Press

Director Interviews & Appearances as well as Film Reviews for Ann Huang's Palpitations of Dust & Indelible Winter

Poetry Reading by Ann Huang

This poetry reading by Ann Huang took place in 2012 at Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California after Love Rhythms, her first chapbook, was published.

During the book signing portion of the event, Huang says she felt notably nervous and elated at the same time. It was her first public reading, so she was anxious about reciting her work in front of an audience. However, with friends and family present for the poetry reading, Huang quickly overcame her nervousness.

About 50 people gathered at Laguna Art Museum on an autumn night. Abstract expressionistic paintings surrounded the small crowd—which is one of Huang's favorite art epochs/genres—while poetic vibes oozed out of her tongue, skin, and body with the help of a cup of whiskey.

Huang describes the poetry reading experience as blissful. "After many years of trying to fit in with the literary world, from novella to non-fiction, and finally poetry, I was suddenly given wings to fly. It was magical. My audience was awestruck by my reading, and I was awestruck by myself!" Huang explains that she is typically tongue-tied when speaking in front of groups of people, but not that night. She was thrilled to have landed in the poetry world at last: the world that gave to her and the world that she would continue to contribute to for as long as possible. 

During the poetry reading, Huang recited the following poems from Love Rhythms:

"Winter Sweet"

"Dream Work"

"The Sun"

"Macaroon Sweet"

"Water Lilies and Monet"

"Rendezvous"

"Black Orchid"

"Listener's Technique" 

"Only If"

For more poems by Ann Huang, visit annhuang.com

Utah Film Festival & Awards | Indelible Winter Film Review

This film review originally appeared on theutahfilmawards.com.

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Indelible Winter, a Film By Ann Huang

If you like experimental short films that are poetic in some sense, then Indelible Winter is exactly for you. It’s short film which offers a variety of images that blend with the editing and overall structure of the piece. Each sequence this short focuses on has imagery that is subjective and up for interpretation, by the viewer, to decide what is being said as the voice overs overlay the montage of images.

To tell you what this is exactly about, I wouldn’t know how to properly convey the overall message, which isn’t a bad thing as it forces us to question what we witnessed. Although it’s not as surreal – meaning over the top – as a lot of experimental shorts tend to be, it does offer a lot of questionable (and interesting) shots that feel dreamy in a way. Those moments are what really pushes this film forward. It forces us to dive deeper into the narrative that’s being spoken and at times that narration contradicts what we see on screen, which adds more to the substance of being subjective and dream-like. How many times have we woken up from a dream, confused by the meaning because of the images not aligning with what we felt? For me, that made this piece stand out even more.

I’ve already mentioned the editing, but I think it’s worth doubling down on, because for me that’s what stood out the most. There are images that are repeated and they skip frames to give the structure a jagged feel, which replicates how dreams are often times structured. That’s when it becomes the most surreal is when this becomes a structure that forces us to decipher the meaning. There are moments when the subjects are in reverse and overall it really does feel justified due to the symbols provided throughout. The more the images repeat in this film, the more I feel like they mean something to the overall story – that could be just my interpretation though.

One thing I would have liked more of is the variety of shots to add to the surrealism of the piece. All the images are upright and it seems the camera only pans from left to right. There’s rarely any “interesting” angles to add to the story and I feel like if they even placed the camera at a dutch angle or completely upside down it would have felt even more like a dream. In that sense, it felt static and emotionless. If there were even more shots that contradicted the narration and felt “out of place” that could add more to the dream-effect the filmmakers were aiming for – they have some of those moments and those were some of my favorites as they forced me to really think outside the box.

Overall, I enjoyed trying to piece together the narration. It was like picking apart somebody’s subconscious and trying to decipher their internal thought process. With the editing missing frames as a stylized choice and the subtext found within sequence, I felt like this could have easily been based off of a real dream, and perhaps it was! I am curious to see what others will get out of this as I’m sure their interpretation will differ from mine. In the end, that’s what really makes this short film fun.

Top Shorts | Interview with Ann Huang

The following interview was originally featured on Top Shorts

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The Making of Palpitations of Dust

February 4, 2018

Ann Huang is a creative storyteller and filmmaker based in Southern California.

After writing several successful poems, Huang wrote and directed her first film, Palpitations of Dust.

In this experimental short, the lives of three friends become complicated when facing choices of love, friendship, need, and reciprocity. Everything is hung on a thin string—from desire to love, to dream, to face life's disarrays, and then to settle on an unexpected destiny.

In the following interview, Huang shares her experience with the making of Palpitations of Dust, reveals the challenging and exciting moments of the process, and how she recruited the cast and crew in a "no-budget" project.

 

Ann, you have a very interesting, multi-cultural background. Tell us about your early days. When did you start writing and what sparked your interest in it?

I was born and raised in Mainland China. I grew up in a physician's family with three generations living under the same roof in a house that lacked a proper sewage system and water heater. My passion for words dates back to my childhood. One of my essays “I Saw Your Back” won numerous awards in the Children's Palace and was later published on the school board.

When I was fourteen, my parents took me out of China during the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. They were the scholar recipients for a medical exchange program in Mexico City. There, I adopted Spanish as my second language along with the country’s inexhaustible culture.

My childhood memories have, in many ways, instilled in me the source of inspiration for work. I will never forget my days of learning two new languages simultaneously in a class filled with Mexican classmates, memorizing my first 300 Chinese poems from Tang’ Dynasty, taking Tai Chi classes with my grandfather, and listening to the Chinese Civil War songs my maternal grandma used to sing me while lying half-paralyzed on her bed where she remained for nearly a decade during the last part of her life.

Can you share a bit about your creation process? Where do your ideas come from? How many drafts do you usually create for each poem? Do you have any mentors that provide feedback?

I believe in automatic writing, which was suggested by the surrealist movement that followed Dadaism. It can be seen as mysterious to others, but for me, it was a unique yet never-repeating process. Imagine you had a trance experience, almost like you were living in an Indian cave, and you were to write down words that were dictated to you. I don’t need many drafts except for some fine-tuning revisions, maybe three or four times after I have grasped the essence of a poem.

I have two mentors, Ralph Angel and Leslie Ullman, whom I work with closely. The workflow with them has been intuitive and uncomplicated. Ralph gave me advice on assembling a poetry collection when I gathered over 50 poems at one time. Leslie helps me with manuscript edits. I was fortunate to have known them both during my Master of Fine Arts program at Vermont College of Fine Arts where I graduated in Poetry and Literary Translation. I am constantly in debt to them for all the good work we’ve put together. I know them on a close personal level which, in turn, provides me with insurmountable trust for our daily communications.

How did you get into film directing? Was it something you always wanted to try? What makes you passionate about storytelling?

While I was working on my chapbook’s audiobook, the idea of creating visuals to challenge and compliment my poems sprung up. I wanted to see a more concrete version of my poems’ adaptation. (The images were not intended to echo the poems, but rather to challenge the audience’s understanding of the underlying meaning of the poems.)

I have always been passionate about storytelling. I am fascinated by the transformation of a story’s protagonist. I’m enthralled by the idea that the story itself could lead a character to change their personality or even their destiny. This is very powerful. I especially like to make films with unexpected turns and twists.

On my book signing night for my chapbook Love Rhythms at Laguna Art Museum, I met my photographer, Eric Stoner. We became friends and he mentioned the house where he worked. He thought it would be a great location for shooting our first poetry film.

That’s when I thought I could actually create more out of my pure lyrical poems through the process of filmmaking. That way, the once one-dimensional placeholder for my poems could transcend into multidimensional imagery with visuals and sonic impressions that accentuate the flavor of each poem’s essence. We thought it could be a huge breakthrough for showcasing the depth of the poems as well. They would no longer be constricted to the paper. They would come alive, just like they are in their creator’s mind.

You recently won an Honorable Mention for Experimental Film at the LA Film Awards for Palpitations of Dust—Bravo! How did you recruit your cast and crew and how did you fund the project? Did you hold many rehearsals before shooting?

I feel very fortunate that our debut film received so much attention in the film festival circuit. The experience is heart-warming and encouraging. I met with Eric (male lead) during my book signing night and we became friends and talked incessantly about my poem film ideas. Dean (DP) was brought on by Eric. Tatiana (female lead) is my friend and colleague.

As soon I showed them my storyboard, they were all very excited about the project. Through Eric, we scouted the shoot location and confirmed the days for principal photography. We had a great film location. The owners of the house have hundreds and hundreds of paintings and hand-painted works of art. It’s a collector’s house. We were a very small crew and were all invited to preview the house and loved it. We did some sample shoots and planned the scene takes. Before shooting, I prepped Eric and Tatiana on their wardrobes and showed them the mise-en-scene for each poetry-section. That was it. We didn’t have time for rehearsals and shot the whole movie in one-and-a-half days, which is how long the owners of the house permitted us to film there.

The film was a ‘no-budget’ project. I spent around six thousand dollars out of my own pocket. I did not have to pay for the location and paid a small amount to my cast and crew, so that was very helpful. Everyone believed in the project and was happy to contribute. We were happy to have produced our very first poem film.

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We loved the stunning drone shots in the film! How did you communicate your cinematic vision when working with the cast and crew in this production? Did you use any visual/musical references?  

The drone shots on the freeway (Pacific Coast Highway) were very difficult to shoot. I was with Dean who had the drone follow the car Eric was driving. Tatiana was on the phone telling us they were coming out from an intersection. It was a very busy section of the freeway and we were shooting on a weekend. We had to let them drive out a couple of times to get a shot without any tailgating cars. It took us a few takes to get that scene right.

The drone shots at the house were easier to capture. We narrowed down the scenes of Tati and Eric showing up next to the pool, coming out of the house, and fading out from the house’s bird’s eye view.

I had private sessions with each of my crew members. I would read the poems aloud to them, go over the potential scenes in connection to each poem, and relate the wardrobe and/or production materials to prep them for the storytelling process. The most advantageous part of making a poem film is that I can freely talk with my cast and crew during filming since we don’t use any of the diegetic acoustics. It’s like making a silent film. We focused on the visuals and revisited the musical reference after we got all the raw footage.

I used key objects for visual reference. For instance, I had a painting of Rothko and a radio that was domineering in red. There is a room in the house that has one wall painted red. We decided to start the film from that room and chose red as the dress color for the female protagonists in that poem-section. Then everything fell together quite neatly. In another scene, I had Tatiana walking anxiously in a room next to a purple couch. I matched her dress to the room’s interiors so that her physical stance would blend in as much possible and make her anxiousness more apparent.

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What were some of the challenges you encountered during the production of Palpitations of Dust?

The most challenging task was to create scenes not only to interpret but also to transcend the poetry. Even though I wrote these poems myself and had a vague idea about their visuals, there could be a thousand different ways to interpret them. For instance, in the scene where Eric and Tatiana are standing back-to-back and struggling to find their true home, I didn’t have the location figured out until we were on-site trying to find a treehouse like the one mentioned in the poem. Then I had the idea of taking the surreal aspect of the treehouse and turning it into a dream house that would become a void/nightmare. It worked brilliantly. It took us about twenty minutes to get this scene in place but I was very happy about the result. There, my film (one medium) and poetry (another medium) challenged and conversed with each other’s form rather than simply echoing it. That was the climactic moment of making a poetry film.

Another challenging task was to capture ‘magical’ moments that were not contemplated beforehand. One instance was the shooting of protagonist’s (Tatiana’s) death scene. We saw a light reflection through the ceiling hitting a spot on the ground and we immediately knew that was it. It was a magic moment, but we were very nervous because we knew the light reflection would fade quickly, so we had to capture that scene within one to two takes.

What part of the production did you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the unexpected, the serendipity and spontaneity of making a film. I enjoy when a scene is not contemplated the way it was presented to us.

During post-production, we were looking for raw footage to incriminate Eric (male lead) for Tati’s (female lead) fall from the staircase. We couldn’t find any until there were a few seconds when Eric was looking down in Tati’s direction. He was not acting there; he was helping to find the best angle for the takes, yet he was in the take himself. There, his facial expression showed some sort of ambiguity and complicity and we included his smile in the scene. We had lots of fun scouting raw footage that wasn’t initially deemed useful for the film but became one of the key elements of defining it.

What did you learn from the process, and what will you do differently in your next production?

The filming process is very delicate and malleable. Like gold, a film would not stay in shape if a heating element were nearby. Stories themselves will make films and nothing can be done when feelings are at play.

For my next production, I would like to blend surrealistic gestures into multiple types of contemporary art media such as poetry, painting, sculpture, and film. It would be comprised of:

  1. Assemblage of 12 pairs of poems, each pair consisting of one poem from the male protagonist’s perspective, and another from the female protagonist’s perspective;

  2. Poems with palindrome syndrome, meaning they can be read (out loud by voice-over actors) forward and backward to signify the 24-hour day cycle. In depth, they will portray a female sun followed by a male moon (similar to the concept of Yin and Yang);

  3. A juxtaposed disposition of collage-type images comprised of random objects and subjects based on paintings and sculptures in the era of surrealism.

Complete this sentence: If I could direct my next film about anything, it would be…

A film poems mini series called ANN HUANG PRESENTS.

Who are some of your favorite artists, and what makes you excited about their work? Do you feel their work influenced your writing/filmmaking style in any way?

Jean Valentine and Ralph Angel are my mentors whom I met at Vermont College of Fine Arts during my Master of Fine Arts program. Valentine’s unparalleled elusive and humane sensibilities and Angel’s pure romanticism have had a defining influence on my writing. After taking workshops and semesters with both Valentine and Angel, my writing has defined itself as pure lyricism, short and candid, with a twist of contrast and ‘pull’ within each poem.

Rene Magritte and Joan Miro (the surrealists), and Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko (the abstract expressionists) have been my all-time favorite painters. Their works and personal stories have been an indomitable source of my inspiration. Agnes Varda’s pioneer energies in the genres of photography, film, and art were more than astounding. Introspectively and retrospectively, my work is in constant contact with their works, trying to find balance within our human nature and to make peace with nature.

Above all, Carl Gustav Jung, the psychoanalyst and philosopher whose beliefs and studies in Collective Unconscious was the very foundation of my past, present, and future works. I see myself as a cliffhanger trying to reach the tip of Himalayas while daring to look down to see how bad it would be to lose anti-gravity.

What do you like to do in your leisure time, in between film productions and poems?

I like to practice meditational yoga and run at my favorite beach with my Frenchie, Ms. Asia.

What’s the best film you’ve seen recently? Was there a certain scene that was memorable and stood out?   

From the Land of the Moon. The scene where the protagonists just got married and are walking out of a small church near a farmhouse while neighbors and kids come out of the church, and Marion Cotillard’s husband puts his black jacket onto her shoulders. In the scene, she is wearing a plain, long-sleeved wedding dress, smiling vaguely. For some reason, this scene has stayed with me.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

I am in the pre-production phase for my third short film called The Pines of Spring. I am simultaneously ‘re-visioning’ two of my book-length poetry collections, Saffron Splash and A Shaft of Light.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

To follow me or my work, your readers can go to my poetry site at www.AnnHuang.com. They can also follow me @AnnYuHuang on Twitter.

Source: http://www.topshorts.net/single-post/annhu...

LA Film Awards | Interview with Ann Huang

The following interview was originally featured on Los Angeles Film Awards

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Filmmaker in the Spotlight: an Interview with Ann Huang

January 24, 2018

Ann Huang is a filmmaker based in Newport Beach, California. She was born in Mainland China and raised in Mexico and the US. World literature and theatrical performances became dominating forces during her linguistic training at various educational institutions. Huang possesses a unique global perspective on the past, present, and future of Latin America, the United States, and China.

Recently, Huang’s debut experimental short film Palpitations of Dust won an Honorable Mention award at the Los Angeles Film Awards.

In the following interview, Huang takes us on a journey from her childhood in China, through her MFA studies at Vermont College of Fine Arts, to making her debut film. She inspires us with some unique thoughts about creativity, writer's block, and storytelling.

Ann, you have quite a fascinating upbringing—born in China and raised in Mexico and the US. Tell us about your background. Was your family artistic? How do you feel your early childhood experiences and memories play into your work?

I was born and raised in Mainland China. I’m from a physician's family that had three generations living under the same roof in a house that lacked a proper sewage system and water heater. My passion for words dates back to my childhood. One of my essays, "I Saw Your Back", won numerous awards in the Children's Palace and was later published on the school board.

When I was fourteen, my parents took me out of China during the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. They were the scholar recipients for a medical exchange program in Mexico City. There, I adopted Spanish as my second language along with the country’s inexhaustible culture.

My childhood memories have, in many ways, instilled in me the source of inspiration for work. Having said that, I could never forget my days of learning two new languages simultaneously in a class filled with Mexican classmates, my first three-hundred memorized Chinese poems from Tang’ Dynasty, Tai Chi classes with my grandfather, the Chinese Civil War songs my maternal grandma used to sing me while lying half-paralyzed on her bed, where she remained for nearly a decade of her late life.

When did you begin writing poems?

I took up writing novellas and poems right after deciding not to become a law student.

World literate and theatrical performances were dominating forces during your linguistic training at various educational institutions. Can you elaborate on that? Which institutions did you attend?

During high school in Mexico City’s Thomas Alva Edison, I volunteered in a theater where I was exposed to many local plays and rehearsals. I also performed in a few school plays. After high school, I was transferred to Baruch College, The City University of New York. New York City's raw energy at the pinnacle of the world's cultures further enhanced my zest for American literature. By taking a number of humanity and English courses, I gained great exposure to the grandest ideas of the brightest minds of American history. When I am not at the museums, libraries, or theaters, books are an extension of my living.

The works of two feminist writers were shaping my vision during my college years. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Doll House by Henrik Ibsen. Both have protagonists who were very vulnerable at the beginning of the story, and yet transformed to become someone they would hardly believe they would by the end of it. The transformation during and the twist at the end of the story-telling process piqued my interests in literature and writing.

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Why did you decide to move to Newport Beach?

I moved to Newport Beach after co-founding a brand of home healthcare products and had to move my office out of my garage. Newport Beach is close to where I work—it has been known as the surfer’s paradise. Though I am not a surfer, I am an avid beach runner and love to watch surf contests.

There is a beach I love to run on with my Frenchie, especially during the winter months. I’ve learned to appreciate the experiences and sensations that words and films can’t capture. I love where I live.

Where do you draw your inspiration from these days?

I almost always draw my inspiration from my dreams. I have always held a strong belief that dreams should not be thrown away as they become known to us even though they seem surreal and irrational to our consciousness. Instead, they need to be channeled to guide us to our destiny.

Growing up in Mexico, I was been exposed to Wilfredo Lam’s house and La Casa Azul, the house of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, located in Mexico City’s San Angel Inn area, which is now populated by local artists. When I first saw Rene Magritte’s painting titled “Homesickness” there, I was in complete awe.

In Magritte’s painting, the painter’s half-waking self with wings, the lamp post, the lion, and all of them on a balcony in the night reaffirmed my homesickness from over two decades ago when I left China for Mexico. I frequently dreamed about the balcony of my childhood apartment during the first year I moved to Mexico City. In my dreams, there were a lamp post and a lion and I was hoping to climb down each time I visited that balcony. Then I realized that the dreams I was having were an indication of my homesickness for my homeland.

Do you ever experience a writer's / poet's block? If so, how do you handle it?

Before I went to Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA), I felt hopeless about keeping my creative mojo. Then I met with my mentor, Jean Valentine, in AWP Denver and was introduced to her work. Upon her recommendation, I applied for the Master of Fine Arts program at VCFA. There, not only had I formed my network, I had also discovered the foundation of my writing’s inspiration: the surrealistic gestures coupled with automatic writing processes in igniting creative sparkle.

Over the years, you’ve published several books: Love Rhythms, Delicious and Alien, and White Sails—these are available for purchase on your website and at Barnes & Noble. When did you publish your first poetry collection and what was the process like?  

I published the first poetry chapbook Love Rhythms back in 2013 with Finishing Line Press. It was the first thing to bring me back on my feet after a long period of rejections. I was getting so many of them that I lost track. I was aloof and feeling neglected—it was mentally draining. Then an acceptance letter came in the mail and their first line was something like, ‘Since you never replied to our acceptance letter via email ...’

The process was straightforward. The editors would send me galleys for review and we had a smooth cooperation. Later, Amazon reached out to me about creating an audiobook for the same book. I asked my editors about my rights and they were very helpful in granting me those.

How did you come up with the idea to make the movie Palpitations of Dust?

While creating my audio book for Love Rhythms, the idea of creating something visual came along. Then on my book signing night for Love Rhythms at Laguna Art Museum, I met with my photographer, Eric Stoner. We became friends and he mentioned the house where he worked and that he thought it would be a great location for shooting our first poetry film.

This is when I thought I could actually bring out more of my pure lyrical poems through the process of filmmaking. That way, the once one-dimensional placeholder for my poems could transcend to be multidimensional with imageries, visuals, and sonic impressions that accentuate the flavor of each poem’s essence. We thought it could be a huge breakthrough for showing the depth of the poems as well. They would no longer be constricted to the paper and would become alive, just like the way they are in their creator’s mind.

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Palpitations of Dust is your debut film as a writer and director. Congratulations on creating such a wonderful short! How did you prepare? Did you attend any film school for training? And what did you find most challenging about creating this movie?

Thank you so much. I am so happy to see Palpitations of Dust receive its awards and acclaim in the film festival circuit.

Before making Palpitation of Dust, I hadn’t taken any film classes, but I had amply read film-related books and articles during my final critical thesis semester at VCFA. I was drawn to the surrealism that followed the Dadaism and was very much tuned in to their gestures.

We had a great film location. The owners of the house have hundreds and hundreds of paintings and hand-painted works of art. It is a collector’s house. We were a very small crew and were all invited to preview the house and loved it. We did some sample shoots and planned the scene takes.

The most challenging task was to create scenes not only to interpret but also transcend the poems. Even though I wrote these poems myself and had a vague idea about their visuals, there could be a thousand different ways to interpret them. Because of this, I let the color choice for key production materials help me decide which way to go.

For instance, I have both a painting of Rothko and a radio that is domineering in red and there is a room in that house that has one wall painted red. We decided to start the film from that room and chose red as the dress color for the female protagonists in that poem-section. Then everything fell together quite neatly.

In another scene, I had the female lead Tatiana walking anxiously in a room next to a purple couch. I matched her dress to the room’s interiors so that her physical stance would blend in as much possible and make her anxiousness more apparent.

Another challenging task was to capture ‘magical’ moments that we encountered, which were not contemplated beforehand. One instance was the shooting of protagonist’s (Tatiana’s) death scene. We saw a light reflection through ceiling onto a spot on the ground and immediately knew that was it. It was a magic moment to capture, yet we were very nervous because we knew the light reflection could fade away quickly. We tried to complete that scene within one to two takes.

Let’s talk about some technicalities. How many days did you have to shoot? Did you shoot each poem-section separately?

We finished shooting the whole film in one-and-a-half days. The first day started out at 9:30am and we wrapped around 10:00pm that night. The next day, we did the drone shoot, the beach shoot, and the shoot of the car parked outside the house. It took us a couple of hours to film that morning.

We didn’t shoot each poem-section separately. We had to shoot everything inside the house in a single day, as we were asked to do.

Tell us about your collaborators: Dean Nathan, Eric Stoner, and Tatiana Rozo. How did you get them on board and what was the collaborative process like?

Dean is a terrific wedding videographer and a friend of Eric. Tatiana is my colleague and had never acted on camera before. As soon I told each of them the storyline along with the scenes, they were all very excited. Making a poem film was a new thing for all of us.

The process was very smooth and fun. I planned the production materials for Eric and Tatiana and made sure they knew what they would be wearing for each poem-section scene. We brought in the production materials for the mise-en-scene. We started by defining the room and rolled the camera.

Dean was very professional and collaborative with his camera work. He was a perfectionist behind the lens and shot endless retakes for each scene while I was directing the crew to build up their emotions.

Eric was very helpful in grasping the quality of light and ideal angles for each scene and shifted to be in front of camera the next second. It was a different role for him since he was used to being behind the camera. However, he was not shy at all and performed very well. He did a splendid job on evoking the emotions that were infused into the storyline.

Tatiana was also an indispensable asset for this film. Her naturally bold and swift reactions to the camera were outstanding. She captured the true soul of the female protagonist in each of the poem-sections and rendered it freely.

During post-production, I worked mostly with Dean on editing the film. First, we put the visuals together in their most integral sense, skimmed through some unusual raw footage for key scenes, added on a few special effects, and then the music. It took us about five afternoons to finish up post-production. It was a heart-warming process and it felt good to have the film come into light this way.

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The artwork featured in the movie certainly adds to the beautiful concept of the film. How did you come up with the idea to use the same actors for all poems, and what sparked the visual idea for each section? How did you find the locations?

The art pieces featured in the film were from the shoot location. A local museum wanted to borrow the artwork from the owners of the house (our film location). Subsequently, the owners commissioned Eric to register the paintings by taking closeup photos of them. That’s how we knew about the location.

During principal photography, we were very intrigued by the religious context of the artwork. I believed their inclusion to the film could add on a layer of contrast or tension. We asked for permission to use them and were glad that they were included in the film.

I never considered having multiple actors for the film-poems because I always wanted to have a more lineal storytelling ‘feel’ to the film. At the end of the story, it doesn’t matter if people still don’t perceive this as a lineal film. I tried to bring these non-lineal poems to life, and the only way to do this was to have a story to share with my audience.

Most of the visual ideas were on my storyboard, except for a few. For instance, for the scene where Eric and Tatiana are standing back-to-back and struggling to find their true home, I didn’t have the location figured out until we were on-site trying to find a treehouse like the one mentioned in the poem. Then I had the idea of taking the surreal aspect of the treehouse and turning it into a dream house that would become a void/nightmare. It worked brilliantly. It took us about twenty minutes to get this scene in place but I was very happy with the result. There, my film (one medium) and poetry (another medium) challenge and converse with each other’s form rather than simply echo it. That was the climactic moment of making a poetry film.

You used different styles of music for each section. What influenced the musical choices?

I like to have a distinctive oeuvre to synchronize with the visuals, especially by bringing in dissonance. I enjoy watching silent movies and always had the idea of creating a film with music contrasting/complementing to its images. I consider this another tangent of my experimentation. My music choices were somewhat disruptive and disjointing with the emotive themes for each poem-section: longing, joy, disarray, conflict, and loss. The ending was both anti-climactic and maddening.

“My poems (poem-film, subsequently) are intended for my readers/audience to take time on introspection instead of speeding through it.” We think Palpitations of Dust is exactly about that! What were some of the audience reactions you received?

When I was working on writing erasure poems (one of my favorite types of poetry), I learned that the less you write, the more you let people think through them and meditate on the content. Sometimes that is the beauty of art and poetry. I was very clear about chopping up the footage so much that every second would be meaningful and elusive enough for the audience to draw their own conclusions and reactions.

A nine-year-old girl who watched the film for the first time said she could tell the story would end badly. She pinpointed that the ending was cruel and somewhat predictable since there were two girls and one guy. I couldn’t help laughing aloud at that.

From their first viewing, most people didn’t get the story, yet picked up on the feelings of the protagonists. I would encourage the audience to watch the film two or more times in order to get a different grasp of the story, no matter how many different conclusions or ideas spring up each time. Others said they liked the calming effects of my narration as opposed to dialogue. That spoke to the beauty of poetry film.

Palpitations of Dust won the Best Experimental Film award at the 2017 Prince of Prestige Academy Award, Best Award at the Los Angeles Film & Script Festival, Best Experimental Film at the LA Cinema Festival of Hollywood, and most recently, an Honorable Mention: Experimental Film at the Los Angeles Film Awards. The most recognition always goes to the writer/director, but we wanted to ask, who are the people who helped you bring this project to life that you wish to thank?

Palpitations of Dust was a group effort. It is a film made through collaboration with lots of trust. I want to thank Eric for finding the perfect set location and for his trust in my poem film from day one. I want to thank Dean for entrusting my visions and enduring my timeless requests for perfecting it. I want to thank Tatiana for unwinkingly following my wardrobe demands and caring insurmountably about the success of this film.

I want to thank my husband for his never-ending support. I want to thank my parents for being my best cheerleaders. I want to thank my Frenchie, Ms. Asia, for being my sweetest non-speaking companion and being there when I needed her the most.

And I want to thank my poetry and film mentors who instilled in me the element of art, especially Jean Valentine and Ralph Angel, my pen-pals who drove me to be a better poet. I also want to thank the living and dead poets, writers, and psychoanalysts whom I never met in real life, but connected with through their writing, especially Carl G. Jung, whose beliefs in collective unconscious was the root of my work and Agnes Varda, whose pioneer energies in the genres of photography, film, and art were astounding.

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What are your short-term career goals as a poet and as a filmmaker, and what are your long-term goals? Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I want to keep writing and publishing more poetry collections and making short films based on them.

My dream career is to make short poem films based on my poetry. My biggest ambition would be to create a TV series like ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, except mine would be a mini-series solely based on poems with a surrealistic take.

Here are my next steps:

  1. Continue filming the poetry adaptations of 5-6 poems in a batch;

  2. Narrow down a marketing plan with materials that are niche-oriented;

  3. Pitch the film to film festivals, indie film circles, and any other venues such as museums and film schools that might be interested in promoting art/poem films;

  4. Create advocacy campaigns about poem film awareness via social media;

  5. Find the right TV/show partners (even spokespersons) who are willing to try out the idea of a poem film mini series.

In sum, I want there to be an everyday household embrace of my poetry films. That said, commercially, I want to be able to interpret my poems in a better light so that a larger audience can identify with my work. Fundamentally, I want to continue recreating my poetry films so they never lose their intrinsic stance.

If you could have a short chat with 10-year-old Ann, what would you tell her about creativity, dreams, and aspirations?

This is such a wonderful question. I am not sure how to answer, but I know 10-year-old Ann would want to tell me about a lot of her dreams and aspirations. I would want to listen to her before I tell her that creativity is not an instrument. Creativity follows and surrenders to dreams and aspirations like a thirsty fellow needing food and water.

Dreams and aspirations go hand-in-hand, like the mother and father in a household. The household needs harmony and from that, creativity is born, like a child who is nourished by her mother’s passionate nature and by her father’s determination and tenacity. Together they form a strong and sweet household, building a dream-come-true world of joy and success.

What’s next for you? Are you in the process of developing a new movie? Are you working on a new poetry collection?

I am in the pre-production phase for my third short film called The Pines of Spring. I am simultaneously ‘re-visioning’ two of my book-length poetry collections, Saffron Splash and A Shaft of Light.

Where can our readers follow you and your work?

They can go to my poetry site at www.AnnHuang.com. They can also follow me @AnnYuHuang on Twitter.

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