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Catching up with Charles Dong

Can you tell us what you do now?

After graduating from college. I was fortunate enough to direct numerous short films and commercials and am working on my first feature film right now. Currently, I am part of the AFI conservatory, honing my craft of storytelling, always with the goal of telling stories in the most impactful way.

What inspired you to do this?

Starting as a kid, I had a passion for telling stories. As a 12 years old, I started to play magic tricks and amazed everyone around me. My interests slowly transitioned into film – the power of images intrigued me.

Can you tell us more about the Anshan Story?

I am currently working on a documentary film, ‘An Anshan Story’ which is about my family history to uncover the truth about my grandpa’s ties with the revolutionaries of the left wing during the cultural revolution. My family recounts the traumatic events after the revolution has ended. The film jumps between the past and present as they confront their old age in an aging city. We technically picture locked almost a year ago, but we are in progress of doing a significant recut. I am very excited to share this film with the rest of the world when it is ready.

Can you tell us more about your photography work?

For me being a photographer is just a hobby. Photos capture characters, films tell their stories. I often take photos of my hometown Anshan and my family. Whenever I am taking a photo. I never really look at specific aspects of it. Simply feel the person or the space is right for the frame and for my camera to capture. I love to take photos of people I appreciate and places I felt good about.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had in directing a film so far?

I believe that – to a certain degree – struggling is part of the process. Being a visual storyteller is a lifelong process in which you never finish learning. Roadblocks are an important part of it and played an important lesson for me to stay humble and push myself to new limits. Every project comes with its unique challenges, and I believe that with every project I work on, I am able to sharpen my senses in a different way. With that in mind, it was a very rewarding experience for me to shoot my short film ‘After Class’ in my home country of China. It presented some unique challenges: this was the first time for me to work outside of the US. Solving logistical problems, for example finding a great cast, securing the most fitting locations, while still staying true to the story was a challenging yet important obstacle for me.

Who would you want to collaborate with the most?

Éric Gautier

You can learn more about him by visiting his website below:

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