An interview with Crystal J. Huang, director of “Dark Feathers”

Crystal J. Huang


«A picture is worth a thousand words; then how much more for a motion picture?»



Crystal J. Huang is a film actress, producer, and director. She is also an international award-winning dancer and photographer. In 2022, Crystal produced and directed a stylish psychological thriller Dark Feathers, in which she was also the lead actress, displaying her dancing and martial arts skills. The film’s cast also features multiple world-class dance stars, including Gilles Marini and Karina Smirnoff, along with Michael Madsen as the boss of a modern Samurai clan.



You’ve mentioned that “Dark Feathers” was loosely based on your own experiences as a ballroom dancer. How did your personal history influence the development of the characters and the overall plot of the film?


On a different note, I derived immense enjoyment from dancing with my instructors, many of whom exuded elegance and grace. During these moments, I envisioned two female dancers gracefully gliding across the dance floor, akin to a scene in an art house film, radiating a captivating beauty. It was from this vision that the character of Amelia was born.

As my imagination continued to churn, I conceived the idea of having a detective figure out the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of my dance partners. In the film, this role was embodied by the character of Remy. My team of writers skillfully took these initial concepts, integrated them with additional characters, and expertly crafted the entire narrative.


Given the importance of ballroom dancing in the film, how did you integrate this element into the story’s narrative structure? How did the choreography help to advance the plot or the character development within the film?


Given that ballroom dancing has been an integral part of my life, it naturally carried significant weight within the story. The dance sequences serve as pivotal threads that interconnect with Remy’s investigation of Kate and continue through Amelia’s affair with her. I aimed to convey the notion that dancing with Kate was a fateful prelude to her partners’ demise. With this thematic underpinning, the role of dance in advancing the narrative became evident.
The opening dance sequence serves as a visual treat, designed to captivate the audience’s attention, establish the story’s setting, and underscore the regal stature of Natalia and Angelo within the ballroom dancing world. Amelia’s solo dance, on the other hand, conveys a profound sense of sorrow following Kate’s mysterious disappearance. Each subsequent dance within the story serves a specific narrative purpose.




The film explores the idea that truth can be elusive and difficult to uncover, even for a detective like Remy. Can you discuss the themes of truth and perception in the film, and what you hope audiences will take away from it?


Remy conducted research into the deaths of Kate’s previous dance partners. He discovered that Alan had met his demise in a car accident, a tragedy with various plausible scenarios in which Kate was not present. Like anyone would, Remy empathetically put himself in Alan’s shoes, trying to understand how the events unfolded. However, what he unraveled differed significantly from Kate’s recollection of the same incident.
Furthermore, in the film, we learn that James’s death was attributed to “heart failure,” a result of a poisoned needle, while Kate informed Remy that George’s death was also categorized as “heart failure” during their studio conversation. This suggests a possible involvement of the clandestine group in these deaths. Intriguingly, Kate later confesses to being responsible for multiple deaths in the final scene, a confession that carries authenticity as she has no motive to deceive in her final moments.

Thus, it becomes plausible that Kate may have been the perpetrator behind some of her partners’ deaths, leaving the audience to ponder the layers of truth within the narrative. We intentionally crafted multiple possibilities, each sufficiently compelling to drive the progression of the story, keeping viewers engaged and questioning the reality of events.



You’ve managed to cast some of the world’s best dancers in “Dark Feathers”. What was the casting process like, and how did these renowned dancers contribute to the authenticity and impact of your film?


I have had the pleasure of knowing Iveta Faraci and Andrea Faraci personally, as I used to dance at their studio. This pre-existing connection made it relatively straightforward to approach them about showcasing their exceptional talents in this film, and they graciously agreed to participate.
As for Karina, she was selected by our casting director due to her background as a dance teacher, making her a natural fit for her role.

Gilles Marini was also chosen by the casting director, primarily for his striking appearance and dancing prowess. The fact that Karina and Gilles are close friends added an extra layer of chemistry between their characters on screen, enhancing their performances.

In the role of the detective, Scott Lea was cast despite not having a dancing background. His quick learning ability took us by surprise during the dance scenes, and he delivered a commendable performance.



What are you currently working on?

 I am working on the marketing and distribution of this film