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Tianying Jiang: Touching Tales of People and Animal in Film

Most audiences never understand the power and importance of having a great editor on a film. Conversely, most directors are incredibly attached to working with editors they not only trust but whom also challenge them. As in any great partnership, equal amounts or support and inspiration make the whole better when it comes to filmmaking. Editor Tianying Jiang has a number of “true believers” in the directing world. Two very different recent productions in which she has served as editor validate her exceptional talent. A new beginning and a new ending are not vague terms when applied to the award winning film Ms. Piggy and My Wife is a Chicken. When she became frustrated with both films not achieving their highest potential for maximum emotional impact, Jiang created a new direction for these films; ones met with overwhelming gratitude from her directors. As the editor herself states, “I always believe that editing is more like problem solving. There are problems which occur during the shoot and we just need to fix them in post. No matter what I am facing in the post in the future, I can always find a way as long as I am patient.”

LAIFFA winning film Ms. Piggy will be screened at the Regina International Film Festival and Awards in Canada in August. This romantic comedy displays a relationship between a middle aged policeman [Phil] and an eight-year-old boy named Peter; both of whom are searching for their lady love. Phil is hopelessly in love with Jane, a radio DJ, but feels she would not be receptive to him. Peter seeks Phil’s assistance in finding his missing girlfriend [Charcoal] whom he insists was once a little pig. What seems at first to be a fool’s errand proves that finding love requires some dreaming and fantasy to become reality. Award-winning director/writer/producer Antonio Méndez Esparza (Aqui u alla) prompted Tianying to trust her own sense of story, resulting in her fashioning a completely different ending from the script. She recalls, “I was so frustrated with the ending. I had already tried a number of ways. There just didn’t seem to be any way to make it work. Maybe because we didn’t have enough shots or maybe because the actors’ emotion was a little bit different from what we expected. Antonio felt the same way. I spent few days in the editing room and tried hundreds of ways to cut it. Eventually, I cut out all the dialogue and just put three long shots together. Antonio was really impressed by this cut. He told me that this change made the whole story completely different.”

My Wife is a Chicken may have won awards but at one point during production, it seemed that the film might not even be seen. Director Jingjue Li had one of the lead actors drop out of the film after the production was well under way. Though an exceptional replacement had been found, the new actor (and character) was a different gender. To save the film, Jingjue turned to Tianying for her editing prestidigitation. The original beginning scenes made no sense with this gender switch so Tianying began scouring the footage for other shots that she could insert; essentially creating an entirely new beginning to the film which made sense in the construct of the overall theme. Her exceptional work was recognized at the 52nd WorldFest Houston film festival with her reception of the Platinum Remi Award for best editing in shorts. My Wife is a Chicken is not the title of a film which you’d expect to elicit tears from audience yet, it’s particularly touching. In this sense, the fingerprint of Tianying Jiang is profound. In one way, editing these films was special for her as she comments, “I have always wanted to make a film about animals, children, and love. I was the only child in my family and there was a sense of loneliness throughout my whole childhood until a golden retriever came into my life. He is the symbol of love to me. Communicating this idea is very special to me.”

Author: Patrick Wilson
Tianying Jiang: Touching Tales of People and Animal in Film Reviewed by JaamZIN on 8:22:00 PM Rating: 5
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