Editor Mengchao Lin talks highlight of her career and passion for filmmaking
As a naturally quiet person, Mengchao Lin sometimes feels like the words that come out of her mouth are powerless. However, when she steps behind her computer, ready to begin editing her latest project, she instantly knows how to express herself. Film has the power to unite us all, and for Lin, that visual language is the one she feels most comfortable sharing with the world.
“Working in different films is like having more chances to live a different life. People only live once, but I can create so many different worlds through filmmaking. My protagonist could be an artist, a scientist, a murderer, a dog, even an alien. Then I could try to build up a whole new world in their perspective, which gives me so many more extraordinary experiences than what I get from real life,” says Lin.
Lin has many award-winning and celebrated projects decorating her resume, including Free Ride, American Dream, and Our Home Here. The highlight of her career, however, came when making the film Gummi Bear, a story about a brother and sister who learn the extent of their autonomy through a series of everyday occurrences on a day where these kids are just trying to be kids.
“We live in a conflicting world where society has put a very high standard and competitive environment on raising a child with expensive education fees and extracurricular activities so much so that many families are financially concerned about raising a child. Whereas, on the other hand, young parents are struggling to provide for their children that they have no emotional capacity to be present with their children in their daily life. Lack of emotional capacity, anxiety and depression all masked by toxic masculinity passing on from one generation to the next. The story is told through the eyes of brother and sister Terence and Teresa,” she says. “The core of the story focuses on a cycle that their young father Jarrod hopes to break but seems almost destined to pass onto the next generation. I like how the story can inspire people to think about their environment and education and how that can be passed onto the next generation. How your behavior will be the mirror to your children, and also become a part of the society that you live in.”
Lin was immediately interested in the story. A fan of family drama, she enjoys telling the story of trifles between families, as they are something everyone can relate to. Therefore, she worked tirelessly to tell the story in the best way possible.
At the very beginning, she assembled the footage in order and for a logical sequence of events. Then she and her team found the emotional expression in that cut was not strong enough to really connect with the audience. Lin then aimed to edit the story differently, adding a lot of jump cuts into the children observing the scenes to make a strong point of view. She also broke up the order of the shots, making it more emotional. All the observing scenes were shot by a hand-held camera, perfectly matching the jump cuts to create that subjective perspective. Once Lin showed her approach to the director, R.J. Dawson, he was thrilled, and made it the final cut.
“I quite enjoyed working with Mengchao. I am usually a bit of a defensive person. When others doubt my idea, I will put up a wall to protect myself. I don’t like explanations, because most people don’t really know what I have been through, so they don’t understand what I am trying to convey. However, I trust Mengchao a lot. Every time we communicate in the dark editing bay, she always inspires me with some unique thoughts. I gradually let down my guard. She just knows the way to make me feel reliable. She always tries to help me convey the emotion in a clever way. Most importantly, her respect to the story really sets her apart from others,” said Dawson.
One of Lin’s more recent success stories, Gummi Bear premiered at AFI EXPO in April 2019. It was also an Official Selection at the Oscar-qualifying Run&Shoot Filmworks Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival and a number of American film festivals. Gummi Bear also received international recognition as an Official Selection of the Rapport Festival and Africa International Film Festival, among others. Numerous awards vetted the exceptional skill of those behind the film, including Best Short Film and Best Actor at Victory International Film Festival, Best Cinematography and Best Editing at the Milestone Worldwide Film Festival, and Best Editing at Aura View Film Fest. Lin was thrilled to receive two major awards for her work.
“I am really happy to see that Gummi Bear has been enjoyed by so many people. The whole production process lasted about one year. It was like watching my own child being born. It also became a motivation to make more wonderful films,” she concludes.