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Check Out Angel Teng’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angel Teng.

Hi Angel, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
One of my favorites in my elementary years was to get free tickets to watch all kinds of shows in the theater. I brought myself there, not with my parents. I was alone. I was obsessed. I believe that’s how it started. Even though I was attracted to arts and storytelling from an early age, I didn’t pursue an artmaking career until I moved to Los Angeles in my late twenties. I studied psychology for my undergrad and my first master’s degree in Taipei, at the National Taiwan University. I appreciate the beauty of individual differences while we share a lot of similarities. The complexities of human mind open up my imagination to create artwork. I wrote many scripts and submitted to competitions, some of which changed my life path completely and led me here in LA.

Upon my award-winning screenplay being made into a feature film, I decided to pursue a career in film in 2017. I came to LA to study film directing at CalArts where I collaborated with creative artists in diverse disciplines and honed my original voice through the guidance of the supportive faculty and staff members. Over the past few years, I have had amazing experiences in LA such as showing my film at Outfest Film Festival, interning with director Catherine Hardwicke, and being mentored by Walt Disney Imagineers. The year 2020 is tough. I earned my MFA degree from CalArts during the craziness in May. We exchanged virtual hugs through the screen when Jacarandas bloomed outside the window of my apartment. I hope people are safe. Let’s make work together soon.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Surely, there were obstacles along the way, but I would say I have been very lucky. My family is not wealthy, but they managed to provide the financial resources for me to study abroad. I’m not talented enough to seek attention, but I met people who have trust in me and provided the opportunities for me to achieve my goals. The biggest challenge I have encountered is my health condition. My health used to be poor and limit me from going for what I desire. Even though I have overcome the illness, the fear of inability to pursue dreams never goes away. So, most of the time, I embrace what I can do now instead of struggling with what I can’t. — “I live; therefore, I make films.”

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m a screenwriter, director, and producer who creates authentic films. With my psychology background, I believe in the transformative power of cinema that would uplift society. I also specialize in sound, with experience working as a recording engineer and mixer. I’m passionate about the musicality of cinematic components that push against the conventional boundaries between sound and music in film. I wrote “Bao Bao,” a feature film that focuses on the struggles of same-sex couples to form families in Taiwan, shown at Outfest, Asia-Pacific Film Festival, and theatrically released in Taiwan and Japan. I continued to write, direct and produce a couple of short films on LGBTQ+ and gender issues.

Most recently, my series project as writer/director “The Fragrance of the First Flower” won the Gold Prize for US$100,000 investment fund in the GagaOOLala Pitching Sessions, in cooperation with the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA). The story follows a married woman who faces her true feelings, exploring the fluidity of female sexuality under the context of Taiwan’s same-sex marriage legalization. In addition to filmmaking, I conduct film-related research projects. I worked for Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture with the aim to promote Taiwan’s audiovisual works in the US. As part of the research, I had interviews with experienced professionals in LA, including the executive team of COLCOA French Film Festival and Japan Connects Hollywood Film Festival.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
I see success as a state of satisfaction when you respect your hard work, your persistence, and people who have helped you and trusted you. As artists, we strive for opportunities to be seen and funded. It’s pretty common to receive tons of rejections before one good news finally comes. Throughout the process, I came to realize I cannot decide the final results of those attempts. The only things I can do are to keep on trying and work harder, which represents success in a more meaningful way to me.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Luc Wu, Freddy Tang, Yuchen Zhou, Eunhye Hong Kim

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