Mulan Fu, animator from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, draws inspiration from personal experience and her family’s Chinese culture, combining her unique designs, musical compositions, and storytelling. She describes animation as a creative outlet that has “no physical restraint,” and hopes her films fill the present void of Chinese cultural representation in animation.
Fu: My name is Mulan Fu. I am from Shanghai, China.
I'm a third year student at NYU Tisch School of the Arts,
and my major is film and television,
and my concentration is in animation.
Animation is fascinating.
There's no physical restraint.
There's no restraints by science,
no restraint by location.
You just need a pen and a tablet,
and you can create a whole entire world.
When I first saw Mulan's work, I was knocked out.
Disembodied voice: Tonight.
[ Gasps ]
Mulan has a very strong sense of story,
and narrative, and character driving that narrative.
The concept is about karma and reincarnation.
And I want to bring in my Chinese cultural background
and cultural context into the story building.
And this is what I came up with.
As I grew up, I enjoyed watching so many animations,
I noticed that there's not as much
authentic Chinese representation
of Chinese history, and Chinese culture, at all.
I really want to create things that would fill in
that blank for the next generation.
[ Keyboard plays ]
I'm really grateful and lucky to have music
as another creative expression that I can use.
"Journey" was done in my freshman year in college.
That one really had a strange production process
because I wrote the music first.
That piece of music had, like, a narrative arc,
an emotional arc to it.
I basically animated to my music,
and completed the film that way.
"Journey" is about the spirit of a young girl
who passed away in a war.
She's led by this three-eyed goth figure
through a celestial journey to Heaven,
to reunite with her family.
I took a lot of visual inspiration
and narrative inspiration from Chinese mythology.
The theme is also about going home,
and going back to your parents.
Looking back, it really is a visual,
creative manifestation of my homesickness.
I've been really lucky to tell stories
that I want to tell.
And a lot of them are really personal.
IQ is a animal friend of mine --
a stray cat in our Shanghai backyard.
He's one of the closest friends that I can think of.
When I think back on my childhood,
she's always there.
He's really cool, and really calm,
and he's never afraid of any creatures that are bigger --
physically bigger than him.
He just projects as a king of the backyard.
Character, personality in animation,
I think is the hardest part,
because we're really trying to do
is not just mimicking
the physical movements of humans or animals,
but also understanding the psychology behind it.
I think animators are the most empathetic people.
In order to make it believable,
you have to become the characters.
And Mulan can do that.
Fu: The films that I remember the most
really punched me in the emotions.
One of the standards that I use is, if this story that I write,
if it touches me or makes me cry,
I think I'll be good.
I think we need more of voices like Mulan.
He's just an amazing artist who can take where she's from
emotionally, culturally, geographically --
all of that -- and put it into a unique film of her own.
And I think she's just at the beginning.