The script for “Morning Song,” a live-action short, was inspired by a scene I witnessed the first morning I arrived in Beijing in 2008:
Upwards of 100 people singing from songbooks under a tree.
China’s parks fill up in the morning with retired people who exercise, do calligraphy, sing, play instruments and dance with abandon.
Five years later that scene sprung to mind when I entered the Beijing International Screenwriting Competition. I won a grand prize, which came with a second trip to Beijing and $10,000 to shoot Morning Song.
With help from a local producer, I booked actors via Skype before arriving. We shot the film in Purple Bamboo Park, which was quite an adventure without permits (we tried!) and a largely Chinese cast and crew who spoke mostly Mandarin.