Work continues on The Six, the new feature documentary from LPDocs, directed by Arthur Jones. The film traces the lives of the Chinese passengers on Titanic, six of whom survived before disappearing completely from the history books as anti-Chinese sentiment stirred up prejudicial immigration laws for the first half of the twentieth century. Arthur follows historian and frequent collaborator Steven Schwankert (The Poseidon Project) as he travels the globe to uncover the lost stories of Lee Bing, Fang Lang, Chang Chip, Ah Lam, Chung Foo and Ling Hee, and finally give them their place in history.
It has been a year since Arthur and Steven traced the son of one survivor to Wisconsin, USA. Further clues led them to a remote village in Guangzhou, China. Meanwhile, at our base in Shanghai, the research team have been trawling through old archives in search of clues about The Six, and have been asking tough questions about the immigration policies which made life so difficult for Chinese migrants to Europe and North America as recently as 60 years ago.
Research of this nature is littered with obstacles. Chinese genealogy is notoriously difficult, particularly in English language documents such as shipping records, where names are often inconsistently transcribed. But there are a surprising amount of documents which have survived in archives around the world. The most exciting recent development has been the discovery of a new batch of records which tell us exactly what happened to the six upon arrival in New York aboard the rescue ship Carpathia. After months of speculation about the immediate aftermath of the accident, we are now able to verify why they were aboard Titanic, and where they were headed for the next few years.
We find threads of the six in USA, Canada and UK, all countries which offered their own Chinese Exclusions Acts. Perhaps the most pernicious of the bunch was UK, where post-war anti-immigrant sentiment saw thousands of settled Chinese men forcibly deported. For many, this meant leaving behind British wives and children, most of whom never knew what had happened to their husbands and fathers (you can read more about the impact of these deportations on Liverpool families from Yvonne Foley at the Half and Half Project)
Researcher Matthew Baren took a trip to London’s Limehouse earlier this month to visit various listed addresses of one survivor. Like Liverpool, London’s dockland areas became a home for the first Chinese migrant workers in UK, with Limehouse becoming the countries first Chinatown and the basis of pulp hysteria Fu Manchu. Much of the docklands area has been repurposed for housing and the Canary Wharf financial district, and today’s Limehouse retains little of what stood 100 years ago. Gone are the boarding houses which were home to Chinese seamen. But the streets on which the six and so many others lived are still there.
The next stop on our journey in making The Six is Bangkok, where Arthur and producer Julia Cheng will follow up their success at GZDoc in 2015 with a trip to documentary industry event Asian Side of the Doc. Be sure to check out our updated trailer for the film, available on our online channels.
Advertising is laden with metaphor; it is symbolism loaded with hyperbole and wrapped in beautiful imagery to the sound of strings and a deeply reassuring voice-over promising the world. You could be forgiven for thinking it was all insincere. And it can be. But behind every great product, every great company, is a great story. And these stories deserve to be told with a cinematic grandeur.
We were recently commissioned to create a a corporate video for furniture company A-Zenith, a client with whom we have worked before. A-Zenith is one of the most trusted bespoke furniture brands in China. Since 1985, they have been the proud suppliers of World Expo, the government of the P.R.C. as well as homes across the country. Now, the company is preparing to go public, inviting investors to buy into their vision, their legacy, their dream. That’s where we come in.
Stepping into A-Zenith’s factories is a story in itself, light dappled with saw dust and the smell of wood stain and leather. Each piece is a labour of love, handcrafted to guarantee quality, customised to suit the client. Visually it is a treat, and informs our storytelling as richly as it impresses upon any visitor to the site.
But the real story lies with the staff. From factory floor to executive boardroom, each has their place and value. This was our starting point. Our development team takes the time to get to know this beating heart of the company before we concept and script. As with all our clients, we take pains to ensure that it is personal, unique and, above all, a genuine representation. We guide our clients in discovering the story that they want to tell, and find the language and look with which to best to convey it.
The extra work pays off. Our commercials are grand, for their subjects are grand. They speak with informed depth in ways which emulate the philosophy of our clients.