Stability and Creativity with Shi Min Yong
Shi Min Yong is well spoken and confident without any hint of arrogance. She would most certainly be justified to possess a skosh of hubris due to the fact that she’s already a part of two acclaimed productions just as the TV and film production industry is beginning to work again. Ms. Yong just finished work on the feature film Palm Trees & Power Lines (based on the short which premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival as a Cinefondation Selection and was also selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick) as Art Director and has just joined the Art Department of Apple TV’s Emmy Award Winning Series For All Mankind.
You’ll have to wait for the release of Palm Trees & Power Lines due to the fact that the production just finished principal photography in August, but the lauded short upon which it is based gives an idea of the emotional and visual tone of the film. The story centers on a teenage girl who embarks on a relationship with a man twice her age. In collaboration with the director and the Production Designer, Ms. Yong sourced set dressings that ideally suited each character, including such odd items as a boldly printed motel comforter and a toy capsule vending machine that the script specified. While it can be presumed what the surroundings or a character’s home might be like, Shi Min takes great pride in digging deep to create a natural and intuitive sense that the characters truly belong in their surroundings. She’s concedes that it’s not all cerebral when it comes to her approach as budgeting and establishing relationships factors prominently into the decisions she will make for films. She relates, “It’s often that I’ll need to use a connection that I have or someone in my team has to find the exact component I need for a set. We might be building a fake wall or re-wallpapering a motel room. I might be investigating who has a connection to a toy vendor to procure the exact prop; it’s all part of what makes this job exciting and cultivates creativity.”
While there will be a high demand for creativity on Shi Min’s current production, it seems unlikely that budgetary constraints will be an issue. September 2021 finds Ms. Yong as part of the Art Department on Apple TV’s For All Mankind. Taking place in an alternative timeline which saw the Soviet Union beating America in the race to put a man on the moon, For All Mankind has found a massive audience with its Sci-Fi meets historical fiction concoction. Apple’s streaming service was already highly popular but the pandemic exacerbated the demand for imaginative “on demand” series. Enthusiastic about working with acclaimed professionals, Shi Min relates, “I see it as an exciting experience as it is an opportunity to be able to work with these other talented art department people. Most importantly, I am glad that I am able to be a part of a show and story that I really love.”