Andrew Chen Talks about Ghost In The Gun
If you have been to our review section then chances are that you have already gone through the rave review of the film. We had the young director, Mr. Andrew Chen reply few of our questions about his debut film.
After Hour : Ghost in the Gun is your debut film, please tell us how was your experience directing it.
Andrew : It has been a long journey -- from script to completion, it's been about 5 years of my life. It took persistence and a lot of support from many people to complete this project. I think like with all creative processes, you sometimes run into a wall, and it can take some time to work through it. In my case, it was much longer than I expected, but it has been very rewarding to make it through to the other side. I don't think I truly became a director until I was mostly through the post-production process. I'm very proud of the work I've done, and I'm glad I stuck with it to completion.
After Hour : This is a supernatural western film and you have been a fan of both the genres, so what are your plans for upcoming projects? Are you working on one right now?
Andrew : It was definitely conceived as a series, so I have several story ideas to make more Ghost in the Gun episodes. However, right now I'm just focused on film festivals. If Ghost in the Gun gets a lot of positive response and I can find some interested investors, I would love to make more.
After Hour : What do you think is the most difficult and most satisfying aspect of film- making?
Andrew : The most difficult and unexpected aspect of making the film was getting the narrative right in the editing process. That took a couple of years. When we screened early cuts, people were confused about the story. I discovered that there is quite a wide variance in how the audience can interpret what they see. Consequently, we had to workshop each narrative issue, and it turned out that a non-linear structure actually made the film a lot more interesting and easier to follow.
The most satisfying aspect of film-making was probably shooting the film. Even though it was quite challenging, I think the most fun I had was when we had a skeleton crew filming the desert scenes in Trona Pinnacles, CA. We were "running and gunning" all over the place, trying to get shots before we lost the sunlight. I have a lot of fond memories of shooting the film in all the locations we were at.
And of course, sitting in a movie theater and experiencing the final product with an audience that enjoys the film is supremely satisfying.
After Hour : You have directed several television productions, over the years how do you think that experience has matured you as a filmmaker?
Andrew : Television and film production are different but complementary ways of shooting a video. I think having experience in both has enabled me to understand all the different aspects of video production -- how lighting can be done, how sound should be recorded, talking to the crew to ensure they are focused on the right things, and understanding different ways people can work together to solve problems. Also, the type of television productions I directed were "live to tape," meaning we shot the shows as if they were live, done in a single take, so that there would be no editing or much post-production at all. I think that helped me to not rely on too many takes.
But probably how it helped mature me the most as a filmmaker is providing me with a lot of experience and practice to keep a cool head when handling unexpected situations. Whether you're in a studio or shooting on location, things are bound to come up that do not go according to plan. What I have learned is that there is always a solution; you just have to focus the cast and crew to collectively problem solve and workshop the issues. They will often surprise you with solutions that you wouldn't have come up with yourself. And that is the true magic of filmmaking.
After Hour : How do you perceive the art of film-making?
Andrew : The main difference to me with filmmaking, compared with other forms of art I've worked on, is that you are creating art through other people. I have drawn, composed music, and dabbled in other art forms, but they were all mediums that I could directly manipulate and control. Being a film director, you are at least one step removed from controlling the medium, despite the perceived "power" that the director wields. Consequently, a lot of the skills I had to develop and use were people skills, not technical skills. Working with everyone, clearly communicating the vision, collaborating with cast and crew members who are artists in their own right, is kind of a meta-art. You are guiding, sculpting all of the individual pieces of art that everyone else produces into a larger whole. And if done right, the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.