So I wanted to back track to this past April where I had the opportunity to shoot in China again...specifically Xishuangbanna which is located just above Thailand, Laos and Burma. I can't spill many details about the project because it's a bit top secret but the stuff we shot will for sure be some of the most amazing things I've been able to film overseas.
Everything I had the opportunity to shoot had some cultural significance to Chinese culture....and where we shot, I think our team happened to be the only westerners present at any of these events! Talk about amazing, getting to see all of these deeply embedded traditions, take part in them at times and to literally be the only westerners present was such a gift!
The big event we were covering was the Water Splashing Festival where the Dai ethnic minority have their New Years celebration, according to the Dai calendar, where over a three day period thousands of people engage in playful religious rituals that ultimately end up in everyone getting doused with water...including me!!! Luckily I had rain protection for my gear, a great Assistant Camera and Chinese handlers who would rush me out of situations when they got a little too crazy! At times, because I was the only westerner present with this big camera on my shoulder, I actually became the target!!! Although it was with all good, playful intentions I'm sure, it got a bit sketchy at times....By the end of it I was literally soaked from head to toe! ...and yes my camera survived :)
My favorite part of the celebrations was the Kongming Lantern Festival held at night! You know, the lanterns you see people lighting in movies that fly off into the night sky...yea, it was pretty freaking amazing!!! This was one of the events I also got to participate in and getting those things to fly is no easy feat!! I saw a number of people dodging lanterns on fire that didn't quite have the take off they had hoped for. Still pretty magical though :)
Lastly, my favorite part of my overall trip and it's what's most important to me, yes, more than the cinematography itself, is getting to work with great people! The producers, director and team we had on board were a ton of fun to film with! I also had the opportunity to shoot with a friend I went to school with that is now based out of Shanghai. Lin Yueh is a Cinematographer himself both 2D and 3D and has been doing some amazing projects in China over the time we've been out of school!...which has been quite some time now that I think about it..... Yueh and I worked together on a boxing short film set in the 1930's when we were in school together, another one of my most memorable projects. Yueh was kind enough to come out and assist me on this project and having him on board made the project that much more special. Thanks again for coming on board Yueh! Until the next one :)