Shanghai Calling opened the 2012 Asian American International Film Fest (AAIFF) in New York this summer. AAIFF is in its 35th year and is the longest-running festival showcasing independent Asian and Asian American cinema in the U.S. Schema reviewed Shanghai Calling as part of our coverage of AAIFF 2012.
Sadiya Ansari spoke with Daniel Hsia by phone while he was at home in Los Angeles in anticipation of the AAIFF film screening. Check out the first and second part of the interview to get the full scoop. This is the third and final part of the series.
What was the co-production like stateside and in China?
It’s very complicated. We could have another couple hours long conversation about that.
I will say that it is a process that is extremely lengthy with a lot of bureacracy. A lot of red tape.
It really takes a lot of patience and determination to get through it as well as personal connections and relationships and business relationships.
At the same time, an understanding of why people in China think of problems completely differently than here in the U.S. The U.S. and China are not that different in many ways , but the thinking is different.
Were you living parts of the movie while filming in China?
Absolutely. At one point life began to imitate art — this is one of things I was hoping would happen. I was hoping by bringing the actors to China, maybe someone would come in and say, ” You wouldn’t believe what happened to me today!” and we’d put that in the movie. What actually happened for us was just that we discovered many of the same things that Sam, the character in the movie, did — that wow, things in China do not work the way we expected them to.
What’s next for you?
I am working on my next project which is also taking place in China. I just can’t enough of the red tape. Apparently, I just love red tape.
It’s just a really interesting and exciting place to make a movie right now. Having learned everything I have learned about making movies there it almost seems like a waste if that was the last time that I worked there because now I know how to get things done, how to avoid the pitfalls. At the same time, I have met some really wonderful people that I would love to work with again over there.