Today I sit with director M. Simon Lim.
Who would you say is your favorite director?
Woody Allen. I’ve watched a lot of his stuff lately. I really like how he incorporates his beliefs into his films. Religion, politics, I admire him to be able to do that.
What is your favorite film of his?
The Purple Rose of Cairo. Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels performances are terrific in that.
How about your favorite movie of all time?
When I was young I wasn’t allowed to watch the Godfather. When I watched it I absolutely loved it. I was taken aback by how violent it was. That and the not being allowed to watch it probably made it that much better.
Favorite movie of 2012?
I’m going to give you two answers.
For performances, Silver Linings Playbook. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are amazing.
My other is Cloud Atlas. I think there are a lot of people who overlook this movie. I think it is going to be one of the ones that does well with people in years to come.
What film are you most looking forward to in 2013?
Inside Llewyn Davis by the Coen brothers.
Do you have any immediate plans for the future?
There are a lot of possibilities at the moment. I applied for grad school at AFI (the American Film Institute) so that could be a thing if I get in. Otherwise, I plan on making a few more shorts to get my name out there. I have a feature I’ve written that I might do but I have a lot of rewriting work to do on it still.
Now when you say get your name out there do you mean festivals, Vimeo, Youtube?…
Festivals mostly. The Student Academy Awards is something that I want to aim for. Online isn’t really an option for me. My shorts are too long for anyone on YouTube to watch. The only people who will watch them will be the festival crowd and that’s if they let me in.
I’ve noticed you have been doing other work lately such as acting and producing. Are you playing with the idea of becoming an actor or producer, or are you still dead-set on directing?
I want to be a director. I do the other stuff because I believe that a director needs to know how everything works to be fully equipped.
So you do it to better yourself?
Your short films include Cold Feet, Photogenic, and Loose End. Would you say you have a common theme in your films?
I don’t think I really have one yet. I’m still trying to find my niche and trying to decide on what I want to focus on. I like a lot of Korean revenge movies but the stuff that I normally do tends to be chick flicks. Loose End is the closest thing to a Korean revenge movie that I’ve done but that was a group written project for a 48 hour competition that I directed.
In Cold Feet, Michael Brown’s character is afraid to commit while in Photogenic Kynan Dias’ character seems distant and unable to commit. Nicole Unger’s character ends up alone and vulnerable while Kara Marigliano’s character feels alone and is very vulnerable throughout in Cold Feet and Photogenic, respectively.
With Cold Feet I dealt with the issue of commitment which is an issue that I have. Kynan’s character is a bit similar too. Commitment is something that I have issues with so it’s on my mind a lot.
I thought it was interesting that Cold Feet approaches it from a male’s perspective while Photogenic is from a female’s.
I don’t actually know how women feel about commitment because I’m not one. I can only assume that they feel the same way as men when it comes to that.
What age did filmmaking become a serious pursuit for you?
My sophomore year of UNLV. I had already amassed 60 credits at other college’s so I started kind of late.
What do you consider your best qualities as a director?
Performance is an extremely important part of filmmaking and I’m trying to improve that part of my skill set. I would say that my best attribute would be the way I block and stage scenes.
What bit of advice would you give to filmmakers just starting out?
Do something you have an interest in. It can go on for a long time so being interested in it makes it much easier and more fulfilling if it doesn’t go anywhere.
What is something you wish you knew when you first started filmmaking that you know now?
You can rewrite a script as many times as you want but what you shoot is what you get and you are stuck with it. I wish back then that I knew more about writing and rewriting.
Was film school worth it?
I can’t speak on grad school yet as I have yet to attend. I hear people say they didn’t get anything out of UNLV but those are the same people who didn’t really do anything. I’ve helped on over 70 sets and I feel like I’ve grown a whole lot. When I first started I didn’t know what a medium shot was. You get out of it what you put into it.
What was your favorite class while attending UNLV?
Story Development. You have to tell your own personal stories that mean a lot to you in front of a group of people and you notice when people are interested or bored. It’s great. You learn things like how you can completely cut out the middle of a story and still have a story, although that story now isn’t interesting as the middle is the most interesting part.
What is your least favorite thing about filmmaking?
I used to watch movies the first time round and be able to enjoy them. Now I notice that I analyze everything about them like shot choice, framing, cinematography, performances. I wish I could go back and be able to enjoy things the first time round. It sounds pretentious and I’m aware of it so I have this struggle of trying to not be pretentious even though it seems the more you watch movies the easier it is to become pretentious.
What do you think about the current state of our industry?
I think we are in a transition period. It’s easier to get your voice out there but the problem is there are so many voices now. Everyone has a camera or a Youtube channel or something. It’s just a matter of getting better and differentiating yourself.
That concludes the interview. Thank you Simon for the interview. It has been a pleasure.
Every Wednesday will be a new interview! Subscribe on the right to be notified by email or follow me on the social networks listed!