Fast-Tracking Creativity: Filmmaker Elizabeth H. Vu Talks 'Echo 8' Success and Upcoming Trilogy
|Elizabeth H. Vu and her cat Yoda during the writing process|
Since the 'Echo 8' initial screening 8 months ago and the 90-minute actioneer from Australia made on $8,000USD has been taking home a dozen of international film festival awards, Team Echo 8 has been fast-tracking their next ambitions: shooting a trilogy in 2025 with the prequel 'Five By Five' and the sequel 'Echo 8 Beyond'. Elizabeth shares her unique insights into her creative process, how she navigates collaboration with her sister Maria, and the evolution of her storytelling. From crafting intricate characters to infusing comedy into action thrillers, Elizabeth discusses her approach to each project and the valuable lessons she's gained along the way.
Interviewer: Tell us about your process and how you approach your work. How does your process for "Echo 8" compare to your process for "Five By Five"? At the moment, "Five By Five" is in progress. How long do you typically take for each project?
Elizabeth: Well, when it comes to outlining, with "Five By Five" and "Echo 8," I already had a concept. As for how long it takes, for "Five By Five" and "Echo 8," I had already outlined the ideas. If I had to condense all the time spent on outlining, it might have taken a few weeks. But to give a specific timeframe, it's hard to say. I work on it here and there. As for "Echo 8," I had the idea conceived back in 2019 while writing "Five By Five," but it was after a screening that I met other actors interested in being part of the next two installments. That's when the idea of adding new characters came about.
Interviewer: How did the screening reception affect your confidence and the direction of the project, especially in terms of adding comedy?
Elizabeth: The screening of "Echo 8" last December (2022) was quite inspiring. We met community members who enjoyed it and wanted to be part of the next installment. That gave me fresh ideas and the confidence to bring in new characters. Originally, "Echo 8" was meant to be a straightforward action thriller, but Maria and I decided to infuse comedic tones into it. It's a breath of fresh air. As for "Five By Five," it's a gritty action thriller.
Interviewer: How long have you been actively working on these projects, especially with script writing?
Elizabeth: For "Five By Five," the intensive script writing phase has been about the last two days, but I've been working on the script since the beginning of this year, which is around eight months. I do tend to leave things to the last minute, though. Typically, my script writing process takes anywhere from two weeks to several months.
Interviewer: How do you manage to expedite your writing process when you want to finish a script in about two weeks?
Elizabeth: I approach writing by just diving into it. I find many writers face writer's block, which often is a form of procrastination. Some writers don't enjoy the writing process itself; they prefer having already written something. I like writing and enjoy the process, even though it can be sporadic. It's about getting into the flow when the inspiration strikes.
Interviewer: What draws you to "Five By Five" and how does it compare to "Echo 8"?
Elizabeth: "Five By Five" appeals to me because it delves into toxic masculinity within the main character's relationship with a secondary character. It's darker than "Echo 8," but it retains the strong focus on mother-daughter love that's present in "Five By Five." I've also put effort into crafting the main character's complex relationship with his grandmother in "Five By Five."
Interviewer: Working with your sister Maria, how has the collaborative process been for these projects?
Elizabeth: Collaborating with Maria has been a mix of fun and a bit of a challenge. We have debates and discussions about who's right or wrong in terms of creative decisions. While it's a mix of enjoyable moments and challenges, it has been a unique experience.
Interviewer: How does your sentiment toward "Five By Five" and "Echo 8" compare to your previous writing experiences?
Elizabeth: "Echo 8" has seen significant improvement compared to my previous work. With more time to think about plot and character development, I've aimed to make it better. "Five By Five" and its companion films have the luxury of extended planning time, allowing for more rehearsals, character development, and improvements in various aspects.
Interviewer: With these lessons in mind, what are you looking forward to in your future projects?
Elizabeth: Looking forward, I'm excited about utilizing the lessons learned to create the best versions of our films for the community to enjoy. The extra time and planning will help us deliver more refined and compelling storytelling for "Five By Five" and beyond. It's all about striving for excellence in our work.
Echo 8's Five By Five' & 'Echo 8 Beyond' are gearing up for their inaugural internal table read, scheduled for September 2nd from 3-5pm, with the generous support of PYT Fairfield. An open call-out for partnerships is due in December.