New York Film Academy alumnus Jianda Song has achieved what so many in the industry are trying to accomplish: making a film with North Media Capital, the Chinese Production company that invested in “Wonder Woman” and “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.”
Now, in the midst of starting a new production company, Papyrus Entertainment, and promoting short film “Priestess of Egypt,” Song agreed to an interview via email with NYFA Correspondent Joelle Smith.
NYFA: What inspired you to write “Priestess of Egypt”?
JS: “Priestess of Egypt” is a story that I have always wanted to write. I didn’t think I could because it’s a historical film set in Ancient Egypt, and I was born in China and I need to write it in English — which is my second language. After I finished my first quarter at New York Film Academy with instructor Dennis Green, I felt I had gotten to know the process of finishing an entire feature script within a short period of time of four to six weeks. So, I decide to finally start to write “Priestess of Egypt,” which is the most personal story to me.
NYFA: Why is now the right time to tell this story?
JS: I can’t find a more relevant time than now to tell this story. First of all, the story is about the equality of all human races. Ancient Egyptians tend to believe they are superior to all other races, thus they abuse their esoteric knowledge for power struggles and warfare. Populism and racism, which poisoned the Ancient Egyptian Kingdom, has risen again in our modern society. I want to share with the world the value of respecting one another. Values like love, respect and tolerance could be easily lost to bigotry and hatred, and that’s extremely dangerous. We need to be alert to this danger.
My protagonist is a strong heroine. She is mystical, powerful, beautiful, fiercely intelligent but also hot-headed and arrogant. I find, even in today’s world, when a male character has flaws, he is the anti-hero. However, when a female character possesses these same flaws, people label her as even worse. That’s just wrong. Even in our time, there aren’t enough great female characters as compared to great male characters, which bothers me.
I heard what Jessica Chastain said in Cannes about female characters in movies: They don’t have their own agency. They just react around men. That’s also my own experience reading other people’s screenplays and watching movies. So, I decide to let Henut’s voice be heard.
By the way, I am so grateful 2017 brings us “Wonder Woman,” the highest grossing film of this summer, a standalone female superhero film with an indie female director that surpassed “Batman vs Superman” and “Suicide Squad” and broke so many records.
NYFA: What from your own life made it into this script?
JS: “Priestess of Egypt” is the most personal story to me, and that’s all I want to share.
NYFA: Why was Scriptapalooza a good competition fit for your script?
JS: Every script that is entered into Scriptapalooza is read by either a producer, a manager, or an agent. These are the people that can make a difference.
NYFA: How does it feel to be a semi-finalist?
JS: I will not stop till I get this script made into a feature film. So I don’t give any thoughts about prizes, they are good but not my final goal.
NYFA: Tell us about Papyrus Entertainment.
JS: We will be a company focused on producing indie films and also acting as an international sales agent for mini-majors and indie companies.
NYFA: What goals do you hope to achieve with this venture?
JS: Papyrus Entertainment’s goal is to bridge the world with content that transform our societies. Let people’s voices travel far away across the sea.
NYFA: How did you partner with North Media Capital?
JS: We owe this all to the owner of the company, Steven Wang, who co-produced “Reset” with Jackie Chan, and his first film “At Cafe 6” won a Golden Horse Award for best-supporting actor. He has a very strong connection within China’s film industry.
NYFA: What’s up next for you?
JS: Producing indie films to send to Cannes, Venice, and Berlin.