Interview with director Yin Fu

SHORT BIO OF THE DIRECTOR: Yin Fu is an award-winning film director and 3D generalist. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation from Communication University of China and Master of Fine Arts In Animation from Savannah College of Art & Design. Her short films have won over 40 awards worldwide. Currently, she is working as a visualization artist in Los Angeles on several well-known movies and TV shows, and her recent work includes Marvel Entertainment feature “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” TV show “Loki”, DC Entertainment TV show “Superman & Lois”, 20th Century Studio feature “Prey”.

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

I have been interested in art since I was a child. I knew I wanted to be an artist, creating whimsical worlds and telling stories in them. When choosing my college major, I realized that I didn’t want to be limited to a specific type of art and design major. After learning about various branches of art and design, I discovered that animation was a comprehensive art category. I can learn character design, prop design, and scene design, realize the world in my mind and tell the story.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

It depends. I don’t think a filmmaker is successful necessarily because he/she went to a film institute because filmmaking combines a lot of practice and experience. I’ve met a lot of great filmmakers, many of whom graduated from film institutes, and there were also many of whom had the opportunity to study and work with masters in the industry. So I can’t tell if this is necessary, but going to film school can quickly learn a lot of basic knowledge of film production and meet more like-minded people. Otherwise, many of the mentors of good film schools are experienced seniors in the industry, and going to film schools can be one of the “shortcuts” to getting into the industry.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Keeping going is the hardest thing for me. This is because making a film is a time-consuming and energy-consuming process, during which there will be all kinds of unexpected problems. For example, in the process of story creation, it is easy to encounter bottlenecks, and there will be disagreements between teams. So when the work progress is not enough, I am also very anxious and want to give up in many cases. But just like running a marathon, I keep saying to myself, “Just hang in there,” and I end up doing well, and I would thank myself for sticking with it.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

Don’t worry too much about what others say when you believe in your work and your teammates. When our film was in the middle stage, we had a review with many experienced insiders. Because our progress was delayed at that time, it was insufficient compared with other films produced in the same period, and we only got a B evaluation. Our team morale was low, but we had a lot of faith in our film, so we collected our emotions and devoted ourselves to the production. Eventually, on the day of the premiere, the audience cheered for our film, and it received a well-deserved A evaluation.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

We used to have a lot of trouble with the soundtrack. The soundtrack is essential for our films, and it needs to have the role of empathy for the audience. But the composer we initially worked with was inexperienced with this type of music, so our initial version of the music didn’t match our film. Still, we were close to the release date, which made us lose confidence at one point. In the end, we were lucky enough to find our current composer and re-compose the music for our film with minimal time. When we first saw our film and soundtrack merge seamlessly on the eve of the film’s premiere, everyone’s eyes were filled with tears of excitement and emotion.              

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

We didn’t put a lot of effort into team building. We were all classmates, we knew each other’s areas of expertise, and we had a relatively complete story before assembling the team, so the formation process was very smooth. We also encountered many disagreements during the creative process or needed to grind into each other’s different ways of working. But each of us was very willing to express our opinions. When we were willing to communicate directly about the problems, we chose to understand each other, which deepened each other’s links and team cohesion. In the end, the cooperation was still pleasant. We still maintained a good relationship after completing the film.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

We didn’t worry about what more audiences would expect during the creative process. Like all artistic creations, the most important thing about filmmaking is the creator’s expression. Of course, every audience will have a different understanding of the film, but this should not be something for creators to worry.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

Film festivals are very important to me. They are very effective channels for independent filmmakers to showcase their work. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to show my films around the world by submitting film festivals, and I’ve had opportunities to interact with other filmmakers while winning multiple awards.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I think both will work, depending on the filmmaker’s personal preferences. Classic cinema styles always draw me, but I’m also trying to widen my boundaries. I don’t think breaking away from the classic video style is easy. I would try to add my ideas to the classics and expand them as much as possible.