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Big Little Man: An award-winning film about a young boy from Taiwan struggling to find his place
What is the difference between very good and great? Accomplished professionals all have proficiency and talent; it's a requirement, particularly in the entertainment world. Beyond these traits, the insight and commitment of an artist can create something truly exceptional.

It's not the way you would typically expect to hear someone describe an editor but Yu Jung Houis in no way typical in the film community. Diana Chao, director of Big Little Man, declares, "This film has minimal dialogue and music. The pacing of the film solely relies on the editing to create a tight moment-by-moment experience for the audience. Yu Jung's cultural background and keen observation allowed her to capture the subtlest of nuances. Her application of symbolic implications and concept editing have made Big Little Man a stronger film. Simply put, without her, the film would not have been made." The film won prestigious funding from Taiwan's Ministry of Culture and has been screened at premier events like Fuzhong 15, A-Zone, and dozens more. What was already an emotionally intense story became exponentially more impactful due to Yu Jung Hou's interpretation and input while collaborating closely with the film's director.

It's not only the actors who interpret the story we see as a film. Director Diana Chao was inspired to create Big Little Man by a frightening occurrence in Japan and Taiwan. When authorities captured the perpetrators of a killing spree, many people were shocked to find out that everything else about these criminals seemed quite normal. They were known as nice people and even described as good students. Chao wondered "What makes someone who seems otherwise well adjusted and happy do something so awful?" Hou notes that her youth of growing up in a close family in which she was directed to always be a "good girl" likewise made her understand the feelings and pressure felt by A-Ling (the main character of the film). Editor and director bonded with the dual purpose of creating a film that both shed light on this social dynamic and contributed to the conversation of it in society.

While Yu Jung concedes that she had reservations before working on the film ("I wasn't sure if our styles matched that well and was a bit worried that it wouldn't be a pleasant collaboration if we were constantly fighting over the direction."), it was precisely Chao's hands-off approach to the editing process that cemented the editor's resolve to invest deeper in the process. By looking at the footage as an audience member, Yu Jung began to see more emotional colors in Diana's story. By concentrating to a greater degree on the "why" rather than "what", the film took on a social-psychological message. As a result, A-Ling becomes much more than a one-dimensional character; he becomes a real person with a spectrum of emotions and intentions. In so doing, Hou and Chao have given the audience the connective tissue to relate to and perhaps even empathize with the film's central character; the goal of every filmmaker.

Big Little Man is about the experiences of a nine-year-old boy in Taiwan who feels he has no home. Caught between divorced parents, he decides to make his own way to his mother's new residence in Hualien. Once he arrives, he understands that there is no place for him there and makes the trek back to Tapei, accepting he is not wanted anywhere. On his travels he faces gangsters who accost him and makes friend with a man nicknamed Diabolo. Diabolo provides an innovative addition to the soundtrack. Yu Jungdescribes, "I noticed how special the Chinese yoyo sounded. It's not a popular toy/prop, it's unique to Asian culture, and it's even less frequently featured in movies. And then I noticed the timing the sounds of the plane, the train, and Chinese yoyo appeared respectively, and how where they were on the timeline of the story matched the character's arc and represented different degrees of hopefulness. Once I started noticing these things, I could put the puzzle together. I utilized the sounds and made them their own characters." This yoyo becomes a touchstone for A-Ling of hope and happiness.

Big Little Man is a moving film. It is also a testament to how differing perspectives and mindsets can culminate into extraordinary work. Diana Chao's decision to hire the best editor and then allow her to do her best work resulted in the telling of this story in a unique way. Yu Jung Hou's reputation for her work on award-winning films like Drone (2015), Wytches (2017), and The Decades of Mason Carroll (2017), increased her renown while Big Little Man continues the trend.

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