Producer Wendi Tang on the Animated Epic Qualities of Scale

Producer Wendi Tang

Producer Wendi Tang is completely up front about the reasons for her involvement in the eclectic productions she’s known for; she has to be moved by the story. It’s obvious from her work on films such as Janet which explores the mother/daughter relationship (Best Indie Short at the Los Angeles Film Awards, Award of Excellence from the Canada Shorts Film Festival), the heart-wrenching Shadow of the Moon that depicts the plight of children left behind in Chinese villages (award from the Lonely Seal International Film Festival and Rhode Island International Film Festival), and others that these are deeply intense subjects. Productions like this hint that her work on the atypical animation film Scale is likely not your average project of the genre. Ms. Tang has an affinity for telling stories from the female perspective, something Hollywood and the film industry have recognized the need for. Of course, this doesn’t mean a film must be solely about the female experience; to do so would minimalize and compartmentalize the vast spectrum of topics available. Wendi’s work and collaboration with other professionals is empowered by talent as well as a vantage point that accesses an important mindset. When writer/director/animator Erin Jung approached her about producing the animated Scale, Wendi saw it as a chance to delve into the world of animated films for the first time while collaborating with another immensely talented female peer. 

Scale is that rare type of animated film which speaks on multiple levels. An epic tale which is rooted in adventure, danger, and the benevolence of strangers, this story of a girl who ventures from her home in the sky resonates with adults as well as young audiences. A story which rises above any cultural or verbal identity, Scale attains that supreme goal of being relatable for all, though it notably features a strong and courageous female protagonist. Scale was welcomed as an official selection of the Tokyo Lift-off Film Festival, Seoul International Film Festival, Moscow Shorts International Film Festival, and many others in addition to being a Semi-Finalist at the New York Animation Film Awards. 

  The attractiveness of Scale’s visual identity is undeniable. Wendi recalls, “When Erin approached me with the outline of the script and some original scene designs, I was immediately attracted to the color palette. It’s warm, hopeful, and fits the theme of a girl’s home-returning journey perfectly. The first series of conversations we had about the film was on the color theme. There are many aerial scenes, so the base color was blue. We also wanted to create a surreal feeling to have the story set in a fictional environment; therefore, we added purple and red to the palette.” Her belief in the universality of the story convinced Wendi to produce Scale as she notes, “It resonated with me personally as it uses only a few minutes to capture such a subtle transition in the girl’s emotions when she’s looking for a way home. Having spent over seven years in the states, I thought I had already normalized the feeling of being away from my family and my home, being independent. However, I started to realize that I’m just too used to burying all my feelings about family. The girl in Scale lives in a fictional world but the journey she goes through is similar to some images I had in dreams, being lost in the ocean, trying to find a way toward home that’s so far away. I later realized this is a manifestation of the sense of belonging that I always crave. I have spent years juggling between two cultures, between my family’s expectations and my aspiration, so I can easily relate to the character’s anxiety. The feeling of suspension and being in limbo is a constant in my life as a filmmaker pursuing the dream of storytelling.”

Writer: Arlen Gann

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