Cindy Wu: How This Producer Found Paradise
Producer Cindy Wu is essentially a miracle worker. How else could you describe the assembling of an international cast and crew separated by continents and oceans to create a high-concept production with five different locations to be completed in two and a half days? This music video shoot for the Francisse Elaine song “Paradise” involved animals, fire, shattered glass, water, acting, dance, and band performances to take viewers on a journey through reality and the surreal.
The recognitions of “Paradise” speak to the exceptional form which resulted. Wins for “Best Music Video” at the 2019 Hollywood Screenings Film Festival, winner of the “Gold Remi Award” at the 53rd WorldFest Houston, winner of “Best Productions Design Music Video”, “Best Director Music Video”, and “Best Cinematography Music Video” at the 2020 Queen Palm International Film Festival; these are just some of the seventeen recognitions which “Paradise” has received from Film Festivals around the world.
As a fan of Cindy’s work on the film God’s Gracie and on the recommendation of a number of trusted peers, Director Even Wu (known for the documentary film Go Gentle Into That Good Night) reached out to her about taking on the producer role for “Paradise.” Beyond the normal demands of this duty was Cindy’s bilingual abilities as the cast and crew were international.
As the production industries of different countries and cultures collaborate, the ability to communicate in the native languages of these professionals has become an immensely attractive trait for Producers to possess. A successful and acclaimed Director of a number of films in China, Even relied upon Cindy to communicate a fair portion of her vision for this music video to the cast and crew.
“Paradise” travels through a number of production heavy surreal fantasy scenes before landing in reality, presented in this case via an inviting backyard full band performance. The concept is to travel along with Francis Elaine on an inner personal voyage that experiences self-doubt, fragmentation, and a broken self. Five different scenes communicate the search for a paradise that all people seek but is only achieved in self-acceptance. Highly stylized, these scenes possess bold color tones.
From coordinated dance to solitary reflective moments, these vignettes communicate varying parts of the human psyche which most of us prefer to keep hidden. With all of the filming taking place in a warehouse, Cindy stipulates that the Production Designer needed as much time as possible to manifest these differing scenes.
The Producer recalls, “We had two and a half days in total to film everything. Music videos are typically on a very tight schedule and this one was no different. There was a lot going on at the same time in a tiny space and I had to be at every department to check-in and get updates on the progress. I had a plan of how we would prioritize scenes and a vague shooting schedule. With so much going on and everyone working furiously, it’s important to make your cast and crew feel well taken care of.
Tasty meals, snacks, and comfortable conditions for night shoot kept morale up and the cast & crew excited to create. When all was said and done, we were very tired but had a lot of fun and were ecstatic about the way the video turned out.” The numerous awards received by “Paradise” vets this statement by Cindy Wu as well as the exceptional quality of her work and that of her collaborators on this music video.
Writer: Cecil McCoy