Subscribe to free Email Newsletter

  Chinese Way>Life
Heart of the Hutong


In order to make a film, experience using a camera to tell a story is necessary. While technology has made the filmmaking process more accessible, it doesn't necessarily mean it has become any easier. For those who entertain the idea of directing a movie but lack experience or skills, short film festivals can offer the necessary stepping stone.

The Luma Lu Film Festival kicked off earlier this month in Beijing and is the brainchild of UK native Gareth Repton. He moved to Beijing a year ago, bringing with him seven years of film industry experience. He worked in post-production on the Zhang Yimou film The Flowers of War (2011) and on Hollywood blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011).

"I have been working for many years in Europe and Asia as a compositing artist on films, but with that you're usually doing the end process, which leaves a void in creativity. Starting this film festival has given me the freedom to express my creativity and has allowed me to teach the skills I have to other people," Repton told Metro Beijing.

The festival functions as a workshop for those who want to learn about filmmaking. Everyone who participates is given a LomoKino camera with the challenge of making a short film about life in Qianmen's Dashilan Hutong.

"We want to see how people can help bridge the gap between local residents and the community to share the memories and lost stories of the hutong," Repton explained, adding the festival is also for people to have fun, meet like-minded artists and "push the boundaries of experimental filmmaking."

Repton decided to use Lomo cameras because of their analog features. He said he was drawn to the idea by its simplicity technology-wise.

"When you use a digital camera, it's easy to take 100 pictures and end up with a single perfect one and delete the rest. The Lomo camera doesn't have a delete button, which forces us to consider the composition of the shot more carefully," he said.

Once the short films are completed, the best ones will be selected by Repton and his team to play at designated locations in the city during Beijing Design Week, which runs from September 27 to October 6.

"We're also planning on offering a 48-hour workshop in mid-September for all latecomers, so we can film, process and edit the short films made from that session in two days," Repton added. "Over 60 people have attended the initial workshops, but some left once they realized how difficult it was to even make a short film."

Liang Zi, a student who studies fashion in Beijing, was drawn to the festival by the chance of making her directorial debut.

"I found out about this event online. It's new to me because I've never tried to make a film, so I thought I would give it a go because I have some ideas," she told Metro Beijing.

Liang's short film will center on capturing a day in the life of Dashilan, one of Beijing's oldest hutong. "I plan to show the changing status of Dashilan in the course of one day - from day to night - by shooting at different times to show the changing environment," she said.

She added her biggest concern is how the finished film will look. "I've never used a LomoKino camera to shoot before, so whether I can make the best of this camera is a problem. But I heard it is easy to use and I trust Luma Lu's post-production facilities," she noted.

The festival's 48-hour film festival will be held on a weekend in September, although the date has yet to be announced.

Source: Global Times