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"The answer is in finding one’s own identity"

Ann Huang is a unique artist with an exceptional voice. After having lived in China, Mexico, and the US, she got to Newport Beach, and knew that Southern California is the place for her.

She has already written several successful poems, and written-directed two short films, "Palpitations of Dust" and "Indelible Winter".

We asked Ann to join us for an interview, and met an inspiring artist, who continuously listens to herself for what she is.

Ann, you're currently based in Newport Beach after having lived in China, Mexico, and the US. Can you tell us about your career path and why you chose to make Southern California your home?

Southern California is a melting pot of many hues. After majoring in finance at Baruch College of the City University of New York, I wanted to see what was outside the box and experience the other side of the country, the anti-matter of the finance world. Once I got here, I knew it was my home. With its many charming beaches, mild climate, and most importantly, the interesting multicultural and multilingual ambiance and predominantly Mexican influence, Southern California is the place for me.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my daily life: the avenues I drive and walk by as well as the people I talk to each day. I love listening to audiobooks while driving, eavesdropping when I’m in a crowd, and chatting with people in public spaces. I also have a habit of memorizing my dreams and finding a way to let everything flow in one direction which becomes poetry writing at the end of a long day.

What are some of the main concepts that influenced you in the making of Indelible Winter?

Indelible Winter is the second short film following our debut film Palpitations of Dust. The films are part of a quartet that will represent each season of the year. It can be interpreted as somewhat of a sequel to the first film, yet also works as a stand-alone. The direction of the film was guided by the composition of the poems which are made up of random order and disorder. I was also influenced by the multiverse found in poetry as well as the physical world.

I assume you’ve written many more poems – and for obvious reasons, not everything ends up in the film. How do you choose which poems will receive a visual presentation?

That’s an excellent question. It’s an organic process. When I conceptualize a film, the coinciding poems come to me. They are typically some of my favorite poems that have grown on me over time. Normally, I don’t make any amendments after deciding on a film’s composition.

How did you meet Dean Nathan, your cinematographer, who did such a great job? And how did you recruit the rest of the cast?

Dean is a friend of Eric, who has been my long-term friend and photographer. Eric photographed the launch party for my debut poetry chapbook in Laguna Art Museum. After Eric introduced me to Dean, we discussed the storyboard and how the poems could be visually represented by a few colored objects. They immediately adopted my visions. Tatiana, the lead actress, is a friend and co-worker. She loved the idea of creating films from poetry. Ana, the supporting actress, is an avid theater performer and a friend of Dean. She was thrilled to be involved in an art film outside her typical craft.

What was your favorite part of the filmmaking process?

My favorite part of the filmmaking process is when things are going beyond how they were intended. For example, in the opening scenes at the train station in San Juan Capistrano, we had Ana walk towards us. We had to wait for a few groups of people to pass (school children, bikers, and tourists) before setting up the scenes. At that point, a train came up behind Ana. Amid the noise and chaos, she continued to do what was rehearsed moments before. The scene where she is looking for someone while stepping very close to a moving train is quite powerful and impactful. We couldn’t have nailed the shot without the train coming toward us – an aspect of the set that was not contemplated before the day of the shoot.

You managed to capture a wide range of emotions in Indelible Winter – it must have been difficult to create that at times. What is the most personal moment for you in the movie?

Interesting question. The most personal moment for me would be when I realized the film’s scenes would never depict the exact occurrences of the dreams I had memorized, no matter how meticulously I tried. That being said, each film I’ve made separated itself from my poems and dreams and became something else altogether. The stories go in a similar direction, but the films are comprised of a different kind of matter, almost like a parallel universe.

What is the most important thing you learned from this production (or maybe several important things)?

I have always been fervent as a student of the direction of time. I say direction, not time itself, because I do believe there is an order/disorder of our time that goes hand-in-hand with our memories of the past, perception of the present, and projection of the future. Therefore, the direction (either order or disorder) of time has a significant influence on how we look at our lives in phases, or integrally as one, and how we interact with the world at large. Time, in the foresight of our life and fate, has become the one true thing about our identity. And through time, we can reach out to question our existence and relive our experiences. Those are the fascinating facets I like to bring to play under the eclectic lenses of cinema.

If you had an unlimited budget, what project would you do with it?

With an unlimited budget, I would make one film for each poem I’ve written and published. I’d create an Ann Huang Presents mini-series featuring minute-long daily poetry films every day for a year. That would be so fun.

You're a very unique artist with an exceptional voice. Do you have any tips for young artists trying to find their voice?

This may sound abstract, but the answer is in finding one’s own identity. Artistry becomes void if we don’t know who we are and struggle within as human beings. Only then, art will become a tool to mirror our visions into the world.

I continuously listen to myself for what I am, even in very confused states. Before wrapping up each art project, a poetry collection or short film, I usually need a brief hiatus to digest my work and let it soak in before letting it go. It feels like bathing a new baby before handing them out into the world. It’s a tough experience. I almost never want to let go of my projects because they are an earnest, treasured part of me, you know?

What's next on the menu? Are you currently working on your next film?

Yes. We just finished post-production for The Pines of Spring, the third film of the quartet. I am also currently collecting inspiration to start pre-production for the next film, God’s Day. More to come.


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