It’s been a long time since Jane Cho was a little girl in Australia, staying in her Korean grandmother’s home while her immigrant parents worked and studied English to acclimate to this new country. Present day Jane is a producer and show runner who oversees productions that includes working with some of the biggest names in film and TV like Lupita Nyongo (Little Monsters), Nicole Kidman & Melissa McCarthy (Nine Perfect Strangers), and others. Perhaps lesser known but equally remarkable is her 2018 film The Egg. As producer/writer/director of The Egg, Ms. Cho has crafted something truly unusual and simultaneously connective. The unspoken interaction between a little girl and her grandmother is a window into how creativity is sparked at an early age. While perhaps initially unfamiliar in its specificity, the story’s surroundings and setting manifests a disparity in generations that is quite recognizable. The Egg is unique, extraordinary, and precisely what great filmmaking should be.
The Egg inspires nostalgia for a place you’ve never been, unless you’re Jane Cho. She describes, “I wanted the audience to see this world through the eyes of the young girl; to really feel and remember what it is like to be in the dull and monotonous world of a grownup from the perspective of a child. In order to create this perspective, we completely dulled down the colors and removed all camera movement once we were inside the house. However, when the girl sees something that grabs her attention and captures her imagination, like the egg or the gnome or the rainbow prism reflected on the wall, we see them in full vivid color, with an almost magical presence.” It’s this juxtaposition of the drab and fantastic that is so transfixing in the film. In the most basic and vital sense, an audience needs to connect with the characters of a story. Ms. Cho has empowered the audience to recognize the young Korean girl who exists inside each of us, though our corporal forms may differ.
The approach Ms. Cho has taken with The Egg is minimalistic perfection. Mirroring the way in which the main character’s mind takes her to another place, Jane’s preference for a two-person cast, an absence of dialogue, and Spartan camera angles, steers the viewer towards deeper emotional questions and ideas. Grandma (Gabrielle Chan of Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award–nominated television series The Commons) and her granddaughter (Kim Doan of People’s Choice Award–nominated Marvel film Thor: Love and Thunder) are bound together though they share little in common regarding what interests them. These two actors deliver stunning performances without uttering a single word! The absence of spoken word in The Egg is counterbalanced by the emotive prowess of both actresses and a deeply moving score courtesy of Piers Burbrook de Vere (known for Little Monsters – AACTA Award-Nominated film starring Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gadd-winner of the Golden Raven at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film). Jane had a clear vision for the music she wanted in this film. She describes, “Visually, the film is inspired by old and new French fantasy films such as Le Ballon Rouge and Amelie, so I wanted the music to be a kind of amalgamation of French film-score and traditional Korean music. Because it is essentially a silent film it really relied heavily on music and I definitely had more conversations with Piers than I did with anyone else on this film to make sure we got it right. Thankfully, Piers is not just an extremely talented and knowledgeable composer but also a very patient one!
The Egg is a very personal film for its creator. The willingness to lay one’s self bare and display feelings and ideas so specific is ironically what allows so many people to relate to this story. We can all remember a time in our youth when we felt differently about the world around us than we do now. Jane Cho confesses that being transparent as a storyteller is not a particularly comfortable space to inhabit. She declares, “The most challenging part of making this film was really just learning to trust myself and to trust in my creative vision and voice. Like most people, I have that annoying little voice in the back of my mind that feeds self-doubt and I had to learn quickly how to ignore it and just go with my instincts. It really helped to have such a strong team around me who I knew I could trust completely and who, in many ways, carried me up this mountain from start to finish.
Writer: Sharon Howe