[Ask Me Anything] ]I'm the filmmaker of "Sophie," a film about a young girl abandoned by her mother in Hong Kong.
Hi Everyone! My name is Alle Hsu, and I am the co-writer, director, and producer of the short film, "Sophie." I'm from Southern California, and recently received my MFA degree in Film Production/Film Directing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Asia. This film was shot in Hong Kong, while my fellow classmates/colleagues and I were based in Singapore
"Sophie" is a family drama centered on a young girl and the new relationship she has with her grandmother. The film is about acceptance and learning to adapt to a new place and a new home. At the start of the film, Sophie is abandoned by her mother, Mary and left at grandma Shirley’s house in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
My own mother, Lily grew up in Kowloon, Hong Kong. She was born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong. I wanted to do a story that had some connection to my mother’s time in Hong Kong. I also grew up going to Hong Kong every year to visit my grandparents. I knew I wanted to do a film about a young girl. The film and the story went through many drafts over a period of 5 months of writing. Our professor, Professor Todd Solondz emphasized to me that mother abandonment had to be in my film, and at the start of the film. I wanted to tackle a social issue that I believe is more common in many parts of Asia and around the world, but particularly in Hong Kong and Mainland China. Many children in these places end up being raised by their grandparents for many different reasons – mainly because both parents are working, because of demands of society, or spend a lot of time abroad. As a result, many children in Asia end up developing a closer connection to their grandparents. I spent time researching social issues in China in a documentary I made in college. I wanted to tackle this in "Sophie."
Actresses Charlotte Cheung (Sophie) and Alannah Ong (Shirley) gave incredible performances throughout the week that we shot the film. Both worked well with one another in creating the grandmother-granddaughter dynamic.
Cinematographer Thomas Wood and I worked closely in establishing the style and look of the film. We were both inspired by different films from Asia in creating the feeling in the imagery.
The film is a character study on a young girl in a large city who misses her mother, and has a simple want of just needing to get her class permission form signed to go to the zoo. There is an essence, a feeling of the mother throughout the film because this is a moment in Sophie’s life that she will never forget – these are the first moments of the relationship between her and her grandmother, Shirley.
The dream is to continue the story, make this short film into a feature, to go back every few years to follow the characters of Sophie (Charlotte Cheung) and Shirley (Alannah Ong). Co-writer Dominique Holmes and I are currently working on this feature script.