In April 2011, through a friend’s introduction I met Deng Fei in a restaurant near Beijing’s Imperial Palace. As soon as we met, he talked about his ideas that firstly setting up an agency to address problems about children’s lunch in mountains, and then looking for ten photographer nationwide to make up a team, entering mountians and photographing the construction of schools’ kitchens and the situation of children. At that time, there were several journalists present who were from different media in China. They became comrade-in-arms and formed a profound friendship afterward.
Ren Yiduo(middle, female), Tan Yonglin(singer, middle, male),
V4 girl’s band(sideward)
After Deng Fei set up the photograph team, I had the honor of following FLFC team to go to many elementary schools in the mountains of Xiangji province, recording the whole process from visiting schools, building kitchens, to lunching for students. This was the first time that I had such an experience in my life.
Mountain paths were rather steep and It’s also hard to walk on zigzag roads. There were dozens of miles between villages and some schools, because of that, some children had to climb to the top of a mountain where their school lay on from mountain side or even farther places.Their hadrship of attending school was unimaginable for me who grew up in a provincial capital.
Since coming back, this experience and children’s innocent smiling faces were always on my mind. I considered that except for static pictures, were there any else media that could let people know children’s condition in mountains more visually, and understand the commonweal agency FLFC more deeply? Accordingly, it was dynamic image that had the effects. Therefore, I decided to photograph a public-interest film insert, in order to make FLFC more widespread, to raise more funds, and to build kitchens for more schools.
┃Photograph the commonweal documentory.
Since FLFC was at starting stage for the time, it could not afford our cost. Then a kind man appeared and donated tens of thousands of his deposit after watching pictures photographed by me and listening to stories about FLFC. With the help of the investment, I rented filming facilities as well as a van soon. And then I contacted two journalists from Dahe newspapers in Henan province and led four members of our team to Zhengzhou(the capital city of Henan province).
It’s worth mentioning the four members. At that time they were university students who majored in filming, screenwrting, or directing. Although they were volunteer without any rewards, each of them was active and was filled with creation enthusiasm.
(We were photographing in the Shangsi village elementary school in Lushan county, Henan province.)
We drove from Beijing to Zhengzhou to meet the two journalists and then we decided the next-day scheduling. Our destination was the Shangsi village elementary school in Lushan county, Henan province. Before setting off, we knew that there would be a flagraising ceremony on Monday, so we arrived at the school a day before the beginning of a new term.
From selecting scenes to making an outline, and then from organizing to photographing, we spent four days in total. In this period, we lived with children. Such country life made us peaceful in deep mind so that we forgot the city’s noise and the fast-paced lifestyle. But we worked in an orderly way. To avoid delay, we worked from dawn to night to ensure all steps closely linked. In the process of filmmaking we also encountered dangers which were eliminated eventually. I thought it was god’s blessing that helped us accomplish the task satisfactorily and return to Beijing safely.
For me the experience was particularly significant. Because I needed to rent vans and other facilities by myself, to arrange per person per day accommodation of our team, to get up firstly and knock others’ doors to wake them up, to look for gas stations to fuel vehicle. I also needed to lead team to select scenes, to make outlines, to determine proposals, and to write narratage. What’s more, I needed to photograph and to direct during the process and to distribute the task of arranging daily video material to others when returned to our accommodation at night.
( We intimately interacted with children.)
In the process, I almost experienced every job in a teleplay group, which set up a good basis for my accumulation of working experience in the futture. After finishing photographing, we brought back abundant video material to Beijing. A friend actively required to work on post-production, including editing, mixing colors, audio mixing and so on. I still remembered that for the time there was a shot to show a crayon logo of FLFC, since the lack of help I drew it by myself. I found that when I did something pesonally, my enthusiasm would rise more. Following that the newborn work was like my own baby that I quite cherished.
┃The birth of the song “sharing smiling faces”
After finishing the basic editing of our film, I showed it to some actors. They voluntarily played roles in calling on people to express love and donate money at the end of the film. That was unexpected to me as there were so many people supported and understood commonweal programs, which gave me more confidence.
Meanwhile Mr.Tan Yonglin was holding concert in Beijing. By the chance that he invited me and a girls’ band of his company to have a dinner party together, I showed the film insert to him. He thought what we did was significant and he was glad to do his bit. Soon Mr.Tan melodized the song “sharing smiling faces”for us, then a singer Gu Ruining from his company wrote lyrics and sang this song. After then, his company invested us to compose and record “sharing smiling faces”. Thus, through several months, volunteers relating to the film insert, rose from me--one person to so many people. That’s really the power of commomweal.
(Assembled loves contribute to the creation of the song “sharing smiling faces”.)
When I chatted with a donator, he said something that right reflected the feelings of many volunteers and donators. “I persist in donating 3 yuan daily, although it is minor, it needs persistence. What I do is not to express love, but to regard that as what I am fond of, as a pleasant thing. With no influence on my daily expenditure, to be a little bit happier evey day is a pleasure of life. Just like he said, photographing the film insert was what we loved and thus our efforts was not only to express love, but to add pleasure into our life.
On Christmas Eve, 2011, we sent the film insert as a gift to all volunteers and donators, and to friends who helped and supported us.
┃I will persistently accompany “FLFC”.
Five years have passed so far when FLFC meets a new period. Especially thanks for FLFC who consigns a new task to me, so this time I want help FLFC obtain more effective and newer promotion with new manifestation. Therefore a commonweal micro film is underway. We will set up a completed system of filmmaking so that with visual images we can more professionally promote FLFC’s mission, concept and profound significance.
This time come forward many more professional volunteers to help us creat the micro film. If five-year is an epoch, then in these years we grow up with FLFC from an epoch to another. The five-year is also marvellous for me, because it has great guiding effects on my view of life and values. We all advocate a common concept that children need you and me, that they need us to pay efforts together. To help others is to help ourselves.
Now Ren Yiduo is convening several more professional volunteers to creat the micro film for 5th anniversary of FLFC, so more people can know children’s stories in chinese mountain regions.
Scan the QR code below to help Ren Yiduo achieve her goal.