NOVEMBER 15, 2020
AUS | 9 minutes | 2020

Drama, Romance short film directed by Aaron Mak
Starring Rhyss Liam Lee, Elizabeth Pham


A boy and a girl meet over a smoke, in which a relationship blossoms and matures between them. However, as life hits them with its highs and lows, the boy and a girl become a man and a woman, who find themselves departing over a smoke.


CineAsian Films (CAF): What inspired you to make this bittersweet short?
Aaron Mak: My partner at the time had an idea come to her – of love lost through tragedy – which ignited in me the desire to encapsulate the life cycles of a relationship (albeit, a very tragic one). It inspired me to create a romance story that didn’t have a conventional happy ending – while others live happily ever after in the movies, there are people who simply don’t get dealt that hand.

Additionally, I was greatly inspired by the opening scene of the animated movie, “Up”, which I thought was a bittersweet segment of young love that blossoms, growing maturity and challenges, and eventually, inevitable loss.

CAF: We love that the film doesn’t have any dialogue. What was the creative decision behind that choice?
Mak: I wanted to say more with less, bringing the music, the situations and the performers expressions to the forefront of storytelling. 

This was an exercise in utilising minimal elements and a short time frame to capture multiple phases in life.

This method fascinated me and I desired to work with the limitation of absent dialogue to highlight the viewers’ voyeuristic perspective into this one relationship’s life cycle. Watching their most personal moments from the outside, never fully knowing what’s on their minds. In the end, we may never know – but life goes on.

CAF: What was the process behind creating such a beautiful score for the film?
Mak: I worked closely with the composer, expressing my desire for a soundtrack consisting only of a piano. I wanted simplicity and rawness to characterise the mood of the journey, referencing scores from Studio Ghibli that could convey strong emotions with non-complex melodies.

My composer, Josh Mak, approached the project from an instinctive emotional place, playing the piano by feel whilst watching the scenes. He wanted to capture the emotions of each scene and convert them into melodies. 

Being a strongly emotion-based narrative, he took the compositional path of emotional interpretation rather than extensively planning its overall structure.

CAF: What do you hope people can learn from this story?
Mak: I wanted the film to capture how love can be lost as easily as it is found, and that inevitably we will lose the ones we love. Yet in some shape or form, they’ll stay with us – be it memories in our mind, feelings in our heart, or just a hand on our shoulder.

The thing I hope people can learn is that both the ups and downs of life are inherent in the human experience, especially with relationships. Understanding the finite nature of life and love, can help us truly appreciate the value of each moment, be it overcoming the bad, or treasuring the good.

Lighter is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your film.


Director, Writer, Producer, Editor: Aaron Mak
Story by: Beatrice Gabriel
Cinematographer: Homer Dulu
Original music by: Josh Mak
Also featuring: Josh Mak, Adriana Mak, Beatrice Gabriel

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