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Joining a social movement through film with Sherry Yang

For an esteemed producer like Sherry Yang, it is very important to find an edge that differentiates you from your competition. In the arts and entertainment industry, finding this edge can be difficult given the caliber of talent around you. Fortunately for Yang, setting herself apart from her peers comes naturally and she has found her place within the producing community. As a producer, Yang is well known for her ability to mesh a cast and crew together like a tight knit family. She encourages her team members to build an environment of mutual trust and support. With this, she cares deeply for the people that she works with and slaves to ensure that everyone on set is content, knowing that they have the potential to thrive within their craft. As with any family or team, however, there is always room for conflict or diverging opinions. This is where Yang truly shines. She has an unprecedented ability to minimize disputes and to proactively account for possible challenges along the path from pre- to post-production. She thrives in an atmosphere that requires her to problem solve and to lead others toward success.

“I find that negotiation and communication are the two most challenging aspects of producing. Negotiating fairly, within budget constraints, can be very challenging at times and requires a lot of patience and solid planning. As for communication, it can be increasingly difficult given the fact that every individual on set communicates differently and therefore, it is not uncommon for miscommunications to arise. When that happens, it is up to me as a producer to solve these issues as quickly as possible to minimize any lasting damage to the production. Through lots of trial and error, I have learned to overcome these obstacles with ease and I have developed some very essential communication skills along the way,” tells Yang.

Yang has produced a number of successful films in her day, including the award-winning movies The Letter and Jiaozi. She is energized by any opportunity that she gets to work with a film crew to tell important stories to the world. The film industry, unlike many others, presents a unique platform to change the perspectives of the masses and to shed a light on important social issues. Yang finds herself fortunate to remain at the top of her field on such an influential career path. She considers it an honor to be able to tell important stories that need to be displayed on the big screen. In fact, when Yang was approached to work on the socially conscious drama, Te Echo de Menos, she could not resist getting involved.

Te Echo de Menos is a dramatic film that follows the struggling artist Daena Grey, and her girlfriend, Liora Guerra. Not only must they face the many hardships that come from being in a relationship, but they must also fight another demon: Daena's depression. As the two lovers try to fight for their relationship, Daena's yearning to end it all grows. This causes Liora to struggle to keep Daena from suicide and harm, making her overprotective. As they both struggle with their own selfishness, they soon face the cruel reality that love does indeed blind us, and sometimes the only way to truly love someone is by letting go. What struck Yang about the storyline was the way in which it allows audiences to take a deeper look into the characters’ difficult journeys without judgement. Ultimately, the story transcends depression, suicide, hate, and love, but simply forces the audience to think about the truth within bare human emotion. It blurs the line between making decisions based on emotion or on rationality and it is an important experience for any individual to embark on.

When the film’s director, Yuki Yoshimatsu was looking for a producer to help her with this project, she was very particular about finding someone who she could trust to devote themselves entirely to the project from start to finish. She had heard of Yang’s reputation and after meeting with her to speak about the project, she was confident that Yang was exactly what she was looking for. What she hadn’t accounted for, however, was just how invaluable Yang would be to the entire project. Upon completing the project, Yoshimatsu realized that Yang was unlike any other producer she had ever worked with and she was thankful to have had such a talented producer by her side for Te Echo de Menos.

“After working with Sherry, I am fully aware of her skills and her work ethic. She is a rare type of producer who truly considers the emotions of the cast and crew. She makes sure everyone on set is happy, but also that the shoot is executed flawlessly. She kept me aware of any issues that arose on set, but also handled them herself so that I could remain focused on my duties as a director. She aided me through pre- to post-production, taking care of any necessary paperwork or issues in a timely manner. I never once had to remind her to complete a task. After we finished post-production, she also did all of the necessary research to get the film into highly acclaimed film festivals, and helped the film gain as much publicity as possible. She is a pleasure to work with,” notes Yoshimatsu.

Evidently, there is little secret as to why Yoshimatsu would have wanted to work with Yang for Te Echo de Menos; however, for Yang, the desire to work on this film came entirely from the importance of telling Yoshimatsu’s story. After reading the script, Yang felt herself drawn to the storyline and emotionally invested into the complexity and inner turmoil of the characters. She was very curious to see how the project would unfold and knew that she had the skills to help tell it in the most honest, authentic way possible. Her reputation may have been the reason that she was asked to come on board, but her unparalleled talents as a producer are the reason she was credited as being one of the sole contributors to the film’s accomplishments.

“My work was essential for the project’s success because it added the necessary characteristics to tell the story as beautifully as it had been envisioned to be told. In addition to that, I conducted an ample amount of research to determine the best way for us to tackle the film festival run. I carefully and considerately planned out which festivals we should send the film to and checked in with Yuki every step of the way to make sure that she was satisfied with the process,” recalls Yang.

When Te Echo de Menos screened at film festivals, audiences appeared to be as receptive to its important message as Yang was when she first read the script. It won Best LGBT Film at the Direct Short Online Film Festival in 2016, and again at the European Cinematography Awards in 2017. It also won an Award of Recognition for Best LGBT Short at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival. Winning such prestigious awards were simply an added bonus to getting to do what she loves for the better of a social movement. Yang hopes that, in future, she will get to continue to bring such socially charged stories to the big screen for the better of the film industry and for the better of society as a whole.

Photo by Steven Lam

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