what we talk about when we talk about lights camera action logo
what we talk about when we talk about lights camera action

ROLE:

Director & Story

GENRE:

Narrative Short

TIME:

2019

"What We Talk About When We Talk About Lights, Camera, and Action" is a satire of ourselves as young filmmakers. It is a story about a young aspiring filmmaker who comes back to China to direct his first feature. He struggles against the rest of the cast and crew, trying to pitch his new screenplay as the production starts to fall apart.

A Satire of Ourselves

"Lights, Camera, and Action" stands for filmmaking. I was inspired while perplexed by the title of Raymond Carver's book "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love:" What is love and why we love? However, the book doesn't offer an answer. Likewise, I directed the film with no intent to answer what filmmaking is and why we make films. I purposefully end the film before Fan Li Wen, the director and protagonist, answers the host's question after a successful premiere. "Were you all confident that the production was going to succeed?" For me, the question is never meant to be answered but instead to be "talked about." The entire film is dedicated to showing how the five main characters "talk about" filmmaking through a series of disputes during pre-production, through which I try to capture an inexplicable beauty of filmmaking. Despite risk and unpredictability, we make films because, as filmmakers, the things we do is the reason we do it. The film was premiered on NewFilmmakers Los Angeles.

Links
Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
Official Teaser (4K)
Film Review on Asian Movie Pulse

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what we talk about when we talk about lights camera action poster 1 what we talk about when we talk about lights camera action poster 2

Visual Theatricality

I directed the film with a highly theatrical style because of the dramatic nature of the screenplay, heavy in conversation, and minimized in the number of scenes. Therefore, I designed series of dolly shots to treat the set as a stage.

behind the dinner scene behind the dinner scene behind the quarrel scene behind the quarrel scene

Nonlinear Irony

With a nonlinear structure in mind, I decided to begin and end the film with the interview scene. Although there is a trade off that at the beginning the audience would know the production is successful eventually, the structure highlights the story's irony: While the five characters are relishing the film's success, in the first place they are reluctant to give it a shot and almost give up on each other.

behind the interview scene behind the interview scene the cast and crew group photo

Cast and Crew

Directed by  LEON LIU
Produced by  SHELBY ZHANG  &  HELEN CAO
Written by  RUOCHONG WANG
Original Story by  LEON LIU  &  SHUAILIANG LIU
Executive Producer  SHIYING ZHENG  &  YUANCHANG LIU
Director of Photography  YIFAN WEN
Production Designer  CLAIRE CHENG
Costume Designer  CLAIRE YIXUAN ZHANG
Edited by  HAICHUAN XU
Music by  HAIBEI WANG

Starring
THOMAS ALEXANDER  JENNY ZHUANG  CHARLES LIANG  LAURA YANG  LING LIN  and  JAX ZHANG

1st Assistant Director  EDWARD LIU
2rd Assistant Director  SHELBY ZHANG
Script Supervisor  HENRY CHEN
Script Supervisor  GERRY LI

1st Assistant Camera  YI PAN
2rd Assistant Camera  ANNA WANG
Gaffer  ZHIHAO ZHANG
Key Grip  KZ LI
Best Boy Electric  GUANGKE ZHOU
Best Boy Grip  DONG YANG
Grip  LINNA ZHOU
Grip  BEN LIANG
Colorist  ZHIHAO ZHANG

Production Sound Mixer  KUI DU
Boom Operator  MINGLIANG LI
Sound Design/ Sound Mixer/ Foley  THOMAS ALEXANDER

Art Director  RUI MO
Costume Assistant  ZIYI FENG
HMU  YIMENG TONG
HMU  JINGXUAN SU
Art Assistant  KAYLA ZHANG

Still Photographer  LARRY LI
BTS Photographer  SHELBY ZHANG
Production Assistant  JING XIAO
Production Assistant  XUXI ZHANG
DIT  LARRY LI

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LEON LIU

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© 2020 by Leon Liu