Phuong Nam Studio's most anticipated film of 2015 is Hoa Vang Tren Co Xanh (Yellow Flowers on Green Grass), written by artist Viet Linh.
Linh is among Viet Nam's few veteran female filmmakers. She is the first Vietnamese director to be featured at the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art Festival in Australia.
Her prominent film works include Me Thao Thoi Vang Bong (Glorious Time in Me Thao Hamlet), Chung Cu (Living Quarter), Dau An Cua Quy (The Devil Sign) and Ganh Xiec Rong (The Travelling Circus).
Linh spoke about her latest project and the filmmaking process.
Nguyen Nhat Anh is a prolific writer of books for children and adults. But his work hasn't gotten much attention from filmmakers. Why did you choose a story by Anh for your script, and why did you specifically choose I See Yellow Flowers on Green Grass?
Nguyen Nhat Anh is a very capable author. I have not had a chance to read all of Anh's works. But I like all the ones I have read, because they are attractive and fresh.
However, there is a distinction between literature and cinema. An interesting work of literature doesn't necessarily make a good film. The literature needs to have cinematic elements to work as a film script.
Phuong Nam Studio and I agreed that we'd be able to make a good film out of I See Yellow Flowers on Green Grass.
Do you see your childhood memories in the story?
I've never been more excited than I was to write the script based on Anh's story. I laughed loudly and cried silently while I was writing.
The script brought me back to a childhood I lacked in the past. I was inspired by the thrilling plot and interesting characters.
Nguyen Nhat Anh's story is complicated, and contains many small stories. How did your script adapt those into a cohesive film?
The script must be shorter than the story. I was forced to refine some things in the story. There are many scenes in the book that would be difficult to set up at the studio.
The most difficult things are animal actors and backgrounds. However, if we can overcome these obstacles, it will be a good film.
You are a veteran filmmaker. What is the most difficult part of making a film in Viet Nam ?
Authorial style has been fading away. I think it is very difficult for Vietnamese filmmakers. There are too many things, such as censorship, money, human resources and equipment, that can make an artist change his mind.
If the artist is not firm about what he wants, he will agree easily to unexpected changes.
I used to be put in those situations. Every time I made a film I wanted to quit my job, because of all the pressure. However, I still made films. It is my passion.
When I worked as a filmmaker, I always made work my first priority, instead of my family.
What do filmmakers need to be successful?
Everyone has their own standards. I think three things I needed were passion, knowledge and obsession.
Without obsession, the artist cannot make the film.
The artist needs to know what he wants. He either makes films because of his obsession, or he makes them because he wants to be famous. — VNS