《美國女孩》製作人苗華川:專訪|內斂底蘊電影心志About Cinematic Ambitions 

TRANSLATION | Eugenia Yang

《美國女孩》無疑是近期台灣影壇最大的驚喜,榮獲四項金馬獎肯定,國際影展上也屢有斬獲,不僅引起眾多深度討論,更被稱為 2021 年必看的華語電影。其幕後最大推手便是擁有多重角色的製作人「苗華川」,更是台灣首位獲選《富比世》亞洲 30 under 30 傑出青年的製片人,「電影的根本就是 Storytelling。」而當談起電影時,原先有些緊繃的臉龐多了一份自信光采,與我們娓娓道來他之於電影的有感爬梳及深厚因緣。

Undoubtedly a gem of the Taiwanese film industry, American Girl had received four Golden Horse Awards and numerous recognition at international film festivals. Not only had it generated a lot of buzz, the film was even rendered as a must-see Asian film in 2021. The film’s success can largely be attributed to the producer of the film, Clifford Miu, the first Taiwanese filmmaker to be selected as an honoree of Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list. “The origin of film is storytelling.” A confident glow instantly takes over the tension in his face when the topic shifts to film as he shares with us the story behind his love for cinema. 

《美國女孩》製作人苗華川。
Producer of American Girl, Clifford Miu.

理想傳承

自小受父親啟蒙,每週與電影對話的時間,造就了苗華川深厚的文學底蘊。憶起兒時過往,縈繞於心的電影場景,他隨即回答《鐵達尼號》的生離死別、《時時刻刻》的故事設計、《王牌冤家》中的愛情世界觀以及《黑金企業》中的振奮張力,「這些是成長以來影響我的幾個單純畫面,可能不是最愛的電影,而是只有看過一次,年紀很小但都記得十分清楚,人物之間對彼此的回饋反應,蠻感動我的。」直至國中時,藉暑期班的創作實錄,使苗華川再度堅定了從事電影的志向,笑答或許是受到父親的潛移默化,如《王者理查》中威爾史密斯的父子互動,將未完成的抱負寄託於兒女,如今看來也是別具溫馨的理想傳承。大學畢業後,苗華川選擇逆向操作,與知音學弟張林翰合夥創辦「白令電影有限公司」,靠投資股票籌措創業基金,開創了一條極具「邏輯性」的拍片之路。

《美國女孩》劇照 Scenes from American Girl.

一拳勝負

拍電影,是件再爛漫不過的任性事,周旋於有限預算與藝術想像,製作人與導演的有效溝通儼然成為一門大學問。於《美國女孩》的拍攝過程中,苗華川表示導演阮鳳儀曾擔綱製作人,皆較能理解雙方角色與立場,如同餐廳老闆與主廚的關係,為了呈現完好的飲食體驗,從菜單設計、口味濃淡到桌椅呈現等,皆是彼此值得琢磨的細節。「因為目標都一樣,就不太會有什麼磨合,找的人都是跟我們在同一個頻率上。」選角,對於一部電影有著極大關鍵,尤其在《美國女孩》中,苗華川大膽選用素人演員,他說看人不僅倚靠直覺,細膩觀察之餘,堅守「初心」乃是一大關鍵,聚焦目標導向,便會發覺手上的選擇也隨之遞減。如今說得雲淡風輕,背後實則藏著極大風險,苗華川打趣道過程很像《洛基》,「上擂台打這一拳,你只有這個機會,會輸也不能倒下台,一定要站到底,最後分數怎麼樣沒有人知道,這就是一個 One in a Million 的機會。」

融位思考

遊走於導演、製作人的雙重角色,苗華川表示兩者擁有眾多相似點,但導演必須具備獨有的個人聲音,以純粹視角去創作是件相當迷人的事;製作人則帶有另一種情感與成就感,面臨每個制式問題、每個決定皆不假他手,相對視野也拉得長遠。「或許我當導演的時候都有帶一點點 Producer 看現實層面去創作,可能我在 Producer的時候也會,因為我會幫導演想,但如果我能找到這樣的一個聲音,我就會繼續做下去。」而隨著流年與經驗積累,苗華川向我們推薦了三部人生必看的電影清單,「從高中到現在都很喜歡《黑色追緝令》,不管在什麼世代,不只是某種生動,它永遠是一個創意的代表;杜琪峯的《鎗火》是你可以看出來在預算很緊的情況下,於警匪這個框架裡去做出值度的創意,它是靠感覺、氣質在跟你溝通;近期的電影像《魔球》和《大賣空》,是在生活上會給你一些啟發,用另一種思維去思考,會發現好多事物都變得簡單許多。」他笑說這些或許不是拍得最棒的,也不是百看不厭的電影,而是在心底留下些波瀾,方才叫人念念不忘。

《美國女孩》劇照 Scenes from American Girl.

Inheritance of Ideals

Inspired by his father, Miu spent most of his childhood watching movies, which contributed to his deep literary understanding. From the depiction of life and death in Titanic, the story design of The Hours, the view on love in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, to the exciting tension in There Will Be Blood, these are the scenes in movies that left an impression on him since childhood. “These are a few simple images that affected me when I was growing up. They may not be my favorite movie, some of which I’ve only watched once, but I remember them all very clearly. The dynamic between the characters was really moving.” It wasn’t until after attending a summer workshop during junior high that Miu realized he wanted to work in the film industry. He smiles and says perhaps he was unconsciously influenced by his father, just like how it was in King Richard, where Will Smith’s character decides to pass his unfinished dream onto his kids. After graduating from college, Miu decided to work in reverse. Raising venture capital through stock investments, he co-founded Bering Films with his friend, Linhan Zhang. Together, they embarked on a rather logical filmmaking journey. 

One in a Million 

Some say filmmaking is one romantic and capricious matter. Working to bring artistic imaginations to life while staying under budget, the effective communication between the producer and director becomes an important lesson. During the making of American Girl, since director Fiona Roan Feng-I has worked as a producer before, Miu says she understands the roles and their difference in perspective. The relationship they share is similar to the one between a restaurant owner and a chef, where both parties aspire to present the best dining experience through perfecting every little detail, from creating the menu, the intensity of flavors, to the interior design. “There wasn’t much friction because we share the same goal and the people we recruited are all on the same page.” Another key to filmmaking is the casting process. Surprisingly, Miu decided to cast non-actors in American Girl, which was considered bold. His choice didn’t merely stem from intuition, but also from his careful observation and belief in originality. Once you focus your sight on the end goal, you will then realize there isn’t much decision left to make. Although the process seems to be easy, looking back, each and every choice holds great risk. Chuckling, Miu says the process reminds him of Rocky. “You only have this one chance once you step in the ring and you can’t quit, even if you think you are going to lose. Because you’ll never know the results until the very last minute. That is a one in a million opportunity.” 

《美國女孩》劇照 Scenes from American Girl.

Fushion Thinking

Working as both director and producer, Miu believes the two share much similarity. However, a director needs to have a distinctive voice, creating his or her own narrative with a pure perspective. As for the role of a producer, it comes with a different emotion and sense of achievement. In the face of problems, you get to make the decision, but at the same time, you have to learn to look far into the future. “Perhaps when I’m a director, I create from a realistic perspective that is distinctive to the mind of a producer. And the same happens when I’m producing, because I’m trying to think for the director. If I can find such a voice, I will continue to do it.” Drawing from his accumulated experience, Miu suggests three films from his must-watch list. “I’ve always liked Pulp Fiction ever since high school. Regardless of time, it will always be a representation of creativity. Johnnie To’s The Mission shows us how to create with value, while working with a low budget and in the framework of crime films. And lastly, recent films like Moneyball and The Big Short offer inspirations that teach us to think from a different perspective. Once you do that, everything becomes easier.” Miu laughs and says maybe these aren’t the greatest films, or ones that you can watch over and over, but they are the ones that left an impression in his heart, unable to be forgotten.