A good artist is someone who invests a great deal of their life into mastering the skills needed to communicate their vision. The recipe doesn’t end there. They are driven and inspired by the work of others, sometimes through the previous work of others and sometimes due to the collaborative effort in which they take part. This “inspiring and receiving” cycle is the creative representation of Ourboros. Without it, the Arts would become stale. It contains all the essential elements of a good artist. Greatness is similar to this but contains one extra and paramount facet; the willingness to try things that are uncomfortable, the desire to take chances by traversing into unknown areas with the understanding that failure is a distinct possibility. Only by testing our limitations can we expand beyond them. If one’s desire is to recreate perfect art, being good is more than substantial, but if one desires greatness…well, it is a good idea to get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. This idea could be considered artistic CrossFit. Binbin Ma understands this concept. As a story board artist and graphic designer on many successful and lauded films, Ma has used her artistic abilities to enable directors and cinematographers to conceptualize, materialize on paper, and communicate their collective vison to the cast and film crew. She has become a sought-after artist due to her abilities on paper as well as her insight into tailoring her images to the specific filmmakers she works with. Binbin has brought her skills to award winning films such as; Robots & Cowboys, Stand Up, & the heart-wrenching and inspiring Happy Tree. In striving for greatness, Ma has tested herself in both new avenues as well as thought provoking subject matter. The challenges which she takes on in an attempt to grow as a consummate storyboard artist and graphic designer testify that Ma is a professional who wants to break new ground in her own field by understanding the inner workings of her peers and coworkers.
For the film Nothing But Her, Ma took on the Herculean task of not only Storyboard Artist and Graphic Designer but also Writer, Director, and Editor. The film was her attempt to step into the shoes of those she so often works with while also expressing a creative vision of her own. Nothing But Her is the story of a man (Jim) who observes his father’s Alzheimer condition worsen, a condition which puts Jim’s wife in danger at one point. This places Jim in a very uncomfortable and difficult situation. Binbin took on this film and its heavy subject matter as a way to see the different sides of telling such an emotionally demanding story. The idea came from her personal/cultural inspirations. Ma reveals, “It was my second year after leaving my home. I was homesick. In China, we have an old saying “child doesn’t travel if parents are still alive”. In our culture, Chinese think filial piety is the highest priority of all. Family vs. self-development has inspired me to ask ‘What if a young man had to choose between his Alzheimer’s family member and a pregnant wife.’ Making this film was a great experience for me. My skills as a storyboard artist and graphic designer saw immediate improvement after this experience. It was such a great way to learn and improve.” Because of her perspective as an artist over the course of her career, Nothing But Her displayed Binbin’s signature framing and composition. The film was received quite well with appearances in 2016 at Cannes, the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival, and the Los Angles Independent Film Festival Awards.
Cinematographer Xuexue Pan (credits includes the critically acclaimed family drama The Key, the widely celebrated film Dancer from Picture, and the fan-favorite horror film Depth, to name only a few) states, “Ms. Ma is a storyboard artist of the highest caliber. She performed several leading roles for the critically acclaimed film Nothing But Her, but in addition, she has established herself as an enormously accomplished storyboard artist of the highest regard within her field. Her prowess is unparalleled in the industry. Her achievements in the industry have cemented her as a creative force to be reckoned with. Binbin’s achievements not only establish her as one of the most outstanding and accomplished storyboard artists in her field, they also qualify her as a genuinely one of a kind storyboard artist and graphic designer.”
There is a good reason that the Boston LGBT Film Festival nominated the film The Ex Factor for the Audience Choice award in 2016. While this community has gained many legal rights in modern US society, they are still challenged with being viewed with the same level of emotional validation and “normalcy” of other couples and relationships. One of the reasons (and intent) of the filmmakers to hire Binbin as the Storyboard Artist for The Ex Factor was a desire to portray the characters and action of the film in a romantic tone with use of images and lighting; Ma was the first step in creating this. Using headshots of the actors and meeting with director Chantal Le Hunte to discuss the mood served to inform Binbin of the “vibe” which was paramount to placing the audience in the desired emotional environment. Le Hunte declares, “Ms. Ma’s unparalleled talent for our film was such an integral element to the overall production of the film that I have no reservations in attributing her with our enormous critical acclaim. The Ex Factor was nominated for the Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film from the critically acclaimed Boston LGBT Film Festival, and received Official Selections from the Los Angeles CineFest, the Indie Night Film Festival, and the California Women’s Film Festival, to name a short few. After only one meeting about the images we needed for our film, she completed the storyboards in a way that allowed me to perfectly communicate my ideas to the cast and crew, thereby making our filming process successful and enjoyable. The accolades we received are directly attributable to the work that Binbin did on The Ex Effect.”
These two films are proof of a professional who, while still at a young age, has amassed an impressive list of credentials and yet always strives to learn and grow as an artist. Binbin Ma is a team player who is also a gifted artist, always ready to lend her talents to the ideas of others in order to create the films which allow us all to view the joys and hardships of others…while hopefully being inspired by their journey.