A Turk, a Korean, a Chinese and a Ghanaian meet in Berlin … It sounds like a joke, but it is not. Can Aydın, Cha-Lee Yoon, Phong Giang and Eugene Boateng are living their dream. They work as stuntmen alongside celebrities like Jackie Chan, Daniel Craig and Jennifer Lawrence. And now it’s time for them to release their own film.
From the left: Phong Giang, Can Aydın, Eugene Boateng, Cha-Lee Yoon
In your story, four friends on their way to a casting accidentally get caught up in the scheme of some gangsters. How did the idea for your film come about?
Can: We developed the idea together. Through the film we want to tell our story and motivate people to live their own dreams.
Cha: We wanted to produce this film in order to fulfil our own dream, but also to prove ourselves. As a stuntman you are a service provider and you’re always held back. You have to do what is required of you, and you have no way to develop artistically. Can is our creative director. He always comes up with stories and pushes our ideas forward. In Plan B we are playing ourselves and we keep our own names. The characters are a bit twisted, but at the core they are very similar.
You are professional stuntmen and run your own stunt company, Real Deal Action Design. In your movie, you show off your first class martial arts skills. What was it like to be acting as well?
Can: I’ve been involved in theatre for a while, and I’ve had some roles with GZSZ where I was meant to play the “token Turk”. But in my heart I’ve always been more focused on action and I have used my fighting skills to become a stuntman. Then with Plan B we finally had the opportunity to combine acting and combat sports. Eugene is a dancer and also has a background in theatre. He played one of the main roles in Becks letzter Sommer (Beck’s Last Summer), and is currently featured in the movie Die Reste meines Lebens (The Rests of My Life).
Cha: It’s exciting to take on an acting role and have a speaking part. It’s something completely different from just performing physically. The physical performance is easy, because that is our hobby, we can do it easily. Speaking is something completely different. You’re kind of jumping in the deep end, but it’s fun.
The physical performance is easy, because that is our hobby, we can do it easily.
Phong: It was really funny to act with the guys, among other reasons because we’ve known each other for so long. There were situations when we would look at each other and just start crying from laughter about some dumb stuff. You can see that in the outtakes. (Everyone laughs)
Unprofitable art – artists often hear this from their families and friends. What is your experience of this?
Can: Like most Turkish parents, my parents wanted me to become a lawyer, doctor or engineer, so I could have job security. I’ve worked a bit as an engineer, but I’ve never given up on film. And today my father proudly tells me in the mosque that he has always supported me in my acting. (Everyone laughs) I move when my heart says move. There are lots of people who want to talk down your dreams, but you should listen to your inner voice. Self-confidence, madness, and also clear-sightedness play an important role.
There are lots of people who want to talk down your dreams, but you should listen to your inner voice.
Cha: My father is a martial arts instructor and I grew up in a martial arts school. Our bedroom was right behind the office. I always had to prove myself to my mother. When I was hired for my first Hollywood job, Skyfall, my mother could not believe it, and she questioned my ability. When Skyfall then appeared in the cinemas, it was: “You can’t even see you!”. Then with another blockbuster it was, “You can see you, but you’re not saying anything.” (Everyone laughs) But now with Plan B she is proud of me.
In the film, you are doing everything to free Phong from his desperate situation. You have to take huge risks. Obviously, cohesion is very important to you. What message do you want to convey with the film?
Eugene: self-reflection, perseverance, dedicating your life to a cause and having faith in yourself are the messages we want to convey to the audience. We know that people may look to the film for an example to follow. We are very aware of this responsibility.
Phong: We also want to say: Look! German cinema is changing. Here you can see people called Can, Cha, Eugene and Phong playing the lead roles. We have different migrant backgrounds, but we are still Germans. Germany is multicultural and we are representing this in Plan B.
Can: We are naive idealists. We are concerned that the spirit and message of the film connects with people and they understand what we are trying to say.
We are naive idealists.
Producing a film costs more than just time and money, it also involves a lot of hurdles. What hurdles in particular have you faced?
Eugene: During the shooting, for example, there were questions like: Is it perhaps too much? Will this work with the German market? We were going to have to deal with so much. Even after the film, we had some difficulties. Actually, we thought, now that the movie is in cinemas, we are done and everything will be easy. But now comes the real hurdle: How do we get people to go to the cinema? We learn to deal with setbacks. Poor attendance figures raised new questions. Why so few visitors? What happened? Where did we go wrong? Those moments are hard, but at the same time they are enlightening. And I am grateful that we were able to experience and share such an intense experience.
I am grateful that we were able to experience and share such an intense experience.
Phong: We have such a close relationship that it’s almost unhealthy. We’ve gone through thick and thin and we’ve gone through enough beeeep (everyone laughs) that we are now like family. These guys are my family. What we offer each other you’d only really expect from an actual family. Whatever the emotion: pain, joy – we experience it all together.
Pain or joy – we experience it all together.
What comes after Plan B, is there a Plan C?
Can: In the future, we would like to mix action with other genres like On the Ropes (a Canadian production, for an English-speaking audience, in which Can, Cha and Phong will also be featured in lead roles.), which is an action thriller. It is important for us to maintain the “Hong Kong energy” in our action sequences and to revive this movement, which we are all fascinated by. We always find inspiration, for example from the films of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen. We would also like stuntmen to generally get more recognition than actors, which unfortunately in Germany is not the case. Whether there will be a Plan C is still uncertain at the moment. We would really like to do it.
Döner kebabs or sushi?
Road Bike or BMW 5 Series?
Silver or gold?
Mercedes or Honda?
Martial arts or wrestling?
Tesbih or Fidget Spinner?
Rakı or gin and tonic with cucumber?
Baklava or mochi?
Istanbul or Seoul?
Show TV (Turkish TV programme) or RTL (Radio Television Luxembourg)?
Snacks or a mezze?
Turşu or Kimchi?
Sweatpants or salwar?
A wedding with 50 or 500