New York Film Academy Chinese Student Club invited one of our MFA Filmmaking graduates, Jing Wen, a Chinese filmmaker who studied at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles to screen her short film A, B, C or D? followed by a Q&A last week.
“I like to observe people’s facial expression, voice, and body language in order to understand them,” says Jing. “That’s one the most important skills a director needs to learn and practice because film ideas are inspired by observations from life and they are a reflection of reality.” As a writer and director with a record of success, Jing Wen is never satisfied with her own films and always believes that there is something she could do better.
Inspired by the story structure of Run Lola Run, Rushmore and the 2006 Chinese comedy Crazy Stone, Jing wrote the short film A, B, C or D? as her thesis project. Her final shooting script came out after workshops during her thesis committee meetings and was rewritten seven or eight times during her study at the Academy. “The production only took about two days and in fact we shot for one and a half days.” Jing described, “it saved us a lot on budget, but the biggest challenge we face, like many young filmmakers doing student films, is that we lost one of the main cast a few days before the principle of photography started.” It helped that three quarters of the crew working on her short film were friends who she met on classmates’ sets and were doing her a favor. She suggested that our current students at New York Film Academy begin coming up with ideas no later than March if they want to start shooting between May and July. “It’ll give you enough time to absorb others’ opinions and achieve a more mature storytelling,” she said.
Jing not only shared her production experience but also gave important lessons she learned along the way. “It is extremely difficult for an Asian director to climb up the ladder and direct a major hit feature in Hollywood. Your experience and networking are equally important whether you want to stay in Hollywood or go back to China,” she says. In addition to filmmaking, Jing has a strong background working in the Television Industry in China. She started interning at major Chinese TV station at a young age and participated in productions of hit variety shows and games shows when she was only 19 years old. Her advice to those seeking a career in the industry was to build a relationship with people. “The most important lesson I learned is that you can’t work alone as an individual but need a team that supports one another no matter what you do or where you are,” Jing explained. “Teamwork in this particular industry together with the network you built is a weapon that will get you far.”
Jing Wen has been selected to direct a forthcoming feature comedy The Disappeared Fish later this year. The film is scheduled to release theatrically after premiering at 2016 film festivals in China. Jing is currently working with Chinese financiers on a second feature written by her. She’s working in development with a production company and is considering a TV platform release. Our Chinese students at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus had a blast listening to Jing Wen’s unique experience and we sincerely thank Jing Wen for taking the time to openly share her insight with us. We also look forward to seeing the Chinese Student Club host more events in the future to benefit NYFA students.
– Wanyin Bo