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INTERVIEW – Chinese Fantasy Film ‘A Writer’s Odyssey’ Director Lu Yang

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The epic new Chinese fantasy film, A Writer’s Odyssey, premiered earlier this month in China, just in time for Lunar New Year. Directed by Lu Yang (Brotherhood of Blades) and featuring a high concept story with fantasy, magic and monsters, this film looks gorgeous based on the art and trailer.

I had the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Lu Yang, who fell in love with the book that inspired the film. Below are Yang’s responses in both English and Chinese. Note that the Chinese responses have not been edited.

A Writer’s Odyssey is playing now at the Vineland Drive-In in Los Angeles and the West Wind Drive-In in San Jose. It is releasing in the San Francisco Bay Area starting today, February 26th, and in select New York City theaters beginning next Friday, March 5th!

Official Synopsis

A WRITER’S ODYSSEY tells the story of Kongwen Lu, the author of a fantasy novel series following a heroic teenager on a quest to confront Redmane. Through a strange twist of fate, the fantasy world of the novel begins to impact life in the real world, leading Guan Ning (Lei Jiayin, THE LONGEST DAY IN CHANG’AN, BROTHERHOOD OF BLADES), to accept a mission to kill the author. A WRITER’S ODYSSEY is directed by Lu Yang (BROTHERHOOD OF BLADES) and also stars Yang Mi, Yu Hewei, Guo Jingfei and Tong Liya.

A WRITER’S ODYSSEY is out now in theaters and at the Vineland Drive-In in Los Angeles, CA and West Wind Drive-In in San Jose, CA, including newly opened theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area. The film will open in select New York City theaters beginning March 5, 2021.

A Writer's Odyssey Full Cast Poster
A Writer’s Odyssey Full Cast Poster

POC Culture: What attracted you to this project and how familiar were you with the book that it is based on before?

Lu Yang: Initially, it was just my impulse to create. After I finished reading the original novel, I really wanted to turn it into a film.

就是一种创作的冲动,看完小说就立刻希望能够把它拍成电影

POC Culture: This type of fantasy film is very different from your previous films. Is there anything you learned from your past films that helped you make A Writer’s Odyssey?

Lu Yang: There are definitely many new approaches and new ideas that arise as I keep studying and improving my knowledge about film. I may grow and change my style as a filmmaker, but I will always believe in and respect film as an art. That is something that will never change.

肯定会有涉及新的很多手段以及新的理念,包括我们也在不断的学习电影,不断的更新我们对电影的认识,我们希望在拍摄电影中去成长,这些都是变化。但不变的是我们始终会相信电影、敬畏电影

A Writer's Odyssey Director Lu Yang
A Writer’s Odyssey Director Lu Yang

POC Culture: The trailer is visually stunning. How did you develop the visual style of the film, including the look of the characters, monsters and sets?

Lu Yang: I searched for the art elements from different time periods and different fields, from the North-South Dynasty, Sui Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty. I incorporated these Chinese elements of the architecture, costume, geography, or characteristics, to help create an ancient fantasy world.

我们从不同的时代里面去寻找我们需要的美学元素,建筑上的、人物造型上的、地貌上的、以及角色设计上的,有南北朝北魏时期的元素,有隋代的、唐代的,它们都会帮助我们去建立这样一个古代的异世界

POC Culture: The trailer is also action-packed and very exciting. What was your approach in directing action sequences for a film that is very heavy on special effects and CGI?

Lu Yang: First, we analyzed the script in detail. Then, we bought a lot of toy models and we used them to simulate different poses of the characters. We used those models to rehearse the shooting script of action scenes, then worked with the fight choreographer to further refine the plan and come up with more interesting details. We rehearsed and tested again and again with the small models. The fight choreographer would have some stunt actors to shoot a demo, then we kept optimizing the results by comparing the models and the demos.

我们首先是要去仔细的分析剧本,然后买了很多玩具的模型,用这些小人来摆出各种动作,同时去演练分镜头里面可能需要实现的内容,然后再由动作导演进一步细化他的方案,去设计更多有趣的细节,我们就是通过这样的方式一遍一遍的去演练,通过小模型,动作导演也会请真实的动作演员先来拍摄小样,我们在几套模型和小样之间反复的去比较判断,然后再去修整

A Writer's Odyssey Director Lu Yang on Set
A Writer’s Odyssey Director Lu Yang on Set

5.  What is the main theme that you hope audiences will take away from the film?

Lu Yang: The theme is that no matter what difficulties we undergo, and no matter how people deny us, we should believe in the value of each individual’s powers. We should have hope and believe that we can make change.

主题是无论在任何困难的时候、艰难的时候、我们不被认可的时候,我们都要去相信每个人具有的人生价值,相信希望,相信我们可以去有所改变。

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Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture.  He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.

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