Interviews

Sex, Violence, and Vampires: The Celine Tran Interview

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If Nicholas Winding Refn and Quentin Tarantino co-directed a Buffy the Vampire Slayer remake with Daft Punk doing the soundtrack, you might end up with something half as cool as Heart Breaker. The neon-tinted, blood-soaked short film stars Celine Tran (FKA Katsuni, adult film megastar ), and serves as a trailer for the comic book version of Heart Breaker which she co-wrote. I talked to Celine about the book, the film, and which vampire she’d like Heart Breaker to tangle with.

Photo credit Kribo

Who is Heart Breaker?

Heart Breaker is the name of a female character from the comic Doggybags #6 that I wrote with the French artist Run of Label 619- Ankama . Her real name is Celyna but we decided to give her that nickname as she’s a young woman turned into a vampire.

How did you get involved in comic book writing?

Run is the creator and collection manager of Doggybags and he contacted me two years ago to ask me to participate as a guest in his promotional video for Doggybags #3. At that time I was still working in the adult industry, so when he asked me if I was interested in playing an exotic dancer, it made sense. I told him I would be happy to be a part of his project, however I was looking for something new and more challenging. He came back to me with the proposition of a real collaboration: we would create together a new character and write the story together.

It was exactly what I wanted! I always loved writing, I used to have a blog and I wrote some articles for different French magazines and websites. To write a comics was a real new experience, I loved it right away. Until now I had a few propositions but I never felt the right chemistry and I believe nothing happens by chance. To meet Run was just the perfect opportunity.

Tell us about the filming process for the Heart Breaker trailer.

We had a very small budget but we were lucky to be surrounded by a great team of talented stunt actors and a small technical crew. Everybody was so motivated! Until now Run had very little experience as a director and this teaser was more ambitious that the previous ones.

We asked the stunt actor Vincent Gatinaud to shoot the fight scenes. I already liked his work as a director and knew he was the right person. We shot during two days and had a few issues of organization but in the end we are happy with the results. Of course we are aware of what is missing and there’s always a frustration to not have been able to shoot everything, but the teaser really fits with the comics and we managed to express what we wanted. Doggybags is an homage to grindhouse movies and I’m glad the audience understood it.

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The aesthetic of the film really reminded me of Nicolas Winding Refn, as well as Japanese exploitation and 80’s Hollywood action. What were some of the influences you had in creating this character and developing the film?

I’ve seen Drive and Only God Forgives. I loved the aesthetic of these two movies but for sure they are not in the grindhouse style, it’s much closer from the Asian style in my opinion, very elegant and sober. I’m a big fan of Korean movie also for this reason. I’d love to be in this kind of movie. It’s violent, powerful and beautiful.

And yes, you’re right about the other references. On my side the things which inspired me to write the comics were The Crow, Interview with the Vampire, Dracula, Dark City, and Blade Runner. It’s funny that most people compare Heart Breaker to the movie Blade but honestly neither me nor Run have seen that movie yet!

Regarding the teaser itself we were more into exploitation style and Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez ‘s codes. It ‘s violent and gory, but quite funny at the same time. We don’t take ourselves seriously but we still do our best!

The movie is very physical with lots of really superb action. What sort of training did you have? 

When we spoke about shooting a teaser I saw it right away as a great opportunity to make one of my dreams come true: to perform in a fight scene! I really wanted to be able to actually fight on camera and not cheat. I was aware that I really needed to train martial arts and also to learn how to perform on camera. I feel super lucky to have met a great stunt team and to have trained a lot with our two choreographers: Kefi Abrikh who worked on the guns and Japanese swords fights and Mathieu Lardot for the Pencak Silat part.

I had to learn the basics of boxing, how to move, how to judge distances with my partners, how to control the speed and strength. I was so into it that the evening we finished shooting, on our way back to Paris in the train, I told them I wanted to keep going. Since the Heart Breaker teaser, Kefi Abrikh and I shot a new video, Bladed Minds. [1. Watch Bladed Minds here.] And right now we are training to shoot more! The goal of course is to perform one day in an action movie, that will be the next step.

Were there any injuries on set?

Nobody got injured, but I was nervous about hurting someone during the japanese swords fights as the floor was slippery and I was wearing high heels. Also we had a very short time to shoot it, it was a little bit stressful. One of the guys got a few scratches but no injuries.

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Will we see more Heart Breaker films in the future?

We are now writing the second edition of Heart Breaker and hopefully we’ll shoot a new teaser to promote it. We already have so many ideas! I’d better train a lot!

If Heart Breaker were to hunt down one famous movie vampire, who would it be?

Oh cool question, but difficult to answer! I would say Lestat from Interview with the Vampire. He’s so brilliant, arrogant, seductive. We can’t help but to hate him and fall in love with him in the same time.

You can order Doggybags #6 featuring Heart Breaker from Label 619 and Amazon. Below, enjoy the Heart Breaker short film.

And if you want to get super retro, check the VHS version here.

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