"The Beijinger" Documentary Trailer - Dir. by Dave Zhou
This documentary was one of the biggest adventures of my life. Myself and two other friends (one of which was from Beijing) flew out to Beijing for a month long trip. We shot this film on two RED Scarlet-W’s with Canon L lenses and a DJI Phantom 4 drone. We also brought with us a DJI Ronin for a few crucial tracking shots throughout the film. We spent a day hiking the Great Wall with all our camera gear in the heat and humidity of Chinese Summer. We were also given exclusive access to film Tiananmen Square for about an hour to capture a few time lapses, which was an extremely rare opportunity.
It was very important to me as cinematographer to get it right with this project. Being an outsider, I was hyper aware at all times that I was not familiar with the culture or lifestyle of the Chinese people. I took immense care to consult with the director, my good friend Dave Zhou who grew up in Beijing, to make sure I was representing the city properly in every single frame. We had quite a few very long conversations leading up to the shoot discussing the culture and the history of Beijing. Dave told me many stories about growing up and going to school there. We also spent many nights hanging out with Dave’s local friends and exploring parts of the city that weren’t in the film in order to acclimate us to the culture as much as possible. Everyone on the crew even got tattoos while we were out there! Visually, I was awestruck by the immensity and beauty of the architecture downtown and I tried to represent that accurately through my cinematography. The intense, unrelenting smog was also a key aspect to the visual aesthetic of the film.