Mengchao Lin began painting when she was just 5 years old. Even at that young age, she was fascinated by the arts. As she grew up over the next ten years in Beijing, it was her passion, but the more she aged, the more she became interested in technology as well. Wanting to figure out a way to combine these two interests, Lin turned to filmmaking. She knew instantly she had found her calling, using innovative new technology to create a work of art.
Now, Lin is an internationally in-demand editor, known for her work ethic and versatile approach to her craft. Whether working on a laugh-out-loud comedy, like Free Ride, or a heartfelt drama, such as Gummi Bear, Lin knows just how to captivate an audience.
Lin always puts the story first, no matter what she is working on, knowing that telling a good story is the heart of her job. When deciding what projects to take on, she always considers the script, wanting to share an important message with the audience. When deciding to work on the 2018 film American Dream, she found she could relate to the story in an emotional way, and knew she wanted to play a major part in sharing it.
“This project is about a Chinese girl who lives in the US. As a Chinese girl myself, I naturally had an emotional connection with the character, and the protagonist’s performance is really strong and very attractive to me. I couldn’t help but go through the footage along with her performance,” said Lin.
American Dream follows Chinese illegal immigrant Wenjuan Li, played by Demi Ke, as she tries to spend all her money to get a green card using the political asylum law. Due to overwhelming fake cases on political asylum, the US government starts to investigate the cases. Li loses everything, even her friends, and falls into a dark place.
“American Dream is labelled as a crime drama, but really, it is a tragedy. The story builds along with Wenjuan’s hope. We can feel her longing for the brighter future, and then we see it completely destroyed by the reality of our dark society. It breaks your heart, and you really sympathize with the character. It really lets the audience reflect on this social phenomenon that should be abandoned,” said Lin.
This was Lin’s first time working with Director Magic Zhou, who approached Lin after becoming a fan of her previous work. Together, they went through all the footage that had been shot, making suggestions to each other, and Lin proceeded to make the cut. She wanted to highlight the main actress’s stellar performance, cutting out unnecessary parts of the plot to make the story faster paced and focused on Wenjuan’s journey.
“Mengchao is the most talented film editor I have ever worked with. During the working process, I really saw how she used her craft to make the story come alive. There are some scenes she edited just how I wanted in the editor’s cut, which really impressed me. Also, she let me see the different possibilities of how the storytelling could be. I am really inspired by her unique sense of filmmaking,” said Zhou, who then invited Lin to work on his first big budget action feature The City of KungFu in 2019, which received unanimous praise online.
Lin also played a key role in making an impactful story. The original ending, she found, was a bit over the top, and she wanted to find a way to use the footage in a less chaotic way than it was originally shot to focus on the raw emotion of the scene rather than the drama. She decided to use a wide shot of the entire setting, with the lead character in the middle, and then slowly zoom in on her face as the scene progresses, showing her emotion in great detail. In the end, it creates a powerful and dynamic conclusion.
“The director used a lot of unique tricks when it came to visual language, which gave me a lot of inspiration to expand my own vision. All those tricks gave me a new idea for how to convey the story. I really enjoyed working on American Dream,” she said.
The film premiered at LA SHORTS International Film Festival in July 2018. It was then an Official Selection at Kinofilm Manchester International Short Film and Animation Festival, Key West Film Festival, Chinese American Film Festival, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, Pasadena International Film Festival, and more. Lin is proud to have played her part in such a successful film, but even happier to share such an important and relative story with the world.
“I am glad to hear that it has been liked by so many people. We could finally bring this Chinese girl’s story to the big screen and let the film inspire people to act upon some of the injustices it displays,” she concluded.
Published by Zoe Sewell