While talking to a friend online one day, she asked if I could do her a favor and give her a call right away. I picked up the phone and dialed her # and she picks up, I say "hello?", she doesn't respond, I say "hello?" again and she still doesn't respond. She communicates to me through her breathing and light sniffling signaling me that she can hear me. At the time, I really didn't know what to say, so I said nothing. While I was thinking of something to say, I could feel that something was going on, my instincts kicked in and told me to just keep quiet. Gradually, the sniffles get a little louder, and I could feel tears rolling down her cheek; she is full out crying. She cries for literally thirty minutes with breaks in between filled with sniffles and silences, and then the sniffles would pickup to a crescendo again.
For the full duration of this phone call, not a word or sound out of my mouth. I understood she didn't need me to say anything, she just wanted someone to be there. I could guess that she and her boyfriend broke up and being a girl and alone in city like Shanghai away from her hometown, it must be real tough on her. I was never that close with this girl, the fact that she wanted me to call her meant that she didn't have many close friends who she could turn to. She later hung up the phone and typed a big "thank you :)" on my MSN messenger. I typed back asking her if she felt better and she said she felt a lot better. I never asked her why she was crying because I knew none of that was important, if she wanted to let me know, she would have. I left Shanghai soon after that day and that was our last time we spoke, if you can even call it that.
I met her on a commercial set and we became friends instantaneously through chitchatting while waiting for the crew to get ready. I knew she had an interesting story just like a lot of the people I met in Shanghai who bravely left their faraway hometowns to test their luck in China's city of dreams. I always enjoyed meeting these types of people because I knew from personal experience how gutsy it is to leave your home and go in a big city and try to make it on your own without anyone's help.
In those days, I would tell everyone on set about this film I was going to make and how I had all these visuals and ideas I wanted to do. If there's anything I'm good at, it's making people believe in me, and no, I don't abuse that, should I? just kidding. Everyone on set would be like"Wow, take me with you on this project! I want to help, get me involved." and be so into it even though they probably had no idea what the project was about. At the time I was just being me and sharing my ideas with people; I didn't understand that my passion and creativity was an outlet for their own creativity and passion. All of them wanted to be part of something they own and helped create; that's the reason all of us get into this line of work in the first place. Sadly, in the real world of entertainment, these folks slave on commercials/tv dramas where satisfying a client/pompous director is #1 priority. No one gives a damn about your creativity, they just want to finish it up and go home. When you work in that kind of environment, you get jaded real quick and forget your initial motivation for getting into the film business. In time I would realize how much these people enjoyed doing my first film with me and how proud they felt being a part of it. I thought it was cool that all of us newbies were able to pull off a short film that has now traveled worldwide to all these film festivals. People will always think the film is my project because my name is attached to it, but I'll never forget the folks that gave their passion and hard work to make
ourproject a reality.
Now that I look back at it, even though I've changed a lot and am a lot more jaded, deep down I'm still that same kid going around telling people about my dreams hoping to light up their world and making them believe that together we can do anything as long as we work hard towards it. I don't care how cynical and pessimistic people get, I always believe that I can convince them to follow me and how we're gonna have fun and make something that's meaningful and awesome. I don't know how far I'll go in my career and where I'll end up, but I sure hope that part of me never changes.