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Chasing the Stars to Pursue Our Dreams

Do you have a dream? What are you ready to do to make it come true? These questions make us think deeply of our life and the way we spend it. It is great to have a dream in your life and follow it, having a sense of aim and spend your life searching for ways to achieve it and overcome obstacle after obstacle. And then, in the end, leave something significant for this world and make people remember your face or your name.

In this article, we will tell the story about 4 youngChinese girls who strived for their dream and experienced all the hardships of it on their skin and the result of theirs hard work has become the documentary “Chasing Stars”.

The Jackie Chan Movie and Media College belongs to Wuhan Institute of Design and Sciences located far in the outskirts of Wuhan, however, it turned out to be one of the birthplaces of Wuhan’s creativity, because that’s where our girls come from. And that's where everything started.

The whole thing has begun from Shanghai project for stars footage that was assigned to the Institute. There was a very strict selection of which 4 girls were chosen to participate – Wei Xiaolan, Sun Kaimin, Wang Yuqing and TianGengyu.

The project was a very big thing indeed which required a lot of efforts, equipment, and funding (100 000 yuan), therefore, when the project was settled they decided to make a documentary about the shooting process as well. “We made two plans – Plan A was 2 successful films – the footage and the documentary, Plan B – in case the footage was not a success we will try the luck with the documentary that will tell the true story behind the footage and all the aspects of it” – says co-producer Tong Zuang

The project itself required covering a lot of aspects, you do not simply go and take pictures of stars – you need to give attention to a lot of aspects. Firstly, you need to calculate the suitable period of time in a year and moon position when you can see the clearest picture of the stars in the night. Secondly, outdoor shooting is not an easy thing – you need to consider all possible problems and prepare all the necessary gear and equipment to make the best out of your shooting and avoid major catastrophes. Thirdly,  the technical and weather conditions are not always our friends, girls faced such problems as light pollution – excessive lighting of objects in China which interfere with the shooting.

Another problem girls had to face were fogging on the lenses:

When we started shooting - fogging on lenses has become one of our greatest obstacles because it influenced the quality of the images in a very bad way, so we had to ask our teachers how to solve this problem. Some of the teachers recommended to use brushes, however, after using them we realize that lenses vibrate images get blurry, we also tried using special UV filters and anti-vapor spray but they weren’t much use. In the end, one of our teachers advised us to use USB-fans to blow right on the lenses and it turned out to be just what we needed!”- says Kaimin.

Of course, the main obstacle during night shooting is the absence of sleep, or girls had to stay up all night and keep pressing and pressing the buttons on the cameras up to the sunrise which is quite exhausting.

We had to stay up all night from 9 pm to 6 am and make the footage, and in the daytime, we needed to check whether it was successful or not. Also, the nights in China are very cold so we had to endure low temperatures as well, we used everything to keep warm” – says Xiaolan. Staying up all the night in very low temperatures was a big challenge for girls, the lowest temperature they had to face was -17 and considering the fact that some districts in China are very humid – it is quite cold.

Another great problem for the whole team was the financial question – it is very hard to predict the budget when you are dealing with nature.

“We didn’t have a fixed plan for the budget because you can never predict what financial problems you might face when you are dealing with outdoor shooting, the weather conditions weren't always in our favor and sometimes we had to come to one place again and again” – says co-producer Tong Zuang.

      The greatest obstacle for the project was that the best shooting period for them turned out to be on Spring Festival. As we all know for China Spring Festival is a very important holiday, therefore making any kind of activity during this period is very problematic, because most of the institutions and companies stop their work. Also, very little amount of people would agree to work in that period because for many people Spring Festival is the only opportunity to get back home and see their families. Especially it was hard for girls because the project would mean that they will have to give up the possibility to get back home to their families. Most of our parents usually think that in college we simply attend our classes and do our homework – what can possibly happen? So when their college kid calls and says: «I'm sorry mom, dad, I won’t be able to come home for the holiday, I have work to do», they will have a hard time understanding that their child has grown up and the time to make tough decisions has come.

      The project itself took a lot in all aspects – 21 000 km trip, 12 provinces, 12 000 pictures, 83 pieces of equipment and 100 000 yuan of the budget. The footage and documentary took 13 months, which were followed by 6 months of editing, also it took 1,5 years to compose the original music for the documentary. According to the team, the final version of the documentary was the 44th version of it – which is a great deal of work because the team wanted to keep the logical sequence of the documentary and arrange different shooting in different places in a proper sequence.

      The experience with footage and documentary has shown the girls what it takes sometimes to achieve their aim, it demonstrated them all the hardships of real working experience and adult life. After everything has ended girls felt that they grew adult and became more experience

      “Comparing to their classmates they learned to deal with the difficulties when facing them instead of just simply escaping from them. Also, they understood the sequence of making things – what should follow what and what should they start with”– says Tong Zuang.

      “We are very grateful for this chance because we had an opportunity to travel around and see our country, after that, I realized that our China is beautiful” – says Yuqing.  

The team is planning to send the documentary to take part in Berlin and Pusan cinema festivals and receive awards.

      For us, this story is a good example and call to always pursue our dreams and never give up on them despite all the difficulties.

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