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Editor Bowei Yue: Editing Fantastic Tales of Emerging Adulthood

For Bowei Yue, a movie theater is a magical place. He relates, “A film theater is a place I like very much. It’s marvelous because people sit together in the dark, they stop playing on their cellphones, talking is almost nonexistent, and they stare at the story happening on the screen. In such a place, you can feel the change in the surrounding environment every second. Watching one of my films with an audience is an incredible feeling. It’s instantaneous feedback on both the story and the way that you shaped it. There’s no better teacher.” There’s something truly universal in this editor and his work. Bowei’s editing has led to awards at such diverse events as the Atlanta Comedy Film Festival (for Stalled), the Barcelona Planet Film Festival (Best Film Editing for Dark Wolf Gang), the New York Latino Film Festival presented by HBO, LA Shorts International Film Festival (Dark Wolf Gang), and numerous others. Bowei believes in the propensity for film to connect us, whether it be artist to audience or artist to collaborator. His work on the films BALLOON and New Year’s Eve illustrate how this exceptional talent is invested in magnifying the works of his peers to provide new tales for an eager public.

Director Jeremy Merrifield’s BALLOON sparked a wave of reaction as soon as it was released. A Vimeo Staff Pick and YouTube Omeleto favorite, the film received more than three million views within less than its first month! BALLOON was selected by a number of film festivals around the world such as the AFI FEST, Hawaii International Film Fest, Palm Springs International Shorts Fest, Rhode Island International Film Festival; winning awards at the New Orleans Film Festival (Audience Award Winner, Jury Special Mention) and the Grand Prix at the 15th Hollyshorts Film Festival. Starring Jonah Beres as the young Sam Wheeler and Paul Scheer (SAG Award winning actor of HBO’s Veep) as Officer Hart, this tale of a bullied junior high boy who discovers he has super powers takes a much more realistic and sociological perspective than we’ve come to expect from the superhero movie genre. BALLOON is a coming-of-age film which explores the way society molds men and their approach to life’s obstacles. Behind the scenes, the young age of the lead actor and the presentation of his super powers necessitated some adept editing. Stunt doubles who performed the more precarious scenes, high altitude camera angles, and numerous other multilayers composition effects resulted in nearly one hundred visual effects shots for this film. When films allow us to access this superhero world, there’s a great deal of prestidigitation involved; in BALLOON, this is the impressive product of Bowei’s skillful pacing and framing of the action and visuals. The massive views the film has thus far achieved continues to grow and increase in renown.

New Year’s Eve is a vastly different cultural setting than BALLOON but director Hao Zheng enlisted Bowei for the same masterful approach to sculpting a story that led Jeremy Merrifield to him. Hao and Bowei had long wanted to work together and New Year’s Eve presented the ideal opportunity. The story of New Year’s Eve centers around Xiaoyu, a 19-year-old Chinese boy who has returned to his home in Gansu, China with a medal he won at his Kung Fu school. The essence of this film is about family and taking ownership of one’s own identity and future. The fact that this family struggle happens on the most important Chinese holiday of the year places added pressure on all of the characters. Perhaps the most intense scene of the film is the family holiday dinner. As the different relatives begin playfully mocking Xiaoyu, alcohol exacerbates the emotions, particularly when it comes to the main characters. The fluidity of the conversations and emotional crescendo have been assembled by Bowei in such a way that the viewer truly feels that they are sitting at the family dinner table and become deeply invested in the dialogue. In this scene, where the greatest overt confrontation is displayed, is where the editor’s contributions are most visible and strongly transfer the intended feelings to the audience. It seems impossible that the heartfelt moments displayed between mother and son in this story would be delivered with such impact without Bowei’s powerful guidance.

Soon to be released are two films which feature some intriguing editing by Bowei. About Him and Her is a high concept love story which takes place in the late 1980s. Highly unusual in its presentation, the faces of the two main characters are hidden throughout the vast majority of the film, presenting a challenge which Yue was eager to sign on for. The editor also utilized his adept skills on the film Sword of Destiny, an action/revenge tale which features work from the same martial arts instructor as the epic Japanese film Kingdom.

Originally from Changchun, a city in the northeastern part of China, Bowei Yue confirms that the increasingly more common collaboration between American and Chinese filmmakers is resulting in intriguing stories and approaches for both professionals and public. He informs, “Like Beijing where most Chinese artists gather, LA is the center for artists from all parts of America…even the whole world. Therefore, there are filmmakers of different ages from different countries and cultural backgrounds in LA. When working with these artists, as an editor, I need to adjust my way of working differently to different types of filmmakers for the highest efficiency and best outcomes. It’s imperative to understand not only the story but the filmmaker themselves and the cultural lens through which they view it. Film is never a one-man-band thing and editors get their works done by holding a responsible attitude to film directors, producers, and production companies; all of their directions and ideas need to be fully presented in the film. At the same time, as an editor, you also need to leave your own signature on the project. My strength is finding that sweet balance. Because I was born and brought up in China and have received film training in both China and America, I’m able to view my story and that of others from multiple angles and blend such experiences in my work. This increasingly international film industry values that perspective and I’m happy to be able to lend it to so many great films.”

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