Unlike many niche professions in the Arts and Entertainment industry, film producers wear many different hats under one blanket title. There is no one-size-fits-all version of their job and they tend to assume responsibility for a wide variety of different tasks involved in seeing a script through from inception to completion. For instance, some producers handle budgetary planning, whereas others oversee contracts, permits, and hiring duties. Some work on set, others do not. Despite this reality, one thing remains constant: they are always in charge of collaborating with each department involved in making the film and ensuring that each and every member of the production is on the same page in terms of how they want the film to turn out. Esteemed Chinese producer, Olivia Jun, understands these demands all too well. Throughout her career as a producer, Jun has learned that it is her job to find the ideal avenue to achieve the best possible result for any project she works on. She is a master at her craft and she knows that with the right amount of hard work and dedication, she will be able to continue helping tell compelling stories and entertain audiences for the rest of her days.
As a film producer, Jun has lent her talents to a number of successful films and commercials over the years. For instance, in 2017, Jun produced an advertisement for eHi Car Service, which featured the highly esteemed, professional basketball player, Stephen Curry. She is also no stranger to the movie world, having produced films like Luz, The Gift, and Donna. She has even tested her hand at the art of producing documentaries, music videos, and prestigious events such as Jackie Chan’s Yaolai International Cinema Open Ceremony/The Karate Kid Premiere. There are few limits to what she can achieve when she sets her sights on a goal and she is energized knowing that she gets to do it time and time again for each new project that comes her way.
Earlier on this year, an old colleague of Jun’s, Rain Zheng, requested that she join him in bringing his script for a horror film, Esther, to life. Her reputation, coupled with their shared interest and passion for the film’s script, made for the ideal team to make this dream a reality. Estherfollows the story of a teenage girl living in a remote, rural outpost in an undisclosed nation in the late 19th century. The events of the story kick off when the girl discovers a bloodcurdling message written on her bedroom wall: “you’re mine to kill.” The subsequent events that transpire are enough to send shivers down the spine of even the most avid horror film lovers.
Although Zheng was the brainchild of the film’s story, Jun helped him to develop the script and determine how best to bring the film success. Due to its historical elements, Jun ensured that she researched and studied the time period in order to determine the best shooting locations, product designs, wardrobes, hair and makeup looks, special effects, and cinematography. During her research, she came across a house called Cohen Bray House in Oakland, California, which accurately captured the type of house represented in the script. She then liaised with each department to bring them up to speed on her and Zheng’s plans for the film, detailing exactly what they’d need to do to keep audiences on the edge of their seat for the duration. She also satisfied the role of guiding Zheng through pre-production, selecting cast and crew members, whilst dealing with budget planning and scheduling matters. As a result of her contributions, the team were equipped with an exceptional shooting plan, schedule, permits, insurances, release forms, agreements, locations, equipment, transportation, and much more. She was instrumental to the entire process and Zheng quickly learned that he had made the correct choice when he approached her about the opportunity.
Upon completing the film, Jun distributed it to more than 50 festivals where it went on to receive an astonishing 16 awards/official selections and counting at a number of well-known film festivals like the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and the Top Indie Film Awards. She, Zheng, and the rest of their cast and crew were blown away by how well received the film was and felt an overwhelming sense of pride in knowing that their hard work and dedication had paid off in such a big way. Overall, what Jun enjoyed most about this experience, however, was the unwavering amount of passion and joy she shared with her fellow cast and crew members from the very start of the project to the very end.
“I loved my cast and crew. I could sense their passion and their efforts throughout the entire process. We may be from different countries, and we may all do different jobs, but we had one dream in mind for the film and we made it come true. All of the crew worked for free, donating their time and talent. Still, they came up with the best work that they could, encouraging each other and making each other love being present on the project every day. It was a passion project, and I could not be prouder of the outcome,” she concluded.
Written by Sean Desouza