I can still often recall the many nights as a child sitting behind the TV watching enthralling movies that would draw me into new and different worlds.
These works of cinematographic art impacted me in a way that at the time, I never could have imagined.
As I became older I started to see more and more how filmmaking was not something that was there just to entertain people, but a vessel of delivery to open the minds of others to a whole new dimension of thoughts and perspectives.
Fast-forward to today and I, Qiu Zhengda, I’m what most would consider being a successful film director.
However, the big difference in how I view success in my industry would most likely differ from others in the same field.
With the massive rise and expansion of the Internet over the past 20 years, the way the world sees what is now so often referred to as “screen time” comes in many different forms.
The days of going to rent a movie at a local video store or going to the theater to see the latest blockbuster hit is long gone.
With that, however, has also arisen a new approach to what we consider to be quality viewing time and that comes to us through the power of social media.
For decades, Hollywood has been filled with producers and scriptwriters who have worked endless hours and spent enormous amounts of money to produce exciting content that on many occasions have left indelible impressions on cultures around the world.
While all this was good in a sense it, unfortunately, left the art of storytelling through film to a small handful of people while the ordinary everyday individual’s life was mostly ignored.
The rise of social media however has filled the void by allowing the average person to share their adventures in a way that can level the playing ground between the big-budget films and the person we see on the street corner that has a captivating story to tell.
While studying at the New York Film Academy, my infatuation with cinematic theory and film studies pushed me towards a directorial mindset that gave me the ability to express myself through video on a whole new level.
It made me realize that there is a huge area of reaching out to people and directing content that many in my profession have still yet to discover.
This is where I found a calling to take my knowledge and education to help others conceive riveting as well as unforgettable video content that allows them to transcend cultural and societal barriers.
So many others who work in the film industry think that quality productions must consist of the perfect blend of colors, visual language, and special effects to be considered worthy of respect.
Although these elements of filmmaking should be considered, the main point, in my opinion, is to focus on enveloping compelling content that will make the viewer feel emotion on a whole new level.
As my interest grew in being a social media video director, I started to realize that the popular saying “less is more” was exactly what was needed to produce the kind of quality content that I am now known for.
By cutting away the “fluff” of typical film directing, I was able to focus on creating content that provides a direct connection with its viewers in a more concise package.
In my opinion, if a person can feel the power of emotion when watching a two-hour movie then why can’t they have the same when watching a smaller, more succinct version of the same?
As a social media director, I have realized that as much as I may impact the people who I help make content for, the same effect is returned.
I feel more moved when working with the average person because what I get from them is raw unfiltered feelings at their core. These people are not paid actors and there is no great monetary motivation to reward them for what they do or say.
What you get in return is sincerity from the heart in a way where the emotionally driven content provided is sent through a process of metamorphosis that once seen by the public enraptures the soul.
When you create content from a point of passion and humility, the rewards are endless. Understanding this is something that I feel that all artists need to experience.
One of the many exciting social media projects that I have had the honor of directing is Mr. Unicorn (known as the 毒角SHOW in China). The show has been a huge success and has over 60 million followers in China alone.
Since Mr. Unicorn has become such a huge Internet celebrity, it has allowed me to travel and direct in places that I could have never imagined. One of the more eye-opening experiences I had was when we took a trip to the slums of Los Angeles.
This is where my senses as a director came alive. There were so many amazing people that we came in contact with and each of them had a unique and fascinating story to tell.
We were even able to help out some of the people who we met (we brought them supplies to help them during the Covid pandemic) there during our video shoots which is always an added bonus.
This is where the sphere of social media shows its true strength and the best part is that people all over the globe can be touched by the stories that are told as well as the experiences that are seen.
Content like this builds more cross-cultural bridges than could ever be imagined and changes lives for the better.
Real lives, real people, captured through the lens of a mobile phone and transformed into stories that are meaningful and unforgettable for the world to see. This is what I, Qiu Zhengda, was born to do!