Timo Tjahjanto is half of the Mo Brothers, a director-writer-producer duo who makes the slasher 'Rumah Dara (Macabre)".
TIMO TJAHJANTO: “Your first short film will be your baptism.”
[interview.aldy kusumah / pics.timo docs / July 2012]
How did you first move toward cinema? What were your first steps toward directing?
I truly believe that to be a filmmaker (directing, writing, producing) you have to have an enormous love towards films, you can’t just be waking up and looking over at some special features on a DVD and think “hey that would be cool”. I have seen Psycho when I was 8, and it traumatized me to the level it becomes an obsession, so to be in tune with that strong impression and somehow transform it into passion, I think that will be the first move… Filmschools, courses, etc that’s just details… To make your first film/short will be your baptism.
And the first film you directed was, the short 'Dara'. Tell us a bit about it..
First “professional” production that is. Its just something I wanted to do after being sick of bullshitting here in Jakarta, like many overseas educated kids I went back here an went into that stagnation stage of doing several odd jobs I end up hating with a passion, now that I am way older I wish I moved my ass (into making my first professional film) faster, but DARA was a huge start into finding that genre where I think is a good start for me, Kimo of course always act as a support bench for me as well.
Why did you choose this genre?
Its just something I wanted to do, but you won’t see me sticking to one genre, but horror is always something that I have a soft spot on, be it supernatural, gore, or thrill rides. Fuck it, I even want to do erotic thriller horror, point is always ready to push the limits.
What were your influences?
My odd life of always being an outsider was for sure the biggest influence to my work, You will definitely feel that in KILLERS our film that we are making now. If you ask me who are my influences, I would say Akira kurosawa is my biggest filmmaking hero, then Scorcese then Roman Polanski, Hitchcock ,,etc etc ..list are way too long.
How long do you guys spent writing 'Macabre'?
about 6 months. Not so much because it took us that long to think of the story but because me and Kimo are still finding each other’s method and thoughts.. Sometimes its easier to write by yourself.
How's the creativity process with the Mo Brothers?
Too complicated to be explained in detail but practically I like to think of Kimo as a buffer to my thoughts, he has always been the more controlled one, I think in Indonesia if I don’t work with him, My stories or visions will never get made because there’s no filter for it and it’ll just end up too fucked up or too personal, Kimo often help me stir my ingredients into something presentable. Aside that I also see him as the head Producer. That guy knows how to be diplomatic as for me I don’t usually have the patience for niceties, my offers are usually “if u wanna do something unusual and not at all boring then hop on board! If not , screw it all!” which is NOT the way to go here.
Which do you like more: The Wachowski bros, the Coen bros or Mario bros?
Coen bros for sure!
What do you think of the recent rebirth of the zombie genre?
It's all good, Zombies are so awesome they deserve to own their individual cogwheel in the cinema, some sucks bad some offers interesting takes. We will see some Zombie films from Indonesia soon, I think Billy Christian is making 'Mayat Hidup', which should be interesting, and also some other young filmmakers are making it. But after KILLERS our (Mo brothers) plan is to jump straight into 24JAM our own take of zombie flick. I really want to go back to bloodbaths here.. I am talking about major blood and guts season.
Your death scenes are famous for being extremely well choreographed. I like that you guys show many death on screen. What do you think about on screen vs off screen death scenes?
I disagree with our death scenes are well choreo since we only have 1 feature film haha. if you want to see awesome deaths then THE RAID really fuck ours in the Ass.
I reckon off screen deaths are great… And to be able to show death offscreen and still manage to screw with ur audience guts, that shows confidence in a filmmaker, hopefully I will get there.
"Macabre" has gathered international critical acclaims. What other great plans do you have in store for your next features?
We are doing KILLERS right now, which is the story of two psychopath killers, one in Japan one in Indonesia… Who shares twisted relationship that will fuck the world around them.
Next I hope is our Zombie massacre fest.
What about your secret project with Gareth Evans?
We already shot that , it's called project SAFE HAVEN, an idea of mine that I have been keeping as a feature film, but never could find the right person to work with, cause the story is so absurd and over the top. But Gareth is a proper OG when it comes to doing crazy stuff and making it look great , we collaborated on the script and directing the film, he is also the editor, and he’s sending me dailies from London now every week. It's gonna be fucking amazing.
Anyway Safe Haven is a short film that will be a part of an American horror Anthology feature film. You’ll hear about it.
I see you collect Hot Toys figures. What's your most prized Hot Toys collection?
Not just hot toys, I am an avid 1/6 scale figure collector. If I have to choose, I say my collection of Terminator figures , but that’s because : a) I customize some of them myself b) Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator was and still is a goddamn legend.
How is your involvement with the ABC's of death?
Great! I don’t know if it's gonna show in here, I hope not because its kinda fucked up, this is my first project without Kimo. Lets just say this film is NOT for the morally conscious .
Top 5 favourite films of all time?
Motherfucker Gareth (Evans) took Raging bull and Magnolia from my list already. So here:
Red Beard – Akira Kurosawa – this film teach us what it is to be human, to be kind , without being weak, to be conscious about your humanity in cruel and harsh times. I cried like a pussy several times when a girl says that she prefers to Beg than steal. Humbling stuff.
Yojimbo & Sanjuro – Akira Kurosawa – a film that all Asian men should watch, we are NOT a race of geeks and mathematic experts , Toshiro Mifune was being an effortless BADASS when Clint Eastwood is still trying to get TV roles. Google this guy, he is my Idol : Toshiro Mifune
Psycho – Hitchcock – enough said about this one, best fuckin childhood ever!
TAXI DRIVER – Scorcese - If you ever feel like the whole world are a bunch of unrelatable fuckwits… Put this in your BLU-ray player. And watch genius happens.
The NINTH GATE – Polanski – not a lot of people love this, but for some reason I keep watching it again and again and again. Polanski + the Devil + Books + Europe = great shit.
And many more that couldn’t go into this list.