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AN INTERVIEW WITH Yunhong Pu, DIRECTOR
As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself.
My name is Yunhong Pu. I was born and raised in Harbin, China. I graduated from SVA SOCDOC MFA, which sparked a passion
for film production and it stayed with me.
Why you became a SOCDOC filmmaker as director?
When I was in middle school, my cousin got leukemia, an obscure disease that was barely known and paid attention by the society
at that time. There were even rumors that donating bone marrow to patients with leukemia could harm donors' health severely.
However, my cousin’s case was fortunately reported on TV in my hometown.
The report also cleared the fact that the bone marrow transplant would not harm the donor at all.
My cousin not only received deep sympathy from many town people, but luckily found a volunteer to do the surgery as well.
This was the first time that I realized the power of social media. Coincidentally, when I was a freshman, I met a group of parents
collecting money for their children diagnosed with leukemia. To pass on the goodwill, I made my first documentary for these kids.
After delivering their stories to the society, I made up my mind of becoming a social documentary filmmaker.
Give some more information about yourself and the films you have made so far, about your experience?
From my perspective, film, as an art form, should be a powerful way of delivering the thoughts of the artists and speaking for
specific groups. I’ve seen many minority and vulnerable groups who never had a chance to speak out their stories, to fight against
destinies and to chase for dreams. My inherent sense of justice has shaped the artistic aesthetics as a storyteller.
To me, social documentary that deals with authentic facts and reality could be the best way to speak for those people.
I enjoy communicating with them and making the stories into films that can be watched by the world.
The nonfiction way of storytelling has fulfilled my authentic and direct artistic style. In this way, I chose the
nonfiction film to help the minority groups with agreement of them.
Now I am working on my first feature social documentary film GO THROUGH THE DARK which is about a talented young Go
player Guanglin has cut a brilliant figure in China Go community.
You have made your nice documentary film "Gary" which was Officially Selected in the
"American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
As a filmmaker, why you decided to make this film?
When I first got to know Gary, I was deeply engaged by his story. I wondered how an American marine could become the boss of a Chinese restaurant. As I followed Gary and recorded his story, I found he married a Chinese female whose English is not very
fluent, but language issues won’t block the love between them.
So I was touched by a guy like Gary who can be both tough and gentle.
What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?
"Gary" was my first social documentary film in the US. I made this film on a micro-budget, so working with the budget was one of the
challenges. I am not only the director, the producer but also the camera person and the editor, and so on of this film.
The biggest challenge though was making all the works by only one person.
After setting everything a few times with only myself, I start to think about my shots from less of a creative standpoint and more
of a utilitarian standpoint. When I’ve moved all the lighting equipment, audio equipment, camera rig, and everything else
many times, and I had to always move my camera tripod just for getting more angles, I was thinking it’s really a big challenge, and
I had to always move my camera tripod just for getting more angles.
What was it like to work with people on front of the camera in your film Gary?
It was a wonderful experience. I always respect people like Gary, so that the process of shooting Gary is not only like making a film
but also like that I took a lesson from him who has broad experience.
The whole family members of Gary were kind and hospitable. They gave me a lot of support and encouragement.
What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?
To be a filmmaker gives me a sense of achievement which is irreplaceable.
Every day presents an opportunity to listen to learn and to help make a difference. As a producer and director of documentaries,
I believe that it is important to share the diverse stories represented by these remarkable societal and cultural role models in order to
help promote understanding and respect between people and challenge intolerance and prejudice.
What are your filmmaking goals?
My goal as a documentary filmmaker is to share stories that are educational and inspiring with as broad an audience as possible.
I always try to better myself with each project, make each better than the last. And there’re always new stories happening in the
different corners of the world, which are waiting to be explored. Shooting these beautiful stories is my mission.
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