Those Years I Employed Non-Humans as Actors - Chapter 3.1
Ever since he was a child, Zhong Jiudao had already started dealing with evil spirits, so he had quite a good understanding about them.
Although they used to be humans, but due to the influence of death and lingering resentment, their way of thinking had become completely different from that of human beings.
They were narrow-minded, obstinate, inflexible and very self-centered, unable to look at things dialectically. Death took away most of their rationality, and what trapped their souls in the human world were their unresolved obsessions and resentments. These negative elements became the lens with which they view the world, and this was something that could not be changed.
Ghosts without strong obsessions have all departed from this world. The reason these evil spirits were able to stay was precisely because they hadn’t let go of their resentments, so needless to say, if these negative feelings were to be resolved, they would simultaneously lose their attachment to the human world.
Don’t try to communicate or reason with them. The only choice is to defeat them, or be defeated by them.—This was the teaching that had been instilled into Zhong Jiudao since he was young.
Although he had never made a full-length movie before, Zhong Jiudao had shot many short films and interned in quite a few filming crews during his university days. After seeing his works, his tutor told him that he was fairly talented in terms of shooting skills. Zhong Jiudao was someone who possessed a clear vision in his mind and was capable of perfectly translating that vision into the screen through his shooting skills.
There was nothing wrong with his technical skills, but he was missing something unadulterated, a genuine touch.
“You have a firm and stable character, you can always calmly handle all kinds of affairs and look at the problem from another perspective no matter the situation. This is a great quality when it comes to dealing with society, but when it comes to creating art, it has become your disadvantage.” His tutor solemnly told him, “There’s a lack of impact and strong emotion in your work, something to touch and move the people’s hearts. Don’t always remain so steady all the time, try to let loose and go a little crazy. You know, there’s only a thin line between a genius and a lunatic.”
But Zhong Jiudao wasn’t able to follow his tutor’s advise.
In order to fight against evil spirits, you needed to guard your heart, control your emotions, and be a person who wouldn’t be swayed by external stimulation, because excessively strong emotions would provide them with a loophole to corrupt your mind. In a confrontation with these evil spirits, the slightest mistake would push you into an abyss beyond redemption.
For as long as he could remember, Zhong Jiudao had been trained to restrain his emotions, a complete contradiction to the essence of art.
Seeing such a student, his tutor both appreciated his talent and found it regretful at the same time.
Zhong Jiudao was like a perfect learning machine. Unlike other students whose works looked amateurish and subpar due to numerous mistakes, he was able to visually capture and present the best pictures into his work.
However, art could be flawed, but it must never be without emotions.
The one to deal with the repercussion should be the one who caused it to happen. Years of training against evil spirits had resulted in the creation of this after-effect, so perhaps, he should also try to find the solution from the root cause.
As he looked at these ghosts with their own unique thoughts and opinions, Zhong Jiudao couldn’t help thinking of the movie he was about to film.
Out of all the short films Zhong Jiudao had made so far, the only one to receive his tutor’s approval had been a suspenseful horror piece.
Not because it had excellent storytelling or directing, but because Zhong Jiudao was exceptionally good at capturing the horror vibe and atmosphere. It was like he had personally seen with his own eyes the way evil spirits harmed the living. There was no bloody scene shown in that short film, but the looming feel of terror was bone-chilling.
For his directorial debut, Zhong Jiudao naturally chose to make a horror movie, the theme he was best at.
Zhong Jiudao took out his script and flipped it open.
Due to the shortage of funds, he couldn’t afford to hire a good screenwriter and had to resort to purchasing a subpar script.
Screenwriting was out of his expertise. It was difficult for him to write a script of his own because he wasn’t good at conveying emotions. Practically all of the scripts for his previous short films were also bought from someone else. For his first full-length movie, he similarly went to purchase the script from a studio he had often worked with in his student days. However, short films and feature length films were two different things. Because he had a limited budget, Zhong Jiudao could only buy a script that was very ordinary and predictable, with an awkward twist that came out of nowhere. Unsatisfied by the storyline, he kept trying to change and polish the script, but he always felt that it wasn’t good enough.
The story started with a group of college students. During the summer vacation, they all happened to receive an invitation from an old high school classmate. The classmate claimed that she had recently moved into a new and better house and invited her friends to come for a sleepover.
When this group of young people came to the place, they were shocked to see an unimaginably luxurious and long standing villa. It took them aback because the classmate who invited them usually dressed very plainly and didn’t look like someone who came from such a wealthy background.
Her family were dressed in traditional garments, and the way the housekeeper and driver addressed their employers was very feudalistic. The group of college students felt as though they had traveled back in time into the old era.
The visitors stayed in the villa after enjoying a sumptuous dinner, but in the middle of the night, they were startled awake by an extremely terrifying scene. Aftering witnessing that, everyone wanted to leave, but they soon discovered that all the doors and windows had been locked. Their classmate, along with her family, was staring at them with an eerie smile on her face.
The huge villa turned into a labyrinth. In order to escape, the students had to find the reason why the entire family became the way they were. After a thrilling chase and struggle, only the male and female leads managed to escape the villa. Having survived everything, the male lead turned to give one last look at the villa, but upon looking back, he saw a woman who looked exactly like the female lead silently gazing down at him from the second floor of the villa.
In this day and age, such a plot wasn’t anything special, but it was the limit of what Zhong Jiudao could do with his current conditions. If he wanted to add a standout point, then he could only improve on the characters.
If Zhong Jiudao had enough funds, he could hire well-known and competent actors who were capable of bringing the characters to life with their acting skills, but he had no money. The only people he could afford to hire were students or fresh graduates from acting schools. Although there were also talented and charismatic actors among these students, finding such undiscovered gems was akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. Whether you could come across one depended entirely on your luck.
The best thing Zhong Jiudao could do for now was to personally flesh out the characters. With a clear image in mind, he could give one-on-one guidance to the actors and direct them according to the characteristics he had created for the roles. After which, the post-processing, editing, and soundtrack matching would further help to mould characters the audience could be invested in.
Zhong Jiudao scanned the group of ghosts with his eyes, quietly making a decision in his heart.
The besuited ghost was lying in front of the DVD player, putting a new CD into the device. Feeling Zhong Jiudao’s gaze on him, he instantly froze and turned invisible in an attempt to hide himself, leaving behind a piece of CD awkwardly floating in the air.
At some point, more and more ghosts had slipped into the theater. The plain looking middle-aged woman standing at the door with a rag in her hand should be Aunt Yang, who had been diligently cleaning the villa. Seeing that Zhong Jiudao had noticed her, Aunt Yang gave him a stiff smile and started wiping the door with her rag. “My lord, I’m here to clean up the room.”
Thinking that she had found a perfect excuse, Aunt Yang became more confident and directly went inside to wipe everything she could. She even enthusiastically asked Zhong Jiudao, “Lord celestial master, do you need me to wash your clothes?”
It was fine when none of them had an excuse, but once Aunt Yang did this, all the other ghosts began to feel anxious.
The besuited ghost immediately revealed himself again. “I have studied abroad and know some stuff about these things from the west. I’ll help my lord to change this thing, my lord doesn’t need to do it himself.”
Without waiting for a reply, he swiftly put the CD into the drive, wanting to watch another movie no matter what.