Andrew Thomas Huang is the mind behind unforgettable music videos from Björk, Kelela, FKA twigs and many others. Combining an interest in esoteric folklore and mysticism with a background in fine art, visual effects, puppetry and animation, Huang’s artistic vision is one that has become synonymous with some of the world’s most exploratory artists.
Over the next two weeks we’re exploring the breadth of his filmmaking practice, showcasing not only his magnificent work with musicians, but also following his vision into the world of narrative cinema, where he weaves fairytales that seamlessly blend mythology and folklore with Asian immigrant stories about queer love.
“While searching for an underlying theme in my work, I keep running into the idea of hybridity”, explains Huang in a statement for FACT. “Whether it’s cultural or sexual hybridity of my characters, or visual hybridity between live action and visual effects, I am interested in the creation of characters that straddle multiple worlds.”
“I’ve always felt that my work occupied a strange intersection between different communities – whether its music videos, experimental video art or narrative filmmaking – I try to let all of these different discourses inform each other. For example I try to bring heightened visuals to my indie storytelling through costumes, styling and the supernatural, and I also try to interweave traditional three-act narrative filmmaking with my more formal experimental visual work as well.”
To mark the final week of Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, we’re going behind the scenes of Huang’s 2019 short film Kiss Of The Rabbit God (兔兒神), which was commissioned by Nowness. The film follows a Chinese-American restaurant worker (Teddy Lee) as he falls in love with Tu’er Shen (Jeff Chen), an 18th Century Qing Dynasty deity, otherwise known as The Rabbit God.
Inspired both his own family’s 40-year history running a Cantonese restaurant and What The Master Would Not Discuss, a poem by Qing Dynasty poet Yuan Mei that tells the origins of Tu’er Shen as the patron deity of queer love, Andrew Huang anchors a contemporary story of sexual awakening and self-discovery in the mystical past.
“I believe in the importance of sharing one’s process as a filmmaker”, he continues. “Behind-the-scenes documentaries on the making of Star Wars or Jim Henson’s fantasy films were how I learned to make films. I also learned through the generosity of other indie artists on the Internet out there willing to share insight on their methods.”
“So I hope by making these behind-the-scenes videos it may aid or inspire other young people out there to make films that push and challenge our reality. Because the truth is we really ought to imagine better for ourselves, now more than ever.”
Kiss of the Rabbit God Credits:
Teddy Lee (as “Matt”)
Jeff Chen (as “Tu’er Shen” aka The Rabbit God)
Cinematographer: Rina Yang
Production Designer: Stella Deng
Hair Makeup & Adornments: Tanya Melendez
Costume Designer: Stephanie Strate
Sound Designer: Nathan Ruyle
Editor & Original Music Composer: Andrew Thomas Huang
Colorist: Gregory Reese at The Mill
Executive Producers: Sara Greco & Natalie Difford
Production Company: Collider
Made with support from Cinereach & Nowness
Source: FACT Magazine