Seafood in Shanghai is an interactive documentary that takes viewers on a tour through the timeline of the seafood they love to eat. In light of the recent changes to the market and heightened interest in seafood products, we take viewers on a tour of Jiangyang Wholesale Seafood Market to get a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes.
Interactively, this project is presented on a dinner table. You can click each plate for a corresponding story behind the seafood item depicted. The centerpiece is the buddha, explore the table to understand its significance at this particular seafood market!
In order to design the website in HTML, I selected the images and coded them together to form the table. Each plate links to a full-screen embed youtube video.
My initial vision for this project was to take viewers through an interactive experience of the seafood process, from beginning to end. The documentary would begin on a boat with a catchman, documenting his process of procuring the initial product. Then, it would document the journey of each food item from catch, to wholesale supply, all the way down to retail purchase at a restaurant. Due to scheduling and organizational issues, I was not able to execute the full vision for the project. However, I was able to get a full experience at the seafood market as well as some important insight into the business as a whole.
As it stands, Seafood in Shanghai is an interactive experience that documents the process of different seafood items within the JiangYang wholesale seafood market. Also included is an interview with Lin, a major seafood supplier and restaurant owner in Shanghai. The inclusion of his interview is meant to give viewers a retailer’s perspective of the industry and business.
There were several learning points for me while working on this project. In hindsight, I definitely would have partnered up with someone from class as it was extremely difficult to schedule and execute things with my personal partners. Relying on others to get things done was also a major learning point, as I found myself wasting a lot of time waiting around for people to pull through for me. Next time, I will execute as much as I can by myself or make sure that I can better calculate the risk of being left to do things by myself. Teamwork is incredibly crucial when working on a documentary, and this one was no exception. Being that most of the film was conducted in Chinese, this also added another dimension. Had I been working with a team, roles could have been delegated, thus resulting in less stress and wright on my shoulders.
Setbacks aside, I think the struggles I endured while working on this project were actually for the better. Now, I understand every role in documentary film making and have the ability to delegate accordingly. As I continue working on Seafood in Shanghai, I will make sure to at least have a dedicated audio technician, translator, and someone to assist with editing and post-production as well. On this project, I handled the direction, interview direction, filming, audio, and post-production, while managing several other video projects as well. Thankfully the main thing I was meticulous about was file management, which paid off in the end.
In addition to working with a team, given a next time I would also try harder to spend more time building a relationship with my subjects prior to shooting, so as to make the process more seamless. When reviewing my footage after the fact, I realized that I had to do a lot of interjecting and explaining. These steps can be mitigated next time by pre-planning and solidifying the vision before going out in the field. This was my first documentary and my first seafood documentary, so I did a lot of learning along the way!
For the interactive portion, I would ideally present this documentary as a site-specific installation. It would be a screening event with viewers sitting around a table and the documentary would be projected onto the plates. Each course would feature a different type of seafood. For example: viewers would first watch the process of lobster from catch to final plate presentation, then the first course of lobster would be served on the plate. After each course, plates would be cleared and a different food would be highlighted. At the end, there would be some sort of commentary or open-ended question posed about food ethics.