Minghao Shen has always been very creative. From the time he was a child, he felt the need to make new things, and also to make existing things even better. For him, there was only one outlet to explore this: filmmaking. He then found his way to editing, because not only are you helping to create the film, you are helping to re-create it as well. It truly is the best of both worlds.
Shen feels editing is one of the best ways to engage in the filmmaking process. He is extremely passionate about what he does, and it translates into every project he takes on. There are many reasons why he has such a respected reputation in the industry.
“I have post-production media background. Based on my experience, I feel the most interesting part of editing is the re-creative process. After watching and learning through more and more films, it gave me a lot of experience about how to help tell the story more than just cut them together as the normal technique. I really enjoy the moment when I am editing the footage to make it more and more perfect,” said Shen.
This attitude allows Shen to be eager to work, and this excitement for what he does leads to success. He has worked on several award-winning films, including the horror films Inside Linda Vista Hospital and Emily, the unique Cartoon Book, and his film Red String.
“The famous Hollywood director Jeffrey Lengyel once helped me a lot and gave me some valuable advice. He told me how to plan and organize everything ahead of time, to be the most effective during the production. Because of his teachings early on in my career, I think about the story in an editing way, which helps the story end up finishing as well done,” said Shen.
No matter what he is working on, whether or small short film or a big feature, Shen impresses all those he works with. Na Liu, the director of the successful film Into the Mirror, which Shen edited, says Shen is a one-of-a-kind editor.
“We had a well-communicated and smooth working process when it came editing because of Minghao. My post-production was quite stressful because the deadline was approaching quickly, but Minghao did quick and great work and was always on time for each draft,” said Liu.
Shen’s work directly contributed to the achievements of many films, but with the short film Stay, editing was pivotal the film’s success, and no one understood this more than Shen.
“It is an experimental film without dialogue, and it is two separate stories happening at the same time but connected to each other, so the narrative and style are really important in collecting each single beat of the editing,” said Shen.
Because of the nature of the story, the editing told the audience which story and perspective they were seeing. Stay tells the story of a policemen who dies in a case while his wife delivers their baby, but he meets his wife at the last seconds of his life in his imagination. It is a karaoke version of the hit song Stay in the style of Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko. The film contains karaoke backing track with on-screen scrolling lyrics.
“Doing an experimental film was a bit different than any other genre when it came to editing. The pace and the way to edit relies heavily on the director’s idea. Sometimes, I needed to forget the narrative function of each shot and scene and consider them in an emotional way, thinking of the entire concept and tone,” said Shen.
Stay went on to win the Accolade Global Film Competition’s Award of Excellence, the Indie Gathering International Short Film Festival’s Best Overall Micro Film Award, and was an Official Selection at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, California Independent Film Festival, Action on Film International Film Festival, Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival, SoCal Creative and Innovative Film Festival, and the Los Angeles CineFest.
“I feel the director and the whole team did a really great job, so the final picture looks really wonderful. All of us are really liked it and I thought the film really deserved all the awards,” said Shen. “The director was very talented and he was really serious and cared about each member of project. I love the tense and the style of the work. It was a neat change.”
The director reached out to Shen to edit Stay, knowing he needed the best. Shen’s unique and captivating style makes him extremely sought-after. Shen made sure to keep the tone of the film the key aspect of his editing. He had regular talks with the director before shooting took place to get an idea of what he was going for. Shen also was there while shooting listening to feedback and providing his input from an editing standpoint to ensure each shot was perfect.
“What I really liked was looking at the footage after filming it. Working on an experimental film was the type of fun challenge I always look for,” Shen concluded.