As the camera operator on the shoot in Sichuan, this week’s film holds a very special place in my heart.
Fengtongzhai is a rural village four hours outside of Chengdu. At the time of filming, all the roads were under construction, and the only way for us to reach the village was bypublic transport. We took the coach to our hotel in Ya’an, then took another coach to Baoxing County, and THEN took a small bus up the mountains to the village. All together, it added up to a 10-hour journey. Luckily, we were pretty much asleep the whole way.
After a long and exhausting journey, I was ready for a rest. However, when we arrived, the crew and I were so amazed by the beautiful nature and the hospitable farmers in the village that I perked right up. It was a completely different world for a city girl like me.
We stayed in the village for 4 days, and I still consider it to be my most memorable shoot. Some of the trickier moments for me include trying to work out how to charge the batteries for the camera when we could only get power from 8pm-11pm, waking up to the roosters’ “cock-a-doodle-do”, holding a beehive whilst trying to find the queen bee and even sharing the toilet with some pigs.
As well as all this, my highlights include having breakfast on the street whilst waiting for a timelapse shot, being offered “honey alcohol” to drink by the farmers daily, watching the sunrise and sunset surrounded by the beautiful mountains and forest and detoxing from the internet! Throughout all of this, I loved communicating with the locals and sampling local food. It was such an amazing experience and I feel so lucky that we conquered the challenge and made our way there. I think it is a great film, but it was also a precious life experience for me.
I still remember Chen Yanyu’s smile as he talked about how much he likes his bees. He earns just enough to live, and he doesn’t demand a lot from life. All he cares about and wants to do is to take care of his hardworking babies. Watching him was probably my favorite moment of the whole trip!