(Academy Award-nominated producer; films include The Ides of March, Rush, Snitch, End of Watch, The Woman in Black, Sliding Doors, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and The Wedding Planner)
Hello Windsor, would you tell us more about your adventures at White Horse Pictures and how this production company is different from others?
White Horse Pictures was founded by Nigel Sinclair and Guy East, two prolific, veteran Hollywood producers and partners with credits that include the Academy Award-nominated film The Ides of March, starring George Clooney and Ryan
Gosling; the Golden Globe and BAFTA-nominated Rush, directed by Ron Howard; Snitch, starring Dwayne Johnson; End of Watch, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña; as well as the most successful British horror movie of all time, The Woman in Black.
Personally, I believe that there are two things that make this company, as well as my experience here, unique. The first is White Horse’s dedication to delivering only high-quality content, whether it’s premium documentaries, films, or television shows. As an example, the production for Pavarotti (2019), including the development phase and post-production, took over two years of time, involved reviewing thousands of hours of audio-visual materials, with the team devoting our utmost attention and care to every single detail in the story and to every aspect of the production. And the bottom line is always to do whatever it takes to make a good film.
Secondly, the company places a unique emphasis on empowering its young content creators to build upon its brand. This has given me space to not only contribute with my professional abilities but moreover, to grow into my own as a filmmaker and producer. The executives have had a lot of faith in me from day one, and I feel that I’ve also grown very fast with the company in the past few years.
When and how did you decide you wanted to start producing movies?
I’ve always been a TV kid growing up. I’ve always been attracted to the magic of storytelling through visual media, and then I started getting more into narrative features, especially English-language films, which ranged from classic Hollywood cinema to blockbuster sci-fi & fantasy adventures.
The more I watched, the more I felt “the calling” of that world. And I realized right then that, rather than being an “author,” what I was best suited for was the role of a “facilitator” — to help bring the magic together and share it with the world. That was how I decided to be a producer.
You were born in Hong Kong and raised in Shenzhen. Why did you specifically choose to come to Los Angeles?
I chose to come to LA because, very simply, I knew that Hollywood was the center for American filmmaking. However, I did unexpectedly fall in love with Los Angeles after moving here. In my experience, it is a city that embraces diverse cultures and people, where all kinds of backgrounds and talents churn into a unique mixture that is incredibly ripe for the creative minds here. Also, you get nice weather.
As a woman, how has it been working as a producer, especially at such a young age?
First of all, I think everyone sees that there is still a big gap in terms of gender equality in this industry and there is a lot to be done. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to always support our fellow female filmmakers because I’ve received a lot of support throughout my career from mentors and friends who know exactly the challenges. And for the rest, we just have to let our work speak for ourselves.
How would you describe the role of a producer?
I think “to produce” is to “make it happen.” I always say that to be a producer is to do whatever it takes to realize the vision of a project — within the rules, of course, but also sometimes by breaking out of the box. Personally, I enjoy my work immensely, not just because of the end product, but also the process of problem-solving, of all the “make-it-work” moments along the journey.
Tell us more about working on your former projects, including award-winning feature documentaries The Apollo (2019), Pavarotti (2019), and The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (2020).
Working on these feature documentaries has been a very gratifying experience for me because I was always learning from the best. It was truly a privilege to work with our directors (separately on these three projects): Roger Ross Williams, Ron Howard, and Frank Marshalls.
They are all world-class directors and producers, and it taught me a lot just watching them work. My producers at White Horse, including Nigel Sinclair, Jeanne Elfant Festa, Nicholas Ferrall, and Cassidy Hartmann, all entrusted me with taking on a lot of responsibilities on these projects as the Associate Producer, and the experience made me who I am today professionally.
Apart from the movies you worked on for White Horse Pictures, are you currently developing personal projects as well?
I’ve recently produced and directed a short documentary project entitled “First, We Eat” — an observational portrait of the California Chinese community through the eyes of a Chinese restaurant in Monterey Park and an LA-based recent graduate trying to navigate the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was a passion project from me and my co-producer/co-director Mireia Vilanova, and we were very proud that, as filmmakers and witnesses, we were able to pick up our camera and capture this unusual moment from an under-served perspective. The doc was also part of the official selection of Seattle Asian American Film Festival 2021 and Asians on Film 2021.
What kind of projects do you see for yourself in the future?
I would love to be involved in more projects that utilize my own background and experiences growing up and working within different cultures. To me, the art of storytelling is the art of communication, and in that, there is immersive power.
In today’s world, true understanding and communication are more lacking than ever, and more needed than ever. In recent years there have been many attempts by the US and Chinese production companies to co-produce projects with a cross-cultural appeal, and some are met with disappointments.
I still believe that is a worthy cause, and it is one of my ultimate career goals to produce projects that can help facilitate meaningful communication and serve as a bridge between the East and the West. At the end of the day, stories are universal.
Speaking of becoming a producer. What kind of movies inspired you? Which stories transport you?
I’ve always been told that I have eclectic tastes, and I do enjoy all sorts of stories and content. If I have to pick right now, I guess I would say sci-fi/fantasy is one of my favorite genres. I love being transported “physically” into a different world where we can experience another story while escaping from our own reality for a moment.
If you could choose one or more directors to work with on a movie you’re producing, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a chance to work with Ang Lee. I think of Brokeback Mountain as one of the most beautiful films of all time, and Ang Lee is one of the most diverse, daring directors who transcends cultural boundaries with his storytelling. It would be an honor to work with him.