Shanghai stories. 13

Today I will tell you something about the first short movie I released in March. You may watch it above.

1. The beginning

We had to make a final project for Chinese performing arts subject. We could make a research or make something creative. So, me and my friend and classmate Sarunas from Lithuania decided to make a creative part because it could be good experience to shoot first short movie, present our project to the public. We made a quick draft and sent it to our mentor. She told we need to explain more about events happening and only then start making the movie. We did it, created detailed scene plan. At the end created a group in Wechat to gather people. We needed to shoot on weekends, 2-3 hours each week one or two weekends. No rehearsals, no experience in acting was required.

2. The idea.

The idea covers feelings of any ordinary young person coming from smaller town or city to Shanghai. There are huge expectations of many young people, but they face reality: it’s hard to work, it’s hard to earn money, expenses are high, conditions are tough, so, one day you may realize your life is passing by and maybe you’re not that sane anymore. I admitted to our mentor, that I really believe all of us, people in big cities are insane. In our own way. To express the idea it we wanted to show scenes in real life, then scenes in «inner world», the world of thoughts of main character.

The story refers to your Chinese, but also is very applicable to any young foreigner living in a megapolis.

3. Scenes.

# 1. Real world. Main character witnesses life of Shanghai.

# 2. Real world. FPS. The character (we called him Lin). is walking to the park where many people are gathered for their activities.

# 3. Inner world. Triggered by a strange call. Character is presented 3d person. He sees the foreigner in white shirt. It’s a reference to David Lynch‘s Tall Man. He represents Sanity. And tries to warn the character that Madness is coming for him (Sanity tries to speak but words stuck). Here I was told by one classmate I made a huge mistake representing Sanity as a foreigner. People would think foreigner in white shirt as a Sanity will HUMILIATE Chinese people. I don’t give a shit about such logic to be honest. Also we put Sanity as a foreigner by one more reason — still Chinese marketing, fashion industry and fellow citizens recognize foreigners as more handsome (especially in the country).

# 4. Inner world. People walking around from wall to wall. Represents the struggle of a person in a city when you see this crowd and most of people look at phones or walk without noticing anyone around. Like robots. Like flesh. Here Lin is puzzled by these people and tries to walk avoiding them. Later Madness walks and stops just looking at the prey.

# 5. Inner world. Making pictures scene. Represents dependence of people on social media, showing off their life. Lin comes and everybody are excited to make a picture with him. They don’t care that he is a human being, a person. They want to make a pic for self promotion. Later on everybody comes back, but later Madness comes from the same direction. This time people in frame see Madness and are afraid.

# 6. Inner world. Crowd scene. Everybody walks slowly. Then a person is shown fallen on the ground. Crowd sees the person, walks, swallows, consumes the person that now is a part of the crowd again. It’s about the power of the crowd and how our EGO, our personality may be destroyed or changed by the influence of the crowd.

# 7. Inner world. Doll scene. People around are like dolls. Usually if we look around we can see that people are more interested in showing off, they are like dolls, trying to show outside more without paying attention to their mental development. Lin is walking around and finally finds Madness disguised as one of the dolls.

# 8. Inner world. Mirror. Lin becomes Mad, consumed by Madness.

# 9. Interscene faces. Represent emotions. Calm, hatred, fear, joy, shout as a matter of strong emotional impact. Emotions go from good ones to the bad and strong ones. Shouting is the last one as the strongest.

# 10. Inner world. Smiling Madness. Mission complete.

# 11. Real world. Lin sees Madness in a real world — now it will follow him. Forever or not — we don’t know.

Why VHS? Because outsider in Shanghai feels like and old school device in comparison to modern Shanghainese or at least those who came earlier. Also I just like VHS style and pixel-art.

4. Shooting.

Some positive things about shooting: (1) it was our first experience and I think not a bad one, (2) when we screened the movie, people liked it, but were puzzled, our mentor even told us it reminded her of Ingmar Bergman movies, that is really a compliment, (3) I had 0 skills in editing, although I tried so hard and improved them significantly, of course later on I saw flaws, (4) gathered many people for this project, it was non commercial at all, (5) we worked with camera, framing, we had a fun time shooting, (6) I realized I should plan everything more carefully that I planned before — directing is not easy, everything must be taken into account, you must be able to express what do you want to see from actors and everybody in a team, never be angry and just express your anger.

Negative things: (1) it’s too amateur, (2) some tension with the main lead at the end of production — anyways it gave me an important experience to be careful with actors and do casting SUPER CAREFUL, otherwise you have to reshoot the whole project, actors have a habit to become more and more arrogant, (3) 100 views in youtube, super «win», (4) I need to reedit everything, (5) sound effects are bad, need to be improved.

5. Conclusion.

This experience was amazing and gave me significant impact to work more. And to buy new laptop lol. One day I put my laptop in a freezer at my bar, because rendering got my laptop to the top temperature.

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