We had the good fortune of connecting with Tannie Xin Tang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tannie Xin, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
I have learned an incredible amount ever since I started my cinematography career. It is such a beautiful craft that contains solid technical dexterity and allows you to fully express your sensibilities as an artist. Little did I know that the commitment it requires to become an amazing cinematographer. No. 1 important lesson I learned is to work hard, no matter what. It might seem like a common virtue to carry for any field. Yet in this context, being a crew member on a film set or being a Director of Photography takes years of experience and hard work. It is a tendency, in the entertainment industry, to overlook at the traditional core value of simple hard work and place excessive emphasis on maneuvering networking power to achieve your goals. Crew positions call for both mental and physical hard work, and either side could break before you think you can handle it. Knowing your craft and working hard to perfecting it is the golden principle. Another complexity in addition to hard-working, also the second important lesson I learned, is to embrace yourself as who you are. The entertainment industry is not always known as being inclusive and diverse. With similar kinds of people working on certain positions for decades, it is initially hard to be accepted as an Asian female to work on those physically demanding crew positions. I learned to accept myself as a unique human being, instead of being hung up on the fact that I’m different from others. In the presence of scrutiny and a homogenous work environment in this business, I learned to make the most out of my identity turning myself into an indispensable piece of puzzle. Last but not least, my career has taught me about tenacity. Many said it’s not about how many times you fail, it is about how many times you stand up after you fail. Having encountered identity crisis, having coping with shivering mindset issues, having dealing with lacking talent problems and having facing the challenge of “making-it” as a minority in the US, I have surely come to understand that as long as you keep marching forward, those that are seemingly in your way will be shattered by your dogged perseverance.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love Steve Jobs’ speech where he talked about connecting dots in life. That is what I have been upholding in my cinematography. Events in life happen for a reason, they each are little dots. Once you look back at them, you can connect the dots together and see where they have led you, good or bad, which also indicate what the future holds. And every dot sets up for who I am as a person with a unique life experience. Essentially, these past and future dots give me a voice—a tool of sensitivity to apply for approaching a story’s cinematography. It makes me confident and allows me to follow my heart when it comes to making creative decisions, rather than simply follow a set of made-up rules by others. I strive to continue telling distinctive stories with a sturdy technical proficiency, a personal sensitivity, and a collaborative spirit.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a huge foodie! If my friends were visiting me in town, I’d take them to all the delicious restaurants and dessert spots for a wholesome night out. Whether it’s yummy Korean food from koreatown, authentic Italian food in Hollywood, seasoned Thai and filipino food that are around the corners, romantic French bistros that’s hard to find, down-to-earth Mexican street food, mediterranean freshness, all kinds of other Asian food spread out to the east of LA, hot fried chicken and junk food joints scattered around, the list goes on and on. Afterwards, I’ll take them to sweep the sweets places and finally come back to my apartment rooftop, where we can chill on drinks and desserts enjoying the amazing night view of LA.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be in the US doing what I love without the financial support from my parents. They practically sacrificed all their life comfort for my adventure and my dream. I would dedicate this shout out to my lovely parents!