Last fall, Sichuan Province, to accompany our new and improved Chengdu so special in mind, body and spirit. Sichuan is a place so rich in culture that you can taste it around the world, and making these films was much like planning a trip to China: so much to see, and never enough time. But we believe we've created a meaningful, interesting portrait of the city, so if you haven't seen them yet, watch the videos on the Ctrip English YouTube channel (Body, Spirit, Mind) or Youku (Body, Spirit, Mind). In the meantime, read on to get some behind-the-scenes information on the production from Sascha Matuszak.
With Mind, the filmmakers hoped to show the pursuits and activities of local Chengdunese inspired to do by the spirit and atmosphere of the city and its culture. Much of the footage involves close-ups of people doing their thing, be it dressing up for tourists in the Wu Hou Temple or spraying up the side of a wall in the newly-opened Music Park on the east side of the city. Read on to hear more about filming in Chengdu...
We took a long bike ride down the Wenjiang Green Beltway that connects the city of Chengdu with the Taoist Qing Cheng Mountain in the north and filmed locals playing mahjong in a 100-year old teahouse. The teahouse was located at a small crossroads formed by a bridge across the Min River, which flows down from the Himalayas to irrigate the Chengdu Basin. Next door was a broken down barbershop where a smiley old guy with a few wisps of white hair gave one of us a close shave with an ancient straight razor. Local fruit vendors stopped and sold their citrus to us as we filmed the old folks gambling for pennies. The tea flowed all day at this timeless location. Teahouses like this are rare in the city these days, but the aim of the green beltway is to help preserve country life as the city of Chengdu expands ever deeper into the fields and terraces hugging the Min River as it wanders past.
Tea formed a large portion of the short: we filmed people drinking in the parks, a beautiful young girl pouring for us in one of Kuan Xiangzi’s more popular teahouses and paid a visit to the large and bustling Wu Kuai Shi Tea Market in the north side of the city. The tea market is where we got shots of people sifting the tea before packaging it for sale and the three glasses of green tea are from a teahouse in Kuan Xiangzi.
We also spent a day in Luodai, an “ancient town” south of Chengdu that was once a cultural and economic stronghold for the Hakka migrants who came here in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries from the eastern seaboard to re-populate and “civilize” a wild and battle weary Sichuan. Luodai is a very popular day trip for Chengdunese and several small cottage industries have sprung up to cash in on the tourism. We filmed a cute little glassblower as she made a horse and followed a beautiful flower girl around until she gave us the head-swing and smile we were waiting for.
Some of our favorite shots came from a shadow puppet performance at Wu Hou Temple. We had two cameras running–one behind the scenes and one in the audience–and that allowed us to capture the fluid movements of the artist and show them as the shadow puppets the audience see as well. The face-changing performance was part of the nightly show that starts at 8pm in Wu Hou Themple and includes a tea ceremony, comedy, a fire-breathing show and a few other surprise acts.
The silk embroidery shots are from a small shop near the Wen Shu Yuan Buddhist Monastery on the north side of the city. Such art is also becoming more and more scarce as time goes on, but it is still possible to capture the focus in a weavers eye and the pinpoint accuracy of a needle and silk thread as it slowly creates a tableau of the region and all its wonders.
We juxtaposed the artist Luo Fahui and the graffiti writer Gas to show the range of skills of the local people and the range of art and expression to be found in the city. The last shot is Gas leaving his work to start on another piece around the corner. The words on the wall are: 成都, Chengdu.