China Central Television (CCTV) has the undisputed largest recurring audience in the world. With almost one billion and a half regular viewers, CCTV regularly achieves the kind of numbers that are typically met by only worldwide sports championships. Editor Lou Shuai has been working on the documentary series Han Mo Xi Yun (which appears on CCTV) since 2015. The program’s incredibly popularity has seen it transition from a weekend only program to a daily one on CCTV channel eleven. While primarily known for his excellence as an editor, his work with Han Mo Xi Yun has seen him work as a cinematographer and audio operator as well; travelling to precarious locations like Kashgar (landing him ill in the hospital) and others. He’s travelled to many various locations on the planet and has a particular affinity for the entertainment industry and stories of America. The continual integration of the film/TV industries of China and the US help to cultivate this among professional and Shuai most certainly adheres to this generalization. His numerous works with CCTV have seen his talent exposed to literally billions of people. It’s a challenge which he reiterates is the most professionally satisfying situation in which an editor can find himself/herself. Having grown up watching documentaries on CCTV, the path has come full circle for Shuai.
Generally, documentaries require more work for an editor than a scripted program. Much of this is due to research about the person being interviewed and the subjects they are speaking about. Lou’s editing on the documentary Thousand Years Chasing: Princess Wencheng focused on Chinese artist Jing Tingyao who spent fifteen years studying the places and painting techniques of Tibet in the region. In his own style of “painting the story” Shuai utilized drone footage to give viewers an up-close look at many of the locations that are a part of Tingyao’s three-hundred meters long by three-meters high Chinese ink painting. Lou also extensively researched traditional Tibetan music to convey the mood of the artist and painting. The praise from critics was congruently positive to the immense ratings received by Thousand Years Chasing: Princess Wencheng.
Shuai both interviewed the subject and edited the documentary Chinese-American Artist: Jiang Tiefeng for Han Mo Xi Yun. The famed painter and sculptor had relocated to the US thirty years ago to test himself among the American artistic community and to be influenced by them. Separated into pre-US and US eras of Tiefeng’s work, the story not only resonated with the viewers but with the editor himself. He comments, “I think all artists thrive on evolution. Mr. Tiefeng was a famous and celebrated artist in China but he wanted to challenge his skill and vision. As a creative professional who has been in the US, I can also appreciate how there is a uniquely American production style to entertainment programs and it is invigorating to see different approaches and grow from them.”
The connection Shuai feels for these artists and their need to challenge themselves is due to his own creative career path. Beyond his work with Han Mo Xi Yun, Lou is a celebrated filmmaker himself with credits like Life was Like a Box of Chocolate (finalist of IndieWise Free Virtual Film Festival), Nirvana (selected as Semi-Finalist of CON-TEMPORARY Art Observatorium Film Festival), and Salesman (winner for Best Intermediate Film at the 2017 Hofstra Film Festival). Growth is like air for artists such as Lou Shuai and those he shines a light on in the productions he works on. It’s likely that the reason his work has been so acknowledged is that he sees the sincerity of every lifelong artist in their desire to create; one which mirrors his own.