The End Of The World, how did this film come about?

I’d been meaning to make some sort of love letter to music and the arts for ages but was never able to find the right concept until the pandemic came along and I realised why music meant so much to me. After seeing the slew of deathly serious ‘COVID-19 short films’ emerging, I really wanted to counter those with a film that rejected doom and gloom, that acknowledged the darkness of the situation but also revealed the hope and beauty amidst it all by offering a different perspective.

What where the biggest challenges you faced bringing your film to life?

After getting over the self-doubt during writing where I constantly questioned whether this was too weird of a concept to ever work, the biggest challenge was definitely the stunning weather during production, which was a gift but also a curse. Acting, directing and dancing in a head-to-toe costume in the blazing hot summer sun almost made me pass out, and as all of the film used natural lighting, it was a constant ballet with the sun to make sure the shot looked good and our cameraman’s shadow didn’t show up in it.

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

Not much, surprisingly. I feel very lucky that practically everything fell into the right place for this film, and that I’ve said what I wanted to say in a way that feels authentic and interesting. The only thing I maybe would’ve changed is to have shot it using better equipment, to allow more leeway during colour grading and so there’s less noise in the darker shots. I’d also like to improve my performance in a few places.

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I’ve always had trouble communicating with people but also a burning passion for storytelling, so when I discovered that I could use stories to express my deepest feelings and move and entertain other people in the process, it was life-changing and therapeutic, and has actually improved my social skills. 

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been give?

Don’t neglect the sound of your film. Viewers can accept a sub-par image, but bad sound instantly makes any film feel amateur and takes you out of the story. So always dedicate a lot of care towards the sound recording and post-production.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Definitely. Rarely is anything new ever achieved by following the rules, and one of the brilliant things about film and art is that they allow us an insight into so many different world views and imaginations that may challenge our own, and that’s a great thing.

"I hope people will learn to be able to see the world in a different light..."

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Always ask yourself ‘why’ you are making the film you’re making. If the answer is along the lines of “because I want to do cool transitions and camera tricks”, that’s ok when you’re starting out or learning, but eventually you want the answer to be more like “because I can’t rest until I share this story with the world and get this off my chest.”

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?

I hope people will learn to be able to see the world in a different light, to appreciate solitude and the ability of music and art to move us both emotionally and physically.

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