Interview: Albert Pyun
Albert Pyun began his film career in 1982 with the action-adventure flick, “The Sword and Sorcerer,” one of the top grossing independent films of all time. He followed with, “Radioactive Dreams,” which won the top prize as “Best Picture” at the Brussels International Film Festival of Fantasy. He has directed 50 feature films to date.
Pyun started making movies in Kailua, Hawaii, where he wrote, directed and produced 16-millimeter short films. He entered several film festivals and subsequently won the Hawaii International Film Festival. He traveled to Japan after graduating from high school, where he served an apprenticeship with Master Director Akira Kurasawa and acclaimed cinematographer Takao Saito under the sponsorship of Japanese actor, Toshiro Mifune.
Talents Pyun has directed include such internationally acclaimed talents as Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme, Christopher Lambert, Dennis Hopper, Charlie Sheen, Rob Lowe, Burt Reynolds, Rutger Hauer, Darren McGavin, Ned Beatty, Tom Sizemore, John Lithgow, Kris Kristofferson, Seth Green, Mario Van Peebles, Peter Boyle, Courtney Cox, and Teri Hatcher.
His unique, stylistic approach offers blistering action sets and the intriguing combination of several genres in each of his films. Recent projects like “Invasion” (a.k.a. “Infection”), a horror feature filmed in one single shot and released by Lions Gate in 2007, won Best Movie and Best Director at Spain’s Estepona International Festival of Fantasy (2005) and “Left for Dead,” a horror/spaghetti western, released by Grindstone in 2008 won Best Director in Estepona (2007).
“Cool Air,”an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s eponymous short story, and the thriller, “Bulletface,” are both currently in post production. “Road to Hell,” starring Michael Pare, also in post production, is scheduled to be released early 2010.
Filmmakers from around the world claim Albert Pyun’s influence on their work and careers. He has filmed on every continent in the world.
“Tales of an Ancient Empire,” starring Kevin Sorbo and written and produced by Cynthia Curnan, is the follow-up to “The Sword and the Sorcerer.” Pyun has “high hopes for ‘Tales’ to follow in its success,” he stated.
Albert answered a few questions for us about “Tales” several months ago. Please see recent updates at the article’s end:
SW: You and screenwriter Cynthia Curnan have collaborated on other projects. How has your association continued with this film?
AP: She really seems to get what I see in my mind’s eye. We share the same vision of things, which is rare, and she is really smart about what audiences will or won’t accept. She has a keen story instinct, as well as how to tell a story from a unique and imaginative point of view. She just gets what I’m trying to capture.
SW: Please briefly outline this film’s process from start to finish.
AP: It’s actually been a very complicated and challenging process, mainly because I consternated over how much creative control I needed to retain on all levels. That limits financing and distribution options as studios love to retain control over the film, so it was tough cobbling together the financing from many different sources. We had aborted attempts to shoot in Argentina, then Baton Rouge, but because our budget was so limited, I ultimately didn’t feel comfortable with how the film would look coming out of those two locations. I have to say that Kevin was a huge supporter of this film right from the start. He really provided the kind of faith and commitment you rarely see from stars of his magnitude.
SW: How did Kevin become involved? Please briefly outline Kevin’s character and how the two of you worked together to convey that vision.
AP: Cynthia wrote the first draft without knowing who would be cast as Aedan when she was still pushing me to make the film. The character ‘Aedan’ wasn’t fully fleshed out yet. Cynthia and I were huge fans of Kevin and we wanted to get his terrific presence and charm into the film. We both agreed: Aedan had to be Kevin Sorbo. I don’t think anyone else was ever discussed, and we’re very lucky he liked the script and was very enthusiastic to be a collaborator with Cynthia and I. He came up with a lot of the film’s signature lines and moments. He’s just creatively brilliant, and greatly improved scenes and his character. I’m not sure people get to see that side of him often enough, but he shines in “Tales.”
SW: What’s it like working with Kevin?
AP: He’s a brilliant, creative mind that just never relaxes or takes any moment for granted, so, that’s great for a director. He’s very professional, (which) lends itself to taking time to improve and improvise scenes instead of spending the short time we had trying to make scenes work. He just raises the quality of everyone’s work in a very easy-going style. The other actors were not as experienced, and he really steadied them and gave them support throughout.
SW: Where is the project now?
AP: We intend to participate in as many conventions and film festivals from mid-January until the April 23, 2010 release date.
SW: Please address how we, Kevin’s fans, can help promote this for you, if possible.
AP: Well, please spread the word and drive fans to our website for the latest updates. If we appear, hopefully with Kevin, at a convention or film festival, please come out and lend us your support. This is going to be a grassroots campaign, so please go to event.com to demand (that) the film play in your city or town or island. And when the pre-order date is announced, please order the DVD, which goes to support the theatrical release.
Update from Cynthia Curnan:
“Tales of an Ancient Empire” Premier and Pre-Order Dates Set!
News you have been wanting for a while now: “Tales of an Ancient Empire” is expected to premiere in select theaters in North America on April 23, 2010!!
Pre-orders for the limited Special DVD Collector’s Edition can be placed beginning March 23, 2010. The DVD Collector’s edition ship date will be announced soon!
Please see the website: http://www.albertpyunmovies.com/tales-of-an-ancient-empire/
(Photos courtesy of Curnan Pictures)