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Writing their own story

With self-made movie, scriptwriting couple pen a love letter to cinema, Xu Fan reports.

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-13 14:01

Directors Li Kuo works at the filming set. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Despite the moments of despair, Li and Shan's passion and love for cinema have never waned. In 2022, frustrated with film scripts that failed to get produced, they decided to use their own savings to shoot Galaxy Writer.

Everything that followed went unexpectedly smoothly. After completing scriptwriting in the summer, the filming started shortly thereafter. To save funds, they chose to shoot in the Changying area near eastern Beijing's Fifth Ring Road, a neighborhood in which many film industry workers reside, with filming restricted to within 3 kilometers of their own home.

After watching the edited rough cut, Shan was quite moved.

She almost shed tears, as she thought of the multitude of scripts — millions of words — she has written over the years, all with little hope of ever being produced.

Li, who has faced similar challenges, finds solace in his own way. "One of our characters says that 'suffering is the soil for creation.' This belief is also mine, convincing me that obstacles will one day fuel my progress," he explains.

This time their effort paid off. When the couple attended the FIRST film festival in Xining, Qinghai province, in July last year, they were initially anxious about how the audience would react to their movie, which was premiering at the event.

Directors Li Kuo works at the filming set. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Even though there was no arranged Q&A session after the screening, the couple wore T-shirts printed with their WeChat contact information and carried a billboard to introduce themselves.

"We waited outside the hall, my legs trembling with nerves. Then, applause and laughter erupted from inside, filling me with excitement," Shan recalls.

What followed exceeded their expectations. They found themselves quickly encircled by cameras and journalists, with interviews continuing until almost 3 pm that day.

Now that their movie is reaching a broader, national audience, the two filmmakers see Galaxy Writer as a love letter to cinema and hope it will inspire young people to chase their dreams.

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