It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a professional producer in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a great director. In current China, there is no lack of fortune, but it takes time to locate professional producers and really good directors. In the THE CHINESE FILM MARKET 2014 AFM issue, we present 13 talented young filmmakers who might bring the next new wave of cinema or drive the Chinese-American co-production to the next stage. We thank EnMaze Pictures, for this grand discovery of talent and new possiblities.
Born in Northern California, Kate Tsang attended UC San Diego with the intention of studying forensic pathology (to become like her hero, Dana Scully from THE X-FILES), but fell head-first into film instead. Since graduating from NYU’s MFA Film program, she’s worked as a makeup artist on numerous films and as an editor/animator for brands like Dom Perignon, Vans, and Opening Ceremony. Kate’s most recent film, SO YOU’VE GROWN ATTACHED, is a 2014 National Finalist for the Student Academy Awards and Winner of Best Narrative Short at San Francisco International 2014.
One of my first memories is watching Hayao Miyazaki’s TOTORO. The joy and energy I felt watching that giant screaming chinchilla was a profound experience. Later on, my cousins and I used to terrorize each other a lot, but whenever a film or a great cartoon was on, we’d all get along for that brief moment of happiness and peace. These experiences ultimately led to my desire of wanting to give others the same feeling of joy and connectedness through film.
I love fantasy films where the audience identifies with the otherworldly characters as much as the people. When I was writing SO YOU’VE GROWN ATTACHED, I recalled a heartbreaking story my friend once told me about saying goodbye to her childhood imaginary friend. I started to wonder what would’ve happened if her imaginary friend wasn’t ready to leave her, and thought it would be amusing if there was an agency comprised of retired imaginary friends that provided counseling to active imaginary friends whose kids might be getting too old for them.
The protagonist in my film is a faceless, mute imaginary friend with animated eyes so the postproduction process was pretty involved. We were working on a very limited student film budget. The VFX artist worked on animating the lead’s eyes while I worked on rotoscoping out his face and other small VFX parts in the film. It took us about a year of intermittent work to get all of the VFX done.
I wanted to quickly establish that the story of SYGA was taking place in a stylized version of the real world and thought a high contrast black and white look was a good way to do that. We also added hints of colors in the scenes that take place in the imaginary world to differentiate between the two settings. Through my experience at Tisch, I was able to meet a great group of friends and filmmakers who I’d like to collaborate with for the rest of my career.
Getting into the Student Academy Awards Finalists has been a nice boost of confidence to get these awards, but nothing’s really changed. I’m still just working on new scripts and hustling to make the next projects happen. The American film landscape still isn’t very diverse, but it’s starting to change. I’m glad that there are a lot more programs aimed at supporting women and minority directors like Women In Film and Television or ENMAZE – both which I’ve greatly benefit from.
Honestly though, I try not to think about being a woman of color too much and just focus on telling the stories that I’m passionate about.
I admire filmmakers who create unique and interesting worlds, but still focus on relatable stories. Some of my favorite filmmakers who do this are Tim Burton, Guillermo Del Toro, Hayao Miyazaki, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Spike Jonze, and John Waters.
Within the next 5 years I would like to make an animated series based on the imaginary friend agency in SO YOU’VE GROWN ATTACHED, shoot and finish my first feature film, BIGHAND, which is about two lazy teenage girls who accidentally discover Bigfoot, and direct some TV/web projects.
Born in Beijing, Li Yaotao earned an MFA at Rochester Institute of Technology. His 17 minutes graduate thesis film CARRY ON has won the Best of Festival Award at Palm Springs International ShortFest. He is a film director signed with Aim Entertainment in Beijing and his representative in Los Angeles is Amotz Zakai, the executive of Echo Lake Entertainment.
When I was 14, I found out cinema is more interesting than computer games. I wish to be a film director since then. I liked FALLEN ANGEL, STRAWMAN and KIDS RETURN, but A CHINESE ODYSSEY was my favorite.
My short film CARRY ON is a story about family and bravery: during the brutal withdrawal of Japanese forces at the end of the World War II, a Chinese father does whatever he can to save his daughter. It was inspired by an essay written by Montaign: the enemy won’t liberate a man because he is pathetic, but might liberate him because he is brave. Although it is really hard for a student to make a war film, but I have to say the most difficult obstacle above all is the script – the story.
After I won at the top prize at Palm Springs Short Film Festival, I started to have chances to talk to studios, agents and managers.
I come back to work in China because I have met a great boss and an energetic team. The current China film market is a booming one. I feel so lucky since I’m in. Generally speaking, the future is bright, but we need a lot more professionals in this field than ever.
I wish I could direct two feature films in five years, probably a comedy and a crime.
Yi Jie is a filmmaker with a BFA in Animation Direction from China and an MFA in Computer Art of video production from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Her short film LIGTH MIND was in the national finalist of the Student Academy Awards.
I got to know the power of media since my first contact of the film industry back in college. I realized that I could do something valuable for the outside world through media when I directed a short animation film as an undergrad in China. And I got touched by too many amazing films, such as STILL WALKING, THE 400 BLOWS, SERAPHINE, DETACHMENT, INTOUCHABLES, etc. I want to keep improving myself in filmmaking, to share, to think, to feel, and to make a change.
I was working in a community to interactive with low vision people, I suddenly felt the way they think about this world, the way they communicate and the way they feel about themselves. I wanted to help them got more attention in the society. Inspired by Steven Erra, who conquered his physical difficulties to achieve a big success, I contacted him on the internet, and I got lucky that he replied me and agreed to work together. It was such a great honor that I got to work with him.
Now I’m working on the pre-production part of my next short film about TIME: how it gives us conflicts during different stages of our lives. Meanwhile, I’m also doing cinematography and post- production job for a production company in New York.
China now has a great wide open market and lots of financial investment opportunities for young filmmakers to tell stories. I believe now China present more opportunities than any other country for filmmakers to show their creativity.
Born and raised in Beijing, Liu Yulin has been influenced by eastern culture and philosophy. After several years traveling between Eastern and Western continents, the two cultures and philosophies drive her to make films about people and their lives. Currently, she is pursuing her MFA degree in Filmmaking from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and is developing her first feature, which will be filmed in China.
DOOR GOD comes from the memory of my childhood. When I was little, I used to live in a small Chinese village along the Yellow River. In this village lived another little girl, whose mother had left her father, to live with another man in a big city. Her father used to tell her: you mom will return when the corn and wheat crops are ready for harvest. Every year, when the crops were ready for harvest, this little girl would stand at the edge of the village to await her mom. Her mom never returned, but the look of longing and expectation in her eyes touched me deeply. It is for this look that I made this film.
Winning the Student Academy Award is a great honor to me. I never thought DOOR GOD could receive so much recognition from so many people. I am so appreciated. More importantly, from such recognition, I know that those Chinese stories, which have been neglected by us, can touch the people around world. This award encourages me to continue on my filmmaking path, to tell Chinese touching stories to the peoples around world.
I love film since I was little. For me, movie is like magic. Nobody can escape death. Only films can help us preserve the people we love, and the stories and experiences that define who they are. Only on the silver screen can they live on forever. This is why I want to make film. I want to use camera to tell stories via filmmaking, as a film director. In Tisch, we learn from and work with classmates, accomplished faculty and outstanding guest filmmakers. More importantly, I meet other super talented and aspiring filmmakers who, like me, have different stories to tell, have different emotions to express, and are not afraid to explore new ways to articulate themselves. I learn how to work with different people with different personalities, learn how the other talented people express themselves in different ways by filmmaking.
Also, I learn an alternative view in NYC. I grew up in China and have been trained with eastern philosophies; I am eager to learn an alternative view from western perspectives. When the two cultures and perspectives meld and take residence in me, they will drive me to new realizations for life, for people, and for films. Only then I can truly be creative.
China now has a huge film market. More and more Chinese people would love to spend money in movie theaters, no matter how the films are. There are all different types of films released in the Chinese film market, but still lack of really good ones. If more high rated overseas films could be imported by China, it will enhance the film taste of Chinese audience. At the same time, the Chinese film market also needs more really good films made by Chinese directors.
There are many young talented Chinese filmmakers today, most having studied filmmaking abroad, especially in the US. I think these young filmmakers with strong background of overseas study would be a dominant force for future Chinese-American co-productions.
In the next 5 years, I hope I could develop two feature films with theatrical release.
Winston and Aaron Tao grew up in Orange County in Southern California. Winston has a BFA in Film Production from Chapman University, and their short films have received international and domestic distribution as well many awards. They currently work out of Los Angeles as commercial directors, and are working on their first feature film.
Our film PICTURE. PERFECT. addresses a couple issues: hurting families; brokenness; divorce; hitting rock bottom, and what that means to different people. To some extent, the individuals we encountered first in this story were really ourselves. Winston and I grew up in a divorced family and didn’t have that great of a relationship with our father until our later, more recent years, so that contributed to the story significantly. We also did significant research in poverty stricken towns in some parts of the Midwest, along with the Appalachian community, and saw that there was so much beauty in the midst of their situations. A lot of times people highlighted the poverty and capitalized on it – but to only do that was an injustice to their lives and their situations, so that’s what we wanted to avoid.
We both started off taking film classes at a local community college in Orange County called Orange Coast College. From there, Winston applied to Chapman University, and was able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Film Production with an emphasis in Directing. Chapman is a fantastic school, with great faculty support. They really strive to push you individually, and get you on set practically every weekend. It’s great to be in such a hands-on environment because that’s where we really find ourselves learning and growing. They let you make mistakes, and then learn from them. Your final year you are supposed to concentrate on your thesis film, so Picture. Perfect. is the result of that. At the end of every year, Chapman has its own awards ceremony, and PICTURE. PERFECT. was able to win all the categories so that was an extremely humble and surreal experience.
Intuition, pacing, timing, structure, are all extremely important elements that go in to directing. However, continuing to educate yourself about the world, current events, sports, etc. we are finding are all equally, if not more, important. I would say the most important aspect of being a director though is being able to make films that stay true to who you are. Everybody has a specific outlook on life due to his or her upbringing and personal experiences. When you are able to do that, people will be able to connect with you on a personal level.
Chinese films have come an incredible way. With films like THE MONKEY KING, they have shown their advancement in CGI, action, and special effects. The thing, which we appreciate, is that they are able to do this while still portraying and staying true to their cultural elements. It’s very apparent that the Chinese film market is incredibly large and continues to increase. Their current standing in the film market seems very prosperous and beneficial to films at large, and its interactions with the American film market are definitely growing.
To cross the bridge between both Chinese and American audiences would be great. Since they’re the two largest in the film market right now, it seems only reasonable. However, the road for support seems difficult because of language, cultural traditions, and audience demographic. We’re very interested to see how this will further develop in the future though, and would love the opportunity to be a part of that.
Currently, we are in the process of forming our own production company. Winston is working as a commercial director, and Aaron is writing and revising screenplays feature film and television screenplays. In that regards, we plan on having our first feature film made through our production company, and continuing to work and hone our craft in the commercial world.
Director Wang Zao is now developing an American TV show with NBC as a producer, and has a feature film in China scheduled to go next spring. He will also work with Bad Robot Productions to direct a short film, with J.J. Abrams as his mentor and producer.
I grew up in a family of two generations of filmmakers in Beijing Film Studio. I acted and dubbed voices for various movies ever since I was little. From behind the camera to the silver screen, movie making was my world. The excitement of being a part of a make- believe world was not only attractive but also very graspable because I saw my family do it as a profession. Like them and all my friends, I wanted to be a part of it.
I came to America with my parents at the age of 14. Life in America was challenging for me because I had to learn English from scratch. I thought I had to leave everything behind, including my dream of becoming a filmmaker. In college, I studied physics and philosophy and thought I would become a doctor or a lawyer. I still loved movies and watched them religiously; I started a movie club in college, but movie making as a profession seemed a dream from a past life for me.
Then a few years after college, I had a chance to go back to Beijing and work with my uncle on his movie. Like visiting a long lost life, I fell in love with movie making right away. Having connected with my lost life in China and all my childhood friends, who have also become filmmakers, I suddenly saw that it was possible to pursue my dream and I didn’t care about anything else. So I applied to what I thought was the best film school in the world, NYU, for an MFA in directing.
I presented EnMaze a commissioned film by The Opposite House, a luxury boutique hotel in Beijing. I came up with a horror film idea because I thought it would be very interesting and unexpected approach to a soft advertising. Furthermore I also wanted to try my hands at the horror genre and saw this to be a perfect opportunity to make a stand-alone movie that will speak for itself. Initially they were resistant but I was able to convince them exactly how I’d do it. Eventually they agreed and I was given a very small budget to make the film. Because I didn’t have any money left, the postproduction took me over six months to complete. But eventually it premiered at Tribeca and went on to over 40 festivals around the world, winning several major awards such as the Best Director Award at NBC Universal Short Film Festival. At NYU Tisch, the program had about 35 people in each year, so it was a very small community. We all worked on each other’s films and practically all lived together during those three years. We really learned so much from each other. I found some of my best collaborators at school and we still work together to this day.
The market in China is like the Warring States period in ancient China, where new production companies are popping up like bamboo shoots, all trying to claim a piece of the land. There is more demand from the audience for a variety of genres of films. So for young filmmaker the opportunities are there. Many Chinese films make a lot of money, but one should never forget that as a filmmaker, you hold certain power to influence culture and people’s values. I think it’s especially important in this juncture to make movies that, while commercially appealing, are also meaningful to the life and time we are in right now. You have to find a way to be a part of this wave, and still do something ambitious. Having the right value system in Chinese films is the only way for Chinese films to have any broader appeal to the audience around the world.
Born in a renowned ancient city Shaoxing, China, Zhou Quan went to Australia to attend junior high and high school. His AFI thesis film WOMAN IN FRAGMENTS was selected for film festivals including Montreal, Hawaii, Urbanworld and Toronto Reel Asian. It also won the Silver Award at DC Chinese Film Festival and 3 awards at Asians On Film Festival.
WOMAN IN FRAGMENTS is a tender story between a mother and daughter Anne in Chinatown in the U.S. Anne refuses to speak Chinese to her mother while her mother could only speak very limited English. The mother supports Anne from her childhood on to develop her talent in dance. A sudden discovery of her mother’s disease softens the mother-daughter relationship and Anne then understands what her dance teacher says “you never allow yourself to be vulnerable”. The reconciliation comes when Anne started to speak (broken) Chinese with her mom and help her out in the laundry shop while she is now able to express intense emotions in her dance.
In 2012, Zhou Quan interned for producer Terence Chang at Lion Rock Productions in Beijing. In 2014, he co-founded Each Other
Films with Jacqueline W. Liu and I-Fu Chen in Los Angeles to develop feature film projects for both USA and the Greater China Region markets. He is now at Director Hou Hsiao- Hsien’s Golden Horse Film Academy in Taipei for one month’s training.
I graduated from the American Film Institute with an MFA in Directing in 2013. Those two and half years at AFI were the most intense yet most enjoyable time in my life, not only because I learned the craft of visual storytelling, but also because I experienced the process of creative collaboration.
I discovered my passion for cinema when I was in a film analysis class of Hitchcock’s PYSCHO, in Melbourne Balwyn High School. That was the first time that I realized how powerful cinema could be as a medium to tell a story. Filmmaking is my way to communicate and engage with people, my opportunity to explore and understand diverse cultures, my key to expressing reactions to the world and my process of materializing the mental sphere.
WOMAN IN FRAGMENTS was inspired by my personal experience with my family and the dynamic between my mom and my grandmother. It is a fictional story with my real emotions and memories. I think Hollywood needs China’s market and China needs Hollywood’s craft of filmmaking. As a Chinese filmmaker trained in the States, I’d like to strengthen my capacity of working in both industries. I can bring my American knowledge and skills when I make films in China, and I can also consult, collaborate or assist American filmmakers and production companies who are interested in cooperating with China.
China doesn’t have to copy Hollywood’s standards and rules, but we have to build a healthy system based on local contexts, like rules for agency and management, working hours, and even craft service, etc. I co-founded Each Other Films with two of my producing partners in Los Angeles in the spring of 2014, and we are developing Chinese language feature films together. One of my partners is a producing alumnus from AFI and the other one is a directing alumnus from USC. I have two projects lined-up for the next 5 years as director. I’m very honored and excited to have the renowned producer Terence Chang attached as one of the producers for my first feature, which is a coming-of-age period film set in 1998 in my hometown Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province of China.
Born in Taipei, Tina T. Hsu grew up reading comics and watching animation and loved drawing and making things. She moved to the US at age 14 and attended UCLA to study design and media arts. She currently works as a freelance production artist with a focus on storyboard, animation and design while developing her next personal projects on the side.
I have always been fascinated with animation and wanted to work in the field. I studied at UCLA doing design/media arts for my undergrad. In the program I had the chance to learn motion graphics and 3D animation. Then I took an introduction class to traditional 2D Animation with the UCLA Animation Workshop in my senior year, and that led me to my MFA study in 2D animation at the Academy of Art University under Sherrie H. Sinclair, and this is where LADY AND THE FROG was born.
The story idea started from a photo I saw online of a frog trapped inside a bag of salad. To me, the current China film market seems to provide a lot of opportunities, but is also very chaotic and weird. It feels like a black hole in some way. I feel like the most important thing is to find a sustainable model so it does not end up being a bubble. But from looking at how the US industry works, it does feel like things come and go in waves, so that could just be how things work.
I would definitely love to make more films if opportunity arises, so the ideal case for me is to work on productions other than my own to gain more experiences, and continue making my own film as well.
Born and raised in China, Sky Wang recently graduated from the film department at Columbia College Chicago. With short films FINAL REVISION and YOU BET gaining awards at film festivals, Sky is looking for new ways to innovate via filmmaking.
I was first hooked with filmmaking when I was just a kid after seeing LION KING for the first time. Then when I turned 10, TITANIC came out, and I decided that I was going to become a director, because the job description just embodies everything I want to do in life. I have been trying to achieve this goal ever since.
My short film YOU BET was done as a class project for college as a sophomore. When I look at this film now, I can see that it was the product of my impression of Chicago, where I have lived for a few years. It was my collective experience with certain types of people in the society. The essence of the film is the relationships between family and friends, and such values definitely come from my motherland. I have lived in England, Canada and New York, before arriving at Chicago for college, and the journey has informed my artistic approach in every way possible.
There is a huge yet unexploited area of interest in the world of filmmaking: the stories of this generation of Chinese people living in America, or vice-versa. There are many very interesting stories to tell on the lives of international students, new immigrants, and their experiences with Americans and how their interactions intertwine with the rest of the society.
Zhou Runze is an up-and-coming filmmaker recently graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He tries to present realistic events in a comic way, to tell funny stories with unique visuals. Wishing to reach global audiences, Zhou is now back in Beijing as an independent director, patiently waiting for his time.
I started thinking about entering the film industry when I was in middle school. Back then, I was just interested in editing and making effects in home videos. I had no confidence for going to Beijing Film Academy because it only had 15 spots for directing students each year. Few years later in high school, I took an opportunity to be an exchange student to the US and that gave me hope: there are more film schools in the States. I went to Rochester Institute of Technology, not a famous-top-notch but a very good and affordable school.
During my first years in RIT, I was still thinking about becoming an editor. But after two years of learning, I chose to direct. The reason is simple, I love films so much that I want at least one film to be marked as “A film by Zhou Runze”.
Two more years later, the thesis film that I wrote, directed and shot was selected into the EnMaze Short Film Tour COPYRIGHT WARFARE. The film program in RIT is very intense and competitive. Teachers always say that we should have a 6-year program for everyone. And the core of RIT’s education is hands-on experience. From the first year, all of us need to learn and practice write, shoot, direct, edit our class projects. I hardly had any free weekends; I was always helping on someone’s set or shooting and editing my own projects. The most inspiring thing was that in the first year, we started by shooting physical film stocks and edit them on editing decks. Before that, I had never known the true difference between shooting in digital and film. This very first experience in RIT taught me the beauty of film, and today I am still against on the side of film but not digital.
Every time you start a DVD, the first thing you see will be the FBI warning sign. There will be a big FBI logo and the text under it says it is illegal to pirate this film. It also says anyone who does so will have to pay a fine of 25,000 dollars and spend 15 years in federal prison.
Very scary, but it has never worked for any one. I grew up in China, where people pirate almost everything. The good side is that people get to watch all kinds of shows and films from different countries, which make this digital generation the most experienced audience group ever. The bad side is that so many of us didn’t care about copyright and it will eventually hurt us, so I made COPYRIGHT WARFARE.
The US has the best film industry, best crews, best marketing and many best things, but China has the biggest market. Zhang Yimou will be directing a big budget film with all US crew, but he will make sure the story is mainly for Chinese culture, not just a Chinese star appear for 2 minutes. I think this is where the future should be, and filmmakers like us who studied in the US will surely have some advantages.
Many people criticize that we don’t have enough good films in China, but I think this is just a phrase that we need to experience and get through.The market firstly has to attract enough talent and money, then audience will grow and the market will do a natural selection on its own. In about 2 years, when the market is more open to the Hollywood, Chinese films will have to better themselves to compete with the American ones. My suggestion will be: give me a job and you will see.
Dennis Liu has directed videos for artists such as Diane Birch, Mariah Carey, and Michael Jackson. He also made commercials for brands like Apple, AT&T and Pepsi. The fancy music video he made for Jolin Tsai has over 20 million hits on Youku while the one he made for Justin Timberlake has recently won 3 Clio Awards. He made a 14-minute short film PLURALITY, telling a story of the grid, an urban system that tracks all human movements to reduce crime in New York in the year of 2023.
I have been making films since high school and through NYU Tisch, so it was mostly with friends on the weekend that I made PLURALITY. We didn’t even have enough money to shoot RED or Alexa, so it was all shot on 5D Mark II. Some days, it was literally me and the actors. We ran around NYC on the weekend mornings, and the editing is fast so I think it gives an illusion much bigger than it actually was. I’ve been directing commercials and music videos for years in New York, so a lot of the crew helped on spare time. The actors did it all for free. It was done on a lot of favors. So it’s probably worth a lot more than we actually paid for. I know that VFX is the future of the film industry for number of reasons, and I’ve been trying to bolster that skill as much as I can.
I have so much fun shooting in China! I studied at Beijing University when I was in high school for a summer, and my family visited Taiwan when I was growing up, so it’s great to be back. I never thought I would be filming in Asia, since my heart was always looking to LA and Hollywood.
China is not without challenges and it is difficult to shoot in. I have shot in many places around the world, and it’s probably one of the hardest places I’ve ever shot. Even with my language advantage, I need to lead a lot more than in the US. In the States, I think people anticipate you a little more, and love to offer their ideas, which help the project. In China, a lot of people stand around and wait for your next move. You really have to decide everything. In a way, that’s so refreshing, and in others, incredibly exhausting. I think it’s largely a cultural thing; in China the mentality is – he’s the director, so he tells me what to do. In the US, I do feel like the hierarchy is better structured. Each department head will bring their craft to the job as much as they can. And no one can truck equipment better and faster than LA. Those trucks pack up and go faster than anywhere.
I think PLURALITY has shown me how tough the road is, even when I had a solid response from Hollywood. I met a lot of people from the film. There was a lot of, “That was great, what else do you have?” As a director, you really have to sacrifice a lot. You have to want it really bad that money doesn’t matter, and nothing else matters. You just have to want it more than anyone else. You have to keep excelling for your very best. It’s not easy. At NYU, I think the most successful of us ended up not going to too many classes and just made films together on the weekends. That was probably the best schooling you could get – from learning from your mistakes.
I’ll have a feature done in the next 5 years for sure. It may be a small indie though if I can’t dig up the financing for it. I’m flirting with the idea of doing one of them in China. I just hope people are going to be still watching movies by then! It seems like the young generation has an even shorter attention span than my generation! I just finished a music video for Jolin Tsai, which was great, and a big spectacle. I’m working on a silly sketch comedy for fun with some friends. I try not to get too pigeonholed. If there’s an idea that I find interesting and challenging, I’ll try to do it. I really just want to keep learning and get better at my craft. I’ll probably never leave music videos, even though the budgets are terrible. I just have so much fun in them and they’re probably my favorite thing to do in filmmaking. I might do another short, but I think I’m just ready to gun for my first feature.
Born in 1988 in Beijing, Ye Jiang Tian spent his childhood in a military compound. The early Kungfu films from Shao Brothers inspired him to be a director. He moved to Toronto at 10 and further accumulated his film database.
Feeling drawn to his own Chinese heritage, Tian came back to China to explore his own culture and literature in college. Currently, he is a 3rd year MFA student at UCLA. RICE WINE portrays a rice wine vendor’s miserable life in a comic way; it provokes laughter and tears and set people pondering on the current social reality in China. Prior to RICE WINE, he had made four independent productions and participated in a number of feature and short film productions.
My short film is based on real events that happen all across China, a story about urban management patrol and peddlers. I have always wanted to do something meaningful with my filmmaking capability. I traveled a lot when I was in China. I have witness the best and the worst of my motherland. And I want to make an effort to give a voice to those who are voiceless.
I feel in love with movies at a very young age, after watching tons of Hong Kong films such as ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA and FONG SAI YUK. I figured there was no better occupation than “directing”. I had a lonely childhood, most of the time I was playing with myself in my mind. The world in my imagination seemed much more exciting than the physical world itself, thus I have a strong urge to express myself, and what could be a better medium than film.
In my opinion, the greatest difficulty in co-productions is that average American audience doesn’t have the habit of watching subtitled films. Finding a story appealing to both markets is the first step, how it is presented then becomes the difficult part, but I believe film is a universal language.
The Chinese film market is booming as the Chinese audience is gradually building up the habit of going to theaters. Though in terms of the content, I feel we are lacking diversity. If we look at film as products, then we definitely need to focus more on the development of genre films. There are so many talented filmmakers who are not granted a chance, so I wish opportunities for filmmakers can be divided more evenly. I’m currently working on a low budget feature for my thesis film. Hopefully in 5 years, I will be able to make one feature film a year and be able to rise the funding to make it happen. Most definitely, by then I will be based in China and I will be working towards bringing Chinese stories to global attention.