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Meet Guangwei Du in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Guangwei Du.

Guangwei, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m a film editor based in Los Angeles, originally from China. Currently working as a freelance editor on both China and US productions.

Unlike most single-child families in China, I grew up with a twin sister. People always compare me to my sister in appearance, hobbies and academic performance, and I have always wondered if our parents gave us equal treatments when we quarreled over trivial things. Despite the occasional unpleasantness, we care, support, and love each other immensely, and constantly exchange our visions of the world. It bestowed upon me the ability to observe human emotions and developed my empathy. I felt the strong urge to share the feelings that touched me a lot to the world.

During high school, I wrote, directed, shot and edited my first short film Past Summer, which tells the story of two sisters. The first cut turned out quite bad I have to say. I didn’t design any transitions and everything felt so rushed, characters are talking from scenes to scenes. Later I got inspirations from 500 Days of Summer, which is my favorite film of the time. I wrote a new narrative storyline using voiceover and restructured all the scenes along with it. I realized the magical power of editing through it, the power to create endless possibilities from a fixed and absolute script. The film turned out to be a delicate piece fulfilled with emotions. Within the two short days of screening at school, more than 1000 people watched my film. When some people told me that they cried for it, I felt that all my devotion is meaningful. That’s when I desired to pursue editing as my career.

Since then, I kept walking on the way and never looked back. I got my bachelor’s degree in film directing and editing from the Communication University of China in Beijing and the MFA degree in film editing from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. As I participate in more filmmaking process, I firmly know that I aspire to be an editor and devote to conveying the universal spectrum of feelings, from sadness to joy, to the audience.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s not that easy as growing up in a conventional Chinese family, and there isn’t anyone in my family who was doing film or art-related professions. All you have is your own-self. The first step is convincing them that you are doing something alright, though it’s not like lawyer, engineer, doctor or any job that gets you a stable income and a decent title. It took a moment for my parents to realize and accept that their daughter is not going to stay on the traditional life trace.

Then, you get to a stage where you started self-doubt every day, especially after getting to know more about the craft, the industry, and the real world. Am I doing the right thing? Will my family be proud of me? Every filmmaker holds a Hollywood dream and wants to succeed, but only a small group can survive and get to where they want. As a young Asian female filmmaker, I need to do a lot more to prove myself, to fight for chances or even just a qual starting point without any bias.

The good thing is you are not alone. I have met lots of great collaborators and mentors on the way and got tons of inspirations and support from them. I believe that every hard try is gonna pay off in the end, though not sure when. So, even it’s not a smooth road, I still quite enjoyed it.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I have to nominate two moments for now. The first one is – the feature film I edited last year, Over the Sea, just had its world premiere at Busan International Film Festival this October. And it has been nominated for this year’s New Currents Award, the only main competition award at BIFF.

When the film was screening on the biggest screen at the prestigious Busan Cinema Center, I was like a young girl meeting my first love, nervous but excited. As the editor, I have seen the film a thousand times, knew every single cut, but not sure how it resonated with audiences that came from all over the world. And it turned out to be good, people love it and we got the world’s attention and recognition on it including Hollywood Reporter.

The second one is – the short film I edited, The Chef, won the Silver Award at the Student Academy Awards. The story of The Chef takes place in the near future, in a time when work is done by robots, a traditional Chinese chef Pu is forced to train a Caucasian humanoid William to cook Chinese food, but a former protégé of the chef makes this harder by joining an anti-robot riot group.

After winning the Student Oscar and the Best International Film at Show Me Shorts International Film Festival (New Zealand), The Chef is qualifying for both 2020 and 2021 Academy Awards in Best Live-action Short Film Category. Besides, The Chef has entered over 50 film festivals around the world and has meet audiences from lots of countries including China, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Australia, and etc.

I always want to be an editor who can help the directors find their voices and achieve their visions, assist them in presenting the core emotions of the story on the screen. It’s a long journey but I am proud that I am still on it.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Xiaoyu Liu
© EDKO Films Ltd.
Hao Zheng
Xindi Lou
© A.M.P.A.S.

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