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Meet Yuchan Deng

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yuchan Deng.

Yuchan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My first job on set was the set photographer since I was a portrait photographer before I went to film school. Back then, I was attracted by the performance and I tried to capture the most narrative moment with my camera. After that, I started to create imaginary scenes for my models when I photographed them. My friends always said my photos looked cinematic as if the photos were telling stories. People also encouraged me a lot by telling me that they saw my potential to be a cinematographer from my perspectives and constructions. That was my first connection with visual telling. As I learnt more in film school, I was attracted by motion pictures. As a portrait photographer, I always considered people as the focus in a frame. With that in mind, I found the cinematographer closest person to the actors. Luckily, I was offered to shoot a junior thesis. To be honest, what I did at that time was to trust my intuition since I didn’t have any experience. It was my first time realising the importance or cinematographer and made up my mind to be a cinematographer.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
When I first started shooting, I knew nothing about lighting or camera. Though I did some research before the shoot, I still felt nervous and scared on set since I had to lead the whole camera and lighting team. I’ve also been questioned about my ability to handle the camera as a skinny female. What I could do is to continuously push myself forward and prove myself through my work. The more films I shot, the more I feel like I still need to learn. I always meet some new problems when shooting a new project, and this is the most challenging but most interesting of cinematography. You learn from these problems and you become better.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m currently a freelance cinematographer and photographer. As a cinematographer, I’m mainly focusing on narrative films. Nothing is more pleasing than to tell a story by visual language for me. My visual style is more realistic and narrative rather than fancy and dramatic. I’ve shot in both China and the US, which gives me the experience of working with people from different countries. I especially love shooting on film, because having to trust the light meter and myself brings me back to the day when the digital camera was not invented. As a photographer, I’m into fashion photography and portrait. I believed that a good photo should tell some stories or at least some emotions. I don’t want to make my model look just beautiful, but I want to make them unique, which is hard but I’m avidly working on that.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in Shenzhen, China. My father treated me like a son when I was young, which makes me think that I could do better than boys even on the subjects that girls are not interested in. My parents always encouraged me to try new stuff and challenge myself. I knew that it was not a flat road to be a filmmaker before I studied abroad, but I believed that we were born to explore the world, not to find a result. Therefore, whatever seems struggling makes who I am today.

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