Filmmaking, for Sherry Yang, was always where she knew her future would lie. The ability to transport audiences to different places and time was always her passion. However, she did not always know she wanted to be a producer. Early in her career, she experimented with directing, writing, and editing. In taking on many roles, she came to realize that what makes all of these jobs possible is what a producer does. Producing is fundamental to filmmaking, and allows other departments to work flawlessly and concentrate on their tasks. It was this realization that put Yang on the path to greatness. She knew at that moment that she wanted to be a producer, and work on making each and every project she took on the best it can be in every aspect. That is exactly what she does; this award-winning producer is quickly becoming a leader in her industry, and despite an established resume, she is just getting started.
Yang is known for making films that not only impress audiences, but critics as well. Her historical film The Letter won awards at eight international film festivals. A similar pattern occurred with her work on the comedy Jiaozi, the romantic drama Te Echo de Menos, and the thriller Under the Pieces. All those she works with are immensely satisfied with her work, and attribute much of their success to her capabilities as a producer.
“I worked with Sherry on two films; I believe this speaks volumes. I truly enjoyed working with her and the professionalism she brings to the table. Sherry is a producer who considers herself as part of the crew, and she is proud of that fact. She does not sit in the high chair and stay away from the set. She is always working hard along with everyone else and still making sure everyone is happy. She is always with us, working hard to make the best film possible, and when there are hiccups, she is there to fix it quickly before anyone even notices. When there is trouble, she is always there backing you up and is the glue that keeps everyone together and working on the same page. It is no mystery as to why so many are happy to work with her over and over again. When working with her, she brings out everyone’s passion, thus making the filmmaking process an enjoyable journey, and reminds us why we all chose this path,” said Director Evan Xiao.
Amongst the films that Yang collaborated with Xiao on is the film Cash Back. It is a dramatic, dark comedy about love and trust. After two years in the making, the film premiered at the Asians on Film Festival in March of 2016, and continued to be selected for several more festivals. Yang is proud of what the film accomplished, none of which could have happened without her. And yet, she remains modest.
“I am very happy for Evan that he was able to give homage to his professor, who the film was dedicated to, and that it went so well. When I first saw the cut of the film, I thought it was quite clever and funny. I am happy that many audiences agree with me and enjoyed the film for the clever storytelling and directing,” said Yang.
When Yang was approached by Xiao to help tell his story, she was immediately captivated. The film was a tribute to one of the director’s teachers, and she was happy to be a part of something that was so close to home for her colleague. At the time, Yang had never worked on a dark comedy, but she was eager for the chance to try something new.
“Although it’s a dark comedy, the story deals with the morality of the human being. That thin grey area. After working with him on this project, I came to realise that Evan truly likes to play with that grey area of morality, as well as the comedic aspect of the naïveté of someone who acts morally all the time. I felt that this story did it right playing with the right amount of comedic aspects and the right amount of darkness to point out the naïveté and bending of morality,” Yang described.
As the producer, Yang helped find the perfect cast and crew for the film. She set financial matters and coordinated communications between creative and production crew members. Another responsibility included location scouting. She wanted to find something vibrant, affordable within budget, and convenient for the working schedule. The story originally took place in a comic book store, but this proved to be very difficult. After spending countless hours looking at comic book stores, Yang knew they needed to come up with an alternative. When meeting with the director, they decided to alter the story slightly, and changed the setting to a candy store. This was actually a great change, says Yang, because it allowed for a few more jokes to be added to the script.
It was crucial for Yang to remain organized and communicative with all cast and crew, as well as the business owner of the candy shop when it came to scheduling. She had to carefully plan everything in order for everyone to be on the same page and have the film shoot go smoothly. Needless to say, she achieved her goal, and the film is witty and artistic.
Yang is undoubtedly a producer to keep an eye on. She is already one of the best to recently come out of China, and as the years pass, we will continue to see her name attached to some extraordinary films.
Top photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu