Jennifer Phang hails from the San Fransisco Bay area but has lived in Malaysia. In her own words, she tends to obsess over great film and television, likes the ocean a lot and draws aesthetic inspiration from it. She studied Media at Pomona College and then studied in the MFA Directing program at the American Film Institute, focusing on directing. Her first feature “Half-Life” premiered in 2008 at Sundance and Tokyo. Recently, she participated recently in the Sundance Screenwriters Feature Film Labs and the San Francisco Film Society FilmHouse Residency to make the feature “Advantageous.”
What it’s about: In the near-future where soaring opulence overshadows hardship, Gwen and her daughter Jules do all they can to hold on to their joy together.
What it’s really about: It takes place in the future, it’s science fiction. It envisions what a parent would do to protect their children’s future. We look at the struggles we all face today, but imagine how our solutions to our problems change as technology evolves, or maybe doesn’t evolve, our values. The story also looks at how market forces can find and bring out our weaknesses when we are most vulnerable.
Biggest challenge: We were committed to achieving a particular kind of near future world. After principal photography, I immediately went into collaborating on the design and expansion of our story’s environment with a group of artists, and that took a lot of focus and resources. At the same time I was working on the edit. So because of all the work going on at once it felt like I went through about three productions and three post-productions — sometimes simultaneously.
Any films inspire you? Hard to say. We looked at “Age of Innocence” for a few reasons: Conversations, coded dialogue, use of the color red. But co-writer Jacqueline Kim turned me on to “4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days” for its patient journey into self-awareness and life-changing decisions.
Cameras used: RED One and RED Scarlet
Did you crowdfund? We did crowdfunding via Kickstarter.
Hopes for Sundance audience take-away: We were trying to make a film that has a lasting impression. I hope people get to know our characters enough to think through the choices they made and are on their way to understanding the reason behind the choices.
What’s next? I have a slate of films via Good Neighbors Media, a production company with “Advantageous” producer Robert Chang, who also was on the producer team for my first film, “Half-Life.” We’re currently focused on two films, including “Look for Water,” which was previously developed with the Sundance Screenwriters Labs and Tribeca All Access. I am also in development co-writing a project about a woman who is an environmental scientist.
Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.