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China’s Cynthia Chen talks highlight of career and editing with a purpose

Cynthia Chen understands that filmmaking is much more than a beloved form of entertainment, it is also a piece of art. Therefore, as an editor, she sees herself as an artist, reassembling images and giving them new meanings. She controls the rhythm and storyline with her work, and that’s why she loves what she does so much. Editing can build connections between two non-related scenes and make stories out of them. This is why she chose to spend her life doing just that.

“An editor is a magician that puts all the footage together to tell a meaningful story. The most interesting part is, the editor can tell a totally different story by using the same footage and simply sorting it into a different order. According to Alfred Hitchcock’s description of montage, I agree that the different shot order can build different personalities of the same character,” she said.

Chen is an in-demand editor and colorist both in her home country of China and around the world. Her films such as I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, Slingshot Prince, Mask and The Last Page have seen great success at many international film festivals. She is known for her perfection in both of her crafts, and always adds something special to any film she is a part of. Despite all of this, when looking back at her esteemed career, she calls her film Offsprung the highlight, noting that although it is not technically perfect, it is perfection all the same.

“This is a feminism film, using science fiction and a futuristic world as a story supporter. It talks about social class and the right of free speech for females. This is not only a film about protecting the rights of women by using the feminism as the core, but also one of the few films that uses a woman herself as the perspective to tell the stories. It also fills the gap of female oriented films in the film industry. At the same time, it's also an ironic and introspective take on pop culture, entertainment and ugly money games. It is very meaningful,” she said.

Offsprung tells the story of Gina May Allegory who immaculately conceives a litter of bunnies. Her parents wed her off to a manipulative politician who plans on exploiting his new wife and her offspring. Gina May quickly gains a celebrity following, but soon society's infatuation turns to animosity as a hunt commences to terminate the rabbits. With the help of a brave doctor, Gina May fights back against the mass market mob to save herself and her kin.

The story touched the hearts of its audience. After premiering at The World’s Independent Film Festival where it was an Official Selection, it went on to have quite the festival run. It was an Official Selection at Blow Up International Arthouse Film Fest, a Semi Finalist at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival, the Gold Award Winner of the Oregon Film Award 2017 and took home First Place at the Women’s Independent Film Festival. Such results could never have occurred without Chen taking hold of the editing reigns.

“It was a huge pleasure and honor knowing that the film has been this successful. It made me think of those days when I devoted myself to this film, and now I realize that all my hard work was worth it. In the end, when I saw the film premiere and my name on the credit list, I was so proud of myself and all the crew members, and that was the most exciting moment to me, watching all my effort paid off and it was so worth it,” she said.

Chen had many responsibilities for the production. She began from the early stages, from the script, casting, discussing different scenes with cinematographer, to every version of shot lists that the director created, she was witnessing and being part of it during the whole process. She also contributed a lot to the advertising and crowd-funding from making several popularizing teasers and trailers.

When editing, Chen wanted to stick to the director’s style, exaggerating the performance of actors to convey the emotions. Beginning with using a traditional way of editing, Chen was quick to notice the style did not work for the message of the film. She decided to solve the problem with jump cutting, an experimental way to reorder the shots. This was ideal, as it highlighted the visual irony of the film.

“Being part of this project, witnessing the whole filmmaking workflow from the pre-production to the post-production made me completely understand that the filmmaking process is never easy. Even when we prepared a lot before the actual shooting, there were always times that something went wrong unexpectedly, and when that happened we needed to fix it in an extremely short amount of time. Because of the limitation of budget or tight schedule, we had to always race against the time. Being calm and having clear thoughts are the keys to solving problems. Trusting and helping each other are the glue to assembling the whole team as a strong individual. Communications and self-professionalism are the foundations that the whole film crew based on to successfully overcome difficulties and finish this film on schedule. That is what makes filmmaking so challenging, but also so rewarding. You have to love it to succeed,” she concluded.

So, what’s next for this talented colorist and editor? She has many projects in the works, from documentaries to dramas to comedies. The newest film she participated in post production, the feature film Indivisible, comes out later this year. Don’t miss it.

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