Wunderkind director Xiaoyu Yang: What it takes to make a short film
Getting into the movie making business is hard work, but especially hard when you’re already an outsider to the country you’re trying to join. Director Xiaoyu Yang has been making a name for herself regardless, breaking barriers as she breaks into the industry.
Her latest project Another Wonderful Day in Paradise brings her story to life with a touch of fiction. The musical short follows an immigrant performer with dreams of Broadway, taking on inner-city life and following the American Dream. Just like her lead character, Yang fought through her difficulties to find and achieve her dream, but didn’t forget the struggles she left behind.
With an interest in shining a light on how the American Dream is achieved by immigrants and the hardships they face to get there, Yang’s work always has a personal touch to it. No matter what the project, Yang is ready to add her touches to it and make it her own. We spoke with Yang about Another Wonderful Day in Paradise and the journey she took to make the film.
Can you tell us what inspired you to move to America to pursue your dream of filmmaking?
I was mesmerized by the magic of creating a story that seemingly grows out of nothing, and then making it a reality on-screen. I wasn’t content with only learning film theories from books and after I graduated, I relocated to the United States to immerse myself in the heart of both Broadway and cinematic culture.
What were the motivating factors behind creating Another Wonderful day In Paradise?
Being a native of China, I grew up in a country and culture far removed from the Broadway musical tradition, so making this film was an enticing challenge with its own unique obstacles. At times, it was difficult to work in a milieu so far removed from my familiar cultural background and setting.
Even my screenwriting professor, who is a renowned filmmaker, once told me: ‘don’t even think about making a musical for your thesis film’ – I was determined to prove him wrong. Besides, New York is always showing off its glories: money, fame, bright colors, great music, and dance.
But how many people can tear their eyes away from the glitz and glamour and look at the journey of an ordinary, everyday person chasing their own American Dream? That is what my short film is all about.
Can you tell us a bit more about the early days of Another Wonderful day In Paradise?
Initially, the film began several years ago as a university project and originally the film length was supposed to be 15 minutes long with a lot of fantasy VFX scenes and three theme songs.
However, during the post-production, the financial burden became unexpectedly critical – the post-production had to slow down and in order to meet the timeline of my school’s showcase, I had to give up an opening song, half of a theme song, and many compelling VFX shots to complete this thesis project.
How did you end up completing Another Wonderful Day In Paradise?
The main crew squeezed in their time after class or on their days off from work, some coming at least two hours by train, many of them came for free just to help out – sometimes they worked on less than four hours of sleep for seven days in a row! Everyone stuck to their duties, did their work carefully and covered each other when somebody was about to crash.
Many of the crew members were from countries such as Korea and Thailand and had similar aspirations and dreams to make a musical too. This spurred everyone to work harder, and because we all shared a vision, I was also filled with more motivation.
Finally, can you give us a taste of what people can expect from Another Wonderful Day In Paradise when it premieres later this year?
The film tells a story familiar to many immigrants or minority viewers, and spreads the message that no matter where you come from or what your background is, you should never give up your right to chase your own dreams. Another Wonderful Day in Paradise is currently under consideration for several prestigious film festivals and will be coming soon.
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