Do you remember what you were doing when you were 12? You were probably getting sand all over yourself in the playground (for old fogeys) or catching all the Pokemon in the latest Pokemon game (if you’re younger than our 30-year-old North-South MRT Line).

One thing you probably weren’t doing? Memorising scripts and getting up early in the morning for a full day of filming.

How do child actors do it? The Popping Post spoke to the child stars of Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》, the sequel to what we thought was the best film of 2016, The Kid from the Big Apple 《我来自纽约》. They told us all about their experiences filming both family dramas, along with their chaperone Jess Teong, writer-director of both films (and star of the 2009 Channel 8 drama, Your Hand in Mine 《想握你的手》).

Sarah Tan as Sarah Lin in Before We Forget (当我们在一起). Credit: Three Pictures

Sarah Tan as Sarah Lin in Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》. Credit: Three Pictures

In the Chinese family drama Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》, 13-year-old Sarah Tan plays the energetic granddaughter of Chun Gen (Ti Lung), who has to cope with several dramatic changes in her family’s life. It will take all her courage and optimism to weather the trials and tribulations she faces.

Jason Tan as Ah Bao in Before We Forget (当我们在一起). Credit: Three Pictures

Jason Tan as Ah Bao in Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》. Credit: Three Pictures

15-year-old Jason Tan takes up the role of Ah Bao, her best friend and neighbour. Not only does he support her through her problems, he also aids her grandfather Chun Gen whenever he needs help.

The two stars reprise their roles from the previous movie, The Kid from the Big Apple 《我来自纽约》.

Sarah Tan as Sarah Lin in Before We Forget (当我们在一起). Credit: Three Pictures

Sarah Tan as Sarah Lin in Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》. Credit: Three Pictures

 

What were some of the challenges of shooting Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》?

Sarah: Scenes which needed me to show my character’s inner feelings. In the first film, my character wanted to be cool and rebellious. But in this film, my character has changed, and her love for grandpa is more important.

Jason: My voice broke – you can hear the difference very distinctly between the first and second film. Because of that, it made me feel that I was not as cute in the first film. So while I was filming, I was very self-conscious, that my actions would not be as cute anymore. But Director Jess told me not to worry, because my character would naturally grow and evolve from film to film.

Jason Tan as Ah Bao in Before We Forget (当我们在一起). Credit: Three Pictures

Jason Tan as Ah Bao in Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》. Credit: Three Pictures

How are you similar or different to the characters you play?

Sarah: I’m a tomboy, but my character is a trendy girl who likes to decorate her room. I don’t like to decorate my room. But our similarities are that we are loving and helpful to our families.

Jason: Our characters are quite similar in real-life – I’m also playful, just like the character I play. But our differences are that I’m not as close to my neighbours, because I moved house. My character, Ah Bao, treats his neighbours like family, something I was glad I could portray in the film.

Sarah Tan as Sarah Lin in Before We Forget (当我们在一起). Credit: Three Pictures

Sarah Tan as Sarah Lin in Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》. Credit: Three Pictures

What was your favourite scene in the film?

Sarah: The scene where I dance with a long-lost family member. I usually don’t like to hug or dance with people, and I asked Director Jess if I could avoid dancing. But then I realised it was a critical scene for my character because it was finally her chance to connect with her father, and it was very 温馨 (heartwarming) for me.

Jason: The scene at the airport, where I’m reunited with Sarah’s character. I had fun while shooting it and watching the final scene. (Director Jess: Also because he had potato chips to eat during the scene!)

Jason Tan as Ah Bao in Before We Forget (当我们在一起). Credit: Three Pictures

Jason Tan as Ah Bao in Before We Forget 《当我们在一起). Credit: Three Pictures

How did you juggle studies and filming at the same time?

Sarah: When filming, Director Jess would tell me and Jason “You are students, not superstars, so you must remember to study hard.” She would always tell us to take a book to read when we had free time between scenes, or to read the script.

Jason: I want to thank Director Jess, because she knows both of us are students and so she shot the movie in November and December, during our school holidays. Shooting the film didn’t have as big an impact on our studies because I had no homework (Sarah: But I had homework.).

Sarah Tan as Sarah Lin in Before We Forget (当我们在一起). Credit: Three Pictures

Sarah Tan as Sarah Lin in Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》. Credit: Three Pictures

Who is your favourite superhero character?

Sarah: Wonder Woman.

Jason: Iron Man – since I was young, I’ve been a true Iron Man fan. I watched all the films. He’s the first superhero who made me feel inspired to be a hero.

Who is your favourite Disney character?

Sarah: Jessie from Toy Story. I think the idea for Toy Story is very creative, about toys coming to life.

Jason: I would choose the chef from Ratatouille, Alfredo Linguini. I like the story very much, about how he goes from nothing to a professional chef.

What advice do you have for aspiring child actors?

Sarah: Be true to the character you play! When you play a different character, you must change yourself, to suit the character.

Jason: You need to choose the right director to work for, someone who is caring. The director is the one who helps you get into character, and helps you learn something about yourself from the film. That’s why I’m very lucky (Sarah: Me too!), Director Jess is like a second mother to me.

Before We Forget (当我们在一起). Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》 is the sequel to tearjerker The Kid from the Big Apple 《我来自纽约》 – a film that touched Singapore Film Society chairman Kenneth Tan so much that he has watched it 16 times in cinemas so far! The first film was about an estranged granddaughter and grandfather, and how they bridged the generation gap to become a true family.

However, they face new obstacles in Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》 – challenges that will jeopardise their family’s happiness. Will Sarah and Chun Gen find closure to their issues? Or will they succumb to a seemingly unsurmountable problem?

You’ll have to discover their fates for your self in Before We Forget 《当我们在一起》.

 

Credits: Three Pictures, Golden Village Cinemas