Jeffrey Xu tells us why he couldn’t make his directorial debut (yet)

The actor wanted to shoot a series of short films but that's been shelved

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When we signed up for the press conference for upcoming Channel 8 drama My One In A Million, we didn’t expect to end up discussing Fresh Takes! again.

Fresh Takes! is an Mediacorp initiative promotes new talent in the local entertainment industry - be it in acting, directing, or scriptwriting, which saw local actors Bryan Wong, Shane Pow, Priscelia Chan, Joanne Peh, Ian Fang and Romeo Tan make their respective directorial debuts.

So, what’s the link between the two projects?

As it turns out, Jeffrey Xu plays an executive producer (EP) of a dating programme in the My One In A Million. When we asked him about how it felt like to go behind-the-scenes in reel-life, he told us that it wasn’t completely foreign to him, because he wrote scripts and pitched his ideas to the Fresh Takes! team for their consideration.

The 30-year-old suggested shooting a series of short films, with the characters having only one thing in common – they have taken the same bus at some point of their lives.

“As the characters get on and off at their respective stops, we see the stories that they bring along, or step into,” Jeffrey explained. “I’ve always been very interested in film, and this was something I thought would be a very interesting idea for my directorial debut.”

However, his pitch was ultimately shelved – at least for now – because of budget constraints.

“It was simply too expensive to film it,” he chuckled. “It’s also good in a way, because I can focus on refining the storyline and characters so that I can come up with something even better.”

The key character, according to Jeffrey, will be the bus driver, who has conversations with his passengers as he weaves an intricate, yet mysterious, web of relationships between them.

While he hasn’t quite thought of his dream cast yet – it’s too early to do so, according to him – he does have a special someone in mind for the bus driver.

Jeffrey paused, and then laughed, before he said, “Can I really say a name without considering how impossible it is? Yes? In that case, I’d pick Jay Chou.”

Yes, he was referring to Taiwanese singer-songwriter-producer-actor-director-boss Jay Chou.

“It’s not just because he’s super popular, but rather, the bus driver needs to be someone who has a good sense of humour and a keen sense of wit that I think only Jay has,” he explained with a smile. “Though I think if I did manage to cast him, the budget would soar even higher.”

By the sound of it, this project will have to take a backseat for now, as he shared that he will be busy filming upcoming Toggle Original A City Rhapsody this month. In his short story, he stars alongside Paige Chua as a char siew seller who has dreams of wanting to be something more.

He mused, “I said yes to this because I really like the script. I can’t tell you what the plot is exactly, but it’s a character I really like, and after I started writing my own scripts, I’ve really begun to appreciate how much hard work goes into such details. Every time I read a new script or watch a movie, I absorb new knowledge, which I hope I’ll be able to internalise and express with a good script of my own in the future.”

My One In A Million debuts on Toggle on July 15 and on Channel 8 on July 22, 9pm.

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