Interviewed by Sabarno Sinha
Cult- It was quite remarkable to note that your second film Ghostlove has been very successful. It has been selected to 59 film festivals worldwide, was nominated 22 times and has won 16 awards. Why do you think it has been so successful?
Susanne – It’s indeed a happy surprise. I think one of the reasons might be that it’s a film about loyalty and perseverance. Maybe this was a film the audience appreciated during the hard times of the pandemic.
Cult-I think our audience would like to know more about you. So let me start by asking this: why did you start to write, direct and produce your own films? What inspired you in this direction?
Susanne –I have always loved to write and started out as a journalist. After a few years, I wanted to write longer texts and began to write, act and direct at theatres in Sweden, France and Taiwan. A few years ago, I decided to try to make my own films. It came naturally, I wanted to try something new.
Cult-I think your experience must have been very different when it came to directing a film. Is it so? Could you tell us more about this?
Susanne-To direct a film is like to direct a theatre play with hundreds of technical problems. One big difference is that the film sees everything with only one eye (The camera eye) but in the theatre we can see the whole scene.
Cult-As you have been a journalist and an actress who started making their own films a few years ago, you must have had to go through hardships and struggles. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Susanne-The biggest challenge in all creative work is to be brave enough to share it. I love to act, write and sing but feel shy to show anyone. Once you have decided to share your Art with an audience, it’s much easier. The other big challenge is that it’s easy to get discouraged because of all the competition. I wish there was a way we could all just enjoy each other’s Art without competing.
Cult-So far, you have made three short films, Love Ghost, Ghostlove and Ghostfree. I am really interested to know as to how you got the idea about the Love Ghost theme. What inspired you?
Susanne-The idea for the three Love Ghost films is created from a theatre play I wrote and directed in Paris, France in 2004. The play’s name is Earthquake, based on a real Earthquake experience in Taipei in 1999. During the Earthquake, a ghost comes to save the souls of the people dying in the Earthquake. She is something between a ghost and a saving angel. My mother, whom I was very close to, died when I was quite young, and both the theatre play and the films are a way for me to describe the feeling of how someone who already has died can still be with us in our daily lives. In Ghostlove, the ghost is a dead girl-friend who dances in the temple close to her beloved man but he can’t see her, only feel her presence.
Cult-I noticed that you used a very documentary style of filmmaking with static shots using tilts and pans mostly. Was this intentional? Is there any reason for this?
Susanne-I live close to a big park where many old women exercise and dance every morning and evening. I wanted to honor their loyalty and perseverance and make the film as true and real as possible. Many of the old women in the film, I have met and talked with many times. I admire them a lot, some are almost 100 years old.
Cult-Continuing from the last question, have you been inspired by any director or films in the way you compose shots or scenes?
Susanne-Making Ghostlove, I was inspired by the great Japanese director Akiro Kurosawa. I have watched his films many times and often admired how his films have so many movements and layers. Very difficult to do.
Cult- I have seen many short films where the presence of background scores are little to none. However, in your film, the background score becomes very important in many scenes as it accentuates the mood, which leads me to believe that you have a taste for music in films and you do consider it an important part. Would you like to comment on this?
Susanne- Music has always been a very important part of my life and I am very grateful for the beautiful and interesting film music by our composer Anton Botes. Anton is a genius and without him, there wouldn’t be any magic in our films.
Cult-I have another question regarding the dance. Was it choreographed or done spontaneously? Could you tell us more about this experience?
Susanne-Tina Hsu is a Taiwanese dancer and choreographer with her own dance studio. She is a specialist in Taiwanese traditional dance and she created the choreography for both Ghostlove and Ghostfree.
Cult- I think that from your responses and you superior quality of filmmaking, you do enjoy the craft. I wanted to know what it that you enjoy most about filmmaking is.Filming of Ghostlove
Susanne-I come from a family with many artists and for me it’s a way of living. Art is a universal language and I need to practice it every day to feel in harmony.
Cult- I am also quite interested to know what are your future goals and what projects are you working on currently.
Susanne-At the moment, I am busy directing a play for a theatre production in Taipei called Taipei Shorts 5. Performances will be during two weeks in November. In February 2023, we (Love Ghost Films) will film our next film here in Taipei. In May-June 2023, I will be in Paris, France and direct a documentary about Bio Art Theatre.
Cult- Lastly, do you have any advice for our budding independent directors?
Susanne-Remember to enjoy! Life is not a competition and Art is FUN! I have so many happy memories from working in the theatre and I am looking forward to many more happy moments in film in the future.