In order to escape the hubbub of city life I made an impromptu trip four hours to the north of the Twin Cities to a small, remote town on the south shore of Lake Superior. Having not traveled since returning from China last October, this was a much-needed getaway. The trip was also brought on by the desire to check out the nearby sea caves, which due to the coldest and snowiest winter in decades, had been talked up so much that tens of thousands of people were coming up on weekends to have a look, whereas in the past it’s likely been below one thousand for the year.
On the second day of shooting we planned to film all scenes with the main character and Bill, a middle aged failure in his home country of Australia, now making it as an English teacher in China. The shoot consisted of three different locations: the classroom from the previous day, some neighborhoods near the center of the old city, and some shots in Bill’s own bar (by coincidence, the actor and character share the same first name).
When I made the initial shooting schedule, I planned to shoot the most difficult scenes first (the scenes with the most actors and extras in them).
It has been a long time since my last post, almost five whole months. I actually have thought about posting many times, and even have a stash of posts which I’ve never published (but promise to publish soon). Besides editing, one of the things that has held me back from posting recently is the lack of pictures to go along with my posts, which are all about film making in China, and I’ve unfortunately used up all my pictures on my last post! That’s actually not totally true, and I will find at least one good pic that is related to the film when I do post it.
I’ve been back in my USA home for about 4 months and have enjoyed spending time with all my family and friends, as well as the weather when it’s not freezing outside. I have yet to enjoy the weather. I continue to try and find the perfect work life balance, and while it still eludes me I am hopeful about the future.
Before filming this most recent short film, I had a lot of doubts as to whether or not we were going to be able to pull the film off. Would I get kicked out of China for saying something bad about the country? Would people allow us to film in some of the settings I was envisioning? Would we be able to get enough help?
My most recent trip to Hong Kong included swimming at beach known as Sai Wan in the northwest of Hong Kong’s New Territories. Despite a little bit of rain, and no-shark-net swimming, there was still a good amount of sun and warm water to be enjoyed. None of the other twenty people swimming yelled “shark!” even once.
Early May, 2013: In the mountains of old Anhui province, my friends, brother and I navigated the ancient merchant trail used for transporting goods between Anhui Province to Zhejiang Province. Known as the Hui Hang Caravan Trail, or Huihang Gu Dao (徽杭古道) to Chinese people, the trail is now a travel destination complete with rustic lodging along the path. Owing to hiking during the week, the trial was pleasantly mostly empty, save for old women selling nuts and water. Here’s how the adventure went.
I didn’t find Jiaxing to be so hot when I first moved here in 2011 but it grew on me as I have met more people and developed myself here. Located at the nexus of four major Chinese cities: Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Suzhou, Jiaxing will boom in the next five years.
You know when you keep jumping back and forth about whether or not you want to do something for months and never take action? Good times.
I thought about leaving my now-former employer to pursue my own interests in writing and film for six months before finally doing it. When you fear doing something though, as I did, your mind subconsciously sabotages you so that you don’t take action (at least mine does). The mind is very clever in how it preys upon weaknesses to get you to not take action. Below are some counterproductive self-talk techniques my mind employed in order to prevent me from taking the leap of telling my employer, “Well I’ve learned a lot here but I think it’s time for a change…”
One question I sometimes get asked by the townspeople is, “How did you learn Chinese?” or “Where did you learn Chinese?” It is hard to sum this up in only a sentence or two, but usually I tell them 到处都学 (dao4 chu4 dou1 xue2): I learn everywhere. Many of them may be expecting an answer like, at Bejing Language College or Shanghai Foreign Language University. I tell them that I learned most of it from my friends and colleagues and practice it on everyone I meet. Which is true, though some of my friends have definitely taken on a teacher role for a month or year at a time and that is how I really learned. I have also taken a few classes at language training centers these last couple years, some proving more beneficial than others.