Meet the Artist: NY Elite Interview with Producer Jenny He

Jenny He is an NYC based writer and director who works as a freelance producer and assistant director. Having found an early interest in filmmaking while growing up in China and Germany, Jenny is currently pursuing her passion at the Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently majoring in Film and Television and minoring in Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology. Not only does she have extensive experience in producing and assistant directing films, but also prides herself in having experience within the camera, sound, and G&E departments. 

On Set on Cookie Heart (Photo by Emma DeMuth) 1

On Set on Cookie Heart (Photo by Emma DeMuth)

Meet the Artist: NY Elite Interview with Producer Jenny He

NY Elite: What made you pursue film making?

Jenny He: I started getting into filmmaking in my freshman year of high school, as my school offered a film production course. During the year-long class, I realized how intrigued I was by the whole process of film production and how much films have always played an important role in my life. I’d like to think that film is a place where people escape the pressures in life, to dream a little, to learn a little about ourselves and maybe the others around us. Filmmaking is just such a magical art form for me, I knew I had to be part of it.

NY Elite: Do you have your own production company? Tell us about your creative vision.

Jenny He: I don’t have my own production company, but I plan to make a short film every year before I graduate NYU while producing and assistant directing other projects during my free time.

NY Elite: What do you consider your greatest achievement till date?

Jenny He: Charles Dong’s Cookie Heart in November 2017 was definitely one of the most challenging sets that I have ever worked on. As the producer and the first assistant director, I felt like I had accomplished a great deal by the end of the production. Now seeing the film doing pretty well in film festival runs, I am extremely happy.

NY Elite: Tell us about your current/latest project.

Jenny He: I recently wrote and directed a short film named Flowers for a Soldier. The film is about an innocent girl waiting at the train station longing for her father to return, only to discover her father had passed away from a recent accident. I finished shooting the film in late April and am currently in the post-production stage — I hope to finish everything by early August this year. 

NY Elite: What drew you to this project and what excited you about making this film?

Jenny He: In the summer of last year, I was traveling with my dad and waiting for a train at the station. We saw a lady waiting there, holding a bouquet of withered flowers, so my dad turned to me and asked me what I thought her story was. This film is basically the story I came up with, and I wanted to incorporate the withered flowers to show the sense of loss.

NY Elite: What is the theme/subject of the film?

Jenny He: The film is deals with themes such as the loss of innocence and coping with losing someone very important to them. I think this is a story that a lot of people can relate to because many of us have dealt with losing someone in our lives. 

NY Elite: Who are you collaborating with on this film?

Jenny He: The film was produced by Claudia Barran, shot by George Du and production designed by Christabelle Tan.

NY Elite: What other projects have you worked on?

Jenny He: Currently, I am producing a feature documentary about sustainable agriculture titled Grounded: The Roots of Revolution, directed by Simon Geisker. We have been traveling within the US and around China to interview different experts in their fields and visit a variety of agricultural farms. The film is hoping to show the viewers how necessary sustainable agriculture will be to protect our environment.

One of my favorite projects this past year was a short film called Cookie Heart, directed by Charles Dong. The film was shot in one take traveling between three locations, which means that everything from lighting to art to performance all needed to be in place beforehand. As the assistant director, it was absolutely an amazing experience working with so many extras on set and witnessing the film come to life. 

Crew Photo of Cookie Heart

Crew Photo of Cookie Heart

NY Elite: What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

Jenny He: Forrest Gump has always been my favorite film of all time. I think it is a brilliant piece of work in terms of every aspect of filmmaking — from the story to the characters, from cinematography to special effects… Obviously, I can go on and on about how well this film was executed, but what really drew me to the film was its ability to help me discover who I am and the person I want to become. Forrest Gump is one of those films that inspires you to look deeper but doesn’t require it.

NY Elite: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?

Jenny He: To me, I always like to think that films come from life but are greater than life. What makes a film great is that it is able to capture the extraordinary in the ordinary.

NY Elite: Which book would you love to make a film out of one day?

Jenny He: Written by Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Year of Solitude has always been one of my favorite books of all time. I read the book for the first time a couple of years back and was immediately amazed by the story and its language. The book is a landmark in the world of literature, but it was never adapted into a movie. Due to the nature of the book, it seems that the complicated storylines and the poetic language are impossible to transform onto the movie screen; even the author himself said that the book is unfilmable. Adapting the entire book would be impossible to fit into one movie, however, I would want to attempt to write a screenplay based on one section or one storyline of the book someday.

NY Elite: Can you tell us about the greatest moment in your film career?

Jenny He: I remember when I was applying to film schools a few years back and made a short film that helped me get into Tisch. That was the first film where I have wrote a script, storyboarded and followed every stage of how a film is supposed to be produced. After seeing my final film, I was extremely proud of how I was able to transform my vision of the film onto the screen.

NY Elite: Which particular film maker has influenced you the most?

Jenny He: James Cameron has always been the most influential filmmaker for me. I am constantly dazzled by the variety of stories that he tells. From Titanic to Avatar, from The Terminator to Aliens, all these stories are set in different times, different places, however, they are all able to capture the spirit of the time. The futuristic and historical dimension of Cameron’s filmmaking allows him to not only provide perspective on the human condition but also actively shape the terms of current debate. Watching his films have always encouraged me to tell my story in a multi-dimensional way.

NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film?

Jenny He: I think it is very important to believe in yourself and steadily work towards the goals that you set up for yourself, no matter how big and unreachable they are in other people’s eyes. Be the kind of person to believe in yourself even when other people don’t.

NY Elite: NY Elite: Can you tell us more about your upcoming project(s)?

Jenny He: Right now I am working a short script that surrounds a father-daughter relationship. The story follows the daughter who tries to cope with the fact that her father is suffering from Alzheimer disease. Once I finish the script, I will enter pre-production and hope to shoot it early December this year.

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