The Creators Project Beijing ended on a high note—a crowd of more than 400 people flooded into UCCA‘s auditorium, all eager to get into the premiere of Peng Lei’s new film Follow. We always knew the Chinese pop icon, filmmaker and overall raconteur could pack a room, but we never expected this. We even had to schedule an extra screening of the film to appease the rabid crowds. After all, we didn’t want to incite any rioting.
Peng Lei is the lead singer and guitarist of New Pants, and an independent director who has produced three films. This latest work sees the multi-talented creator returning to his punk rock roots and chronicling the rock n’ roll journey of Beijing’s youth. Peng Lei led the film crew at the premier, full of good vibes he shown a great satisfaction with his fans.
Crowds waiting outside of the auditorium
Peng Lei and the crew
The Creators Project: When did you start filming? How did the idea for the story-line develop?
Peng Lei: I started the shooting last November, my initial idea was to make a film about pop culture, as there are very few films about it in China.
As a musician, you have made several films. How did you come back to the question of “why do we play rock n’ roll?”
I have been in the band for a very long time. Eventually, some confusion started growing inside of me—rock music is such a product from western culture, it’s quite irrelevant to Chinese culture. I have dedicated myself to the band for years, but sometimes I still question myself: why am I so obsessed with something that is not from my own culture?
Why did you choose Kurt Cobain as the spiritual idol in your film? Is it due to your personal taste and experience?
To be honest, I don’t like Kurt Cobain. His appearance in China in the 90s made every Chinese [musician] try hard to imitate his style. The story line is not from my own experience, but I would say that it presents stereotypes. Even today, teenagers are playing in bands just to imitate styles, not only Kurt Cobain, but anyone and any genre that has no connection and nothing in common with their lifestyle.
What differentiates Follow from your previous films? What can we expect to see in the film?
My style of filmmaking is getting clear in this film, it represents a leap in my grown-up mind.
Mysterious incidents like UFOs and aliens often appear in your films. Why do you insert such uncanny stories?
There are many things that are unexplainable in real life. In film, I would rather explain them with these “mysterious” stories.
Many of the characters in the film are actual people from the Beijing music scene. Were there any interesting things that happened during your collaboration with them?
These friends live lives that are more wonderful than what I am presenting in the film. They are really rock n’ roll!
What was the process for the film’s soundtrack? New Pants is releasing its new album, can we expect anything different?
I composed most of the music for the movie and some of the tracks are from the band Hua Lun. Everything is melancholic and emotional. We are doing some new kind of music for the new album of New Pants. The style will be more pop and the format of the publication will be a big surprise.
How is the preparation going for the New Pants solo concert at the Beijing expo this November?
Everything is going well, but we do have a lot to do. This is the biggest concert ever since New Pants was formed 15 years ago. This is something to look forward to.
Which artwork interests you the most in this year’s The Creators Project Beijing?
Feng Mengbo’s work, because he used New Pants’ music in his work.
Still Images from Peng Lei’s film Follow