As the film industry becomes more of a global industry than a national one, more influences find their way into our favorite films. There’s no denying the increasingly international cast and appeal in big studio films and this echoes in the Indie film scenes as well. What you might not be aware of is the fact that many of the talented professionals behind the camera are also increasingly involved in international collaboration. Professionals in the industry are sought out more than ever because of their skill rather than their cultural background. However, in some cases both are present. Editor Yu-Ying Chuang has worked on lauded films such award-winning films asWay Out and No Deer for Dinner but her work on productions like Good Friend from theWest and the upcoming Winter Horse give a nod to her skill in fashioning specific cultures. Respected throughout the film community, Chuang is one of those rare editors who is able to authentically establish a tone for a film throughout many settings.
To create a film with such varied and eclectic influences as Good Friend from the Westtakes an intuitive and almost ESP like level of communication. Yu-Ying enthusiastically states that this was the case between herself and director Shuaiyu Liu. She recalls, “When I was child,I liked to watch HongKong Kung Fu movies. When I get the editing position on Good Friend from the West, it only took a second to understand what Shuaiyu wanted for the tone of the film. He would say, ‘when the villain shows up, there’s gonna be a super quick zoom in shot on him.And for the fighting part, we’re gonna quickly whip-pan with both characters.’ I could instantly see what he was going for visually. When he said, ‚’In order to enhance the tension for this unfortunate gunshot moment, let’s use a Steadicam shot to slowly push in on the shooter.’ I was thinking the same thing. That’s why I like to collaborate with Shuaiyu; we always have same opinion when we work together.
I think a lot of directors and editors search for that like-minded approach because you get exactly what you want AND you get there quicker. I think we both feel fortunate that our professional approach and relationship is so in sync.” The results of their effectiveness can be appreciated by viewing the film and by the awards received which include the Gold Remi from Worldfest-Houston, Best Western Short from the Independent Short Awards, the Award of Excellence from the Southern Shorts Awards, and as an Official Selection at numerous prestigious film festivals. Good Friend from the West follows in the genre mashup tradition of hits like Shaun of the Dead, Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez From Dusk Till Dawn, and others. The western meets Kung Fu cocktail received massive attention from the public and critics. This mixture of Chinese, Native American, and Caucasian cultures culminates in a lesson about who the real bad guys are and where do their motivations stem from.
As editor on Winter Horse, Chuang helped deliver a different kind of dark tale but one which equally communicates a lack of respect for life. This story of choices and consequences centers on the relationship of a fourteen-year-old boy from China named Baheti and the horse that is his best friend. Baheti’s family is nomadic and poor. Tulpak, his horse, has been with him since he was a very small boy. Baheti dreams of going to college and a film crew shooting near them offers the means to get the money but it will come at a gruesome price to Tulpak.
The crux of this ending is directly related to filmmaking and technology, a subject about which Chuang notes, “You can’t use software to create what a skilled expert can muster. Editing needs to pay attention to the rhythm of the whole film. Whether it’s the actor’s emotions and movements or plots changes that relate the rhythm of the scene, it’s emotion and skill that deliver the proper edit. Each editor has their own feelings, so even if the same footage is given to two different editors, the finished project may have similarities but feel completely different.” It’s the humanity of her editing that has made films like the aforementioned and so many others so successful.