“ON YOUR RADAR” IS A WEEKLY GRAD FILM NEWS SEGMENT THAT FEATURES A STUDENT PICKED AT RANDOM.
YI TANG IS CURRENTLY A 3RD YEAR STUDENT AT GRAD FILM. WE ASKED HER A FEW QUESTIONS AND HERE’S WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY:
Where do you consider home and what is it like there?
I was born and raised in China, in a city called Fuzhou. You might have never heard of this place but I guarantee that all of you have been to those Chinese restaurants run by Fuzhounese. Decades ago, my hometown was super known for Fuzhounese illegal immigrants in the States who were smuggled in by snakeheads. It's a pretty wild place, and I kept hearing about people's adventures of coming to the US. Most of them end up opening restaurants all over the US. I remember doing a summer job in Sandusky, Ohio in 2008. There was only one Chinese restaurant in town. The moment I walked into that place, I recognized their accent!!
It sounds very intense but my hometown is actually a very chill place with a lot of good seafood. However, I moved to Hong Kong for college and spent 9 years there. China has been moving so fast in the past 10 years. Everytime I go back to Fuzhou, I get lost in directions. But I do miss the food. A lot.
What inspired you to study filmmaking?
It was quite random.
When I was a university freshman, I accidentally caught my roommate having sex with her boyfriend on my bed. The image was hard for me to forget (I was a teenager!). As I was about to graduate with my accounting degree, I became obsessed with SNL digital shorts-- especially when I found out "Dick in a Box" won an Emmy. For me it was great to know that, in another side of the world, people can get awarded for doing inappropriate things. So I wrote a song called "Why On My Bed" and then I got a record deal in Hong Kong. My life is like a comedy.
My debut was quite okay, it topped on iTunes Hong Kong for the release week and then I was soon forgotten. However, in the process of making music, I realized that I was a lot more obsessed with my music video. Then I submitted my music video as part of my (NYU Graduate Film) application, and I got in!
But, after I actually started filmmaking, I came to know that film is more than SNL digital shorts. And a huge part of my ego is gone because now we are making something bigger and better than ourselves. Isnt' it great???
What has been your most rewarding experience at NYU Tisch Grad Film so far?
Second year was definitely a difficult but rewarding experience. I shot my film in a nunnery in Nepal. It was a lot of producing, working with kids, animals, and language barriers. It was tough and painful but I for sure have grown a lot from it. I remember not knowing what to do on set, struggling with my edit in the suite, crying in class, and going back to Nepal in the summer for a pickup and to continue editing. And guess what, I still haven't finished it! But at some point, I will abandon the film, with tons of pride.
Apart from that, I do think that Grad Film has made me a better person in general. When I was a musician, a lot of great people were taking care of me. At that point of my life, I definitely took a lot of kindness for granted and was probably an a**hole. Now that I am a broke filmmaker, I do have to earn everything, for both my film and the film I worked on. I feel more empowered and I finally have started to understand working with people as a team. It has been an honor to be in a batch where everyone is incredibly talented and hard-working. I've made so many friends here and they have all influenced me deeply. I want to go into detail, but it will turn into a feature script.