Born in New Zealand to a family of Chinese doctors, action maven Roseanne Liang describes herself as a “classic immigrant-child overachiever” who’d never questioned that she was destined to become a doctor until she got into medical school.
She deferred her acceptance for a year and decided to take classes that aligned more closely with her personal interests. “I was obsessed with Pixar and computer animation, so I did computer science and film theory,” says Liang, whose “Shadow in the Cloud” blends CG gremlins with a feminist action hero.
A big fan of Weta (“They’re very scientific, nerdy people, and I feel very at home in that world”), Liang watches “Terminator 2” every year and dreams of directing a James Cameron-esque extravaganza.
Upon discovering her passion, she switched tracks and pursued a master’s in film. In school, “I was writing vampire and action movies,” she says, but at the advice of a professor, “I took a detour into moviemaking that was more accessible to me, which was family drama and cultural identity movies.”
Liang made a documentary, “Banana in a Nutshell,” about her relationship: “My parents did not approve of my choice of partner, which was a Caucasian man, and to get their approval for our union, they insisted that he have to speak basic Mandarin.” Then she adapted that story into a scripted drama, “My Wedding and Other Secrets,” only to see the result go straight to video.
“I’d basically made my ‘Farewell,’ and then, being told that no one wants to see your life story because it’s got no stars in it, that was a gut punch,” says Liang, who thought, “Maybe I need to change tack.” She decided to pursue more spectacular projects, coordinating internships with Hong Kong producer Bey Logan and Kiwi director Lee Tamahori through the New Zealand Film Commission.
Liang also buddied up to stunts pros and directed an action short, “Do No Harm,” that played Sundance, attracted an agent and made “Shadow in the Cloud” possible. And with that high-altitude thriller, her career has taken off.
Legal: Jeff Hynick