October 15, 2021
Press release - Zhu Shen, the multiple award-winning film producer of such Oscar-qualified animated documentary shorts as CHANGYOU’S JOURNEY (2018) and INGRID PITT: BEYOND THE FOREST (2011), announces multiple young talents joining her Bamboo Shoots Productions crew in producing and distributing her directorial debut - the deeply personal documentary feature JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES currently in late production and early post production, endorsed by the legendary Hollywood producer Janet Yang (THE JOY LUCK CLUB Executive Producer, Governor of the Academy of Motion Pictures), who called it "an ode to the bond between mother and son, told with radical vulnerability and honesty," and “a deeply moving look into the love that binds a family."
Writer, Director & Producer Zhu Shen (R) with her son & Co-writer, Co-producer Perry Chen (photo by Kurt Braun)
“This is such an exciting, wonderful development of our documentary film, signaling grassroot support and how our film speaks to young people in a heartfelt way that truly connects with their identity, family history, and personal evolution,” said Zhu, “I believe I just found the newest core audience for our film - the youth market! This is beyond my wildest dream, and I am so thrilled to work with the stellar crew, each bringing his/her unique strengths and contributing to the growth of our evolving team and realizing our film's mission - HEAL & RECONNECT FAMILIES.”
Among the new crew, Lead Editor and Contributing Cinematographer Amy Fan is a second generation Chinese American who brings years of experience editing the San Diego Asian Film Festival trailers since 2013, and cinematography skills from making her own short films and working for other documentary filmmakers. Zhu met Amy at the 2018 San Diego Asian Film Festival where CHANGYOU’S JOURNEY was screened. Amy said, “I was drawn to Dr. Zhu Shen's story because there are many relatable elements that can be drawn from her experience, from overcoming grief and trauma to realizing lifelong dreams, all meanwhile continuing to learn and accept the evolving relationship with her son Perry. It is ultimately a very personal story from which we can use to reflect on our own identities and struggles, as well as our ongoing efforts to heal, connect, and be the best versions of ourselves.” Amy has been working on the film trailer and various samples for screenings and grant applications, and will lead the assembly cut and rough cut editing, in addition to contributing to shooting a few last key scenes.
Contributing Cinematographer David Hutchinson is a super talented cinematographer and documentary producer based in San Diego that Zhu found through the D-word worldwide documentary community. David contributed to the shooting of a few key home scenes of Zhu and Perry that bridged the story’s past with its present. David remarked, "When Dr. Zhu Shen first reached out to me about JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES, I was impressed by her thoughtfulness and her commitment to telling this story. We all experience grief at some point in our lives, and we all have to process it, make space for it, and continue living in its presence. With this film, Dr. Shen shares an intimate view of her own path through grief, a path which ultimately strengthens both her sense of self and her relationships with others."
Zhu met Bamboo Shoots Productions’ Contributor Daphne Han, a second generation Chinese American college freshman through her instagram “Asians of America” - featuring unique stories and experiences of Asian Americans across different ages, geography, backgrounds, and cultures that she started while in high school in Houston, Texas. Currently majoring in Computer Science and Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon University, Daphne is exploring the ethics of technology and the role it plays in today's politics, economics, and society. With interest and experience in storytelling through music, art, and creative writing, math education, science communication, and bioinformatics research, Daphne aims to develop innovative, interdisciplinary solutions to the world’s pressing problems and to assist those in need by providing greater access to technology and education.
Jazzy Anne, an Associate Producer at Bamboo Shoots Productions was one of the young Asian Americans featured on Daphne Han’s “Asians of American” Instagram, and introduced to Zhu by her childhood friend Daphne. As a second generation Filipino American college sophomore majoring in film and massive social media following on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram with a combined fan base of over three millions, Jazzy Anne is poised to introduce JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES to her expanding youthful fans.
“Dr. Zhu Shen personally shared her story as a young Chinese adult with me, and after we talked, all I wanted to do was cry tears of relief,” said Jazzy Anne, “As a young Filipina woman who is just now embracing that part of her identity after all these years, it was so refreshing to hear that I am not alone in my experiences. Dr. Shen’s story of her personal identity resonates with me a lot, and hearing how much she has changed and healed - as well as how her passion naturally leads to her success - it has inspired me to take a deep breath and trust in the path I am on. I believe that any young adult that feels stuck in a ‘quarter-life crisis’ would feel a sense of relief and hope for their future after watching this film. There are so many different things to take from Dr. Shen’s experience - it doesn’t matter who you are - you will feel heard and seen in your own personal experience.”
Associate Producer Shirley Yumeng He, a recent University of Southern California graduate with her Masters in Visual Anthropology, grew up in an artistic family where her father is an animation director at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. She and Zhu are fellow alums from the same high school - the Affiliated High School of Peking University - 北大附中, decades apart. “As Dr. Shen and I share the same background growing up in China, I deeply resonate with JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES’ delineation of traditional Chinese parenting style, and how it still lingers in a new generation of Chinese-descent. But what struck me the most in this film is Dr. Shen’s transformation and her power of becoming.”
“Looking at the archival footage from JOURNEY, I was reminded of my mom’s strict coaching - just as Dr. Shen’s coaching to Perry in Mandarin - and my dad’s disapproval of me pursuing a career in filmmaking even when he was an animation director at the Beijing Film Academy! But just as Dr. Shen’s capability of adapting and transforming, my parents were able to accept and respect my decisions as I grew older.
Chinese parents have always been perceived as strict and stubborn — so come the term ‘Tiger Mom’, but what has not been seen by the public, particularly the Western audiences, is the transformation that has been going on among the Chinese and Chinese-American community. JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES is a unique moving portrait of the bond between a Chinese mom and her son, but more so, a powerful illustration of the possibility of becoming.”
Zhu met Associate Producer Xiaoya Liang at the same entertainment industry networking event where she met Shirley Yumeng He, a month apart, organized by Mara McCann, a Master World Builder and a dear friend. “I was instantly drawn by Dr. Shen’s beaming smile on her Linkedin profile,” said Xiaoya,. “I was captivated by her efforts to produce the Oscar-qualifying animation CHANGYOU’S JOURNEY, and her life story partially revealed in the personal documentary JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES. Then something strange happened. I felt the urge to talk to her, and our minds clicked right away. By midnight, we even had a virtual meeting right after the conversation on LinkedIn.”
“Similar to Dr. Shen’s late husband, Changyou, I was born and raised in the rural countryside of Mainland China. The opening scenes of the animation film, CHANGYOU’S JOURNEY, reminded me of the small town I grew up in, and the tranquil life between school and home in my childhood.
As a mother of a four-year-old girl born and raised in America, I had so much personal empathy when watching the nine-min sample of JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES, that I couldn’t wait to join her team and collaborate. I understand how hard parenting could be while raising a child abroad in a totally different cultural background.
Dr. Shen is truly a role model for me - raising a child single-handedly for more than a decade, helping her son become a responsible adult while keeping up a close mother-son creative collaboration over the years, never giving up on her dream, and always investing in her personal growth.
As the only child of my parents, I spent a long time discovering my own identity and figuring out my career path. I used to sacrifice my inner desire in the arts and try my best to live up to my family’s expectations. I was not positive about my career even after exhibiting my MFA thesis project upon graduation at Emerson College. After meeting Dr. Shen, I felt alive and empowered. I’m looking forward to meeting a new self, creating artwork as an emerging artist and documentary filmmaker who will one day direct her own personal films exploring the theme of family and love.”
Contributing Cinematographer and Editor Colin Bae is a second generation Korean American sophomore at Emerson College who was Zhu’s son and Co-producer Perry Chen’s high school film friend. “It was by a literal game of chance that I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Perry for a semester at our Canyon Crest Academy high school in San Diego,” said Colin, “Though I was initially unsure, I quickly saw the immense humor and heart with which Perry approached any friendship, and I was very happy to have that kind of influence in my life. I would later work on a documentary about Perry’s internal struggles with the passing of his father, and how he channeled it into his animated short film CHANGYOU’S JOURNEY. It was on this production that I met and interviewed Dr. Zhu Shen, who asked if I would be interested in editing an early sample cut of JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES. I am proud to have helped to facilitate the realization of this story that I worked on way back in 2019, and I am proud to call Dr. Shen and Perry friends. They continue to awe me with their dedication to this documentary and conviction to make their voices heard in a time where it is easy to be silenced."
Contributing Cinematographer, Editor, Web Designer and Associate Producer Seth Dacio is a multi-talented second generation Filipino American and rising senior at Biola University majoring in films. Zhu met him on Linkedin in 2018 while she was screening and promoting CHANGYOU'S JOURNEY. Seth quickly took on filming, editing and later website design for JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES, and more recently added Associate Producer role to the mix. Seth said, “I am excited to be a part of the distribution side of this incredible story. As an Asian American myself, I know the importance of sharing Asian American stories with the public and the impact they can have on our society."
Bamboo Shoots Productions CREW Bios are HERE, connect with us!
We invite all our fans and supporters to meet our newest Crew at the upcoming LIVE Virtual Solo Screening and Fundraiser on November 10, 2021, immediately followed by Q&A moderated by Zhu’s long-time friend, scientist and artist Janet White with industry panels Heidi Reinberg, Carole Dean, Ina Sofia Kalo, and Coach Walker Clark who worked diligently with Zhu and Perry during the most challenging years of making CHANGYOU’S JOURNEY.
Journey of a Thousand Miles Virtual Fundraiser + Screening + Q&A
Wed Nov 10, 2021 @5:00 - 6:30 PM PST
Thank you for your kind support! We welcome you all to sign up and follow the JOURNEY HERE