8 months ago
Filmmaker Ssong Yang (also half of the award-winning directing duo Henry / Ssong) brings her personal touch as a compassionate global storyteller to 'We All Choose,' the launch video for 2019’s #ChooseWomen campaign. It’s from Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organisation and BBH New York. Ssong has directed branded films/series like Google 'Saroo Brierley: Homeward Bound' and Ziploc’s 'Real Superheroes' teachers’ campaign. Her work is characterised by compelling narratives, empathy and emotive stories of everyday heroes, and has brought her to the far corners of the world. She explains what it meant to be involved with the #ChooseWomen movement.
Q> Can you share some insights from The United Nations Summit for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day you attended in November?
It was my first time in the United Nations so I could barely contain my excitement. It was a beautiful and sunny day and we were in the Delegates Dining Room with a panoramic view of the East River. The moment I arrived I quickly met several women entrepreneurs who were also attending the event, and it helped me break out of my comfort zone. Everyone who was there was immensely supportive and open, there were women from all over the globe and from all backgrounds and stages of life. There were delegates from different countries, the Assistant Secretary General of the UN gave the opening speech and I was starstruck by Missy Elliott who graced us with her attendance. Many successful women entrepreneurs shared their stories of failure and how they got right back up; the phenomenal Pretty Big Movement dance team riled me up with their confidence and emotional artform.
The talks and panels were enlightening and exceptionally engaging. These are some of the main points that really resonated with me:
• 'Throw perfection out the window. There is no such thing as perfect, so you just gotta’ go for it.'
• 'Ask for help. When you ask for help, you are inviting someone to be a part of your story.'
• 'Be fierce. Keep pushing. Sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader.'
• 'When you feel good about yourself, you are invincible.'
Q> Tell us about impact of some of the speakers at the UN Summit like #ChooseWomen architect Wendy Diamond, philanthropist and restaurateur Hakki Akdeniz, and Influencer Hannah Stocking?
Wendy Diamond, CEO and founder, Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organisation, was a powerful source of energy. I was blown away by her personality and her ability to be completely comfortable in her own skin. It felt to me nothing was going to stand in the way of what she was set on doing. Hakki Akdeniz, philanthropist and restaurateur, shared a deeply personal story about the most important woman in his life - his mother. It was hard to keep it together and not burst into tears not only because of the content of the story but because of his willingness to put himself out there and be vulnerable. Hannah Stocking, Influencer/YouTube star, was a delight because like Wendy Diamond she was so confident in being herself. She shared her expert opinion on how important it is to be true and authentic especially as an Influencer.
Q> How did you get involved with the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organisation?
I was on a trip to London for a Science Summit when I received an email from my EP at Station Film with the brief and the script. As soon as I read it I knew I wanted to be involved. I loved the concept and the message, but also had been searching for ways to utilise my experience as a director for social impact films.
Q> Did you have a fleshed-out script for the #ChooseWomen launch video or was it more of an idea you developed with the client and BBH?
It was a little bit of both. I received the script from the creatives at BBH and we collaborated to get it to where it is today. We wanted to use the existing script as the blueprint and advance it as we went. When I first read it, I went through several ideas - from incorporating found footage, to smashing a window, to seeing past events of women’s rights, to researching specific rocks to use, to playing with sound design... through this process of idea dumping, it ultimately dawned on me that what gives women strength is the support of one another. I wanted to express this in a way where it didn’t matter what background or age you were, what kind of beliefs you held or what your history is, but by standing together women can pretty much accomplish anything. That’s where the visual of all the different hands coming together to create a web of support came in and I thought it was the perfect way to exemplify this idea of community and support.
Q: Are you attending any events for #ChooseWomen Wednesday?
Yes! As a woman who is a filmmaker, I am always excited to watch movies that are directed by a woman, told from a woman’s perspective. I, for one, really want to check out Hustlers. It just looks like so much fun.
I also want to reach out to the professional ladies who I admire and send them my gratitude of how much I admire their work. Artists, business owners, writers, chefs, doctors, lawyers, architects, therapists, to name a few. It’s important for me to recognise and express how much of my life is impacted by these women.
Q: What attracted you most to the #ChooseWomen initiative? In other words, is there something in particular you gravitate toward most as an advocate?
I’m always one for social impact films and if there is ever an opportunity for me to utilise my skillset to spread the good word, I’m in. I also feel that building awareness in the consciousness of the world is the best superpower filmmaking has. If someone is going to sit down and grant you their time and attention to your video, then I want that video to educate, raise awareness and offer value.
So in the case for #ChooseWomen, I learned during the beginning stages of development that half of the world’s population are women but they are consistently underrepresented in all types of ways. So many of the women I’ve met in my life are some of the most intelligent, exceptional, talented, creative, nurturing, resourceful and industrious people out there. If more women support women, and half the world’s population is made up of women, we’re going to accomplish big things. I want women, and men, too, to be conscious of the power we hold in our decisions and in choosing women we give way to empower the world.
Q> Your film is also a companion piece to a custom AR filter BBH created to invite people to post Instagram stories using the AR filters with a breaking glass effect. Will you be sharing anything on social?
Definitely! In the spirit of #ChooseWomen I wanted to bring up an important woman in my life - my grandmother. She grew up in a time and place where women were expected to get married, bear children and make the house look nice, and that about summed it up. I knew that she had dreams of attending college but was barred from doing so and she was always resentful about that. I wrote a very personal story on an Instagram post about her story and how I wish she could be with us now to watch the #ChooseWomen film screen at the United Nations. It was the first time I opened up about the women in my life and I feel like it touched people. I think she would’ve been proud.
Q> If you could give any advice to your younger self in business, public life and personally in relation to the #ChooseWomen grassroots movement, what would it be?
My advice for my younger self would be don’t be afraid of failure, because through failure you learn. And through those lessons, you grow.
I’d also want my younger self to know that you are the channel in which creativity flows. It’s not your decision whether the work is good or not. The important thing is that you stay open to let the ideas express themselves and do it as much as possible.
Don’t be nice. Be compassionate.
Q> Are you working on anything now you’re excited about and can share with us?
I have so many projects going on about me at all times but one comes to mind that has been particularly relevant to #ChooseWomen and is important to me. I’m developing a short film that revolves around confidence of creative expression, especially in girls. It took a long time for me to accept my creative voice, and even now I sometimes have a hard time trusting and believing in my creative decisions. 'Will people like it? Does it look good? Is this boring? Does this story matter?' I think the core of that stems from creative confidence and I want to shed light on trusting that inner voice no matter what anyone says or feels about it through a short film, kind of based on a true story.
Genres: PeopleStation Film, 7 months ago