Yuanhao Du was once a small child in Guangxi, China with a dream of one day making a movie. Now, he is an award-winning producer and director, known for his talent, dedication, and versatility.
“I love to create stories as a dreamer, but I also know it is important to be realistic. Every time I work on a new film, I do a lot of research about the characters, and that makes me learn more about humanity, which sometimes is beautiful, sometimes ugly, but it always is interesting.”
Du is known for many projects, from family dramas A Mother’s Love and Off to Care to the Virtual Reality experience Speeches of Freedom, commissioned by the Norman Rockwell Museum and currently on a national tour. However, his most decorated project is his film Patrick, a passion project for Du, who one day had an idea for a movie and worked tirelessly to make it a reality.
Patrick begins when the clone of a deceased teenager is returned to his single mother and community. The clone struggles to define himself in the midst of overwhelming expectation. Du was inspired based on his own experience of questioning who he is, so he put that experience into an American teenager’s life to see whether American audiences would understand that or not. Once he had this idea, he worked for over a year with writer Spenser Querry and Executive Producer Jana Sue Memel to develop the story.
“How much do labels and our past decide who we are? This is the central question of this story. I think it’s very important because we are all living in a great and complicated society. There are so many labels that people could put on us, and then we have to live with that label. We live for other people and not for ourselves anymore. That's why so many people feel exhausted and tend to give up on their dreams,” said Du. “People hate to let labels and the past decide who we are, but meanwhile, we would unconsciously go back to the old path and repeat the same mistakes if given the chance. That’s a curse. We all know labels and our past influence us, but do we have the courage to break free and move on? That’s the big question I try to address in Patrick.”
Du was right to pose such a difficult and encompassing question to American audiences, as they were instantly captivated by his film. Patrick premiered in March of this year, and is currently making its way to several festivals, drastically impressing viewers. Not only was it an Official Selection at the Arizona International Film Festival and Pasadena International Film Festival, it won Best Narrative Film at Top Shorts Film Festival, Best Indie Featurette at Los Angeles Film Awards, Best Narrative Film at New York Film Awards, Best Family Film Short at Olympus Film Festival Los Angeles, the Award of Merit at The IndieFEST Film Awards, and Best Sci-Fi Short Film at the South Cinematographic Academy Film & Arts. Such success could never have been possible without Du.
“There are many talented filmmakers, but Yuanhao stands out in his ability to self-generate, his ability to balance both the creative and financial aspects of a production. His insight into directing actors in such a fashion that they give their best work to him. His tireless work in post-production and unwillingness to settle for nothing less than the best will lead him to join the highest ranks of filmmakers,” said Jana Sue Memel, Executive Producer.
Once Du came up with the story and worked to make sure the script was absolutely perfect, he took on the task of casting the ideal actors to transform his vision into a reality. He tried to show the characters, not the actors to his audiences. This ensured the audience would be truly transported by the film, making it easier to understand the characters and the story, and building the connection between a film and its viewers.
“The most enjoyable aspect of this project is working with my dream team. I spent two years looking for the perfect team. It was part of my big plan, finding the right people and then shooting a high-standard film. It’s important because making a film requires teamwork, I need to have a good team – a team that would love this project and understand each other. If my crew doesn’t believe that it’s a good project, then how can we make audiences believe this story and love it? It’s all about who you surround yourself with,” said Du.
Patrick will screen to the public for seven days in Los Angeles in July. Be sure to check it out.