China Diary

China Diary

Day 180: The Sum Of It All

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Directing a VFX heavy film is fragmented business. Writing the scenes into the script is one thing, but really starting to develop the shots from scratch to screen is quite a task. Usually, as a director you develop the shots slowly. First part is usually the dialogue between the cinematographer and you: what kind of shots are needed to tell the story. Then, you start dividing those shots into elements that can be shot, or agree that it needs to be done full CG.

When shooting, you usually have either storyboard or sometimes an animated storyboard (we call them animatics or previsualizations) to give an example or a detailed account on how the shot would be, even if you only have a character sitting in a green room on a green chair talking with nothing but green walls – at least you know what camera angles you need to portray the story the way you as a director have in mind.

Editing you do your best with what you have. Usually at this stage, the VFX company hasn’t necessarily provided all the shots even in a crude format to really form an understandable edit, but as a director you anyhow know quite exactly what kind of shots you will need, and are able to discuss it with the editor. Sometimes, VFX company will drop you with some rough sketches, but sometimes it’s just a black screen describing the element.

It’s really the dialogue you have with the VFX supervisor which in the end turns into actual shots and detailed sequences, and it begins already on the set, and continues during the whole production. One of the key things after the shoot is done is the “spotting” phase, where you sit together with the VFX supervisor and some heads of department, and go through the film, shot by shot, describing in as much detail as possible what you need, want, wish or demand.

Spotting session about to begin.

We started this process with our VFX team yesterday, with the latest cut in our hand and delivered to the VFX company, and then screened the whole thing – well, started the screening, that is – on the big screen, going indeed shot by shot, unloading my mind to them. I enjoy working with Chris our current supervisor, he’s a modest guy who knows he’s working with a top team but doesn’t make a scene out of it, he listens my ramblings and takes it all in, offers his own ideas quite amply but trusts very much on which way I want to steer the story. We have some pretty hard shots in the movie, partially also because we didn’t always have adequate green screen environments, so a lot of hand roto is required as well, but his attitude is good: “no problem”, and if there is a problem, he’s willing to find solutions to work it out. Only once or twice I came upon a situation where he says something would be extremely tricky to produce, and suggests we find another solution. And even then, there can be a way to make it happen.

This is I guess the key about many aspects of filmmaking – the attitude needs to be “if there is a will, there is a way”, instead of trying to either go around the easy route or just saying “nope, can’t be done”. You encounter that attitude unfortunately sometimes during the production or post production, and nothing angers me more. Almost every time there is a way, you just have to open the mind and be willing to find the solution. And if there is not a way, then you have to be creative to conceive the same thing. But sometimes you get this stonewall answer of “it’s impossible”, which I refuse to believe. I mean, we can make films nowadays of lizards flying in an alien planet full of four meter tall blue people in 3D, we probably can do almost anything a script can throw at you nowadays.

Of course, it’s the matter of resources, and that’s when things get interesting. There’s always time, and money, and quality, and usually you can only pick two. But even then, when you are out of some resources, you can find a way. It begins with the will to want to exceed yourself, and I guess that’s one of director’s main tasks: to create a movie, an environment where people working on it want to do just that, to exceed themselves.

It’s hard to do in any other medium of visual storytelling, but film has that quality on the people working on it: they want it to be more than the sum of its’ parts.

During the spotting, we got through half of the film, and will continue tomorrow. And after that, well, it’s my time to head back home for now, and jump back onboard Iron Sky The Coming Race, which we have to finish before the autumn!

A Blade Runner weather.
China Diary

Day 179: Branching out

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On Tuesday, we screened the film once again to Max, based on the last round of feedback we had, both mine and Max’s combined. The flow was now pretty good, I didn’t get bored at any point, and mostly all of the changes we made made true sense. After the screening we had a lengthy discussion with Max on how to improve some bits, and although there’s one scene we disagree on, I’m beginning to lean on his side on it, while he has accepted some changes I find essential: all in all, we’re pretty well in shape with the film.

Feedback now digested, we sat down together with mrs. Fang for the last round of actual editing together at this time, implementing the feedback and even came up with a brilliant (possibly) solution for a scene that was still sticking out like a sore thumb. I haven’t seen the full run just yet, but I believe it might very well be the correct way to go about it.

But mostly everything is now just about getting the film ready for delivery to the VFX department, for them to get their job started full speed. Tomorrow, we would be going to them and screen the film with them, spotting the visual effects and explaining in detail what to do with them.

It was already quite late when we finished the work, but I was craving for some food, so Tanja dug out a nice hot pot joint for me which was still open and I went there – by myself. I actually assumed since Tanja chose the place that she’d join me for company, but that’s really not how it works. She walked me to the restaurant, helped me order and then went on her merry way, leaving me by myself enjoying what turned out to be a delicious meal of hotpot.

A lonely dinner.

I really have a dream to bring this hot pot tradition to Finland and set up a chain of restaurants focusing on the simplicity and beauty of hot pot food in Finland, a country not aligned towards shared dinners. This place had a special system: they had pieces of meat on wooden sticks, and you just chose as many sticks you wanted from the fridge – each cost 1 yuan – and stick them in the pot. Later on, the waiter counts how many empty sticks you have and the price is there. Again, brilliant and simple.

A Finnish version of hot pot would offer in addition to typical meat, also reindeer, cabbage, herrings, a variety of mushrooms and rieska for the wheat bread. I even have a name for the place: Pannu kuumana. Anyone wanna join? Let’s branch into restaurant industry!

The hot pot restaurant is just across the street from Moli, the small whiskey bar I frequented with Mika back when we were doing prep here, so I decided to refresh my memory and went in there, reading Annika’s latest article she sent me for reviewing and enjoying a nice Godfather drink. The place is really a beauty: nice smooth jazz, very dark and beautifully furnished, makes you feel you’re in 20’s Chicago instead of ’10’s Beijing – only giveaway is the waiter who speaks absolutely no English – even the word “beer” is completely out of his vocabulary.

Overground wiring in Beijing can be quite… Tetsuo-like.

Then, I walked home through dark Beijing night, with a twist of whiskey, chili tasting in my mouth, hiding the metallic taste of the pollution in the air.

China Diary

Day 178: Polluted

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One of my many blessings in a acute nose for mold. Actually, my only blessing. I guess I’m not very blessed… Anyway, I can tell, from the first second I enter into a room whether or not there’s mold somewhere there. The smell is faint, kind of sweet and dusty at the same time, and it can’t be ignored.

Yesterday’s agenda was a bunch of meetings with several post production facilities; one of them had a moldy screening room. I bet nobody else noticed anything, it was very fancy and all that, but I would never be able to work there for more than few hours at a time, or I get a runny nose and sort of sick instantly.

One thing China seems to have a lot of are these “media parks”, which are just office buildings for creative industries. Media park becomes “media” when it has big glass windows, big lobbies with some wood or interesting metal structure elements, and “park” after instead of doing straight roads, they scatter the buildings all over and build winding roads that lead randomly from here to there and definitely not directly where you need to go.

The days are getting warmer. Leaving Finland, I only bought my heavy Black Yak winter jacket I bought for our shoot in China, but now, as the thermometer is climbing closer to 21 degrees, it’s completely useless. The weird flu I’ve had was on yesterday, so I decided to jump around in my t-shirt, which was too little, though, to make sure I either get a good cold or scare the stuff off.

This morning, waking up, I can tell the latter worked. I’m flu-free. I’ve said this before, and I say it again: I never get sick, unless I want to.

The day was much about just sitting in the car and riding from one place to another. I saw a good selection of colorist reels and from what I could deduct, the Asians like more colorful films than Westerners, based on a very limited empirical study (three reels). But thinking back on Asian films I’ve seen, though, there might be some truth to it.

Beijing traffic.

Aside from being pretty warm, the weather has been just terrible; I mean, the pollution is worse than ever before I’ve been in China. The air quality index hit 250 today in Beijing, somewhere even up to 300, and you can feel it.

Just as a reference, the official determination of AQI of 200-300 says: “Heavily polluted” – “Healthy people will commonly show symptoms. People with respiratory or heart diseases will be significantly affected and will experience reduced endurance in activities.”

Enough a reason I really miss being back in Finland.

But luckily, I’ll be going back on Friday! Yay! Freezing cold end-of-the-winter awaits, but at least I can breath outside….

China Diary

Day 177: Queer As Folk

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Sundays in Beijing are the only days I have off, and since last night I had gone to bed early enough, I was feeling terribly energetic as I woke up. For a while I read and answered emails, but then I felt the need to fill my soul getting a hold of me, so I jumped into my Timberlands (I know I’ve used this before, but I like the image) and headed outside.

First stop was a museum. I haven’t seen that much of cultural heritage here in China, save the mandatory Wall and Forbidden City, so I chose – because of the International Women’s Day, which was just few days ago – to go check out an exhibition featuring women painters in China.

“And now all the vultures are coming down from the tree
So he’s going to be in the gallery”, Dire Straits sings.

Truly a spectacular exhibition! Some of the most terrific paintings I’ve seen in ages, although I had no way of deducting who was the painter, nor the painting name, but one that really struck me was a huge set of paintings about a stretching man. Every muscle and wrinkle described in detail, it felt like watching one of those Michaelangelo’s studies.

I was being lucky with the taxis, so next stop was a nice little coffee house called Bookworm, which is also a bookstore and some kind of a library. There, they had an LGBT discussion I bought a ticket to; I’ve been interested in sexuality-related discourse ever since reading Cacilda Jetha’s and Christopher Ryan’s “Sex At Dawn” some years back (probably, uhh, like ten years ago) so I was hoping to get an insight on how lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are having it over here in China.


Unfortunately, as it is in so many cases like this, the discussion is way too advanced for me to really follow; I’m not familiar with the organisations behind the LGBT movement, the disputes they’re having between each others, nor am I in full understanding of all the niches they speak – there’s pansexuality, non-binary this, asexual that… I realized I was out of my league there, but did gather something important: While China has changed rapidly in the last decade, so has the acceptance and understanding of sexuality, too. One of the speakers told a story where ten years ago, she went back to her home village, her mother asked if she was doing lesbian porn in Beijing, when she told she had participated in LGBT things. Now, a decade later, her mother was criticising her relationship with another woman not because she was a woman, but because she was afraid the age gap would lead to her young girlfriend dumping her for someone younger and leaving her lonely for the rest of her life. Yes, Asian parents are famous for criticising their children’s life choices, but at least now the focus was in actual things, not some misconception on what being “lesbian” means.

Bookworm, being located in the Sanlitun area, is full of foreigners, so it was nice to see few other faces than the Chinese ones, and hear other languages, discussions you could follow (eavesdrop, that is) while reading a book. I sipped a glass of wine there, enjoying the atmosphere, and then decided to go sample the famed Georgian restaurant relatively close by.

Located in yet another embassy area, the place is Georgian to the bone: wooden structures outside and a statue of a Georgian guy with moustache (possibly some famed Georgian, wouldn’t know) welcomed me inside. The service was typical Georgian: no smiles (goes well with Beijing service culture) or unnecessary politeness, just terrific rustic food: a beef stew, khinkali-dumplings and Georgian khachapuri-bread, and a glass of terrific Georgian Saperavi-wine.

Georgia On My Mind…

When it comes to wine, truly every other country can just step aside, since Georgians, they wipe the floor with everyone else’s tasteless liquids. Their eight thousand years of winemaking history make them the best wine country in the world.

Smile you fool.

Yes, but. That was that. My day off. Some culture, some politics and some food. Yet, never did I feel as lonely as on that day, walking alone through the galleries and streets watching people having fun together. I’m not much of a socialite myself, and although I do enjoy company, I’m not amazing in crashing into an outside company. I’ll rather sit back and read my book and observe than push myself on others, but that does leave me feeling quite outsider.

Ah, well. Hotel room was inviting and I enjoyed a good rest after the day.

I leave you with a picture of this beautiful cheese-and-egg bread called “khachapuri”, which is amazing. Also, consists of negative calories – more you eat, the more you lose weight! True fact!
China Diary

Day 176: Visualize This!

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So I woke up at healthy 4:30am, but to my great surprise, Annika was still up, so we hooked up via Whatsapp and shared a nice three hour phonecall, rambling through everything in our lives, futures, pasts, our theories, ideas, jokes… A nice way to spend the morning hours. After she went back to bed, I dragged myself to breakfast, enjoying a hefty plate full of all things unhealthy, then back up and to bed.

“A bowl of noodles every day gives you a good attitude for life. We use our heart to make good noodles.”

Finding lunch is not easy around where I am. The whole area is centered around a bunch of big hotels, and all the services are crafted to serve the customers of the hotels, so the prices are high and quality low, as it usually is with services for tourists. So it takes quite a challenge to find a spot to enjoy a decent, local, delicious and not-rip-off -priced meal. For me, there’s two options: the good old McD, which is boring but quite secure, and then a small noodle place just around the corner from the office.

This place is amazing. It’s literally five tables and a chef -type of an establishment, which serves nothing but a cup of beef noodles, but it’s a huge bowl and the noodles are delicious. It’s also one of the few places I can get a smile from the service, there’s a pretty Chinese girl sometimes behind the counter and maybe it’s because she’s not jaded enough, or she’s genuinely enjoying her job, but it’s a rare occasion to see a service person here who doesn’t hate the fact you enter their establishment and try to acquire their services.

Heaven On Plate. 

Back at the office, there wasn’t too much for me to do. We had decided to focus on two bigger sequences, but it turned out they were pretty fast sorted out – the other one was easy, just cut it in half and we’re done, and the other one we can’t do too much about, until we have some rudimentary post-visualizations to see how to go about the scene.

Filmmaking consists of three stages of visualization. Usually, the first is the storyboard. It’s a rough, or sometimes more elaborate, sketch on what shots you need to shoot during the production period of the film, i.e. during the shoot. My approach to storyboards is quite free: you draw them, but then you rarely look at them again. The information you have lodges into your brain and once you start shooting, you’ll follow your memory or intuition to shoot the scene. My DOP for sure follows them a bit more closely, to make sure we have all we need, but for me, it’s more a way to draft out the film in my head, but the real thing happens on the set.

Sometimes, to make sure you’ll shoot a complex scene correctly, you’ll need a previsualization. The previz tells you in much more accurate detail what shots you need, and what kind of plate shots you need to acquire a shot. Say there’s a scene where there’s a car crash on the road with our actors going around the damage. Previz shot tells you to shoot a plate with just the cars and the stunt drivers, a plate with just the accident, and a plate with the actors on a trailer reacting to it. It tells you in exact detail what size of a shot you need, what lenses to use, what angle to choose and how to blend it all together. Very helpful, but needed only for the most complex bits.

Then, there’s the post-visualization. That’s what happens after the film is shot, and edited together. Post-visualization is, by definition, made to help the editor cut the film correctly, so it’s a rough, usually animated sketch of an upcoming VFX shot, which is inserted in the cut to make sure the pacing is there, that the needed shots are in production. Sometimes, post-visualization may serve as the basis of the upcoming final shot, too.

After having watched Iron Sky: The Ark few times over, I did realize we are in dire need of some post-visualization for the ending bit. What we’ve shot is merely a brush of what we need, so there’s that to be done, but we decided to leave it for later, it’s better to do that face-to-face with the VFX supervisor.

But that’s going to be one hell of a scene.

Afterwards, I let mrs. Fang to start going through the film, snipping, tucking, nipping and fiddling with the details, and headed for the wild Saturday night of Beijing. First, I had a super stylish haircut in a nice salon, then, went to H&M to buy some socks and T-shirts of which I’m running out, and then agreed together with Chinese clothing market that they don’t make clothes that would ever, in a thousand years fit me. Their XL is well, not the European XL.

Last thing for the night was to head over to the very heart of the business center of Beijing, where the huge skyscrapers and massive malls, with names like China World and World Trade Center line the streets. After spending time in the Hutongs and different parts of Beijing, the business center is the least interesting and most foreboding part of the city. There’s so much money floating around there it makes me feel sick.

China World Mall, Beijing.

I met with my amazing assistant David to talk about our post-shoot life for a burger at Blue Frog at China World Mall. Despite being a horrible mall with horrible shops and people all around – and man, the Chinese like to dress up to show off – the burger was good. We had a nice chat with him, and he was talking about his wishes on becoming a director one day (I can’t understand, after what he went through as my assistant during the shoot, but every man has to make their mistakes themselves, right?), so we chatted a bit about that.


Then, it was time to head back to the hotel. I crashed almost immediately, after a short chat with Annika, and slept like a little baby until wee morning hours.

Cyberpunk 2020 or Beijing 2018? 
China Diary

Day 175: Sorting Through The Feedback

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Ah, the glamour of filmmaking. Our edit suite is quite a fancy one, right?

After the initial screening and first round of feedback, we crawled back to our edit room and started going through the notes. I had written a good handful of notes myself, that look like this:

  • (SCENE NAME) is too long. Let’s get it out faster.
  • (CHARACTER NAME) introduction is not interesting enough, his personality doesn’t come through.
  • (SCENE NAME) beginning is a little bit of a stumble.
  • (SCENE NAME) is probably in the right place; rather long, though. Wonder if we can shorten it somehow?

In addition to this, Max had made his notes, in Chinese, which were then translated and sent out to me. Pretty much we agreed on most of the things, save maybe few things on which I believe to be important he thought not so much, and vice versa. But still, pretty good and consistent feedback which will help to make the film better for sure. The important stuff was that we both were willing to give up some scenes we might’ve thought having been very central to the story, but in the edit didn’t really bring anything we would’ve missed.

Well, at least we have some cool stuff to throw to the extended cut we’ll put out on a DVD later on.

Other than that, that was mostly it for the day. I had caught something that felt like a slight brush of flu, although I mostly blame the pollution out there, so I headed home and basically crashed at 7pm, waking up not before 4:30 am.

Mrs. Fang editing.

Video of the day!

Back in October, I tortured my driver by blasting Type O Negative loud and clear as we drove across the city between shooting locations and hotel.

China Diary

Day 174: Reaping What We’ve Sown

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For quite some time we have been working with mrs. Fang to put together a version of the movie to screen it to our producers, and yesterday was the day. We gathered into a small screening room at Jiabo and blasted away. In addition to Max, our line producer mr. Zhu was there, Tanja our post production coordinator, as well as writer, mr. Yu and of course me and mrs. Fang.

My feeling of the film is that it’s definitely getting together nicely. The pacing of the first third and last third work pretty well, there’s still some solving to do in the second act, but it’s not so much about how to make the story work but what to leave out of it. It’s a shame to cut good stuff out, but if it stops the flow, it has got to go.

After the screening I was hoping for a round of feedback, but since we don’t have a good translator anymore with us, Max decided to ask mrs. Fang to his room and gave it directly to her. When she came back, she – still recovering from the flu – was quite beat, but deciphered some of the thoughts the producer had, and now our task is to start tackling them. I also had a good heap of notes, some smaller some bigger, to make things better but most important factor is: the general direction is correct, now we “only” have to cut, paste and cut again to make the whole thing together so that when you watch it in the theatres, you’ll feel that it’s all one full piece.

Just as I was about to head back home, Tanja stopped me and told we’re actually to have a dinner with our VFX department! I had totally forgotten it, and before the dinner I would need to visit a mall to get myself a new portable speaker since the one I had – Bose SoundLink II – got lost on the last shooting day in Qingdao.

So we hopped on a taxi and then, well, got introduced to Beijing traffic. It’s quite an infamous thing indeed, but literally, we sat in an unmoving car for 40 minutes until we decided it’s better we just pay the driver, get out and wiggle our way through the traffic on foot to the mall.

I found my new speaker at a Bose store, Bose Revolve Plus, and managed to get it some 60€ cheaper than from Finland, so it was a bargain. But to get back to the traffic, that was out of question, so we decided instead take the subway. Now, there’s another thing that’s quite crowded in Beijing, but surprisingly – I was expecting Moscow or New York -style old rattling subway – the underground is really sleek and modern. And very, very crowded. But definitely much handier way to travel through the trafficy streets than trying with the car.


Our restaurant was a brilliant hot pot place which served a feast to remember! Our VFX company brought in the boss of the company and bunch of people from the production pipeline, and we ended up having amazing conversations on human origins, sexuality (!) and visual effects. One topic was the Oscars – I asked how they felt about VFX Oscar going to Blade Runner, and some thought it was deserved, but some agreed that the apes of Planet of the Apes were technically quite staggering as well.

To present the lamb is truly fresh, it’s served on a standing plate. 

After the brilliant dinner me and Chris took a taxi and headed for quick drink at the small alleys close to where he lives, to a small comfortable bar which had some live music. We unloaded quite a lot about the production and the shootings with him, and while we agreed our shoot was quite heavy, Chris mentioned the two ones he was supervising before, and they sounded even crazier.

Beijing alleys

For example, I didn’t know that a production can have toilets separate for men, women and Hong Kong crew.

At home, I called my dear wife and spoke a good hour with her about this and that, until dozed off for the first time in a semi-decent time.


China Diary

Day 173: Chilling with CFG

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China Film Group is China’s biggest and most influential film enterprise, which distributes, produces and finances films for China market. With Max’s connections, we’ve created a good relationship with them and they have supported Iron Sky: The Ark from the beginning, which is imperative for the film to succeed. On Wednesday, we paid a visit to them, talking about films and also their recent trip to Finland, which hopefully comes fruitful as there’s a planned co-production agreement being drafted between China and Finland, making official co-productions easier.

His Master’s Voice?

After the meeting, me and May, our Canadian-Chinese co-producer had a nice chat, and her sons joined us for the dinner at a great teppanyaki restaurant at their hotel. Mrs. Fang the editor was sick for the day so there was really nothing much to do. I spent lengthy afternoon watching a terrible hotel band playing with broken equipment very badly some classics until it was time to head back to the hotel and chill. A glass of wine soothed me for the first time into a decent night’s sleep, hinting that slowly the jetlag might be over.

Private chef

Video of the day!

Back in the Containeryard, we did some serious container Tetris.

China Diary

Day 172: Second Act Troubles

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Sound people love their sound equipments and get slightly nervous when you don’t respond to their enthusiasm, and sales people get slightly nervous when you don’t respond to their sales pitches. That’s the reason I usually try to be excited about some tech I have no idea about when being presented with, or nod along and ask questions when sales pitch is being presented to me, but yesterday I just couldn’t get there. I had slept two hours in the night, in one hour blocks, so I had this constant pressure around my skull which made me more quiet than grumpy than usual.

It didn’t help that I had again encountered a masterful example of shitty Chinese customer service. I had decided to, instead of my usual McD lunch across the street to head over to a place which called itself something like Old Style Beijing Lamb Hot Pot. Unfortunately, around the hotel the restaurants and services are pretty often crafted for the hotel guests, so the prices are ridiculous. I was watching the prices and decided to want something that they didn’t feel like doing to me, and after a bit of “meiyou-meiyou” I realized they wanted to sell me something more expensive than what I was picking, and looking at the 200RMB bill that would’ve got me to, I decided to cancel the whole order and walk out.

Luckily, there’s also a a delicious little noodle place just around the corner from the office, so I went there and grabbed a 22RMB bowl full of delicious noodles added with a service which – unlike usually anywhere – included a smile to the paying customer.

At the office, I had a clear plan of trying to figure out the midpoint of the movie, but somehow we got stuck trying to solve a scene which actually was already in a pretty good shape. We fiddled around the shots and tried to come up with a way to make them all fit differently, while avoiding the actual problem of the 2nd act we had been battling it, and by the time we had to leave for another sound company meeting we were all quite lost on what it was we were even trying to do.

The visit to the sound company was, as I told, a tech demo and sales pitch, to which I didn’t really respond very much because my mind was working on the edit, and I saw mrs. Fang going through the same process in her head. We were both miles away while Max and the sound company people discussed options, and while there’s nothing I can really say whether this or that is better in sound as long as it’s Dobly Atmos and all that stuff, color grading suite would’ve been of great interest to me. Yet, we couldn’t visit the grading suite, which indeed was disappointing, so we left home not much wiser than when we came in, but it was good to meet the people and see the admittedly professional facilities (although, having worked with Rotor in Babelsberg, Germany, everything looks tiny compared to their massive mixing/grading suite…).

As we were leaving, our original plan had been to head back home or hotel, but since we both’s minds were working on the cut, we decided to give it a few more hours. We went back to the office and opened the cut and started to really work on the actual problem of the second act.

What I did was I gave each scene a name and placed them in front of me. Soon, just by looking at the scenes, I realized what was the issue: by naming the scenes I noticed a certain description following up with each, and that I was able to identify as the problem. It wasn’t really so much what happened in the scene, but the rhythm of the events inside the scene. It all become rather predictable, and we realized that in order to keep the audience entertained, we need to keep them constantly on the edge of their seats, surprised and wondering what would happen next: never let them get lulled by a familiar rhythm of events. Find the surprises; like the editor of the first Iron Sky once taught me: get in the scene as late as possible, and get out as quickly as possible. It’s a general golden rule in editing, keeps the viewers on their toes and the filmmakers just one step ahead of them.

So we started to kick around an interesting idea which came to my mind when we were trying to solve the pacing. The idea would change the actual script a bit, but it sounded like a fun aspect to look at, so we decided to give it a try. I gave mrs. Fang the instructions to try this crazy idea out, and decided to let her work on it by herself and headed back home. Well, New Otani hotel, that is, but anyway. As close as I can call it home..

I had big plans to just quickly change and head over to enjoy the Tacos at Taco Tuesday, but my tiredness got a hold of myself and I crashed on the bed, only to wake up six hours later, at 1.30 am. No more sleep for me for tonight, but at least I feel slightly more rested than yesterday.


China Diary

Day 171: Watching Oscars

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I tried sleep again, but it turned out to be impossible. I managed to nap one hour before 9am, when it was time for the Oscars, which I streamed using a really snappy, crashy stream. I managed to watch only half of the show until the whole stream finally froze and nothing was to be done anymore. From what I was able to gather, it was quite an uneventful show awards-wise, but much was said on stage which will stay in history. I guessed 12 of 24 Oscars correctly – Actor, Actress, Animated, Cinematography, Directing, Short Doc, Edit, Makeup, Music, Best Film, Production Design and Adapted Screenplay.

After the show I went back to the office and we watched the whole film from start to finish. It’s shaping up. There’s still too much talk in the second act, which I will have to get to flow better, but the beginning is good and ending will be good once the VFX start to shape up. We discussed this with mrs. Fang and agreed pretty much on everything, and then went for a meeting at one of the possible sound post production facilities rather close by, in the Russian quarters.

I suddenly got this terrible craving for good Russian dinner; maybe some borsch-soup and some unapologetic meat dish accompanied with a total balalaika show. I’m going to have to find out what’s the best Russian restaurant in Beijing, and head over there. Report will follow.

Then, back to the office. We started to work a bit more with mrs. Fang on the edit, and had a chat with Max about the cut as well. We agreed to work tomorrow and then show the film to him and discuss what needs to be done.