By Qiao Yi
A scene from One Night in Supermarket.
With the Chinese mainland market dominated by seasoned professionals, it is often hard for young directors to get their foot in the door. Yang Qing is determined to change all of this with his low-budget cinematic debut, One Night in Supermarket, wowing audiences and finding box office success.
The feature-length film was written by 28-year-old Yang in 2006 and shot in just 29 days on a budget of 25 million yuan ($3.65 million). The movie centers on ordinary people and draws on Yang’s own short but interesting life experience. Hailing from Chongqing, Sichuan Province, Yang’s love of film began when he was very young.
Since arriving in Beijing in 2001, he has worked in the film industry, taking on any role that became available. Pitching his idea for a script to a film company that promotes young Chinese directors, Yang was given the chance to realize his dream.
“Despite the financial restraints, it was fun to work overnight in the supermarket. Many words and actions were improvised,” Yang said.
The movie stars veteran actors Xu Zheng and He Sanshui, who helped Yang along the way.
“Xu Zheng designed his clothes, the old-fashioned woolen vest and bumpkin haircut. He also designed his action sequences,” Yang explained.
One Night in Supermarket draws from Korean director Kim Sang-Jin’s Attack the Gas Station and Cashback by British director Sean Ellis. There are also hints of Ning Hao’s work whose Crazy Stone was the highest grossing Chinese film in the country in 2006, raking in more than 6 million yuan ($877,000) in less than two weeks.
One Night in Supermarket makes use of the subtleties of conversation with references to pop-culture and offers an ironic look at human nature via characters that all end up in a supermarket together overnight.
Set in a grocery store, the film follows the story of a man’s gamble at the lottery. The failure of the supermarket boss to correctly type in his winning numbers cost him his potential fortune. Seeking revenge, the man, played by He Shanshui, kidnaps two night workers, teen idol, Kimi Qiao and award-winning actress Li Xiaolu and attempts to make back his loss by selling supermarket items.
One Night in Supermarket is an interesting portrayal of human nature told through the various characters and funny incidents that come and go during the night.
Yang said that the opportunity he was given to make this project is most people in the film industry’s dream.
“People always say that when they become successful that they will make a passion project. But they seldom do,” Yang commented. “One Night in Supermarket is my passion but I took it as a chance to try my hand at directing. Successful or not, I am happy to have been given a chance.”
Yang said that he attempted to fuse two realities, a story about surviving a near-death experience in a supermarket and an abstract analysis of human nature.
“On the one hand, people want something real and close to their lives and on the other hand, they want something crazy and out of control,” he said.
“In everything, from the music I chose to the dialogue between characters, I just wanted everything to be personal and intimate.”
“I want my work to be seen at the cinemas rather than piling up in my closet. Personal pursuit can be balanced with commercial success,” Yang added.
Yang’s second film is currently in the planning stages with Yang letting on that it will once again be a single-setting, small budget film.
“I am content now because at least I can write scripts, bring them onto the big screen and make audiences laugh.”
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