Your movie Bloodtraffick - in a few words, what is it about?
Bloodtraffick is a story about loss and revenge. Ava - played by the
award-winning actress Grace Huang - is a vigilante obsessed with finding her
missing sisters, so much so that she's delved into a world that doesn't exist,
a world filled with vampires and angels and creatures beyond her
understanding. When she finds proof that one of her sisters is in fact dead,
then out comes all this pent up rage and desire for revenge.
Angels vs vampires - which side do you feel more drawn to, which
can you better identify with?
Vampires for sure. It's
easier for me to identify with the outsiders, the ones who are hunted and
misunderstood. I find angels incredibly cold, pristine, arrogant.
Your sources of
inspiration when writing Bloodtraffick?
I loved the
films. There's something simply intoxicating about seeing a woman who's
graceful with guns on screen. I'm a big fan of Kaori Yuki's manga Angel
Sanctuary, she's such a visually gifted artist.
is quite an action-packed movie - so what can you tell us about the
challenges of bringing the action scenes to the screen, and how did you
approach the film's action aspects to begin with?
takes quite a long time to shoot! It was my first action piece and I
underestimated the time it would take to shoot it. Luckily we had a great
action choreographer, Philip Ng, who both shaped the look and style of our
action scenes and kept us going in terms of time. Both Grace and Kirt did
their own stunts, which was quite exciting and nervewracking. Prior to
shooting, Philip and I had a long conversation about what action styles we
liked in films, and we decided to go for Taken influenced
action - realistic, gritty, fight scenes, but still something suitable to
what is essentially a fantasy film.
can you tell us about your overall directorial style on Bloodtraffick?
wanted to bring a sense of wonder and longing to the viewer. Loneliness.
Want. And not about a sexual want, which is often the case for modern day
films - but a real longing for a place to belong, a place among those you
respect and admire. As a director, I gravitate towards artists who really
can bring something to the table, who are hungry and want to make the best
film possible, not just treating this as a "job." If I can bring
people together who share my vision and want to enhance it, then I feel
like I've succeeded.
just have to talk about your film's star Grace Huang for a bit! And how
did you get her, and what made her perfect for the role? And what was your
Both Grace and Kirt Kishita are amazing actors to work with. I met
Grace through alivenotdead, which is an artist social media
community established by former Rotten Tomatoes founders Patrick
Lee and Stephen Wang, in conjunction with actor Daniel Wu. Jason Tobin
brings over his acting coach Jeanne Hartman from LA twice a year, and we
met during one of the social events surrounding her incredible workshops.
It was one of those amazing collaborative atmospheres, where everyone is
so ... charged ... you know? And when she mentioned that she wanted to do
an action film, I said ... hey, I have this idea, it's got vampires in it.
And away we went.
The role of Ava was written for Grace, so in that sense, she and the
character came up together in my mind, each giving and adding to the
other. And what she brought to the table, after our long discussions about
action movies we both liked (Aliens, Terminator, Resident
Evil) really filled in Ava's backstory and brought the character
to life. She also is incredibly hands-on and brave - she wanted to do her
own stunts, she wanted to get into the character as much as she possibly
could. All this with the greatest sense of humor. I love Grace.
What can you tell us about the rest
of your key cast and crew?
Kirt - who plays the vampire Finn - I met at a premiere party for
Quentin Lee's The People I've Slept With. I later got a chance to
see him on stage, and he was great. So different on stage and in character
from his normal self. I love and respect that versatility, and after a
long talk with him about the role, I knew he was the one. And he's a
former baseball player, so he really brought a physicality to the role, a
sureness in his own movements. Great stuff.
We were very lucky to have Philip Ng on board as our action
choreographer. He's a talented actor in his own right, and he lent us his
skills to getting the action scenes to where we wanted them to be. He's
also incredibly encouraging and patient, both skills that you don't expect
from someone with as many projects under the belt as he has!
The DP team - XiaoSu Han and Andreas Thalhammer - we've worked together
on several projects, from my first ever experience on set in Hong Kong to
my first web series to my first action film. What I love about them is
that they are endlessly creative, and so passionate about their work. If
left alone with a cardboard box and a boxcutter, they'd make you a lamp, a
shade, a pelican and an elevator. And it'd be a gorgeous moodily-lit
Grace Huang, Jennifer Thym, Kirt Kishita
And of course there is also my set photographer and editor, Bettina
Enigl. Her lovely atmospheric photos really set the tone for our
promotional work early on. She has the ability to capture beauty in the
grittiest of places, a real master of painting with light.
A few words about the actual
shoot and the on-set atmosphere?
The shoot was intense, the
most intense three days of my life so far! We had so little time to get
everything we wanted. I guess there never is enough time, eh? It was also
fun at the oddest moments, when everyone is so focused and intense, and
then suddenly Grace is dancing in the elevator like it's a hip-hop video.
That kind of spontaneity got everyone laughing and re-energized us.
As far as I know, Bloodtraffick
has just had (is still having?) a very successful festival run. So what
can you tell us about your movie's reception at various filmfest, awards,
and audience and critical reactions as such? Oh, and is a more widespread
release planned any time soon?
We have been very lucky. We're playing at our twentieth festival in
March - Emerald City ComicCon with the Viscera Film Festival tour - and
have picked up six awards along the way. The audience reception has been
great, especially now that Grace's film with Russell Crowe has come out (The
Man with the Iron Fists). We have been getting so many inquiries about
where fans can watch our film! I've got great news on that front, but I
can't share it publicly yet. Soon though!!!
The first public screening that I attended was Bloodtraffick's
world premiere at Gen Con in Indianapolis, and I was so nervous. You work
so long on something, and there's a privacy to that, because it's just
you, your editor, the screen - and then all of a sudden you're there with
a large group of strangers, critical strangers mind you. The film ahead of
us had just gotten totally panned, and when I got called up to say a few
words to introduce the film, I was just shaking. But the audience loved
it, and I got so many cool comments that night and the next day about it.
Let's go back to your
very beginnings: As far as I know you were born in New York City, raised
in the rural South, have been an investment banker in Europe ... so how
did you become a film director in Hong Kong? And did you receive any
formal education on moviemaking?
I haven't had any formal
film training. But I always knew I wanted to be a director. When I moved
from London to Hong Kong and started looking for a job, I realised - I
could just do it. I just could start. With all the resources and
information that's now available online, topped off by the incredible
online communities out there willing to support you, there's really
nothing stopping you from achieving your dreams. Or at least taking a shot
at them! I did my research, I did a bit of online networking, and I found
myself on first film set (35 mm to boot) in July 2008, two weeks after I
Your first webseries Lumina
- what can you tell us about that one, and how did it come into being?
that first film set I was on - Flashes - I met my DP's XiaoSu Han
and Andreas Thalhammer as well as my editor Bettina Enigl, and my
sometimes Assistant Director, sometimes Art Director, Billy Lau. There was
just this amazing energy on set, you know? Like everyone was new, didn't
know each other well, and just bonded. And at the end of the shoot, I was
like, hey I want to shoot something by the end of the year. And they were
like, cool, call us. So I wrote the script for Lumina and we shot it in
November 2008. It was a fun ten days, intense, crazy, and a great first
are currently also working on the webseries Mister French Taste -
you just have to talk about that one for a bit!
French Taste was a fun project for me, one that let me loosen up and
just enjoy the filmmaking process as I was only wearing my favorite hat
during the shoot - director. And being on set for a comedy is a hoot - the
actors - Olivier Malet, Osric Chau and Sarah Lian - are hilarious in their
own right. And working with legions of French people ... that's a story in
and of itself!!! And we're pleased to announce that the show has been
accepted to two festivals, Asians on Film Festival and LA
other films of yours you'd like to talk about, any future projects?
co-developing some new projects with friends, nothing I can talk about
yet, but I am very excited about them!
films vary considerably, genre-wise. Any favourite genres, or genres you'd
love to work in but haven't yet?
I would love to do a
period film. I grew up in the South (Southern part of the US for those who
are not in the US!), and I'm fixated on stories from that region. And I do
have a soft spot for 80's flicks.
How would you describe
yourself as a director?
Passionate when it comes to
quality, creative when it comes to finding solutions and fiercely loyal to
my team - making films is like making war, you really want to know who
will have your back when you're on your third 18-hour shoot day and all
hell has broken loose.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Scott, simply because his films are legendary. Tim Burton for being odd
and staying odd.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Blade Runner, Total Eclipse,
Big Fish, Sunshine, Velvet Goldmine. I love visually
stylish films, and films about outsiders. From recent movies, I really
enjoyed Chronicle, 50/50, and The Dark Knight Rises.
... and of course, films you really
Really badly made films. I know it's supposed to
be "all about the story", but I have a special place in my heart
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
is the website for my production company RockGinger: http://www.rockginger.com/.
And of course, Bloodtraffick's Facebook is here:
For those who are keen on seeing a bit more of our lovely lead actress
Grace Huang, they are welcome to check out her Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gracehuangactor.
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
watch An Evening with My Comatose Mother, which was just
released on iTunes! It's made by talented friends and it's a fun horror
film - here's the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfHVT3h_uDQ.
for the interview!
Thank you. :)
Oh, and if
that sounds at all interesting, you might want to watch the movie here: http://indieflix.com/film/bloodtraffick-34458/