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The Online Summer

Call it Natural Evolution but those professionals who adapt to the changes in the modern entertainment environment are the ones who succeed and will set the tone for the future. There’s a great deal of skill, vision, and awareness in the career of someone like producer Summer Xinlei. This Chinese born filmmaker has found firm footing in the union of American and Chinese productions. They say in films that the most important thing is to do your profession honestly and with authenticity; in this regards no one is more ideally suited than Summer to steer these productions to become exceptional and award-winning. She has fully embraced the web-based streaming format with great success. From documentaries on the biggest streaming platforms in China to collaborating with Academy Award Winners on US shows, Xinlei needs no further vetting than these indicators that she is among the most exceptional in her vocation. Her insightful understanding of both cultures, command of the languages, and talent continue to bring other professionals to seek her out.

The documentary web-series Hello A.I. was released on the streaming services Youku (with more than 500 million monthly active users and 800 million daily video views) and Bilibili (over 31 million registered users) by Foresight Productions, Inc. The company wanted to create something vastly different than their Best Documentary Feature winner (Sichuan TV Festival) “When the Louvre Museum Meets the Forbidden City” but just as exceptional. CEO and Director Yi Chen enlisted Summer Xinlei to help manifest this five-episode series which focuses on the applications of artificial intelligence in different fields emphasizing the relationship between A.I. and humanity. Ultimately, this is a story about finding harmony between mankind and technology. Creating the show was truly an odyssey with the production team travelling to four different continents including Asia, Europe, North American, and Africa. In total, seventy-seven characters were interviewed and filmed in forty-three different institutes and companies. For a producer juggling time zones, the legal requirements of different cultures and countries, and maintaining a cohesive team, all while staying true to the tone of the story; only the most skillful and brave even attempt such a feat. For Summer, the difficulty of it all is the attraction as she relates, “In general, documentaries are more challenging in terms of scheduling and budgeting because the documentary filming process is full of uncertainties. During the process, we had to come up with creative solutions for last minute changes without compromising the creative vision. Also, more effort was needed to ensure the accuracy of communication between the investors, the team, and the interviewees because the production was taking place in many different countries.”

Working with Amazon Studios on the hit series Bosch was most certainly enticing for Summer but she concedes, “Working closely with Academy Award winning film producer Pieter Jan Brugge was the real attraction for me. We are both Alums of the same film school and he has produced so many film I love like The Insider (nominated for seven Oscars), Miami Vice, Heat, and Love & Other Drugs.” Bosch was developed for Amazon by multiple Primetime Emmy Nominee Eric Overmyer and is inspired by the bestselling Michael Connelly’s famous LAPD detective character Harry Bosch. Summer was brought in for her expertise as a consultant to advise and assist on Chinese talent, locations, and script advice.

Streaming services have wholeheartedly embraced the universality of entertainment in a way that traditional broadcast television never could have attained. Netflix embarked on a global campaign to introduce various cultures to the beloved programs and films of other nations and cultures; a campaign which many others have undertaken now as well. As this blossoms, those like Summer Xinlei whom are able to apply their talent equally to these productions and services will undoubtedly be the leaders who establish what the world will watch in the future. Summer herself notes, “The development of streaming service has definitely been reshaping the Film and TV industry. Streaming service definitely give an audience more freedom to consume content at their convenience which means more content will be consumed, especially original content. It’s incredibly rewarding for me to see people enjoy what I’ve worked so hard to create. When we were filming Hello A.I., there was a winter’s day when we had to wake up at three AM and drive for three hours only to wait out in the cold to get the perfect exterior shot of a conservatory. It was uncomfortable but well worth the wait because the footage looked amazing. I hadn’t thought about that for quite some time and then one day I was in a Chinese university in my hometown for a workshop and overheard some students talking about the show. They specifically mentioned that they loved how beautiful the observatory looked with the sunrise and that they would love to visit there one day. I felt a wave of reward knowing my work had travelled thousands of miles back to the small city where I grew up and that my Chinese family could watch it. The world was a little bit smaller at that moment for me.”

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