The inspiration for Midnight Carnival came from my own experiences working in a traveling carnival, which is a popular way for Taiwanese college students to travel and experience America during summer vacation. I was particularly drawn to the carnival job because the idea of a traveling amusement park was beyond the understanding of someone like myself, who comes from such a tiny island as Taiwan.
The carnival was like a mysterious “Neverland” in my imagination, bringing laughter and happiness from place to place. It was not until the night of my arrival that I discovered the harsh realities of the job, like being unable to afford basic amenities on my minimum wage salary, surviving on a diet of unhealthy carnival food, and sharing a cramped room on a bunkhouse trailer with a complete stranger - an ironic living situation in this enormous and wealthy country.
The script for Midnight Carnival was developed with the hope of turning this personal and humbling experience into something universal. At the heart of this story is an immigrant perspective on the “American Dream,” which drives people to come to the US and chase their dreams, hoping to improve their lives and take control of their own destiny. This dream promises a brighter future, but it ultimately also leads to the endless pursuit of acceptance by others, assimilation to a new culture at the expense of one’s own, and acceptance of one’s decision to leave “home.”
I wanted to tell this story through the point of view of Andrea, who is a character inspired by the experiences of myself as well as the girls I met and worked with during that summer at the carnival. These real-life people shared with me their stories of leaving home and coming to America, where they fought with determination and perseverance for a better life.
Midnight Carnival is not a film that intends to reveal the secret inner lives of “carneys,” but instead is a coming-of age story about a young girl finding herself amidst the unique atmosphere of the chaotic traveling carnival. This story is dedicated to the people who foolishly yet admirably continue to chase their dreams, against all odds. Just like how the carnival will always be re-built at the next destination, so too will our dreams.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
1st Assistant Director
Chung-Wei Huang is a Taiwanese writer-director currently based in Baltimore. Her creative work explores outsider narratives and character-driven experiences of “othering,” with an emphasis on further exploring intersectional storytelling related to Asian-American and Asian culture in a cross-cultural context. Right now, she teaches at Towson University while working on her next project, Buck. She is on of the semifinalists for the 2018 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.