The vocation of Film Producer is a dichotomy; it’s both glamorous and unglamorous at varying moments. Ming Qiu was in China, working already at the time when Alec Tibaldi called her. The producer he had been working with on his upcoming film Spiral Farm had not worked out and he felt that Qiu was going to be the perfect fit to keep the film on the rails. China is a long way to go for a producer but Ming’s reputation and body of work spoke for itself, as did the recommendation of others whom Tibaldi respected. With Academy Award-Winner Ron Bozman (The Silence of the Lambs) as EP and Piper De Palma and TONY-Winner Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction, Hunger Games: Catching Fire) signed on to star in the film, Alec was insistent that Ming take the production helm as he directed this feature film. In order to keep the impressive cast and crew already in place, Qiu needed to arrive on set, post-haste…which she did, ensuring that the production stayed on course and upright. Currently in postproduction, “Spiral Farm” owes a good portion of the excitement surrounding it to the timely expertise and calm disposition of producer Ming Qiu.
Director Alec Tibaldi reveals, “Nothing can shake you quite as much as having worked up to the point of starting to film and then considering you don’t have a producer who will oversee and guarantee that you can focus on your job as a director. When I was faced with this situation, I didn’t want to get just anyone…I had to get the perfect producer. Ming has an impeccable reputation in the industry and it is well founded. She came aboard quickly and even helped me develop some of the script development prior to filming. She quickly got a team in place…an amazing postproduction team! There quite simply would be no film without her. Her ability to remain calm in the face of immense pressure was infectious to all of us.”
While her peers on the film team see her as the individual in charge of keeping everything and everyone on task and enabled to do their work, Ming sees herself in a different light. Yes, she is comfortable and exceptional at organization in almost every facet but she feels that the role of producer is that of a conduit between filmmaker and audience. The filmmaker creates a story based on something or some inspiration in their own lives; because a producer is the person who witnesses the evolution of the story, Qiu feels that she is ideally situated to give feedback and input coming from what the future audience will experience. In this way she is able to assist both film creator and film receiver as to what each will gain from the transformation of the film. She describes, “A producer’s creative voice is heard in a lot of ways. Script notes and editing notes are probably the main ones. Sometimes I’ll share what I think of a performance with my director on set. I tend to give a TON of notes on music because improper music, even for a second, drives me nuts. Being able to be creatively involved to a high enough level is probably the most important prerequisite for me to take on a project. On one hand, it’s to make sure the countless parameters of physical production are prioritized in a correct way; on the other hand, I need each of my films to reflect a little of me to convince myself that I need to put the story on screen, even though they are definitely not about me.”
Spiral Farm is the coming-of-age story of Anahita, a teenage girl raised by her neurotic mother on a commune. Anahita harbors a secret desire to be a dancer. When her mother’s ex-boyfriend and his adopted nineteen-year-old son (Theo) come for a visit, Theo discovers Anahita dancing in secret and convinces her to let him take her to a dance audition in the city.
Their friendship seems to be ready to level up and her mother is enjoying her time with Theo’s father. As obstacles present themselves, Anahita and her family are left to question who they are and what their future will be. Anahita is not only separated from the outside world due to her community but also separated from her aspirations for a different life, all during a part of adolescence that is challenging in itself.
One part of her involvement in the film which Qiu enjoyed the most was developing the character Dianic, Anahita’s mother. During the script development, Dianic was written as a selfish, bitchy woman whom Ming was pleased to see portrayed by actress Amanda Plummer. Ming notes, “Amanda created so much depth in Dianic. She became charming, mysterious, fun, and powerful. Dianic is a woman who refuses to grow up, in a good way… and possibly a bad way too. Amanda gave the character more layers, and made her more likable. Of course, I have enjoyed her work for many years. Working with her on Spiral Farm was a sneak peek at the crazy, sophisticated, yet beautifully innocent mind of an incredible and accomplished actor.”
Spiral Farm possesses a major twist in the second half of the story. Because the film has not been yet released, discussing this would be a spoiler. Suffice to say, the unplanned events of this film, from Ming Qiu expeditiously flying back from China to produce, the incredible and undefinable cast, the punishing desert location shoot, and the twists and turns of the story itself…all offer a wild and entertaining ride for this tale of a young girl outside the normal constructs of society who is striving to get back in.