Japanese Ken Ochiai is currently working in Việt Nam, Japan and the US. He graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He was honoured with the title of New American Filmmaker at the Hawaii International Film Festival and received the Young Alumni Award from the USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association in recognition of his achievements in filmmaking.
He first came to Việt Nam in 2010 and made Vệ Sĩ Sài Gòn (Sài Gòn Bodyguards) in 2016. The movie was screened at the Golden Kite Awards of the Vietnamese Cinematography Association. He made his second Vietnamese movie Daddy Issues last year. The movie was selected to be screened at the 14th Osaka Asian Film Festival from March 8-17.
Director Ochiai speaks about his filmmaking experiences in Việt Nam.
Could you tell us about your latest film Daddy Issues? Why did you choose to make a comedy?
Daddy Issues is about family. The genre of a movie is not important, instead it is the message that the film conveys. I want to deepen the relationship between the main characters, the way they find a sense of security, peace, the way people find out where they belong.
Daddy Issues is an example. The whole film is a journey where father and daughter find harmony with each other after the death of the mother. You can see, my movies are the same in that the beauty of the main character’s soul will be revealed on the path to seeking peace.
I also appreciate the opportunity to work with Thái Hòa. After Sài Gòn Bodyguards, I wondered what I would do with Thái Hòa again. Everyone thinks that Hòa’s strength is comedy but he is really good at drama. For me, Hòa is like the Charlie Chaplin of Việt Nam.
What is your next project ?
I want to try making a musical.
I understand the difficulties in making a musical production. Actually, this is both a challenge and an opportunity for me to force myself to overcome the obstacles ahead. In some respects, I find that musicals have some advantages that are suitable for foreign directors like me. I am quite confident and optimistic about this project.
I like Việt Nam. Here, I have many opportunities and I get to work with talented people.
People often say filmmaking is only for men, what do you think?
Currently, the number of female producers or directors is very low. I think it is only about 30 per cent or less. I hope in the future this number will increase to 50 per cent, but it may take 5 or 10 years.
Do you have any advice for young people who want to direct films in Việt Nam?
There are many filmmakers, producers and investors who want to work with young directors. Young directors need to consider the content of the project they want to do and choose the right people to cooperate with.
If young people want to study making films, I think the US is a country with great universities. But if they want to make a Korean or Japanese style movie they should go to those countries to learn. Studying at school is a factor, but it is essential that they have good ideas and understand the needs of the audience they want to reach. — VNS