8.6 distraction, a new sci-fi surprise after "The Wandering Earth"

The interviewee for this article is director @Kong Dashan

The article is based on the content of the interview

"Space Exploration Editorial Office", released on April 1, may be the most "weird" movie of the year.

A "madman" who tirelessly searches for aliens, a group of explorers running westbound, an ultimate question that will never be answered...

Behind this small-cost sci-fi film with a Douban score of 8.6 and a very unique style, there must be a group of interesting people.

We chatted with Kong Dashan, the director of "Space Exploration Editorial Department", from the origin of the story to the inextricable relationship with "The Wandering Earth".

The seventh issue of [Nameless], follow Xiaowan to explore the "Space Exploration Editorial Department" in depth.

Q1: I have feelings for the 90s

Xiao Wan: First of all, I want to talk about the origin of this film, you yourself said that this film originated from a news I saw, how did it come from a news idea and develop such a story?

Kong Dashan: That was the news of the search for aliens. At first, I wrote an outline of the story in the style of that news, but it had no characters at all, it was a farce, so it was rejected by the producer, and I was not satisfied with it. Then I felt the need to find a character to run through, because the previous story had no characters, just a pile of events.

I thought, since he is looking for aliens, then I instinctively think of the qigong fever and flying saucer fever of the eighties and nineties, in that era, there were many old science fiction magazines, those groups that were particularly obsessed with UFOs, so I located the editor-in-chief of such a science fiction magazine.

The editor-in-chief may have been enthusiastic about finding aliens, and 30 years later, he is still tirelessly pursuing this result. This character is established, in fact, many plots follow.

Xiao Wan: You said that you set this story in the 90s, and we also saw that there are many elements with the atmosphere of the times in the film, from the interview at the beginning, to the TV snowflakes in the back, including the feeling of those desks and chairs in the office, etc., do you personally have a complex for this era?

Kong Dashan: Yes, yes, I don't know why, but I am particularly fascinated by the aesthetics of the 90s, all the things about that era.

Xiao Wan: Some fans have found that the title of "Space Exploration Editorial Department" comes from "The Story of the Editorial Department", and there are still many fans and tribute elements in the film, what works or directors do you personally think have influenced your creation?

Kong Dashan: There is no specific director. When I was preparing for this film, I couldn't find a benchmark film to refer to and refer to, and I can only say that it has a partial impact.

For example, there are indeed some elements in "The Story of the Editorial Office", which may come from the fact that I liked to watch Wang Shuo when I was a child, which may be the most originating influence. At the technical level of the film, it may be some of Lars von Trier's ("Dancer in the Dark", "Dog Town") films, and director Lou Ye's hand-held style will more or less affect this movie.

Q2: I wrote a scene for the spacesuit

Xiao Wan: Regarding the spacesuit at the beginning of the film, do we know that it was directly pulled from the crew of "The Wandering Earth"?

Kong Dashan: Yes, yes.

Xiao Wan: At that time, how did you want to add this plot to it, did you want to add this meme at the beginning of creation, or did it slowly develop into such a plot later.

Kong Dashan: When I first went to Guo Fan's director company to play, it was when he was just about to write this story, he had just finished filming "The Wandering Earth", and after the finalization, he moved the spacesuit worn by Mr. Wu Jing to the company.

When I saw it, I thought, hey, there is such a good ready-made prop, you don't need to use it for nothing. I can write a scene for this spacesuit, so it was with such a prop that there was the plot that took place in the editorial office.

Xiao Wan: So director Guo Fan and the producer also invited them to make a cameo appearance because of this scene.

Kong Dashan: Yes, yes, it is logical, that is, "buy one get two free".

Q3: I met director Guo Fan because of "The Adventures of Li Xianji"

Xiao Wan: Speaking of director Guo Fan, we know that Director Guo Fan's studio and the director himself also provided a lot of help to this film, in fact, you yourself also participated in the creation process of "The Wandering Earth 2", so can you talk about the acquaintance and cooperation with Director Guo Fan?

Kong Dashan: At the beginning, in 2011, I had just graduated from university and made a graduation short film, adapted from the cartoon "The Adventures of Li Xianji". Director Guo Fan's first feature film was also adapted from this animation, and then he saw my film on the Internet, and then we got to know each other.

Then in 2013, when he filmed "You at the Same Table", he asked me to be his director's assistant, which was actually the only film crew experience I had before filming "Space Exploration Editorial Department", and I fully understood the process of a film from preparation to shooting to post.

Q4: After watching "The Wandering Earth", I chose the male lead

Xiao Wan: How did you choose Yang Haoyu to play Tang Zhijun in the first place, is it because of his participation in "The Wandering Earth"? What about Teacher Arya?

Kong Dashan: Yes, I only learned about him because I watched his performance in "The Wandering Earth", first of all, I think his image is very suitable for the character of Tang Zhijun.

Then, when I was in film school, Teacher Arya often saw her give some graduation assignments to her senior brothers and sisters, and I liked her very much. I think some of the qualities in these two teachers are quite in line with the character attributes of the characters in the movie, so I invited them to come.

Xiao Wan: Another important actor in the film is Wang Yitong, who is also one of the screenwriters, how do you describe your cooperation, and are there any more interesting creative collisions in the cooperation?

Kong Dashan: The process of cooperation between the two of us is a process of mutual inspiration. For example, set a direction, such as what effect I want to achieve in the next scene, or what kind of atmosphere or direction is needed for the next scene, and then the two of us start brainstorming, constantly come up with some ideas, and inspire each other.

For example, the poems in the film are all written by himself, and then the character of Sun Yitong also has some of his own shadow in it.

Q5: The end effect shot is "Wen Eye"

Xiao Wan: We know that this film is a low-cost work, and then it is also your first feature film, I believe that the whole shooting process should actually have a lot of difficulties, what are the impressive stories in this regard?

Kong Dashan: Well, because our movie is a road movie, there are a lot of transitions, in fact, the main difficulty is to rush every day, almost every day.

Even if you don't rush, shooting in one place every day, there are countless small transitions. It is quite bumpy all the way, in addition to fighting against the harsh natural environment and weather, but also to ensure the quality of shooting, it is indeed quite physically and mentally exhausting.

Xiao Wan: Just talked about low cost, but in fact, the special effects shot at the end of the film is "the most sci-fi movie-like shot", how difficult is that shot to achieve?

Kong Dashan: That's right. That shot is very difficult, I found the special effects team MORE of "The Wandering Earth" to do it, and finally presented the effect, which is really difficult in terms of production difficulty.

Xiao Wan: That shot is actually very important for the whole film.

Kong Dashan: That's right, that's right, that's "Wen Yan", which is equivalent to a shot of the point.

Q6: This is actually a "folk science fiction film"

Xiao Wan: Just now I also talked about your previous short film creation experience, from "Legal Future Time" to the current feature film, you have a very recognizable style, will you continue to continue this style in future creation?

Kong Dashan: I don't know this myself, I can only say that the story that attracts me at each stage is different, maybe the next thing that attracts me may not be such an absurd story, it may be a story of a special life stream, or other stories that I don't know what kind of story, I don't have any clear ideas.

8.6 distraction, a new sci-fi surprise after "The Wandering Earth"

Xiao Wan: That is to say, there is no intention to maintain a certain style.

Kong Dashan: Because this thing is not deliberately kept and maintained, that is, who you are, you can only make any movie, this is your world view, the boundary of your thinking determines the presentation of your film.

Xiao Wan: We know that this film has a very close connection with "The Wandering Earth", but unlike the hard science fiction of "The Wandering Earth", this is another kind of science fiction. So what do you think of Chinese science fiction at the moment, or the type of science fiction you create?

Kong Dashan: I'm actually embarrassed to say that this is a science fiction film, and if it is accurately defined, it should be called "folk science fiction".

How to say, it is indeed not science fiction in the conventional sense, but the theme of essential discussion may indeed be similar to the theme discussed in all science fiction films - it is all about the ultimate inquiry of the universe. But its external formal style may not be related to the traditional sci-fi film that everyone imagines, so the accurate definition I think is "folk science fiction".

Xiao Wan: For the audience, after seeing the film, they may feel that the original science fiction film can also have another form, not necessarily special effects, but also big scenes, this film can bring the audience a new understanding, new feelings.

Kong Dashan: Yes, of course this is the best. If you don't come to see the big special effects and the kind of footage that destroys the world, but to watch this movie with a more tolerant mentality, I think there will be some unexpected gains.

Xiao Wan: Last question, "Space Exploration Editorial Department" is on the big screen of theaters, it is still not easy for a film with such a theme and style, what are your expectations as a director for its market performance?

Kong Dashan: No, just don't lose money.

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