“Going Back Orange” is a film about responsibility. It’s the story of a divorced man named Julian Hayes who must overcome his fear of commitment by helping an orphaned young boy with autism find the mother who abandoned him at birth. The boy, named Brian, is alone after his father’s recent death. Julian is an old friend of Brian’s father and feels that it is incumbent on him to help the boy find some family. Julian learns that Brian’s real mother is alive. In the search to find her, the two learn about trust and cultural differences. This heart-wrenching film has a happy ending and a surprise twist but takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster in the process of arriving there. The film’s producer is both professionally well equipped for this film as well as emotionally. Producer Zheng Huang has lived in different countries with vastly differing cultures. A natural problem solver who has always had a fascination with film, Huang was director Mimi Zhang’s first choice as producer. The two have worked on productions before and the resiliency of Zheng and his always calm and collected temperament assured this director that any adversities would be quickly dealt with.
The clash of cultures was not only something present onscreen in “Going Back Orange” but was also something Zheng recognized upon first examination of the film crew. Communication is important for almost every business but especially so for filmmakers. The crew of “Going Back Orange” were an almost even split of American and Asian members. During the crew meetings, Zheng found the Asian crews were shy and less talkative in discussions. Both the Director and I were concerned. It was unclear if there was some dissention of that perhaps the Asian crew members were just dealing with a lack of comfortability with English. After some thought, I made a discussion group on Facebook a week prior to the first shoot day. I invited all the crews into this group and made topics to spur on conversation within the group. In just one week everyone gradually got to know each other. When we arrived on location that first day, I found Asian crews and American crews having fun with each other and comfortably talking to each other. While I was happy that this problem was solved, it also revealed that the initial source was the language barrier. Rather than have everyone constantly using their phones to slowly translate, I asked the Asian crewmembers to use the walkie to ask me questions if they were having trouble understanding someone. Sometimes communication is easy and sometimes it’s not. Ha.”
A more typical example of a producer’s role in a film is exhibited (in an exemplary way) by the oversight Huang provided for the film. Staying within budgetary restraints by coordinating props with the production designer, coming to an agreement with the director about what facilities will work versus what would be ideal, even small details like craft services fall within the producer’s eyesight to make everything work, particularly on an independent production such as this. “Going Back Orange” performed two company moves with twenty-five shots in one day, an impressive work schedule for any production. While Zheng boasts of the crew’s work and talent, the film’s director espouses of her producer’s contributions. Mimi Zhang declares, “Huang Zheng was such an vital asset to the success of the film. During preparation, he dedicated himself tirelessly to finding the best venue. I could point out each individual achievement that he made for the film but there is so much more than that. He has a positive appeal and effect on all those around him. A great producer can give the director a feeling of such support that you feel that this grand idea is possible. This is what creates a film, the belief of all involved that we can actually manifest this idea that only exists in our mind.”
There’s one story about the shoot that the crew continually mentions in regards to how they feel about Huang. When one of the production’s largest equipment trucks became immobile on a steep uphill incline, filming was delayed. When even AAA could not help them out, the stress level of the entire production shot through the roof, with the exception of Zheng. Calmly creating a convoy of cars to move the necessary equipment to the set, Huang became the hero of the day. Whether he is finding a way to move equipment on the cuff, finding an actor who is of legal age but looks like a minor (saving immense time and money for the production), or simply creating an environment where crew members speak freely, Zheng Huang is the individual that all members of this film look to when difficulties arise. While most of us would be frustrated by this, it constantly brings a smile to his face. “Going Back Orange” was shortlisted at the Chinese and foreign film festival 6, which is proof that his work brings a smile to the audience as well.