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Rising Stars: Meet Xiaochen Huang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Xiaochen Huang.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was born in northeastern China and came to the US four years ago. I became interested in film for the first time in my senior year of high school. There was a short film festival, which some students from the drama club and I were curious about. So, we “shot a short film” for the first time in our life. We didn’t know the professional way of doing things. But we did everything from writing the script and looking for the locations and wardrobe to calling everyone’s parents to convince them to let their kids come to rehearsal. All kinds of problems appeared, but we solved them in the end. I realized that I love the feeling of piecing things together and making magic that can transfer emotions.

Writing and making movies is also a healing process. Leonard Cohen said, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”. Life always repeats itself. You will continue repeating your most profound trauma until you solve it in one of the repetitions. So, I love to write my pain out. I write about the lonely and fearful nights in my childhood, the people I have loved and lost along the way, and the audience who wants to feel and end their repetitions.

Now I’m usually a 1st assistant director and producer. On the side, I also write and direct my own stuff. These four years, I’ve kept enjoying and loving the things I’m doing. Especially now that I understand more of the theory and workflow of filmmaking, I keep improving every time I make a mistake. I love working with a team and solving problems to make the directors’ vision come to reality. I like to see how a movie can affect so many people and share emotions with strangers.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I always consider myself a lucky person. I have met so many people who are willing to help me and teach me new things along the way. I believe that all the struggles I had also happened to most people my age. I was 18 years old when I got here. I lived around the Bay Area until I came to LA for film school. It was the first time I lived by myself, in a new country, a new language, and new people. I didn’t know how to cook, never paid bills, or touched a wheel by myself. I cried every night. I couldn’t help but feel self-conscious every time my colleagues don’t understand my accent. I wanted to try out to be the 1st AD or director, but people always gave me a suspicious or pity look. So, I stopped speaking my mind and fighting for the things I wanted. I lost my pride and confidence. For almost two years, I couldn’t recognize my once ambitious self. But then, I met people who believed in me and pushed me. I started to find my true self again. Now, I have learned that there is an adaptive phase for everything. And life always has ups and downs. All the mistakes I make are chances for me to improve.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m known as a 1st Assistant director and producer. But I also like to write and direct my own stories. I’m a very organized person. One of the things I love about filmmaking is that I get to manage all the pieces and help them become beautiful art. I like that no matter how many problems pop up, we can always solve them. It’s like protecting the heroes from the monsters and getting to the final level of a game. The thing I’m most proud of is that I have a group of friends as my teammates. We can always get the best value from the script and the budget we have. We work hard and smart together, and we know we always have each other’s back. I think the trust between the team and my friends is the most valuable thing. The thing that separates people and I apart are the high requirements I give to myself and my mindset that’s constantly looking for improvement. I have a small notebook that I always carry with me on set. I write down everything that I did that can be improved, from the details I didn’t think about to my attitude.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Risk-taking is when my brain tells me I’ll get hurt physically or emotionally, but my heart tells me to go for it. Like moving to a new country by myself without knowing anyone or letting myself fall in love with someone who may never love me back or have a result with me. For things that involve other people’s life, I will never take risks. For example, when I’m working as a producer or AD, I will have to know everything about the locations, have all the documents, and know who to contact in every emergency circumstance before letting the rest of the crew go. However, for my life, I seem never to stop taking risks. Because I think the goal of life is to find who you really are by doing the things you are crazy about and love the people you want to love.

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Image Credits:

Max Woods Freddie Lopez Carlo Tonda

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