In the following interview, writer A.Mungun, who has been sharing his thoughts on Mongolian and international screen art with film lovers through his Facebook page account “Mungun”, talked about his writing style and experience.
You studied finance but decided to follow your dream and interest and earned a degree in journalism and mass communication. When did you fall in love with cinematography?
The first movie that left a deep impression on me was Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park”. I first watched this movie on a DVD player at my uncle’s home. I found it very interesting. Since then, I have become more fond of watching movies. My family used to watch movies together and my parents used to talk a lot about the movies we watched with my younger brother and me. I think all this sparked and fueled my love for cinema.
Which movie did you first write a review for?
I guess I wrote my first review for the “Cultural Offensive” film by Mask Production Company in 2019. My friends told me, “I don’t watch Mongolian movies very often. Every time I watch them at the cinema, I feel like I wasted my money.” I used to think so too. I started writing film reviews on my social media account because I thought that there were people who felt the same way as me after watching a movie. I run my own YouTube channel and I’m used to sharing my views with people, so it wasn’t too difficult to write film reviews in the beginning.
How many movie reviews have you written since then?
I don’t know the exact number. I watch and write about 90 percent of the movies released in cinemas every year. As much as I can, I try to watch and write about all the movies shown at the cinema but sometimes, I just don’t have enough time. Of course, I took a break from writing movie reviews for a while during the pandemic. When it comes to watching and writing about movies I watch on IPTV, their quality control is weak and I don’t like the fact that random people come up with a new term for movie content and upload various things. Cinema or widescreen movies are a bit different as they are selected by certain criteria. But recently, I am interested in watching the content and films on IPTV because they are doing various experiments and working more with young artists.
Can you tell me about the movies that left the biggest impression on you?
I cannot say that Mongolian movies are bad. Every movie has at least one thing I like about it. The film soundtrack may be good or the supporting cast may impress me. Therefore, I talk about the parts and things I like about the movie. Other than that, I pick one good movie or a bad one.
You don’t like to be called a critic. Is it because readers don’t understand the difference between researchers, critics and commenters?
I am neither a researcher nor a critic. I only write my own opinions and comments about the movies I watch. Since the beginning, I just wanted to share my thoughts and express my impression after watching movies. I have been mentioning this in my posts since I started writing. I never thought of earning money or developing my Facebook Page account through it. I don’t want to see bad things in people either.
How do film producers, directors and actors respond to your writing?
As I said before, I don’t write a film critique. My writings are just the comments of a viewer. I don’t care about the theory of the film or what kinds of obstacles the director or cast went through to make the film. I only write about how the end result made a person who spent their time and money watching the movie feel. I don’t write film reviews to criticize or praise movies. People share their comments about a movie they watched with their friends and that’s exactly what I do, but in writing.
Artists perceive my comments in different ways. In the beginning, filmmakers did not care about my articles. When more people started reading my posts, filmmakers “attacked” me saying, “You don’t know anything. Have you ever made a movie?” We don’t have to make a movie to express our opinion about it. Some of them told me, “You’re a fake. Who paid you to write this? What’s your price?” I don’t write movie reviews to make money. There are few inquisitive and open-minded artists who want to listen to my feedback and ask, “How can we improve?” and “Where did we go wrong?”
You’ve seen a lot of movies and written many reviews. What do you think are the common mistakes Mongolian filmmakers make?
It seems to me that our artists are unprofessional. A film is a project. I think that when developing a project, it is necessary to conduct a thorough market research and plan for whom they are making the project and how they should approach them. In other words, they need to develop their business plan carefully. A lot of filmmakers just think about what they want to do. If that is the case, it will be questionable whether the project can actually be implemented or not. I want artists to notice and reflect on their mistakes. I wish they would compare the films Mongolian and other artists made this year and how they made them. They need to study well who made that type of film before and how. First, filmmakers need to find out what the audience is watching and are interested in. I think they need to watch and study movies before making their own movies.
Some artists say, “This is an arthouse film. That’s why not everyone has to understand it or watch it or “This is a commercial movie for the public”. This gives people the wrong idea that arthouse films are good and commercial films are bad. What are your thoughts on arthouse and commercial films?
There are prejudiced people who make a movie they like and get angry when people don’t understand it. Commercial films are not just about making money. Quentin Tarantino, Akira Kurosawa and Christopher Nolan managed to make money while making great movies. These directors are able to express themselves through their movies in a way that makes others understand them.
Do you read movie reviews by foreign critics?
I watch more than I read. I love watching movie reviews from my favorite YouTube channels. But they are content that explains movies in detail rather than a review.
How do you decide whether or not to watch a movie?
A movie poster is like the face of a person. If I like the face, I want to meet and talk with them.
How and in what order do you write your comments and reviews? What do you think should be considered when writing film reviews?
I don’t watch movie trailers. I don’t want to imagine things about it and have high expectations. I pay more attention to conveying to people my first impressions and feelings from the film as clearly and sequentially as possible. I want my articles to be clear and understandable.
Do you want to work in movies?
I worked for a while on the writing team of the “Khutulun Princess” film. I also worked as a consultant for some films. Since I am interested in writing screenplays, I am now writing a screenplay.
Do you have any scripts you want to make a movie with?
I want to make “The Secret History of the Mongols” into a movie. I want to create a cinematic universe called the Secret History of the Mongols like Marvel and DC Comics. When we make a film about Chinggis Khaan based on this historic book, we include all his stories from birth to death. In fact, we can make a movie based on just one story, even one sentence from the book. I am currently writing a novel based on the story of Temuujin and Boorchi and their search for eight horses.