China Diary

Day 62: Big Sets


Qingdao is going through its’ transformation from jolly, sunny and funny beautiful beer city into a long drink -colored, windy and chilly harbor city. Simultaneously, our location manager has started to lose locations we had already chosen and what we thought, “locked”, but as Lei my first AD says – in China, be always prepared to change the plans in a moment’s notice. This are approximately what you thought you had agreed with, but then… not exactly. There’s always a bit of space for some freestyling – and for us Nords, it’s a concept we’re not very versatile in. We believe if something is said to be one thing or another, it stays like that until the end of the world and beyond. Flexibility is not what our culture is known for.

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Me and production designer, mr. Wang. Yeah, you don’t have to say it, I do feel oversized here. 

The first scouting day started out as a bit of a disappointment. We went through only a handful of suitable locations and none of them was like “wow, amazing!” – until we arrived to the studios where our production designer, mr. Wang, had been working on the first sets. That’s when I really felt the film coming alive! Seeing the floors being built and the spaces being formed is a huge jolt of creativity for the weary – the pictures start to float in my eyes, lifting the lines from the script into imagined performances on the set, forming storyboard pictures into actual images, stitching the transitions together and building worlds that I wish would exist. And the peace of a studio is when I really enjoy filmmaking. Walking by myself in a freshly built set that still smells of recently cut wood, sawdust, with a small group of workers silently talking in the background, it’s a beautiful moment to slow down and take the first whiffs of the film that’s about to be born, soon.

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A Command Center. I find myself making films which always have a location called “Command Center”, and it’s always described – you guessed it – huge.

In the evening, we had – of course – a dinner. And what a grand dinner it was: located in a karaoke bar / restaurant, the seafood filled the tables and the gam-beis echoed in the room as we celebrated our return, and the impending start of the shoot in just two weeks’ time.

Simultaneously, it also means she’s coming over in just a little over two weeks. This is filling me with a slight jittery feeling; it’s almost like meeting my pen pal for the first time. We’ve been talking so much on Skype and WeChat, without being able to have any other real connection, for the last two-and-a-half months that the idea that very soon I get to touch her hair and smell her face is making me anxious. I’m not sure which one I’m actually waiting for more: the start of my biggest and most ambitious film production, one which I’ve been preparing for over a year and will be shooting for over 70 days with a budget of twenty five million, or the fact that I get to see her for a week soon.

Actually, fuck it. I know exactly which I’m waiting for more.

Yeah. Her.

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