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Writing Steven Universe taught director Kate Tsang to take movies anywhere she wants

After working on the writing teams Steven Universe: The Future and Adventure Time: OutlandsFirst-time film director Kate Tsang is no stranger to the inner workings of coming-of-age stories. Steven Universe: The Future It specifically deals with emotional expression, as the main character is concerned with dealing with the trauma of her past and the question of what her future will hold when she doesn’t carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. First drafts of Tsang’s script for his movie Magnificent and Black Hole already written ahead of time Steven Universe: The FutureWorking on this show helped him get closer to his rewrites.

And if there’s one great thing she’s learned from her days on these projects, Tsang says, it’s that she shouldn’t be afraid to embrace intimacy or create the stories the world needs. can be emulated.

“I can write what I want to see,” Tsang tells Polygon. “It didn’t need to exist yet. Sometimes I feel that intimacy is not as desirable as nervousness and desolation. With steven [Universe]That’s what I love about it. It has a heart and an optimism in it. That’s what I wanted for my movie.”

Image: Cartoon Network

Magnificent and Black Hole A coming-of-age story about the grumpy 13-year-old Sammy (Miya Cech) and the feisty stage magician Margo (Rhea Perlman), who takes the angry young woman under her wing. The two begin an unlikely friendship when Margo teaches Sammy to perform magic on stage. In the process, he falls perfectly into the tried-and-true trope of a wise old mentor, à la karate boy.

But there is a fundamental difference Magnificent and Black Hole What Tsang spotted when looking at other artifacts in the same vein.

“I had a hard time finding a real computer.[arison] this works for the relationship because there aren’t many stories about intergenerational friendship between two women,” she explains. “And not two particularly unrelated women. Usually a grandmother and a granddaughter, but [stories about] Two women from different walks of life come together.”

An elderly woman in a teal jacket and bright pink blouse stands next to a grumpy teenager in black

Image: FilmRising

Tsang wrote to Margo for some courage that might do well against Sammy’s nervousness. Margo is supposed to be someone who doesn’t spoil her and isn’t afraid to call her out. When it came to casting for the role, Perlman was at the top of Tsang’s list. he grew up watching HealthWhere Perlman plays the waitress Carla.

“When you think of someone with a hard heart and a hard heart, it is Rhea,” Tsang says.

Perlman and Cech created a unique relationship. Tsang says he doesn’t really give specific instructions for developing their characters because it’s more important for them to spend time together, improve their chemistry, and figure things out on their own. Instead, he took them both to magic shows and created custom playlists for them based on their characters.

“We had a bit of Joy Division at Sammy’s,” Tsang laughs. “It was very emotional. And then Rhea had more classical soul music. And a little bit of Frankie Valli.”

a grumpy girl with black eyes dressed in black

Image: FilmRising

Sammy is definitely the type to listen to Joy Division and other “emo” music. He wears all black. He rarely smiles. He defaces school property and gets tattoos on his hips. She is distressed, angry and impulsive, struggling to digest the pain of her mother’s death. He’s rebellious and angry enough to be unapologetic, but brave enough for the audience to understand where he’s coming from. For Tsang, raising Sammy came from a very personal place.

“I was that Sammy and I didn’t see him anywhere,” Tsang says. “Growing up in the ’90s, I never saw anyone reflecting who I was in terms of an Asian-American actor or a role for them. I loved Lydia Deetz [in Beetlejuice]. He was the person I wanted to be, the person I liked the most. Same with Edward Scissorhands. I wanted this for my young Asian American self. I would love to have Sammy. I wrote it so that it would be like that.”

Magnificent and Black Hole In theaters April 22.


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Writing Steven Universe taught director Kate Tsang to take movies anywhere she wants

After working on the writing teams for Steven Universe: Future and Adventure Time: Distant Lands, first-time film director Kate Tsang is no stranger to the inner workings of coming-of-age stories. Steven Universe: Future in particular tackles emotional expression, as the title character grapples with processing the trauma of his past and the question of what his future holds, once he doesn’t have the weight of the world on his shoulders. While the first drafts of Tsang’s script for her movie Marvelous and the Black Hole were already written before her time on Steven Universe: Future, working on that show helped her approach her rewrites.
And Tsang says if there’s one big thing she learned from her days on those projects, it’s that she shouldn’t be afraid to embrace sincerity, or to create the stories she feels the world needs, even if there isn’t a previous show she can emulate.
“I could write what I wanted to see,” Tsang tells Polygon. “It didn’t have to quite exist yet. I feel like sometimes sincerity is not as desired as edginess and bleakness. With Steven [Universe], that’s what I love so much about it. There’s a heart to it, and there’s an optimism. I wanted that for my film as well.”

Image: Cartoon Network
Marvelous and the Black Hole is a coming-of-age story about prickly 13-year-old Sammy (Miya Cech) and surly stage magician Margo (Rhea Perlman), who takes the angry young girl under her wing. The two begin an unlikely friendship as Margo teaches Sammy how to perform stage magic. In the process, she falls neatly into the tried-and-true trope of a wise old mentor, à la The Karate Kid.
But there’s a key difference in Marvelous and the Black Hole that Tsang identified when she was looking at other works in a similar vein.
“I had so much difficulty finding an actual comp[arison] that would work for this relationship, because there aren’t actually that many intergenerational-friendship stories between two women,” she explains. “And especially not two unrelated women. It’s usually a grandma and grandchild, but there are no [stories about] two people from different walks of life that are women coming together.”

Image: FilmRising
Tsang wrote Margo to have a certain grit that would play nicely against Sammy’s edginess. Margo needed to be someone who wouldn’t coddle her, and wouldn’t be afraid to call her out. When it came to casting the role, Tsang had Perlman at the top of her list. She’d grown up watching Cheers, where Perlman plays smart-mouthed waitress Carla.
“When you think of someone with tough grit and heart, that’s Rhea,” says Tsang.
Perlman and Cech carved out a unique relationship. Tsang says she didn’t really give them specific instructions in developing their characters, because it was more important for them to spend time together, develop their chemistry, and figure things out on their own. Instead, she took the two of them to magic shows, and curated special playlists for them, based on their characters.
“We had some Joy Division on Sammy’s,” laughs Tsang. “It was really emo. And then Rhea had more classic soul music as well. And some Frankie Valli.”

Image: FilmRising
Sammy is absolutely the sort of character who would listen to Joy Division and other “emo” music. She wears all black. She rarely smiles. She defaces school property and gives herself stick-and-poke tattoos across her thighs. She’s angsty and angry and impulsive, struggling to process the grief of her mother’s death. She’s rebellious and unapologetically angry, but balanced with enough heart that the audience understands where she’s coming from. For Tsang, creating Sammy came from a very personal place.
“I was that Sammy, and I just never saw her anywhere,” Tsang says. “Growing up in the ’90s, I never saw anybody that quite reflected who I was, in terms of an Asian American actor or a role for them. I loved Lydia Deetz [in Beetlejuice]. That was who I wanted to be, who I felt most akin to. Same with Edward Scissorhands. I wanted that for my younger Asian American self. I would love her to have Sammy. And so I wrote her into being.”
Marvelous and the Black Hole hits theaters on April 22.

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