We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Jiang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As a producer, there’s always a sense of risk taking in joining each film project. The responsibility of the producer in a film is to help the directors realize their visions in a creative but also pragmatic way, and this often means a lot of debate and negotiation, means a lot of commitment and anxiety, means you have to follow a project from its conception to its full fruition.
Therefore, whenever I choose to come on board of a project, there’s always a sense of uncertainty that comes with the excitement, because I would never know if the collaboration would go smooth, or if we can get the film to where we envision it to be.
But risk is also the true incentive to me. It’s always the sense of unknownness that prompts me to go on a new journey with a group of artists that I am excited to meet and collaborate with. As a producer, I need to build the team, and so it’s my job to evaluate each potential crew and cast and find out the best fit for each film project.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Working as a producer for many indie short projects makes me familiar with the line producing aspects of things, such as scheduling, budgeting, crew and cast managing, but my proudest skill set has always been creative producing. I worked on projects of different themes and subjects, and each project I would really sit with the director through the development stages and offer my perspective on how to tell a better story and approach a wider audience. I would breakdown the script line by line, dialogue by dialogue, and make sure the shooting draft is as perfect as it can get; I would sit in for meetings with department heads and involve in discussions about cinematography, production design, costume and makeup, sound design, editing, and color-grading; I would talk to my connections and oversee the whole festival and distribution cycle for the project to get it to places it deserves.
The biggest challenge I always run into when producing independent short projects is the funding part. I usually turn to crowdfunding and grants application to secure the shooting funds. I would also reach out to organizations that are related to the themes of the film and potentially individual sponsors to source out some fundings too. And through the process, I actually learned that there are so many supportive people out there willing to give the up-and-coming filmmakers a chance, and I am forever grateful for their kindness.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take my friends to my alma mater, USC, take them on a tour of the School of Cinematic Arts, and visit the stages and classrooms where I spent the four years of my college life studying, making films, laughing, and crying.
I would take them to the Griffith Observatory during sunset and then stay until we can see the city lights when the night encloses. It is my safe space when I feel lost or anxious and need to find a peace of mind.
I would probably also take them to one or two American Cinematique special screenings. They always host amazing Q&A sessions with the cast and crew of the film, and I am deeply in love with the retrospect series they put on. In a room with cinephiles like me, I always find a sense of community and feel belonged.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I do want to shout out to myself for being persistent. Making art is a lonely journey, and although I walk this path with many supports from families and friends, there have been times when I just wanted to give up, and turn to something more tangible, something that can actually make a living from. But I know how much I love film, and I know that even if I give up now, I would inevitably return to it in the future. So why give up now? Just as a subject from a documentary I produced said, I lean on myself for the most of the times. I am my own comfort zone, and I am my own fuel for keep moving forward.
But of course, I want to also shout out to my parents, who support me both financially and mentally under all conditions; I want to shout out to my friends, who send me affirmation when I fail to escape from my anxiety and insecurity; I want to shout out to my mentors, who provide me with suggestions and advice when I feel lost on my journey.