Director and editor Anne Hu’s provocative short film, Cake, has screened at over 37 film festivals across the globe.
Ahead of Cake’s screening tonight (7 April) at the London Independent Film Festival, Anne joins us to look back on her journey with the film and give us a taste of what is to come in the future.
Q: ‘Cake’ is nearing the end of its hugely successful festival run. How have you enjoyed this experience and seeing the film connect with audiences?
A: The Cake festival run has been absolutely incredible. I never could have anticipated that this film would connect with so many people around the world. I’ve loved the experience; it’s been exciting and humbling. It’s hopefully opened doors to more opportunities.
I’ve made so many friends. And I was touched by meeting so many people who related to the story. It’s been an amazing journey.
Q: As a sex comedy, I’m sure you get some fun and interesting responses to the film. Can you share any notable reactions you’ve had to ‘Cake’?
A: I’ve definitely screened this film for all kinds of audiences and the reactions during the screenings range from loud laughter to silence. It’s been interesting to see how this film lands with people. I found out it has been a bit divisive. The people who love it, love it! And the people who hate it, hate it. There’s not much middle ground.
It has screened well in a variety of film festival categories including Asian American film festivals, BDSM or fetish festivals, and the LGBTQ festivals. But the category it has performed the worst in is women’s film festivals. I think this speaks to how complicated our views are towards female sexuality, even amongst women. Besides that, it’s been fun to hear what people’s favourite gags are. The golden ass always gets laughs.
Q: I imagine you’ve seen the film countless of times now. Has your perspective of it changed over time and multiple viewings?
A: I don’t want to watch Cake ever again, haha!
No, I can and will, but I am eager to move on to the next projects. When I watch Cake now, I appreciate it for what it is. There are, of course, things I may want to do differently, but I remind myself that it was what I made at that time with the life experience and creative experience I had at that present moment.
I’m really happy with the film and every bit of talent and hard work the team put into it. And I’m happy to show the world what’s coming next.
Q: What is your fondest memory from making ‘Cake’?
A: I think my best memories are working with everyone who helped make this story and vision possible. I had an amazing crew, cast, and post-production team. Each person knew this was a labour of love, and getting to work with them all to create this little film that could was an incredible experience.
That and the hilarious memory of my crazy talented producer, Victoria Negri, spray painting an ass mannequin gold. We needed a gold butt statue. Standard on-set needs.
Q: British people are a reputation for being rather prudish. What would your message to audiences at the London Independent Film Festival (7 April) be?
A: Well Cake demonstrates how difficult it can be to talk to your loved one about your sexual desires and needs. Thomas, the husband in Cake, is more prude than Eliza, the wife. I don’t judge either one for their sexual preferences. Both Thomas and Eliza are more focused on pleasing their partner than on honouring their own feelings. And it leads to problems.
I think one of the topics this film encourages is communication, knowing oneself, and respecting your own needs. And in the case of Cake, sometimes your truth might lead you to a different path.
If you’re prude, be prude. If you’re not prude, don’t be prude. I hope Cake can inspire audiences to have more honest conversations with themselves and others.
Q: Away from ‘Cake’, you have edited trailers and promos for huge shows such as ‘The Deuce’, ‘2 Dope Queens’, ‘Game Of Thrones’ and ‘Sharp Objects’. Can you talk about the process of editing for these projects? What are the joys and challenges of the job?
A: Editing trailers and promos has been an amazing job! It’s been my bread and butter for the last 7 years. I actually got my start in trailers at an English company called Empire Design.
When making a trailer for films or tv shows, they may start by giving you a creative brief. This brief might say what storylines they want to avoid, what audiences they are trying to attract, etc. From there, the first time I watch the show or film, I watch it for my own enjoyment. Then I watch it a second time to do my selects. Once I have an idea of how I want to tell the story, I find effective music tracks, lay it all out, cut together the bites and picture, and finesse it with sound design. Voila! A trailer.
Sometimes the shows or movies give you final cuts. Other times they give you rough cuts and there’s still green screen everywhere. When you get the footage and what stage of post-production it is in varies from project to project.
The joys are that at least at the places I’ve worked at so far, I have a lot of autonomy in how I want to tell the story. I choose which dialogue bites or moments I want to use, and I can craft it how I want. I feel this process has also benefited my own personal storytelling skills. I’ve learned so much about story structure just by retelling these stories.
The challenges are balancing the creative storytelling with the business side (marketing). Sometimes, your most creative and provocative ideas get watered down to appeal to a more general audience. That can be frustrating if you become emotionally attached to a project or a cut. But all in all, at the end of the day, I am providing a service to a client. I set out to provide the best first cut that I can, and after that, I understand the client will have his or her demands. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work on shows and films I really love.
Q: What do you want to do with your voice as filmmaker in the coming years?
A: I hope to keep developing my filmmaker’s voice. I feel like I have only just started to grasp it, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve over time.
In terms of my comedy or genre work, I want to keep asking tough and uncomfortable questions in an inviting or accessible way. In regards to drama, I hope to provide an emotional outlet for people’s struggles by getting as authentic to people’s experience as possible. I hope to use my voice for good and bring positive change into this world. I strive to stand by my word both in front of and behind the camera by providing equal opportunity to all people regardless of their colour, sexual orientation, gender, ability, etc.
Finally, I hope by telling my own personal stories about my intersectional identities and struggles, I can provide catharsis and inspire audiences to regard marginalised people with their whole humanity.
Q: Can you reveal anything about what you are working on at the moment?
A: Absolutely! This year, I’m going into production on my dark comedy digital series Dating Patterns. For anyone who loves Cake, they are going to love Dating Patterns.
In this anthology services, when five separate characters try to find the love of their lives, they must recognise their toxic dating pattern or suffer painfully comedic endings. It’s a genre dating series that addresses the psychology of who we are attracted to and why…even if it destroys us.
I’m also developing my dramatic short, Lunchbox. This is a deeply personal coming-of-age story based on true events from my childhood. Lunchbox is about my experiences growing up Taiwanese American in the white suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, and how my desire to assimilate put a strain between my mother and me.
Finally, I’m in the process of writing my first feature, Mother. 10 years after her mother’s death, a Taiwanese American woman returns to her hometown to help her family sell their childhood home. But when Mother returns from the dead, it unearths pains from the past with grave consequences.
So…a very busy year and years ahead. But I’m excited to see where this journey takes me next!