Behind the 250 million film Mojin-The Lost Legend An Interview with Wu Ershan

Article source: Chief Entertainment Officer

Q:How did you work with the film crew of Mojin-The Lost Legend

A:Before I shot the Painted Skin 2, the company owning the copyrights of the first four books of The Adventures of Three Tomb Raiders approached me, inquiring about my interest in producing a movie. I read about The Adventures of Three Tomb Raiders, but I was occupied with filming the Painted Skin 2, so our conversation stopped right there. Around the year of 2011, when I was filming the Painted Skin 2, the film producer Chen Guofu asked me what I would be filming next, I told him that I didn’t want to make another costume drama. Then he asked me if I would be interested in making The Adventures of Three Tomb Raiders into a movie, I said yes.

At the end of 2011, Wanda Group invited screenwriter Zhang Jialu, producer Tao Kun and me together to talk about the adaptation of the book for the first time. Back in 2006, Director Du Qifeng and Xu Ke from Hong Kong seemed to be involved in this adaptation, but it didn’t work out, I figured that there must be some very complicated reasons, not in terms of the creative work, but might be other hindrances. In a word, it is not easy at all as it appears. I myself can’t solve them, so I invited Chen Guofu into our team to shoulder the pressure together. I tried hard to convince him to be the film’s producer.


Q:Why did the film’s budget go up?

A:We made the budget of 150 million to 180 million in 2012, now is 2015, the number would be greater if you factor the inflation rate in; meanwhile, the film-making itself is costly, encountering some unexpected situation is very normal. The work of each department needs considerable budget. In addition, we invited the top-tier actors and actresses in the mainland, and made our 3D shooting in this studio with the unprecedented scale of set construction. 1530 scenes of visual effects took us a year to complete. Every step cost money. We were granted Dragon Brand (permit for public projection) during the first review of the film bureau, which drew very clear boundaries for us, and we recalculated our budget in line with these boundaries.


Q:How do you choose and comprehend genre film?

A:I decided to make mainstream films in 2006, then made a selection among different types. I lack interest in certain genres, such as romance, while I don’t have the freedom to make some other types such as crime movies. So I chose fantasy, action and epic as my focus points, because these genres have relatively more space for creation and I’m also interested in these subjects. Our current technology, capital and market are able to support the making of fantasy movies, so I think there are opportunities, and I hope not to repeat what others have done before.

After my work of Mojin-The Lost Legend coming to an end, I must dive into the making of The Legend of Deification right away. War epic film has never been shot before in China.

Q:In your opinion, how should the Chinese genre films reflect their own cultural characteristics and not become replicas of Hollywood?

A:Learning from Hollywood is not to imitate it, but to fathom their rules. Hollywood movies are produced based on in-depth study on the audience psychology and the regularities of creation. Their summary of creative process, research of market, and comprehension of drama represent the highest standard of the film industry. We need to learn from their scientific spirit.

I deeply respect the experience of film-making in Hollywood, but Chinese movies must have our own sense of local culture. Mojin-The Lost Legend is ultimately a Chinese adventure story, which is based on the Chinese history, myth and legend, and historical background, full of imagination of the Chinese people. I sincerely hope that I tell Chinese stores well.


Q:From your experience, what professional qualities should a Chinese director possess in order to make a more mature genre film? What are the missing qualities?

A: First, a director must have a clear understanding of the genre, because genre is not decided by yourself, be it comedy or adventure, every genre has its own rules accumulated through numerous works, and directors need to know them. Otherwise, the film may go awry without sticking to the rules, so you must do thorough research in this aspect. In addition, you need to know about yourself, your true passion for which type of film, because each director has his own abilities, strengths and shortages, you can’t be good at making all types of films, you may want to find the genre that you like the most, study it, then start your own creation.


(This article is based on the original interview script)


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