Film director Trần Hữu Tấn made a name for himself with thriller movies including Bắc Kim Thang (Home Sweet Home); Rừng Thế Mạng (Survive) and Chuyện Ma Gần Nhà (Vietnamese Horror Story). His latest movie, Vietnamese Horror Storywill be released on February 11 nationwide. Reporter Nguyễn Bình spoke to Tấn about his work.
Why are you interested in making thriller movies?
I have a special passion for thriller movies, stories and games. When I was small I was always the one to tell ghost stories to the neighbourhood kids. Growing up, I continue to be a game manager or gather with friends to play spiritual games.
Gradually, this habit turned into a hobby. So when I work in the film industry I want to pursue this genre of movie. It is my only passion.
Compared to other genres, thriller movies give me a very special feeling in experiencing fear from the surroundings, objects and people.
What do you think about the thriller movie genre in Việt Nam. Is their potential for filmmakers to lure people to the cinema?
Yes, I think so. The thriller movie genre has great potential for filmmakers. Audiences have a demand for enjoying spiritual, sensational stories and even they want to be scared when watching movies.
Plus, Vietnamese folklore tales with mysterious elements will make thriller movies familiar to the audience. I believe that in the future, this genre of movie will have many blockbusters.
What’s your motivation to make three consecutive movies in a short space of time?
Factually, Survive was scheduled for release in 2020 but it was delayed three times due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It was just by accident that my movies were distributed consecutively.
Although affected by the pandemic, I had specific plans for shooting, distribution and releasing. So we are proactive with our financial resources. The most important thing is our love of movies and we want to tell our own stories to audience. This is our motivation.
Your latest movie Chuyện Ma Gần Nhà will be released on Lunar New Year. What do you expect to achieve with it?
I believe that the movie will show the Vietnamese cultural identity with spiritual factors. It has horror scenes that audience have been waiting for a long time to see in a made-in-Vietnam thriller movie.
The audience is increasingly demanding. This is a good sign for the cinema industry because it will require good movies. There are good movies in recent years but not in the thriller genre.
When audiences saw ghost movies from Thailand, South Korea or America they remember immediately about typical images, stories or situations.
Vietnamese thriller movies have not yet had that distinction. The movie crew and I hope to make thriller movies with Vietnamese characteristics.
The movie is your first step in ghost movie universe about an urban legend. Do you think that type of movie will offer new opportunities for Vietnamese filmmakers?
Exactly, we want to build a horror film brand that has my own imprint and typical characteristics of the Vietnamese horror film as well.
Branding will make the movie popular and create solid value for the next projects.
Your journey began with making television commercials, short films and now motion pictures. What is your experience on film production and film pitching?
I spent four years making television commercials and several award-winning short films. This was a good time for me to learn, practise and get experience on the spot.
I’m lucky to have partners who are always with me and support me a lot. I’m confident in my path. For the first movie Bắc Kim Thang, I had to sell my small house to raise capital.
How do you feel about people seeing you as a strange person?
I’m not superstitious. I love making thriller movies because it gives me rich imagination, freedom and skills to explore fears of each person. It is interesting because through fear I will know more about a person.
When I know what makes audiences scared, I will know how to make a movie to terrify them.
Have you ever been scared by your own movies?
Yes, I have. After making Survive I have a fear of darkness. During shooting, I stayed alone to ensure quiet space for working. When I come back home, I still feel that someone is outside watching me. It takes nearly two weeks before I can feel relaxed. VNS