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Tulpa: An Interview with Chun-Chieh Wang

Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become a filmmaker? I love literature. I've been reading a lot of books since I was a kid. All kinds of novels and autobiographies. I like to read stories. After reading each story I feel as if I have experienced the life of someone else. It's a wonderful feeling, and at the same time very fascinating. Movies have the same effectiveness for me. It even allows me to experience more seriously what is happening in other people's worlds and times. There is something magical about this experience: It feeds back into my own life. Even when my life is humdrum, I can get a sense of what is not from my own thoughts as well as from my spiritual experiences. It is this kind of perception that made me grow to love movies. I also want to share the bits and pieces of my perception with audiences around the world. This includes my personal values, my perception of my own identity and my care for things in the world. Therefore, making films is my only choice.

Talk about your last work. What are some of the challenges you faced during production? First of all, the main problem is definitely the impact of the pandemic. My film, TULPA, was shot in China. 2021 China, the epidemic prevention policy is a tightening state. Therefore, there is a certain risk that the crew from all over the world, as well as the creators, will not be able to participate successfully in the production. Also because of the epidemic, it was diffcult for us to gather enough group actors to participate in the shooting of the film. As a result, many of the students you can see on screen are the same guys. In addition, the cat shooting was also a major difficulty. After choosing from the pet store, we chose this little black cat who fit the story but was grumpy. The result was that we could not repeat the shot for a long time. But luckily, we ended up with a shot that I really liked and could use. What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work? I think people's spirit and emotions are amazing. They are also incredibly complex that people can't easily understand them. So it's very interesting to observe and study these things. And film is my tool for doing that. In the case of Tulpa, it is actually a very simple story about a high school student with endless worries and stress. But we introduced the spiritual concept of tulpa as a way to tell the story of the main character's reality, starting from his spiritual world. At the same time, I think that every creator with his own style will more or less integrate his own experience or, more abstractly, his own spirit into his works. For me, I wanted to take the repression and control I felt in high school and express it in a less direct way in my film.

Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project? At the very beginning of every project, we will have an idea and a thought. This is where it all starts. After that, storytelling and textuality are my entry points. I would think about whatkind of story I wanted to tell. Since I also occasionally do news documentaries, I would watch a lot of news. Sometimes, a news story just happens to provide me with some sudden inspiration. In the process of creating a documentary, I would blend it with my experience in order to bring a differentexperience to the audience. Then, because I'm used to working with images, I'll simulate the footage in my head while writingdown the relevant text and then work with the screenwriter to create the script. But often we faced difficulties in communication. Because I can't transmit the images in my head to my screenwriter wirelessly. So we spend a lot of time looking for other films for reference. Whether it was Ryusuke Hamaguchi's dialogues or Edward Yang's picture style, it was everything we brainstormed to include. After that, we will look for more references in the process of making the lookbook. The most important part of the process was to communicate with the creators of each department and listen to their voices. Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you? This is a very tricky question. Because I think at different stages of my life, the answer to this question is constantly changing. Take the stage when I created Tulpa, I wanted Iwai Shunji's quiet elegance about love in his Love Letter, and I also wanted Edward Yang's helplessness about life as a spectator in Yi Yi. On top of all these emotions, I also wanted to pursue Yukio Mishima's reckless determination to his aspirations. How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation? The impact of the epidemic on the film and television industry is obvious. Not to mention now, the film and television industry in the first two years was almost in a state of shutdown. No one dared to risk their lives to work on the sets where many people gathered. Therefore, I did experience a full year of film shortage. I was barely living by reviewing old movies. But in fact, I think the epidemic is a good opportunity for us. Both creators and audiences. For the audience, people have more time to spend with themselves. In the boom of self-reflection, films of an entertainment nature are gradually failing to satisfy audiences. People are crying out for better films. For the creators, the epidemic gives us more time to think and polish a better story. Especially in the

independent film industry, good films need solitude and tranquility. Therefore, I expect the independent film industry to be extensively developed in the next two years under the years-long thinking by those creators. What advice would you give to aspiring artists?What are some of the things they must follow/avoid? I am not at liberty to comment on the other art forms. But there are two very important points in the making of films. One of them is brainstorming. No matter who you talk to. Discuss your ideas with everyone you know. Whatever feedback they give, write it down. Maybe at some point, one of those feedbacks can give you an unexpected inspiration. The second is to believe in yourself. It sounds like anyone can say that. But the truth is that not everyone can do it. In any issue where you need to make a choice, don't be afraid of the consequences. Don't worry about the dire consequences it will have, even for the boldest choices. But believing in yourself is not being conceited!

Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world? Absolute. This world is a huge organic whole. A change in any small part will lead to a change in the nature of the whole. Even if it is not visible to the naked eye. Our society is built on a single belief. Any director who puts forward his own beliefs, on the premise that he firmly believes in his own beliefs, makes the audience believe in his beliefs as well. Then, the world is already different. What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's tastes? As I said before, with the epidemic, people have had more time to spend with themselves. So they want more than just entertaining movies that are relaxing in a tired state. People want more serious, earnest, meaningful movies to connect their ideas with real life. It's not just because of the epidemic. The war, famine, environmental pollution and other problems affecting human destiny that are happening in various parts of the world have become too much for an ordinary citizen to ignore. In this situation, what people need in their suffocating living space is a spiritual solace. A film that can open up the potential world folded in people's spirit. A film that can make people think that this is a meaningful world after watching it. Not the kind of entertainment movie that can be forgotten at any time after watching it. These are my observations about the movie audiences watch around me.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

The name is Disquiet. Disquiet is the core of this story. Once the protagonist's idea germinates, nothing can stop it from growing strong. As the growth of the seed is accelerated by various invisible factors, the main character's disquiet is also growing rapidly. In the end, when this disquiet makes everything around him start to collapse, the main character who realizes how ridiculous his thoughts are also collapses. I will likewise add my own experiences and elements to this foundation. The only thing worth thinking about is how I can turn this feature-length story into a short film for filming.


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