This year is Geng Jun's 20th year of making movies. There are more than a dozen long and short feature films and documentaries together. In the industry, there are not many directors with this amount of work. Geng Jun is the least famous one. At least in terms of audience perception.
Before the film Siberian Tiger, none of Geng Jun's works had been publicly released in China. Piracy and institutional screenings became the most important viewing channels, so he was once classified as an underground film director.
In fact, Geng Jun's works are very different from underground films. His subject matter is not sensitive, and his style is not experimental. Although he often has a strong sense of critical reality, his stories are well-made.
Geng Jun is from Hegang, Heilongjiang, and most of the stories in the movie take place in Hegang. The main actors Gang, Yong, and Xue Baohe are Geng's friends in life. They depend on each other and achieve each other in the movie.
On June 19, 2021, the Golden Goblet Award of the Shanghai Film Festival awarded the best film to the film "Siberian Tiger". The outside world regarded this award as a watershed in Geng Jun's career, but what excited Geng Jun fans was, " Hegang Universe" completed its first assembly in this film.
After winning the award, "Hegang Cosmos" continued to celebrate for several days, and Geng Jun stated that expansion is allowed, as long as there is a degree.
After returning to Beijing, chores other than creation began to increase. He still rented a house in Tongzhou and lived a simple life. Movies never seemed to improve his life, but his life was solidly affected. Movies have changed.
With the release of "Siberian Tiger", Geng Jun's previous works have also begun to attract attention. We chatted with him about the twenty years he spent in the film.
Professional and non-professional actors, there is a difference, but not much
Beijing News: "Siberian Tiger" has been in your hands for many years. How similar is this version to the original "Siberian Tiger" in your mind?
Geng Jun: I finished the script in 2012, earlier than "Hammer and Sickle Rest" and "Relax + Pleasure", so the original form of "Siberian Tiger" is closer to my previous film "Youth".
In the spring of 2018, I made almost 40% revisions from the original script.
During the transformation, it actually becomes a little softer.
I took a detour for a year or two, trying to turn this thing into a genre movie or something, and I got myself a little confused.
Beijing News: Is it related to the capital market?
Geng Jun: I have nothing to do with capital. After "Hammer and Sickle Rest" won the Golden Horse Short Film Award (Golden Horse Award for Best Short Film), some companies came to ask what to do next, and we talked about this, but in the end we didn't do it.
That's why I shot "Easy + Happy" in 2015, because "Siberian Tiger" couldn't find the money and couldn't make it. "Easy + Happy" has a relatively small budget and is easy to operate.
The Beijing News: "The Northeast Tiger" has a higher budget, is it because of the use of professional actors?
Geng Jun: Actually, the two companies that wanted to change to genre films from the beginning have already started to code actors, but those actors who code are not particularly suitable for this story, they just meet their business requirements.
At first, it was relatively friendly. Who do you think is suitable for the actor in the market to play the man and the heroine? After that, we talked about the market. It was a bit like boiling a frog in warm water. the best box office.
Beijing News: Is there a big difference in the way professional actors and non-professional actors perform in your works?
Geng Jun: There are definitely differences between professional actors and non-professional actors.
For a movie, first of all, the rhythm and temperament must be adjusted to a channel. This needs to be completed by the performance, so the performance should also be adjusted to a channel, but this is not difficult, because a good actor must have many ways. So working with professional or non-professional actors, there is a difference, but it's not that big (difference).
The Beijing News: The actors you chose before were not very conventional, such as the old gangster lady in "Relax + Pleasure", which is really funny.
Geng Jun: That was quite funny. When "Easy + Happy" was released that year, many people in the industry asked me where did this old lady find her?
That old lady is actually a very ordinary person in our local area. When I was looking for an actor, I sent a message locally, and many people came to interview.
She can't act, but I like her face, so I decided to ask her to act.
Because it was the first time to act, it wasn't that easy to complete, but we took it slowly, and it was time to count when it was done.
In fact, we filmed her scene for two whole days.
It turned out really well in the end.
Beijing News: Her level of absurdity makes the whole absurd film seem normal. Was it a conscious pursuit of these unexpected feelings?
Geng Jun: Actually, what kind of thing I want to pursue, it is not easy to comment.
Sometimes when a movie is finished, after a long period of time, when I watch it with everyone, I will be very dazed. I think, is this what I did?
Beijing News: Why do you have this idea?
Geng Jun: I don't want to do movie reviews myself, so when some audience members and some movie fans share their opinions, that movie is quite unfamiliar to me.
Sometimes it’s not easy for me to explain what’s going on with me, or what’s going on with my works. To summarize myself, I think I’m drawing a circle for myself. After you finish drawing, you want to go out and jump out. It’s better not to Draw this circle.
In fact, I completely control the creation of emotions, which is also the reason why the revision time of my script takes so long.
It's just that I think it's right where the plot is written, but it's not interesting enough. I think how can I make it interesting?
I will grind on this for a long time.
The Beijing News: Private fun is more likely to grab the audience.
Geng Jun: Yes, for example, the scene of the old lady you mentioned just now, but if you ask how that scene was written, I am in a trance myself. Although it didn’t take long, I know it’s interesting enough to write it this way.
Only in this way will the other two liars cause that kind of comminuted fracture of the heart.
The appearance of this person is to destroy them, so who is this tyrant, is it a man of Confucianism and force or a fierce and evil person?
No, she's an old man from a grocery store.
In fact, all of my creative ideas come from my taste and aesthetic tendency.
Beijing News: I always thought this was a well-designed character.
Geng Jun: There are some reporters or film practitioners who have also talked about this scene like you, and will talk about this person's image.
I think it's good that you think so, and that's fine, because the movie really belongs to the audience.
The Beijing News: It took two days to shoot her one scene, and you didn't realize that she would be very good?
Geng Jun: I almost froze to death when I was filming. Didn’t I also play a role in it, and finally fell to the ground. We were filming in March, although the snow was heavy, but when you fell, lie there After a while, the body heat will melt the snow.
After that, your entire back is a hard board, which melts and then stands up, melts and then stands up, and the whole is completely transparent.
I couldn't even look at the monitors when I was there, and when the other actors were looking at the monitors, they would laugh at me and say I was a bad actor or something.
In fact, when I shoot by myself, the real feeling is the weather and physical things.
Different voices and different aesthetics are needed now
Beijing News: People sometimes over-interpret your works, or even completely contradict your original intentions. What are your real thoughts when you see such comments?
Geng Jun: Actually, I don't really read my comments. Sometimes, I can only see them after my friends read them and forward them to me.
In today's society, movies are actually a free field of public opinion. You can say whatever you want, you can understand, misunderstand, and confuse.
So at this point, it's fair to the audience and the writer.
The Beijing News: But you are a director with a strong author character. Author character means strong output, which corresponds to accurate acceptance. If you let others interpret it, is this a bit of a contradiction?
Geng Jun: Not too contradictory, a person is called self-talk, and being discussed proves that it has formed that discussion, that this content output has been completed, that this thing has been established, what else do you have to worry about? ?
Don't worry, it's over.
The Beijing News: For creators, it should be a very cool thing to have the same frequency with the audience at a certain moment and have resonance.
Geng Jun: Yes, I experienced it in the cinema.
During the Golden Horse period, "Relax + Pleasure" was played, and when the Christian Xiao Er met the liar, the theater was suddenly very noisy, and everyone thought, wow, it was too much fun.
But I didn't know it would happen myself, and I didn't expect them to like the plot.
After the post-screening conversation, I could feel the resonance and their excitement, which was something I didn't expect.
Seeing these reactions, my real thought is, is it still possible to be so happy making a movie?
Beijing News: You said in your "One Seat" speech that after filming "Barbecue" at the beginning, everyone felt that it was not good to watch it on the computer, and you couldn't watch it at all. You were very disappointed.
Later, on the big screen, with the audience present, everyone felt different, and they all felt good.
So, do you judge your films more on the audience's reaction, or on the quality of the film itself?
Geng Jun: Actually, I may not be particularly rational about my works, nor can I view them objectively.
Living in an era like now, we watch too many good movies, so it’s normal to be confident or self-doubt in creation.
But I might doubt myself a bit more.
Beijing News: But your style has always been very certain.
Geng Jun: What I doubt is not the style. My self-doubt is actually in the exploration part when I create each film. I will think about how to make my creations have a little new possibility in the exploration.
This is actually what I am most excited about. Although I also doubt myself, this is a normal creative psychology, but my self-doubt may be more serious than what the outside world sees.
The Beijing News: Whether it is text creation, or doubt and exploration in audio-visual language, is there any reason to want to be more integrated into the larger environment?
Geng Jun: There is no such reason.
It will not fail to integrate, because there are too many homogeneous things in this era, and it is quite necessary to have different voices and different aesthetics with individuality.
I have no doubts about this, I am quite confident.
What I suspect is actually the self-demanding part, kind of like what one person demands of another.
You know what kind of person I am usually, but when I create, it is close to what I want from another person.
The Beijing News: Self-requirements will definitely change during the specific implementation process, especially movies are collective labor, and the final work is often the product of compromise.
Geng Jun: But movies can also generate creativity on the spot. On the spot, you, the cameraman, and the actors will have some improvisational things. These things overflow from the script. When you capture them, it will be a particularly beautiful moment. , my work, all film work will keep these.
Beijing News: Does improvisation play a big role in your work?
Geng Jun: Not much. Before filming, I actually had a solid understanding of the lines and the relationship between the characters.
So if the actors want to change the words in the filming, it is actually very difficult, can they be changed?
It can be changed, but very few places can be changed, most of which cannot be changed, because it has been carefully considered.
I'm talking about the improvisation part, it's not the script, it's that people collide with something during the live shoot.
The things I don't care about are the things I care about the most
The Beijing News: In "Hammer and Sickle Rest", there is a scene where the three protagonists go back to the house after being frustrated respectively, and the atmosphere is sad. expressed reluctance to listen.
At that time, I thought you were very cruel, refused to be warm, and did not beautify life.
Geng Jun: I think this is a basis for me to look at the world, neither beautify nor uglify. It is difficult to put these two points together, because they are all personal judgments, so I think about what kind of person I am. I just can't beautify everything I know.
Beijing News: In many Northeastern-themed movies, the creators will intentionally or unintentionally add a little warmth to dilute the heavy, and you obviously want to tear up these readily available warmth.
Geng Jun: I think this comes from my attitude towards myself. I am rude to myself, and I have no way to sympathize with myself. I think any realistic situation stems from interaction and collusion.
This part of what you're talking about is my self-perception, and I'll let it spill over to the screen, otherwise I'll feel like it's not fun to shoot.
I want to present my perception of the world in the film, and this presentation is personal.
Although I always say that I’m emotionally dominant in my creations, the finalization of the film is always intentional, because it is not a monitoring of a single shot. After the shots are formed into a film, the sense of design must be smoothed out so that the characters can come alive in it.
Show their character, their ability, their incompetence, their softness, their hypocrisy, their cunning and their tenderness, but despite that, they need hugs.
The Beijing News: A robber who regards robbery as a craft will feel that his craft is unfamiliar if he fails to rob.
This absurd design seems to hide something soft.
Geng Jun: Sometimes I think, our life is so unbearable, but the dance hall is still open; our life is so unbearable, but after drinking in winter, the ground will feel soft.
At this time, looking up at the night sky and the stars, my heart will become very soft.
These things have a sense of hierarchy in every moment of life.
So the romantic ones, the elegant ones, the soft ones, also come.
Beijing News: But in movies about the Northeast, elegance and softness are rare.
Geng Jun: I think you have to look away, otherwise you will get caught in it. Movies are not just a regional or regional expression. For me, movies are human, and I never feel that my movies are A Northeast mass-selling work.
Beijing News: Your film sometimes reminds me of a novel "Crime", which is cold, joking, and has a clear attitude.
Geng Jun: I have read that novel, and in fact it presents such a thing and such an attitude, which is my interest in writing.
I don't want to point to the other person's nose, point to the other person's head, point to the location of the other person's heart and scold the street. I don't like that way, I like a little softness.
In fact, people tend to pay special attention to those inner things, rather than the superficial things.
The inner part was formed when I wrote the script, but I have my own views on this era at every stage. These things are actually a very important part of my creation and cannot be avoided.
The Beijing News: In your early work "Youth", you questioned the price of love and what brotherhood is. After that, although your work seems to become warm, it is essentially colder, because you Their misery began to be questioned.
Geng Jun: Yes, because in fact, later, my understanding of the world has become wider and wider, and I want to make my works wider.
I don't have a rational analysis of how much this kind of thinking can penetrate into each work.
But these things must be expressed in an elegant way, or in a tender way.
Beijing News: The appearance of these expressions is more like disdain.
Geng Jun: Actually, all the disdain I shoot are the things I care about the most. If I really disdain it, I quit it a long time ago.
I think that this so-called dismissive can only be photographed when you have a particularly strong feeling for these people, because I care about it, do I care if I want to recite poetry to it affectionately?
No, I care about it in my other way.
The origin of (creation) is very vague, but my origin is very clear.
The rise of young writers in Northeast China is an honor in this era
Beijing News: The characters in your films are all rivers and lakes, but they are never related to power, that is, the relationship between people, the mutual restraint of human nature.
Geng Jun: Yes, a factory area will have a river and lake, a community will have a river and lake, a coal mine will have a river and lake, and maybe there will be a river and lake between neighbors, so that thing is actually something that is restricted by folk moral behavior. We live very close, depending on how you behave.
Shan Tianfang will often say this sentence in his storytelling, which is called "money oppresses slaves and servants, and art oppresses pedestrians." You are a rich person, and the people who serve you are the people you hire, and that is the employment relationship.
If you do well in an industry, many people will restrain their usual expressions and show the most attentive part. Therefore, there are especially ugly parts and especially lovely parts in Jianghu. Seeing what people say, this is the most important part. The basic trick, all of them combined make it three-dimensional.
My jianghu doesn't draw on anything and type, jianghu is my view of the world.
Beijing News: What do you think of some of the Northeast-themed movies before?
Geng Jun: I think the works of Zhang Meng and Wang Bing have a very good description of the era at that time. I especially like those things. They are very important works to describe the Northeast.
There are also Xu Anhua and Chen Guo. In fact, their works are better at capturing them. They are very solid captures of the struggle and unbearableness of people and their mutual dependence in that environment. The external perspective is often more accurate. Both works were directed by the director. Ability and enthusiasm ignited.
I re-watched "Durian Fluttering" during the epidemic, and I still like it very much.
In addition, there are also some directors who are using the Northeast, but those things will eventually be eliminated and submerged.
The Beijing News: In recent years, the media has mentioned the rise of Northeastern writers countless times.
Like Ban Yu, Shuang Xuetao, Zheng Zhi, and the writer Su Fang, who is also from Shenyang, their age and growth background are somewhat similar, but their works are completely different. I would like to know what you think of Northeastern literature and the concept of the Renaissance. .
Geng Jun: I think around 2000, there were also many Northeastern writers, such as Diao Dou and Hong Feng, including Shu Ping who later wrote the script for Jiang Wen, and Quan Yongxian.
Before that, there were Ma Yuan, Pippi, Chi Zijian, etc. These writers have actually continued to create.
These new northeastern authors in recent years are a continuation.
I think that when paper media, paper products, and books are in such a difficult time, the presence of these few people can make a lot of people buy books again, which is a very good phenomenon. The phenomenon may not be accurate. It's very good.
When I chatted with them face-to-face, I did not hide that I was a fan of their books. Although they were the same age and fellow villagers, everyone had different perspectives and styles, and they were all good enough.
I think it's an honor of our time for them to come out.
Beijing News: You currently write all your movies yourself, why haven't you thought about adapting novels?
Geng Jun: My later films are adaptations of novels by writer Diao Dou, but I still wrote the script myself. I have always looked at the adaptation very cautiously.
Because I'm a little afraid of letting down such a good novel.
I wrote it myself, and I have no apology for beating myself up. I have some awe for novels and poetry.
I am very happy to hear the description of "Hegang Universe"
Beijing News: Nowadays young people like to discuss going to Hegang to buy a house and be a small town youth. In fact, your movies were originally made of small town youths. These former small town youths have been with you until now, to a certain extent. On, is it fair to say that your film is a long-term record of the youth of a small town?
Geng Jun: What is the most special thing about Siberian Tiger this time? I have gathered all the actors from "Bulk Diary", "Barbecue", "Youth", and "Relax + Pleasure" into the movie. A movie in which the important actors who used in the year made a collective appearance.
This was extended by the audience with a word "Hegang Universe".
Although other directors or novel writers have presented some kind of regional or some universe through their works, I have not thought about it myself, and I am very happy that they gave me this description.
Beijing News: It's also because you built a solid hometown system in the movie.
Geng Jun: Yes, my hometown and the actors who grew up with me are interdependent.
I think film is the art of the face, a single person, I shot him when he was in his twenties, and I am still shooting him now in his forties. I think this kind of constant attention and continuous presentation is very interesting. Yes, their looks have changed over time, but it's the same person again.
When you watch "Youth", Brother Gang, Brother Yong, and Yuan Liguo, what are they like?
When I saw "Easy + Happy" and "Siberian Tiger", what were they like.
These are all things that I care about, and they are also a matter of my aesthetics. I often say that if an actor is good-looking, it is a consumer-level thing, but I will say that my actors are beautiful, and that is an aesthetic level, because they It's really charismatic when it's on screen.
This is the charm that comes from the synthesis of faces and years.
Beijing News: The main actors in your films are also your partners in life. Even if they are non-professional actors, you said that you trust them unconditionally because they have a common life background, so it is easier for them to understand what you want to express something?
Geng Jun: No, I never asked for understanding, I don't understand myself.
It is very abnormal to ask for understanding between people. When one person tells another person that they understand you, this is a threat, which is close to emotional kidnapping.
Beijing News: They don’t need to understand your work either?
Geng Jun: They probably don’t pay much attention to the works. The works are not important to them. They will directly praise him and say that Lao Geng has done a good job. I will also politely say that I think it’s okay. That's all.
Will you talk about what's inside the work?
He can chat, Brother Yong played well, and it's just such a very simple exchange.
There are familiar people around you. Who do you think is a good performer?
There is no comparison, the compliment is out of camaraderie.
The Beijing News: But creators must have the vanity of creation, and it is difficult for anyone to avoid it.
Geng Jun: There will be.
I know where my vanity is, like when you talk to me about "there's a few scenes that I can remember for a long time" and my vanity goes up and I say this dude is interested in this but that It's really wonderful, this kind of thing is very natural.
But every day all the liveliness dissipated, and when I was about to lie down and sleep, I would go through it in my mind, and everything was just interesting.
Beijing News: Is this kind of introspection your personal request, or is it the same for the team?
Geng Jun: Actors may be at an intermediate point.
It's hard to grasp this point. If you don't know it yourself, it's impossible for them to improve so fast in acting. In fact, it's okay if you don't know yourself, as long as people's inner shape doesn't change much.
For example, when we went to a film festival, some people actually swelled up after that. I was very natural. I said, "I swell for a week or two at most."
When it was over, Brother Gang said, "Brother, I have to swell for a month."
I said, "Then you inflate by a month".
Movies are "witchcraft" and I've never been creative
Beijing News: Your films are often affirmed by reviews and awards, but your name is very unfamiliar to most audiences. Your directing path seems to be more tortuous than that of directors at the same time.
Geng Jun: Everyone's creation is not that easy.
Am I more difficult than others?
For example, I have been creating works for about the same time, and my works are directors who have grown up with me. They made so-called market works a little earlier. I think this is the way people choose, especially natural, as long as they can keep their creations. A good state, I feel good.
The Beijing News: The first draft of "Siberian Tiger" was written in 2012, but due to the conditions, there was no chance to shoot, and you have always been calm in the face of these?
Geng Jun: Although I wrote the first draft in 2012, how mature is that thing?
Not too mature.
If I can't find the money, it means that the current situation of the film is not ideal, or my personal data is not enough.
Why can you find money when you want, why can you shoot when you want, and the cinema is not opened by your family.
I carry this thing very clearly. I think continuous shooting is the most important thing. I am not the kind of person who spends on one project.
Beijing News: The style of your early and late works has changed a lot. For you personally, which stage is smoother?
Geng Jun: Actually, for me, the longest shooting in these years was two months. I am no stranger to the set. I worked as an assistant director in the early years, and later I also shot a few myself, so the technical level is not that difficult.
I used to shoot with a dozen or so people, but only five or six people filmed "Barbecue", and now more than 100 people are filming "Siberian Tiger".
No movie is particularly easy to shoot, and no movie feels smooth. I haven't done it well in my creation.
Beijing News: When things go wrong, have your views on movies and your own abilities changed?
Geng Jun: I always feel that movies are witchcraft, and I can't think about real life.
If you think about it, it can mobilize people's emotions, mobilize people's emotions, and show another world on the big screen after the room is dark. To me, it is witchcraft.
Beijing News: Is "Siberian Tiger" your first movie with a heroine in the true sense?
Geng Jun: In my previous works, there are really not many female characters, because I don't know women that well, and the group of buddies takes up more time around me, so women are less represented in my works.
"Siberian Tiger" indeed has the most female roles this time.
I also got to know them a little bit as I got older.
I'll balance the story when I know a little bit about it.
Because women in the current social system carry half or even more than half, so although it is a patriarchal society, I think it is a matriarchal society.
Beijing News senior reporter Tang BoKeywords: