Film

Stories from TD, the Human Bank

Michael Film, Video December 21, 2017

Paid Parental Leave: TJ Phelps Family

I adore this family and I am so honored to have the opportunity to film them. I am indebted to their generosity with their time, and their son Chase’s camera-friendliness gave me a lot of fond memories. TJ talked about Chase’s bossy, Arnold Schwarzenegger-like tone while saying “Sit down!” And I tried to put that bit in an earlier draft, but eventually it didn’t make the cut; otherwise the video will end up like 5 min.
Read More

The Most Important Job – Director of Operations

Michael Film, Video December 15, 2016

Whether you are looking for a new job or not, read this job description and think if you are interested, or qualified:

  • Title: Director of Operations
  • The most important job [wow, right?]
  • Requirements/Qualifications:
    • Mobility
    • Work standing up most or all of the time
    • Constantly on your feet, constantly bending over
    • High levels of stamina 
    • Excellent negotiation and interpersonal skills
    • Preferably a degree in medicine, finance, and culinary arts
    • Associate needs constant attention
    • Sometimes have to stay up with associate throughout the night
    • No vacation, actually Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year the work load is gonna go up
    • The position is gonna pay absolutely nothing
  • Lunch? Only when the associate is done with their lunch
  • No break? Absolutely not.
  • Time to sleep? Oh no time to sleep.

Read More

Monkey Film Nominated for an Emmy

Michael Film, Video July 22, 2016

Myestery Monkeys of Shangri-La

Photo by Wild China Film

When I invited my friend Xi Zhinong’s latest documentary, Mystery Monkeys of Shangri-La, to Asia Society for a pre-PBS Nature broadcast theatrical screening on the Earth Day in 2015, I knew this film will remain a piece of gem. This past week, I learned that it received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Nature Programming. I am proud I helped bring this project to American audiences on three occasions, once in New York and twice in Washington, D.C.

Read More

Evian Baby Bay

Michael Film, Video May 3, 2016

Awfully creative and cute:

The most amazing surf spot in the world: all surfers are babies!

More here, one raking in 120 some million views:

 

And here’s the behind the scenes, or known as “the making of…”

Gravitational Waves Explained

Michael Film, Video February 14, 2016

Wow, humanity is awesome. Here are some of the great explanations about this major breakthrough, a few video clips (the first TED talk where you could hear the sound of the gravitational waves, starting 7;20-7;44) and a Chinese social post sum-up in a visual way, although I don’t know whether it’s appropriate to embed a real graphic in the end.

Now this below is the juicy part, thanks to a Chinese friend’s WeChat post, which I think explains the discovery of gravitational waves pretty on point:

There was that legendary love-making episode over a billion years ago; a billion years later, we are finally seeing the wrinkled bed sheet.
十亿年前的一场风流韵事,十亿年后我们终于看到了那张被滚皱了的床单。

Doc Film “Death By Design” Coming Soon

Michael Film, Video January 7, 2016

A few years in the making, this investigative documentary film explores the unintended environmental, health and social consequences of our addiction to our digital devices. Veteran filmmaker Sue Williams presents the other, ugly side of the electronics industry, which may sound as clean as a biotech lab. I helped with the film as a China producer, and went with a camera to China’s e-waste capital, Guiyu in Guangdong Province.

 

Death by Design poster

Poster of documentary film “Death By Design” by Sue Williams, for which I was a China producer. Click/Tap for Facebook page.

Web & Video: China Air Daily

Michael Data & Graphics, Film, Photo, Video December 1, 2015

Flying back between Berkeley, CA and Beijing, China on graduate school projects, an idea struck me to record air quality with a picture every day, initially out of a friend’s apartment window. Then that project grew and took roots at Asia Society and now China Air Daily tracks five cities in China and the U.S. on an hourly basis.

Here below are two videos about China’s notorious air pollution issue I produced with Emmy Award winning studio MediaStorm:

 

Here below is the homepage of the site, a visual record of daily air quality in China and the U.S., featuring Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, New York City and Phoenix:

pic chinaairdaily home

Homepage of China Air Daily, click/tap to visit full site

I write in The Atlantic: A Stunning Visualization of China’s Air Pollution

The debate over whose statistics are most “accurate” can be confusing — how to sort out truth from spin? That’s why a group of us at the Asia Society decided to launch China Air Daily, a website that provides up-to-date information on air pollution in the country’s largest urban sectors, and even compares them to major cities from elsewhere in the world.

I write in Foreign Policy: Watch China’s Silent Assassin in Action

For the past eight years in Beijing, as well as four years spent in other Chinese cities, I have recorded impressions of daily air quality by taking photographs from fixed points. I thought I had seen the worst smog a developing country had to offer — then came the so-called “Airpocalypse” of January 2014. Finally, in March 2014, the Chinese government declared an all-out “war against pollution.” For a few months, as my photo archive suggests, Beijing’s air quality appeared to improve. But this winter, it is getting bad once again:January 15 saw an AQI measurement near 500.

Forbes: How Dirty Are China’s Skies? A Daily Photo Archive Shows The Truth

Air quality improved after the Olympics, and there have been good days since, but why August was this bad is something of a mystery. Trying to get to the bottom of the air-quality-in-China issue is the work of China Air Daily, a web site produced by the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations. The site is produced by the journalist-programmer Michael Zhao. China Air Daily publishes near-hourly snapshots several times a day. You can see how blue it was for most of March 2011.

Forbes: Asia Society Has Opened Window on China’s Environment

One of its useful devices is the China Air Daily site, which allows Web users to track the sometimes awful state of smog in three Chinese metropolises, as well as two in the U.S.

Last but not least, I blog about the issue on ChinaFile.com and here are some slides from the blogging:

China Air Watch

Screening: Mystery Monkeys of Shangri-La with PBS Nature

Michael Film, Photo, Video April 23, 2015

On the Earth Day of April 22, 2015, Asia Society teamed up with PBS Nature to present a stunningly beautiful production about snub-nosed monkeys in Yunnan, China. We also had the honor of having distinguished zoologist and conservationist Dr. George Schaller with us to discuss the film’s importance along with filmmaker Xi Zhinong, founder of Wild China Film. Below watch the full film:

Representing the meticulous and ambitious work of an all-Chinese film company led by award-winning filmmaker Xi Zhinong, this spectacular film is the true story of a family of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys living in the highest forests in the world. Only recently discovered, snub-nosed monkeys are hauntingly beautiful primates, different and gentler than others of their kind. Elfin-like, they seem both childlike and wise beyond their years. The family is led by a formidable fighter and his crew, who together stand guard for eight to 10 families. This is a unique monkey society, formed in response to the hardships of the Himalayas. But their survival depends not just upon strong defensive strategies; it also relies upon the cooperation and interdependence of them all.

Here below is the complete video on demand of the discussion after the film screening at Asia Society.

Video Series: Pictures Talk with Phoenix Online

Michael Film, Photo, Video October 15, 2014

ChinaFile’s Environment section teamed up with Phoenix Online to create a series of two-minute documentaries on the work, ideas, and aspirations of Chinese environmental advocates. The environmentalists, many of whom work in relative obscurity even within China, collect photographs and record themselves describing their efforts. This series of 30 some videos have registered over 6 million views on Phoenix documentary channel alone.

Landing page for Pictures Talk series on Phoenix Online Documentary Channel. Click/Tap to watch on ifeng.com

Landing page for Pictures Talk series on Phoenix Online Documentary Channel. Click/Tap to watch on ifeng.com

Watch these selected, English subtitled episodes on ChinaFile.com:

 

 

 

 

 

Screenings: China Green Docs Film Series

Michael Film, Video September 1, 2014

The environmental cost of China’s breakneck development can be witnessed across the smoggy skylines of its megacities. But not all of China’s environmental problems are so visually apparent, from soils contaminated by cadmium and arsenic, to diminishing groundwater supplies unfit for drinking. The films in this series of Chinese environmental documentaries make visible some of the hidden consequences of China’s rapid growth and the people fighting to save their communities and livelihoods.

The series of film events were featured in the New York Times and received sold out crowds for all the nights. It has been one of the best attended film series at Asia Society. Here below is the trailer for the series:

Film: Waking the Green Tiger, 78 min, 2011, Canada/China, Dir. Gary Marcuse

Discussion: Plastic China with Wang Jiuliang

Film: Yak Dung, 50 min., Dir. Lanze

Film: Last Moose at Aoluguya, 100 min., Dr. Gu Tao

The New York Times: ‘Waking the Green Tiger: Documentaries From the Front Lines of China’s Environmental Crisis’

Forbes: Asia Society Has Opened Window on China’s Environment

Last month the Asia Society began a film series with Waking the Green Tiger, a documentary about efforts to forestall the flooding of villages in pursuit of a dam at Yunnan province’s Tiger Leaping Gorge. I met Chinese producer Shi Lihong, who was in New York for the event.

 

U.S.-China Forum on the Arts & Culture

Michael Audio, Film, Photo, Video July 1, 2012

A delegation of outstanding American cultural figures including Meryl Streep and Yo-Yo Ma traveled to Beijing to take part in four days of unprecedented cultural exchange in 2011. The US-China Forum on the Arts and Culture organized performances, master classes and roundtables that showcased the best of American culture, while forging new opportunities for American artists to collaborate and converse with their Chinese peers, in fields including visual and performing arts, literature, and cuisine.

Here below is a highlight video from this trip, which I led the crew in shoot and production:

 

We also managed to place a video clip from the main performance on nytimes.com:

pic nyt lil buck

nytimes.com features a jook-dancing performance of Lil’ Buck and Yo-Yo Ma, clip/tap to watch

Doc Film “Himalayan Meltdown” on Discovery Asia

Michael Film, Video May 1, 2011

Glaciers in Asia are creating an uncertain future across the region. From Nepal to the Tibetan Plateau, Bhutan to India and the Bay of Bengal, a way of life is under threat. The climate is changing and life as we know it from the mountains to sea is falling out of balance. These glaciers are source to seven of the region’s greatest rivers. But our most precious resource is disappearing one drop at a time. The people of Asia are answering the call, harnessing determination, spirituality and science to adapt and survive in a face of a Himalayan Meltdown.

I contributed research and camera work to the documentary from Qinghai and Tibet in China. Here below is a trailer:

Revealed: Himalayan Meltdown, a co-production by the UN Development Programme, Discovery Asia, and Arrowhead Films aired on Discovery Channel, Sunday 15 May 2011, 21:00 hrs.
Airdates:
Sun. 15 May 11, 21:00 – Discovery SE Asia
Sun. 15 May 11, 21:00 – Discovery Malaysia
Sun. 15 May 11, 21:00 – Discovery Philippines
Sun. 29 May 11, 19:30 – Discovery Australia
Sun. 29 May 11, 19:30 – Discovery New Zealand
Sun. 05 June 11, 21:00 – Discovery Taiwan

Web & Video: “On Thinner Ice”

Michael Film, Photo, Video March 12, 2010

A multimedia presentation co-produced with Emmy Award winning MediaStorm along with a magnificent photo exhibition of melting glaciers in the valleys of the Himalaya taken by mountaineer, Emmy Award winning filmmaker David Breashears. It was a years long combination of stunning before-and-after images of glacier photography spanning a whole century and many years of reporting and writing about climate change and its impact on local communities and the environment by Orville Schell (The New York Times) and Michael Zhao (World Policy Journal). Asia Society also published two reports making a case for a closer collaboration between the U.S. and China on climate change and energy. The exhibition and its evolving versions have toured Beijing, Shanghai, Paris, and soon will land in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016.

Below is the video introduction to the project:

I was the producer and project manager of both the web site design/development and the video production.

pic On Thinner Ice

Screen shot of “On Thinner Ice” site, co-produced with MediaStorm. Click/Tap to visit on asiasociety.org.

Multimedia & Video: China Green Site

Michael Data & Graphics, Film, Photo, Video February 2, 2010

Over the past three decades, China has dazzled the rest of the world with its stunning, high-speed economic growth. However, rapid urbanization, poverty reduction and transformation of city skylines have come at a grave price: air and water pollution, degraded forests, pasturelands and marine habitats, growing greenhouse gas emissions and a host of other environmental problems.

China Green has been documenting China’s environmental issues now and for years to come and will strive to serve as a web forum where people with an interest in China and its environmental challenges can find interesting visual stories and share critical information about the most populous nation in the world whose participation in the solution to global environmental problems, such as climate change, will be indispensable.

Homepage of China Green site. Click/Tap to visit on AsiaSociety.org

Homepage of China Green site. Click/Tap to visit on AsiaSociety.org


Forbes: Asia Society Has Opened Window on China’s Environment

… the China Green project at the Asia Society, based in New York City but with a sizable presence in Hong Kong, has been tracking the mainland’s worsening environmental plight. As managing editor/producer of the project, Michael Zhao leads the effort to keep tabs and encourage reforms.