As many of you may know, I have been working as the China producer on an incredibly ambitious, sweeping 3-year project for the BBC and PBS called The Story of China. After so much time, effort, collaboration, and creativity of so many people was put into this series, it finally hit the screens on BBC 2 last night! I am really excited to see it come together and finally reach audiences around the world. I hope viewers enjoy it, and through this film, learn new and interesting things about China, its people, and their stories. I have no doubts that the film will become an instant hit. As so many Chinese interviewees have said during our filming: “We have to know about our history, because that is only way to truly understand our present day.”
It was such a privilege for me to work with both renowned historical documentary filmmaker Michael Wood, who wrote and presented for the film, and Rebecca Dobbs, the producer/director. We dug deep for stories, looked beyond the impossible, and got all walks of life involved in the making of this film. All of our interviewees’ passion about their history combined with ours to make this film truly magical. At the same time, the experience certainly made me a better filmmaker.
We faced many challenges along the way – permits, timing, finding the best location, the most interesting contributors, and overall to produce a 6-hour documentary that tells compelling stories covering 4,000 vast years of Chinese history. We certainly went off the beaten road, looked pass the ordinary, and got rewarded with great results – a history film that connects the past and present, told by Chinese people themselves that covers all walks of life – not just emperors and famous figures. When a local farmer tells you a story of an important historical figure by starting the sentence with “my great-great aunt”, or a local shopkeeper points at the corner of a street saying right there is where it happened a thousand years ago, you know you are onto a great story.
I feel that I helped to make this successful by being passionate and professional. I got involved in this series early on and since then helped with research, location scouting/recce, suggesting locations, contributors, ideas, footage, and more, always trying to tell the story from a more interesting way. I have been in charge of filming permits, coordinating with contributors, local authorities and locations, putting together a China-based professional crew that were also fun to work with, hiring equipment and all the logistics and made the filming go as smoothly as possible. I acted as the producer/director for the pick-up shoots as well.
This valuable experience has made me even more confident in handing large-scale international productions and has elevated my visual storytelling skills to a new level. This has in turn helped me to become a better director as well as a producer. I am always on the lookout for new opportunities like this and eager to bring the skills and experience that I have gained from previous productions like The Story of China to new projects. I look forward to new challenges and learning more about this art as I continue on in this exciting career.
Here is what Michael and Rebecca had to say about the experience working with me:
“It has been a total pleasure working with you this last two and a bit years- you have been fantastic and we have so appreciated your professionalism, skill and thoughtfulness, and your good advice (as well as your patience with us and your sense of humor!!!)” – Michael Wood, Writer/Presenter, Mayavision Intl’, Story of China, BBC/PBS
“It has been an absolute pleasure working with you – you have been kind, fun, professional and brilliant in equal measure.” – Rebecca Dobbs, Executive Producer, Mayavision Intl’, Story of China, BBC/PBS
If you are in the UK, I strongly urge you to watch this amazing film on BBC 2 every Thursday at 9 pm or on the BBC iplayer. If you cannot watch it in your region, don’t worry and check out this sizzle reel: