AMERICAN & CHINESE FILM GROWS CLOSER WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM XIN GONG

While there are many things that separate the peoples of the world, the Arts have always been something that brings us all together. It can be the Beatles singing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” or a Monet painting…any number of creative expressions that allow different cultures to intuitively feel our unifying threads rather than discord. When a new facet of an art form is developed it also allows for a possible harmonious cooperation amongst those of different backgrounds. Hollywood filmmaking is cresting a century of creating world renowned films. China has a much more blossoming film industry but is bringing its own identity and talent to the acclaim of a great deal of critics, audiences, and peers. Technological advancements have changed both the look of movies and the way they are made. One of the newest careers in film is that of Digital Imaging Technician or DIT. Xin Gong is a DIT who hails from China but has worked with a number of American productions. Her talent as a DIT as well as her ease in communicating and working with both US and Chinese cultures has allowed her to become a bridge between these two film centers. Helping these differing professionals cooperate while using her knowledge of both industry’s strengths is what she did as DIT for the film Devil and Angel. This 2015 comedy feature was made in China but employed a number of professionals from both America and China. Xin found that more than her DIT skills made her valuable on this production as well as taught her about the people from both areas.

DIT is a fairly new job in filmmaking. As technology quickly advances, DIT’s are becoming responsible for more and more things. In the United States, crew members are familiar with the most modern duties of a DIT, as opposed to the more traditional view of Chinese filmmakers that the DIT is primarily concerned with keeping the footage safe. Gong worked on this specific film because it afforded her the opportunity to change this perception. Xin wanted this predominantly Chinese crew to be aware of her ability to provide options for the directors and DPs, to let them know there are many things that the DIT can do to make the production process a lot more convenient. Gong seized many an opportunity to exhibit how she could help to set data of both cameras and footage and make all the digitalized imaging devices work, such as: monitors, sound devices and the Teradek. Communicating extensively with the DP, Director, and post-production to help these different sects of the team make adjustments and fine tune the field production process. In truth, the DIT is the gate keeper of the film. No one on the set can take a look at the story until Xin decodes and color correct the raw footage.

Cooperating within the nucleus of the camera team and director was not the limitation of this for Devil and Angel. While the film was shot in China, the production recognized and respected the talent of US film professionals. Employing such professionals would not only increase the quality of the final product but would serve as a learning process for those not familiar with the Hollywood way of doing things. As a native of China but with a strong command of the English language as well as extensive knowledge of the American filmmaking process, Gong often acted as a verbal and professional conduit between members of the crew. While there was an obvious language barrier, there was also a difference in opinion about how to approach certain aspects of the filming process. Once again, being proficient in both cultures film process, Xin was able to correlate a process which resulted in both sides finding positivity in the results.

The talented professionals behind the camera need to coordinate and communicate in order to enable the professionals in front of the camera to portray the story. Devil and Angel is a romance which begins with a car crash. The two main characters, Xiaodao Zha & Feili Mo, are combative and somewhat self-centered early in the movie but they get to know each other through a series of cooperative circumstances. Eventually they fall in love as they let down the protective walls that separate them. The film’s story contains the universal theme of love but also vividly expresses some cultural differences. US films tend towards everyday realism while those of China focus on mind and spirit. China prefers a group working together for success while most American films focus on a single hero. The production of this film proves that the borders which separate the two country’s film industries are not as separate as they used to be.

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Along with the rest of the production team, it was Gong’s goal that Devil & Angel be well received, which it was. Even more than this, Xin wanted to prove that as things evolve it can be beneficial for all involved parties. Through her exceptional work, she convinced her fellow professionals that a DIT can assist the film in a number of ways. Through her positive attitude and comfortability with different languages and cultures, she helped them to see that we can all become better through cooperation.

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