Suza is synonymous with ‘Renaissance Woman’. She is a top female action Director as well as Martial Artist. Suza recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from former President of the United States. She recently has been contracted to Direct two Martial Arts Movies which features such legends as Tony Sirico, of the Soprano's, Legendary Martial Arts Master, of IP Man fame Lo Meng and Emmy Award winner James Lew. Suza, although new in her Film Career, lives, breathes and eats Action Martial Arts movies. She has learned the trades of film-making and believes that a filmmaker should have an understanding of the whole process. She studied in the UK with the BBC and is a student of Werner Hetzog, who was the inspiration for her recent feature Replecan. The new film of Suza is called Honorable Sins and we spoke to her regarding to this feature film which recently was selected at Toronto International Women Film Festival.
Honorable Sins was inspired by a real event several years ago.
How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on?
The first project I worked on was Future Shift. I started in film after working
on several corporate projects. I though how hard can it be? I found out
that it was pretty hard. I learnt through the school of hard knocks. As a martial artist
and an adult who runs around playing make believe "acting" I decided to do what I know best, action sci-fi of course!
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a filmmaker and why?
The adrenaline rush the good guy v bad guy, the whirlwind ride with a bit of a twist ending
is definitely a lure that I will continue to gravitate to. As a Martial Artist I would like to see more young people take up a practice as well as more Martial Arts movies being produced across the board.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a female filmmaker in the film industry? The most difficult aspect of being a female filmmaker is the genre that I
work in. Many times I have been told that my genre (action/martial arts) is not that popular for women (not many festival for female action projects) and action films are more difficult to produce on smaller budgets. I will agree with the last sentiment, but it does not mean it is impossible. There is a lot of trial and error for sure!
How difficult is it to fund independent films?
I can't speak for other genre's but to get funding in Canada for a Woman Action Director like myself, getting to the moon by Sunday probably has slightly better chances! I have funded my own projects with a few sponsors, friends and family and on some projects we have been fortunate to secure investors from the US.
Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?
Difficult as there are so many talented Directors! I would have to say Isaac Florentine is an amazing Director and also a Martial Artist, his style of Directing is definitely second to none. He has very kindly assisted me when I needed a seasoned opinion on some of my action scenes in Honorable Sins.
Paul Greengrass (Bourne movie) is a British Director and has a slick documentary style filming that I enjoy very much and became a big fan of.
Patty Jenkins is doing great work and is definitely inspiring to many upcoming women Directors.
What inspired you to work on "Honorable Sins" and how did the film go into production?
Honorable Sins is inspired by a true story of a person who went after child predators. The world fell into two camps those that thought he was a hero and those that thought he was a common criminal. I pondered the issue of revenge v justice, it was something that stayed with me for quite some time afterward. This inspired Honorable Sins, examining this fine line and where the average person finds themselves. How did you find the cast and the crew of the film? Tell us more about the production of the film and working on the set of the film to create this feature.
We have a stable of accomplished martial artists and actors. Knowing our team very well, I was able to sculpt and develop a story that was specifically crafted for our group of actors. When I write a part, I write it for an actor and they have to take the role "they have no choice in the matter". Ha, all jokes aside 99% of the time I know who I am writing for, which helps a great deal. I would dare to say slightly Paul Feig / Mike Leigh'ish.
What do you recommend to other filmmakers and in particular the emerging female directors regarding the distribution of independent films?
I wish I had sage words for other Directors! Currently with how things are working out it might mean that even major productions will not make theatrical release. I have found that online platforms are becoming less and less attractive to the average filmmaker. Develop your audience who are interested in your work and will support your efforts. My best advice is work to develop your own distribution outlets if possible. What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?
We are currently working on Valetika, it is the second in a trilogy. The first was Replecan, it is a sci-fi action feature. A unwilling assassin micro-chipped to carry out acts of espionage and deception. We have International Hollywood star Cung Le, Canadian star Lochlyn Munro Canadian action actor Sunny Singh and Asha Annais with Emmy Nominated American Idol Shaun Barrowes as composer and Brian Yaskulka, music department all onboard.
Why do you make films?
I make movies that I want to see, movies that few filmmakers are currently able to make at this time. I make films because it is a plethora of inter-woven crafts that magically come together to cause us to step out of reality just for a moment. I personally believe that many people made it through 2020 simply because of amazing filmmakers!