I don’t know if you’ve heard of the whole AO3/Xiao Zhan fan fiasco, and I’ve been too lazy to follow it, but it did get me back to reading fan-fiction, which reminded me of this interview by award-winning director Chloé Zhao, so here’s the transcription. Listen to the full interview with Sam Fragoso here. The whole interview is great and I love her so much.
Sam Fragoso: Do you think there’s something inside you that needs to tell stories because it’s the thing you’re best at or it’s because it’s the thing that makes you feel best?
Chloé Zhao: I’m not sure if it’s the thing I’m best at, I think I probably cook better – I’m a good cook – but it makes me feel good. I’m an only child, you know, and it comes from spending a lot of time growing up on my own just writing fiction and putting it online and reading it back. If you know anything about fan-fiction, you write the stuff for yourself. It’s what you want to see, and that’s probably something that I will continue.
Sam Fragoso: Your movies don’t feel like fan-fiction.
Chloé Zhao: You know what fan-fiction is?
Sam Fragoso: Yeah, I do, your movies don’t feel like that.
Chloé Zhao: They are, actually. For example, The Rider could be a fan-fiction of Brady’s life, but the way I want to see it. …You know how in fan-fiction, you take characters that already exist and then you put it in the world that makes sense to you. The good ones, the good fan-fiction will stay somewhat, mostly true to the original character, but their personalities have to be altered to a certain degree.
Sam: But then aren’t most movies fan-fiction, then?
Chloé Zhao: Yeah, to a certain degree.
I can’t find the interview anymore, but I remember listening to an interview of her back in 2016 where she said she was embarrassed to tell professionals she writes fan-fiction, but by this interview in 2018 she’s out and proud. Awww, progress!
Chloé Zhao has finished filming her first MCU fan-fiction, Marvel’s The Eternals, and Nomadland starring Frances McDormand. In addition, she has an Amazon film and a Chinese sci-fi film in pre-production.