Get To Know Andy An: Film Producer Bringing Chinese Movie To The Award Stage of Venice Film Festival
The film “Love is a Gun” depicts the life of a young man determined to start anew after getting out of jail.
However, his turbulent past comes back to haunt him, including a gun he cannot get rid of. His hopes come to a grinding halt when his debt-ridden mother, his friend Maozi, and his former boss reenter his life.
The film made its premiere at the prestigious 2023 Venice Film Festival Critics’ Week, where director Lee Hong-Chi was honored with the Lion of the Future – Luigi De Laurentiis Award.
We sat down with co-producer Andy An to delve into the compelling story behind this stunning film.
The film “Love is a Gun” portrays a unique storyline. What aspects of the film’s production and storytelling drew you to be a part of it?
What attracted me the most to this film were not only the storytelling but also the authenticity and aesthetics. As many film critics have noted, the story is not the strongest aspect of this film. However, the genuine emotions expressed throughout the film and the authentic visual language were very touching to me. The images were also poetic and beautiful, and I was instantly captivated.
Do you have any specific preferences when it comes to the thematic style and content of the films you choose to produce?
As a producer, I don’t want to limit myself to specific genres or styles. If it’s something that resonates with me, something I find meaningful, valuable, or creative, I’d love to try it. If I meet a director whom I think is very talented, I’d also want to collaborate with him/her and learn from him/her.
As a film producer, what unique methods or philosophies do you bring to the production process?
I am still learning and exploring every day. I don’t dare to say I have any specific methods or philosophies, but one thing I feel strongly about is that a producer should constantly analyze oneself and evolve. One should objectively face the advantages and disadvantages of one’s character, and then one can decide which path is more suitable for oneself.
Could you elaborate on your approach to finding your role and your leverage as a producer?
Talking about this question, one of my friends Shan Zuolong, an admirable Chinese producer, once said, “I don’t think a perfect producer exists because ‘Producer’ is a team, furthermore, it is a system.” I agree with him on this. Some producers are very good at operating and supervising productions, ensuring the quality of the production while maintaining a proper budget. Others excel in capital raising, project development, distribution, etc.
In a way, all of these can be the responsibilities of a producer. But, in most cases, everyone has limited time and task preferences. Producers help each other become better as a collective. This brings us back to my previous message.
It’s better to know what you like and excel in it so that you can find your leverage, which helps ensure you spend valuable time on the right things. But this exploration takes some trial and error, and of course, time.
“Love is a Gun” marks another significant achievement in your career. How do you perceive these honors and recognitions you’ve received, especially at this stage of your career?
With “Love Is a Gun” winning the “Lion of the Future,” it certainly will help my career, and I’m very proud to be a part of it. However, contrary to common beliefs, it made me more humble because, at the Venice Film Festival, we saw so many other intriguing, excellent, captivating films made by professionals who’ve been working in this industry for decades. Compared to them, I am still a novice who just learned how to walk. There’s a big gap between us and those who got into the “main competition.”
What traits do you believe are essential for a successful film producer to possess?
I think a good producer should be insightful and sensitive to good content, opportunities, the demands of the audience, and the general market. Like Robert Towne once wrote in his book: “A series of shared beliefs, in this case focusing on what was wrong with the country, created a sense of communion between filmmakers and filmgoers.” A producer should consider these aspects before taking action. Which type of film for which market and for whom? Different films should be approached with different strategies. Additionally, a producer should constantly improve his/her professionalism and skills, keep evolving, and continue studying. Only with this can a producer keep up with the development of the world and make a better movie next time.
Could you share some memorable moments from the production of “Love is a Gun” that reflect the challenges and rewards of being a film producer?
The most memorable moment for me was when we were awarded the “Lion of the Future.” There was an interesting backstory. On the 8th, we were not notified by anyone from SIC or Venice regarding the award ceremony, so we thought our trip was finished. We started to prepare to leave empty-handed. Just before we rescheduled all our tickets, Zuolong received an email from Venice, saying there was beautiful but urgent news for us and asking us whether we had left Venice. So, we guessed and anticipated.
It was not until the 9th, during the ceremony when our film’s name and the director’s name were called upon the stage, that we felt the sudden rush of joy. That was the most memorable moment in my career so far. We’d been worried for months, worked very hard, and carried a significant responsibility on our shoulders. Finally, we received unprecedented recognition in the history of Chinese Cinema. From my perspective, it acknowledges the director for his/her artistic talent and ability, and it rewards the producers for their effort in making a debut film come true. That often requires a great deal of courage and belief.
What advice do you have for aspiring film producers who aim to make their mark in the industry?
Trust your instincts but also know what you really want to do.
I understand that producers must make many rational decisions, but deciding whether to pursue a movie may not be one of them. Just as Shakespeare wrote: “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” If all you can see are endless challenges, you’ll never make a movie. But at the same time, you really need to understand why you’re doing this project. This understanding will sustain you during those dark, sleepless nights.