Tag Archives: Producer

Producer Katie Horbury is essential for Disney channel hit

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Katie Horbury

When Katie Horbury decided to pursue a career as a television producer, she knew that she had her work cut out for her. Amidst fierce competition, grueling hours, and unpredictable schedules, she would have to come out on top. The now esteemed television producer knows that if she were to go back in time and share with herself the key to her success, it would be to make her dream her number one priority, and to make sure that she stops at absolutely nothing to make it her reality. Early on in her career, she moved away from family and friends and worked odd hours, oftentimes sacrificing weekends and holidays to gain as much experience and knowledge in her field as possible. Fortunately, it all paid off. In the entertainment industry, reputations are paramount and as a result of her unwavering drive, Horbury’s is world-renowned.

As Horbury became more established in her career and took on more prestigious roles, her name became a staple in television production. Having lent her talents to hit television shows like Big Brother, Don’t Tell the Bride, and Come Dine with Me, Horbury is well-versed in producing high quality content for reality television. Her job requires her to take an idea from a script or a project outline and bring it to life. She needs to be able to capture the emotional response that her audience is intended to feel and communicate it to them creatively and meaningfully.

“In pre-production, I must be able to visualize the final product, plan how to achieve it, and be able to communicate that to my team to ensure that everyone is working toward the exact same goal. During production and shooting, I have to create a buzzing but professional atmosphere to allow the entire team to function confidently and to the highest standard possible. This usually has to be done under harsh time constraints, so I have to keep the momentum up for the duration of the project. Finally, the edit is where the magic happens. Everything I envisioned in pre-production, and hopefully even more, comes together here when myself and my editor wrap up our work,” stated Horbury.

Horbury considers the highlight of her esteemed career to have been in her lead production role for Disney Channel Vlog. The show’s tremendous success is a reflection of Horbury’s natural affinity for producing. Horbury, who is no stranger to producing for large audiences, was particularly humbled by Disney Channel Vlog’s 3.5 million views and 300% increase in viewership since she took over the role of Director and Producer. For the first time in her career, Horbury was working with a very small team and had the opportunity to showcase her ideas and her ideas alone. For a producer used to working with hundreds of team members, she was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed managing a smaller, more intimate group of individuals. To date, she has been the mastermind behind 52 episodes of the hit show, each littered with her ideas, scripts, edits, and more.

Disney Channel Vlog airs weekly, featuring two teenage hosts and targets children between the ages of 8 and 16. The Vlog has three segments and shows all of the latest Disney channel shows, DIYs, spoof music videos, comedy skits, hosts that talk about issues concerning teens today, and more. During pre-production, Horbury generates all of the concepts behind the show’s content, ensuring that every segment promotes the Disney Channel in a natural, compelling way. She has the distinct pleasure of creating and pitching a series of ideas to Disney and writing each script from start to finish. During production, she composes and decorates each set to appeal to her audience and appear fun, colorful and engaging. She then produces and directs the talent and camera crew while shooting. Once production concludes, Horbury masterfully edits all material gathered to make sure that only the best footage is kept. She adds her finishing touches in the form of after effects, visual and sound effects, graphics, etc., and the result is profound. Viewers are eager to tune in again on a weekly basis and consume whatever great content Horbury has to offer them that week.

In addition to Horbury’s satisfied viewers, she is used to receiving positive feedback from her co-workers. She differentiates herself by her ability to inspire her crew and make them feel at ease when they work with her, keeping them up to speed with her visions and addressing any questions or concerns they have along the way. Heather Nair, who works closely with Horbury on Disney Channel Vlog, witnesses Horbury’s remarkable talents on a daily basis for the show and considers herself lucky to work with such an unprecedented producer.

“Working with Katie is an absolute dream. She knows exactly what she wants, is decisive, and very knowledgeable in her field of work. She has such a magnetic personality with a fantastic sense of humor. She is so good at what she does because she is incredibly sharp and on the ball. She is also extremely creative. On this show, not only does she script and direct each shoot, but she comes up with all of the ideas for each segment,” said Nair.

For Horbury, working for Disney Channel Vlog has been a dream come true. Not only does she get to do what she loves, she has the satisfaction of knowing that she has been a positive influence in the lives of young viewers. She hopes to continue to inspire children to pursue their dreams as feverishly as she has through the content she creates for them and takes pride in knowing that 10-year old Katie Horbury is living her dreams to their fullest extent.

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Producer Antonio Vigna connects with his culture in new film ‘Dia de Muertos’

Antonio Vigna had dreams of being an actor ever since he was a child. When he first watched a film, he pictured himself in front of the camera, stepping into another’s shoes and showing the world his passion. However, what Vigna did not anticipate was his love for being behind the camera, helping put together every aspect of a film. Now, as both an actor and producer, Vigna is known internationally for what he does.

As an actor, Vigna has shown the world his talent in films such as Perfection and Klaazor. Working behind the scenes, his work producing the films Camilla and Consumemate contributed to the films great success at many international film festivals. The highlight of Vigna’s career, however, comes from producing the film Dia de Muertos (English translation to Day of the Dead), which allowed him to connect with his Mexican heritage.

“Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is one of my favorite traditions from my country, so the moment I was told to produce a script that had the tradition as part of it, I wanted to be involved in the film, no matter what,” said Vigna.

The film follows a young Mexican woman struggles to keep on living after the death of her loved one, but during the Mexican holiday, The Day of the Dead, she experiences a contact with him that changes her life. It was written by Laura Gudiño, who also starred in the film. Gudiño knew of Vigna’s work, and knew she needed a producer of his caliber to take her film to a success.

“Antonio was my producer and he helped me so much and made the whole process easy. In this industry, you always want people who are easy going, that you know you can work with them for days, and he’s definitely a person you’d like to have in any team. Antonio has great work ethic. He is very responsible and creative. In addition to that, he is an easy going, friendly person so in any project I have worked with him, I know everything will be alright,” said Gudiño. “I think in this industry, the more you know about it and the more you explore, the more you understand everybody’s job and the more valuable you are. Antonio has been a reporter, a journalist, an actor, a producer, an AD, a writer, etc. I believe, thanks to all of that journey, he has become very good at anything he does. Knowledge opens doors, and he has definitely opened many.”

Because Vigna knew he would be working on the film months before pre-production, he had time to put together the ideal team. He believes it is the best crew he has ever made. He also decided on the process for the film. Initially, the supporting actor was not going to have to audition, but Vigna knew to hire a casting director and have a formal casting for the film in order to find the best person. After the auditions, they cast someone else, rather than the original actor, knowing that with such a small cast, it was necessary to have the perfect person. Without Vigna, this would not have happened.

Initially, the casting director wanted Vigna to audition for the role, but he refused. He wanted to make sure the film was the best it could be, and for him to do that, he would have had to step away from producing to focus on creating the character.

“I declined the offer to act in the film, as I had already a few months working on it as a Producer. I don’t regret it at all, since this is one of the films that I’m most proud of,” said Vigna.

The decision proved to be the right one, as the film made its way to some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. After premiering at the Film Festival of Cannes 2017 Short Film Corner, it made its way to the Los Angeles San Rafael Film Festival, Tulipanes Film Festival, and the Cinetekton Film Festival. However, the awards and accolades are not as important to the producer. For Vigna, the passion he felt for the story helped his drive, ensuring that every decision he made, every road block he overcame, was perfect. The Latino passion, he says, was felt on set all the time, even though most of the people there were not Hispanic at all. 

“I think that I liked the fact that we were portraying a Mexican tradition at its best on screen. Most of the films out there from our country talk about drugs or corruption, but we took just one of the beauties in our culture, to share it with everyone in the world,” Vigna concluded. “Most of the people don’t know the best parts of our Latino culture, so it’s important to show the other side of the coin. Also, there are Latinos all over the world, who can feel identify with the film, and reconnect with Dia de Muertos. It’s hard when you weren’t born in our country to feel it just like us, especially having Halloween, shadowing it, so strongly in United States, even among the Hispanic culture. So, we need to keep our traditions with their meanings strong enough for everyone appreciate it as we do.”

Producer Rosie Kinane-Adams talks ‘America’s Got Talent’ and working with her idol Simon Cowell

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Rosie Kinane-Adams

There was never any other choice for Rosie Kinane-Adams; she always wanted to be a producer. It was more than just about wanting to behind the camera, she has an extraordinary ability to hear someone’s story and find the aspect that makes it different. There are so many stories that have been told over and over again in the same way, whether it be in reality television or film, but Kinane-Adams instinctively knows how to find that angle that makes audiences remember what they just watched. She knows that everyone has a uniqueness to them that is interesting, and finding that uniqueness and telling that story is what makes Kinane-Adams such a renowned producer, and why she loves what she does. Each job is a puzzle to her, and each piece is put together but how to properly tell the story.

Kinane-Adams has worked all around the world doing what she loves. She is internationally renowned, working at the forefront of the film and television industry. She has a resume filled with achievements, and has greatly contributed to the success of shows such as The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, Married at First Sight, Masterchef, and First Dates. By working on these formats across the world, Kinane-Adams is able to bring the best of each country’s production techniques, and combine them to be at the height of it all globally. However, it was working on the award-winning show America’s Got Talent that was the highlight of Kinane-Adams’ esteemed career.

“Working with Simon Cowell has been beyond a doubt the highlight of my career. He is an incredibly talented executive producer and on-screen talent, and growing up in England, watching the X-Factor, it was beyond my dreams that I would ever be working with him on America’s Got Talent, one of the biggest shows in the world. He was an idol of mine throughout my career, so to be working with him was inspirational,” said Kinane-Adams.

After seeing success on the hit game show The Price is Right, Kinane-Adams was approached to work on America’s Got Talent by Fremantle Media. The show was on its eighth season, with vast success and an outstanding reputation. They knew they needed someone with an eye for story in order to eventually lead a story team that would create and pursue interesting and unique stories and bring the level of storytelling to a new high.

“My focus throughout my career in television, and at America’s Got Talent, has been story telling. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone has something interesting about them that the rest of the world wants to know. Especially on America’s Got Talent, these people have had the most interesting lives. The hardest part of my job is choosing one part of these people’s lives to focus on, because they are all truly some of the most interesting and creative people in the world,” she described.

From seasons eight to ten, Kinane-Adams’ role on the show as a producer was to create the most innovative packages for each act possible. It was essential that the quality of work Kinane-Adams was creating was some of the best in the industry- from story right through to camera techniques. On a show as successful as America’s Got Talent, the pressure is high to be the best, and Kinane-Adams storytelling talents was evident with each episode she worked on.

“It was important being on a show as successful as America’s Got Talent, that we were seen to be showing America, not only the best and most unique talent, but also the height of sophistication in terms of how we were filming things, whether this be the camera techniques, or the creative ideas for opens to the show,” she said. “America’s Got Talent is the most successful talent show in the world. It is the epitome of the American Dream, and really shows the world what people are capable of. It has been by far the highlight of my career to work on a show reaching tens of millions of people internationally. The ‘Got Talent’ format is available in 69 countries and has reached over 500 million people worldwide, and that’s a really amazing thing to be a part of.”

In addition to her story producing responsibilities, Kinane-Adams worked on post-production with an editor, bringing the interviews, b-roll and performance together to create segments of the show. She also worked in the casting department where she would scout for the best talent in the country, whether that be online, at events, or at open call casting days. This commitment to the show and each contestant’s story impressed everyone she worked with.

“I first met Rosie working on America’s Got Talent in 2012 when she joined the story team as a producer. I was immediately impressed with how she stepped into an established show with such poise and professionalism, instantly becoming an essential member of our team. She came in not only with fresh, creative ideas, but the ability to execute them efficiently, keeping a positive, problem-solving attitude throughout even our longest shoot days,” said Lindsay Tuggle, Senior Producer. “Rosie has been one of my favorite producers to work with in my 10+ years in the reality realm. She’s reliable and hardworking, endlessly creative, and a pleasure to be around. It doesn’t matter if she’s setting up logistics for a complicated shoot, coming up with a creative way to visually tell a story, directing cameras in the field or putting it all together in post-production, you know Rosie is going to tackle whatever she takes on with a refreshingly positive attitude, which can sometimes be scarce in this industry.”

“Rosie is an especially good producer because she has the ability to see projects through from conception to delivery. While many producers are only experienced in one aspect of production, Rosie has experience in every single step of the process, which makes her an invaluable asset to any team she’s on. She understands each small piece of the puzzle, but because of her keen eye for storytelling, she never loses sight of the bigger picture,” Tuggle added.

Although the show has been the most popular show of the summer for its thirteen seasons, during Kinane-Adams time, it was also nominated for a TV Choice Award and a Critics Choice Award. She worked with hundreds of contestants each day, and instilled a complicated system in order to ensure that they shot all the content they needed to shoot, and that it was of the highest quality and had that each contestant had content that had a unique stamp on it. This highly complex system is still in place today and ensures that post production has everything they need to create the successful show that they do. She has greatly contributed to the show’s recent success, and she loved every minute of her time there.

“Another wonderful aspect of the job is working with such incredible judging talent. Mel B, Howie Mandel, Howard Stern and Heidi Klum are all incredibly talented people within their field, and take their job on the show very seriously. Their passion for helping people’s dreams come true is evident, and to interview them on the acts and film with them backstage during stage breaks has been a highlight of my career,” Kinane-Adams concluded.

Producer Melina Tupa helps change lives stories in Frontline’s ‘Rape on the Night Shift’

Melina Tupa is more than a filmmaker, she takes her role and knows how many people she can affect with her work. She adds the responsibility of being a journalist, telling harsh and real stories that need to be told, and she shares them with the world. Her commitment to her craft is outstanding, and her talent is unparalleled.

With experience in both producing and journalism, Tupa has emerged as a formidable documentary filmmaker. Last year, her film The Search captivated audiences and critics alike, a trend she is well familiar with throughout her established career. Her work with networks like Turner Broadcasting and Nonstop TV have seen similar success. These accolades, however, are not important when she is doing what she loves.

“I wanted to be a producer to be involved in all the aspects of the film. It is the only position where you can connect with all the other team members of a production. I always liked working with diverse groups and being a producer meant I could learn other skills from other production areas fairly easy. It is also a position where you can have a real impact on the final product. The producer is the thread that unifies and solidifies all the pieces of a documentary,” said Tupa.

Bernardo Ruiz, a Director and fellow Producer, worked alongside Tupa on the feature documentary The Gatherers, which has been funded by the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Sundance Documentary Institute. Ruiz was astounded by her talent, and is now looking at having her co-produce his upcoming feature documentary about California’s Napa Valley.

“Melina is an experienced and dedicated production staffer and researcher. She has an excellent reputation, having studied with some of the top documentary filmmakers in the business and I have gladly recommended her to other producers seeking top documentary talent. Not only does Melina have top tier formal training in journalism and documentary production, but she is also an experienced independent producer. Her ability to work on multiple fronts is a major asset to a production as are her language abilities, as she speaks, writes and can conduct research in at least three languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese,” said Ruiz.

Tupa’s investigate reporting and producing talent was evident once again with her work on the critically-acclaimed film Rape on the Night Shift. The chilling documentary looks into allegations of sexual abuse of immigrant women working in the janitorial industry and how companies handle the problem.

“These women who worked at the janitorial service to support their families had been raped and the perpetrators had gotten away with it. It was very important that their stories were widely known and that there could be structural changes in the janitorial service so these atrocious acts would never happen again,” said Tupa.

With her trilingual abilities aiding her, Tupa was approached by a producer on the film to come on board the project, knowing that speaking Spanish was key. Most of the main characters and interviewees on this story spoke in Spanish and it was crucial that whoever came on board could understand them. Tupa also assisted in pre-editing interviews, transcribing, and translating interviews, and assisting on overall production tasks. As documentary units are usually small, every person’s contributions are key to the success of a project, and every task is essential. Tupa’s work was no exception.

“I always wanted to work for the Investigative Reporting Program since it’s one of the most important journalism centers in the United States and the world. When I found they were working on this project in particular I knew I wanted to be part of the team,” Tupa described.

Many of the victims were undocumented immigrants, and they thought they had no rights because of this. However, once the documentary aired, the powerful story not only helped changed the lives of the victims that were interviewed, but the lives of thousands, as California law was changed to protect janitors like them from sexual violence and abuse on the job. The bill was inspired by the documentary, and Tupa could not be prouder of the part she played in impacting the lives of so many women.

“This was a very important story to tell. There were a lot of women suffering and these women never had an outlet to tell their stories before. So, I knew this documentary was going to be important and, in fact, after it aired it led to change in policy in the janitorial service,” said Tupa

The film premiered on June 23, 2015. It aired on PBS Frontline. You can also watch Rape on the Night Shift here.

 

Photo by Vanessa Arango Garcia

Producer Sonia Bajaj talks new film ‘A Broken Egg’

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Producer/Director Sonia Bajaj

Sonia Bajaj was born in the city of Mumbai, India, the birthplace of Bollywood. Living in the film capital, she was exposed to films from a very young age. This interest sparked something in her, and Bajaj knew watching films was not enough, she had to make them. She wanted to tell stories, and share with the world the ones she knew needed to be told. Now, she is recognized not just in India, but also internationally for her talent, and is a sought-after director and producer.

While working on films like Rose, Hari, The Best Photograph, Bekah and Impossible Love, Bajaj has earned the reputation as an outstanding filmmaker. Bajaj always had a talent for producing. Her father is a businessman who has dealt with paperwork all his life. At times, she would help him out and during that process; she began to learn the basics of business, and therefore, the basics of producing.

“I’ve always been a good manager of time, deadline serious, and most importantly a team player as well as a leader. My goals are well defined before me and I seldom deviate from them. My experience handling paperwork, education and a creative mind inclined me towards becoming a Producer,” said Bajaj.

Bajaj’s producing instincts are evident in the new film A Broken Egg. It tells the story of a dysfunctional family that go through varied emotions over dinner due to the recent discovery of their teen daughter being pregnant. The entire film takes place during a family dinner scene.

“This meant that we had no location changes and had to film in a tight space for two days. It was a unique experience to have the beginning, middle and end of a film over the course of dinner. A Production like A Broken Egg is not a traditional style of filmmaking, making the project exciting and different. That’s why I wanted to work on this project,” said Bajaj. “Teenage pregnancy is quite prominent in the United States. Our goal was to make a film that showcases the after effects of teenage pregnancy from the eyes of the teenager as well as the family members, all together under one roof.”

The film premiered in June 2017 at the California International Shorts Festival in Los Angeles, and has since gone on to be an Official Selection at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival, UK Monthly Film Festival, and the Festival de Cannes Short Corner. It was a semi-finalist at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, and the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival, and won the Bronze Award at the NYC Indie Film Awards, and the Gold Award at the Mindfield Film Festival. None of this could have been achieved without Bajaj’s producing savvy.

“Our goal was to create a voice for teenage pregnancy, a film that is relatable to teenagers and families, alike. We’re thrilled with the response the film was received so far and would love to see what happens next,” she said.

With Director Tushar Tyagi and Actor Lainee Rhodes on A Broken Egg Production Still
Actor Lainee Rhodes, Director Tushar Tyagi, and Producer Sonia Bajaj on set of A Broken Egg

Despite some budget constraints, Bajaj made sure there was still high production quality. Due to her experience producing and directing varied short films, she managed to get most of the crew work on minimum wage daily, which helped to secure a great camera and actors, leading to a successful completion of the production. They only had one day of rehearsals and two days of filming available, which meant that Bajaj had to make important decisions quickly, be on her feet at all times, and make sure that there was clear communication maintained throughout. Not many could pull off such a feat, but Bajaj’s ability to take risks and make swift decisions made her perfect for the job. The Director of the film, Tushar Tyagi, knew she would be able to make his film a success, as he had seen her work on the film Rose.

“No matter the budget level, Sonia has always been able to elevate the production to the highest standards. Whenever there’s been an issue, she’s been quick to resolve it without any setbacks to the schedule.  She is enthusiastic, a positive thinker and has a go-getter attitude,” said Tyagi. “Sonia has a fresh take on the stories she directs. Her style of directing is innovative, powerful and thought provoking. As a Producer, she is the foremost leader in every project she takes on. That’s why all her projects have enjoyed a great deal of success in film festivals both in the U.S. and globally.”

There is no doubt that A Broken Egg will continue to have success as it makes its way to more film festivals this year. For Bajaj, however, that is not why she loves what she does. The accolades and the awards don’t matter as much as getting to do what she is passionate about.

“Being a producer requires a lot of patience as you see through a production from the very beginning to right until the end. It gives one a chance to interact with different cultures, creativities and mindsets from all over the world. I enjoy this amalgamation of creative and business, and that’s why I like being a Producer,” she concluded.

Producer Xueru Tang faces her fears, literally, in critically-acclaimed horror flick Emily

Xueru Tang’s life is making movies, and she loves every minute of it. Her work captivates international audiences, and her name is recognized all over the world. She is an extraordinary producer, and one of the best to recently come out of China.

While working on several esteemed projects, Tang has become an extremely sought-after producer. She has worked on films such as Locked, and Hot Pot Man. Both of these projects have gone on to do very well at several of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. However, what is perhaps the most decorated film of Tang’s career is the award-winning horror flick Emily.

“When I was asked to join the project, I was really interested. I love horror movies, but I always have trouble watching them because they scare me, so I really wanted to know how a horror movie was shot,” said Tang.

Directed by Jun Xia, the film tells the scary story of a woman named Emily. Emily dies giving birth at home after her husband, John, abandons her. However, she will have her revenge from beyond the grave when she returns as a ghost set on killing her widowed husband.

“I liked the script at first, it was short but it was interesting, and once I started working on the film, I began to really like the way the director told the story. He really caught the point at which everyone is frightened. It really made me scared. He really had his style and his visual for everything,” said Tang.

Tang was approached by co-producer Guannan Li to join the project. Li knew he needed a team of the best producers he could find, and having worked with Tang before, he knew she would be the perfect fit. Another producer on the film, Jingming Zhao, could not have agreed more.

“During development of the film, Xueru included her creative input for the film, and helped to polish the script, showcasing her creative abilities. She was responsible for renting equipment, creating and managing our budget and schedule, and making certain that this highly intensive work was made on our budget. Due to Xueru’s preeminent abilities as a creative thinker and a talented producer, she helped us to lay a foundation for the film, without which we would not have been nearly as successful. Of the many producers I have worked alongside, she is the most stand-out talent I can think of,” said Zhao.

Tang’s decisions for the film were very fruitful, as Emily has been a stand out at film festivals. After its premiere at the Los Angeles International Film Festival in August of 2015, it went on to be praised at the following festivals: Winner Best Horror Short Film – Hollywood Horror Festival 2015, Winner Best Short Film – Mad Town Horror 2015, Winner Best Horror Short – Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival 2016, Winner Best Student Horror Short – Hollywood International Moving Picture Film Festival 2016, Winner Best Student Horror Short – United International Film Festival 2016, Winner Best Director – Chandler International Film Festival 2016, Winner Official Selection Award – Chinese American Film Festival 2016, Official Selection London Digital Film Festival 2015, Official Selection International New York Film Festival 2015, Official Selection Full Bloom Film Festival 2015, Official Selection and Screening Big House Invitation Year One 2015, Official Selection Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival 2015, Official Selection Horror Short Video Contest 2015, Official Selection Los Angeles Short Film Festival 2016, Official Selection and Screening Holly Shorts Film Festival 2016, Official Selection AFMA Film Festival 2016, Official Selection and Screening Hanhai Studio 1st Short Film Festival 2016.

“When we won the first festival, we all super happy, and one by one, after like 10, to be honest, we all started to feel like ‘okay, this is normal,’” said Tang. “When we started winning the big festival, we felt happy of course. I felt like it showed how hard we worked and how good we are. When we work it can be a really hard time and not easy for all of us, but we studied from this production and we grew because of it.”

For a film to do so well over such an extended period of time, continuing to impress audiences and critics over a full year, shows just how good it is, and Tang was a big part of that. She dealt with the crew, worked on the budget, and was responsible for hiring a team that she knew could make the film the success it became. One role in particular that she tirelessly searched for was the cinematographer, as the director Jun Xia wanted someone he could work well with and share his vision. Tang spent months searching and interviewing candidates looking for that special director of photography. This effort led to finding the ideal match, and was vital for the film.

The team worked so well together, that they decided to embark on another horror film Inside Linda Vista Hospital, which production companies were eager to be a part of after Emily’s success. The second film has gone on to achieve similar feats at many film festivals, showing audiences all over the world why Tang is so good at what she does.

Producer Albee Zhang doubles as Hometown Champion

Many people don’t realize they have a dream until they have already achieved it. This is just what happened for Albee Zhang. The Shanghai native always knew she wanted to make films, but it wasn’t until she realized she had made a career both in China and the United States that this was always what she wanted. She shows the world her culture through her work, and allows audiences to see both where she comes from and where she is now, as an internationally successful film and television producer.

This is exactly what Zhang achieved with the film Bride: Shanghai, I Love You. As a producer on the film, Zhang was essential to its success. She provided creative ideas for story meetings, prepared pitch materials, created and managed the production budget, scouted locations, recruited the crew, oversaw the art department and post-production teams to ensure deadlines, and cast the film. Without her, the film could not have been made.

“The cast she put together, the people that she put together for this project, it was really quite amazing. Albee is the master of multitasking, but never skips out on the small things. She has more drive and passion than anyone I have ever met. She is definitely a go-getter,” said the director of the film, Lian Xin.

Bride: Shanghai, I Love You is a film made for the 15th Shanghai International Film Festival, hosted by SIFF and the Information Office of Shanghai Municipality, as part of city promotional videos during the festival. It’s a story about a young photographer who meets his long-lost ex-girlfriend on her wedding day. Originally, he accused the fast pacing city life of changing them and made them break-up, but he finally realizes without all the tough times in his life, he wouldn’t be who he is right now. He moves on with relief and looks forward to the future with deep love in this city, Shanghai.

“It’s such a compelling life changing story. Any dream seeker in the big cities would find similarities to the character. The release date was in a summer, same as the graduation season in the story, which made the whole story resonate with more people. I love the idea that we started from an ordinary person’s point of view to reveal the beauty of this city,” said Zhang. “It’s a light-hearted and inspirational story to motivate the young professions to following up their dreams. We had a very young team making this film. Although they may lack of professional experience, they brought so much energy and joy to the crew. They gave us lots of ideas of how to capture a city wanderer’s life. And in return, we were trying to give these young professionals an opportunity to work on this film. All they needed was an equal chance, just like everyone else.”

Zhang wanted to share her love for her city through the film, and that is exactly what she did. She worked on the project from start to finish, from the development stage, casting, accountings, getting equipment deal and transportation, to its premiere at the festival. She was working at MT media at the time, and the director, Lian Xin, reached out to her to be a part of the film, knowing he needed the best to make the film a success.

“Lian Xin is a very hands-on director. He likes taking different jobs at the same time while making his films. He directed, wrote, filmed, and even gave lighting directions on our film set. In the editing stage, he would prefer to have a director’s cut. By looking at his works, you would know what’s a ‘Lian’s style’ movie. He was calm and quiet person off-set, but as long as the camera was rolling, he would rule the set. We had worked on few other projects before, so I knew from my heart that he had the capability to do multiple jobs on set. If it was another director, I wouldn’t let him do that. But it’s all about trust and mutual understanding. When he was in charge, I had nothing to worry about,” said Zhang.

The film was a non-profit project, and therefore had a very small crew. This required Zhang to wear many hats at the same time to ensure the production went smoothly. As a producer, she is known for her commitment to her work and to each project she works on, which is why they have gone on to see such success. Her more recent work on the film Caged has gone on to be an Official Selection at many festivals, and win several awards. She knows what it takes to achieve greatness, as that is what she continuously does. Having Bride: Shanghai, I Love You, premiere at a prestigious film festival such as The Shanghai International Film Festival was nothing out of the ordinary for this producer.

“It was a great honor to be part of the film festival program. Producing my own hometown promotion video for SIFF made me think about what my home town means to me. I was born and raised in Shanghai, and lived there for the majority of my life, but I never thought about what impression does this city leave the world, until I started brainstorming ideas for this project. It’s a place you will easily lose yourself in a materialistic life, but after all the struggles, you will eventually be deeply in love the city with and understand how inclusive this city can be,” said Zhang. “Since I am purely from Shanghai, that was a great chance show the world how great my home city is. I am proud that I can become part of the production.”

BRIDE