UAS – The Real American Dream Park

Once upon a time, a theme park called American Dream Park opened its gate in Shanghai in 1996. Only after a few years, the park was shut down completely. While sitting at another end of the Metro Line 11 is Disneyland, the so-called real Amercian theme park is filled with people all the time. The story will follow one person’s perspective.

Who: Our main character is one person that has been to the American Dream Park when he/she was young

What: We are going to begin our journey at American Dream Park. We try to enter the site which is under removing construction. We walk with the main character, talking about the past days when there were tourists. Probably we will talk with the construction worker to see if they know about the history of the site. We will talk to the security guard, to know how many people are trying to enter the park after shutting down. We will then follow the Metro Line 11, all the way to Disneyland. After experiencing the Disneyland, we ask the main character about which one is more special to him/her, why, and which is the real Amercian dream park. We’ll probably insert drone footages of other theme parks in/around Shanghai, make comparisons and leave an open end for the audience to think about the future of dream parks in China.

When: As soon as possible, before the stuff in the site is removed completely.

Where: The American Dream Park, Disneyland, and other theme parks nearby. Scenarios along Metro Line 11 will be shown as Timelapse or montages.

Why: One thing can have very different meanings to different people. American Dream Park is in many places, inferior to Disneyland. But it became a very special place for a certain group of people because of its post-apocalypse look, and potentially dangerous adventure. Maybe Disneyland is the real American dream park for many people, for people that have been to the American Dream Park before and after the shutdown, that disappearing park is more memorable to them. This aerial/ground combined story is a good way to preserve people’s emotions and thoughts about something that has to fade out in the history.

So what? It may not make sense to many people, but one day people living in the apartment built on the site of American Dream Park will be able to know the history and how special it means to some people. It is more important to document, preserve, and make people think, rather than entertaining.

Style: Ramping up from the beginning, our main character is really willing to get into the park again. We can talk about the park, about what he saw and experienced to heat it up. Once we get to the site, the almost removed theme park makes it shocking and sad. And then we make our way to Disneyland, getting excited again, but can’t find the passion and feeling we had about American Dream Park when we are there. Showing more people are going to the popular Disneyland while some other interesting local theme parks are facing serious challenges, we end to leave the question to the audience to answer.

Research resources:

What we can bring to Disneyland, what we can’t: https://www.shanghaidisneyresort.com/rules/

How special it is to people that have been there: http://finance.eastday.com/consumption/m5/20121018/u1a6928871.html

NYTimes article about the park: http://www.nytimes.com/1999/08/03/business/international-business-even-if-you-build-them-chinese-may-not-come-theme-parks.html

Si Hang Warehouse(四行仓库)pitch2

Si Hang warehouse is located in the north side of Suzhou river, in the mid-south of Jingan district, the northwest corner of Xizang Road bridge. It is 1 of Guangfu(restoration) Road,being very symbolic on this road with its historical background.

It has six storages, and made of steel reinforced concrete. It covers the area of 0.3 hectares. It was established in 1931, recruited by Continental bank, Kincheng bank, China South Sea bank and The Yieh Yien(salt industry) Commercial Bank. Si means four, and hang means banks, so Sihang warehouse literately means the warehouse for these four banks.

 

During the World WarII, Sihang warehouse was used as a fortress of the Chinese Army. 400 men were garrisoned in this building, and they are the last troop to retreat in the battle of Shanghai. You can still see the remains of the bullet holes and the old view of it.

 

Why Chinese army choose this site as the fortress? When we see the map, we can see that this place(marked NO.1 on the map) is right on the north side of the Suzhou river. Suzhou river was the border of Chinese administration zone and the International Settlement. When Japanese began their offensive, it was still in 1937 and the Allies of World War II didn’t form. The Japanese dare not to offend the English and American settlers, so the Chinese government chose this place to do a little show. There were inspectors from the League of Nations in the International Settlement, China wants to show the international world our courage and determination to defend the Japanese invaders. This is the closest solid building that can complete the mission.

What’s more? Because it is right next to the Settlement, Japanese dared not to use high explosives to attack it. They had to minimize the usage of fire power and ammo. They could only use machine guns and infantry mortars, so that the Chinese soldiers can hold it longer, and gain more time for the major divisions to retreat.

 

After the commander of the troop was assassinated, many schools and streets were named after him. We now have Jinyuan Road and Jinyuan middle school in Shanghai. It is a part of the memory of the people live in Shanghai.

 

One dramatic scene happened during the defense. The Chinese national flag was missing on the top of the building. One girl scout in the Settlement saw this situation, she went to a tailor’s shop and made one flag. She covered her body with the flag and swam across the Suzhou River, exposed her to the machine guns and flying bullets. She finally gave the flag to the commander of the troop. The Republic of China(now the government of Taiwan, used to be the government of whole China during World War II) government even made a film about this story.  Here is a link to the film. The story was so touching, the site is so significantly important, and the historical context is something worth to be remembered.

 

My film will be documentary style, it is possible for me to interview some people. They now have a museum on site, there are professional commentators, co-working historians and visitors. The first time I went there, I saw a man passing brochure to passers-by, he doesn’t seem to be working there, probably just some unorganized volunteers, and I can probably interview him. The place is not in the non-flying zone, and not crowded. It has some big museums near by and I can probably cooperate with the museum.

 

Baidu Baike(Chinese): https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E5%9B%9B%E8%A1%8C%E4%BB%93%E5%BA%93/10055531?fr=aladdin

Wikipedia(English): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Sihang_Warehouse

2 Page Project Pitch — M50 (ss9952)

Coketown or Castaway??

The area known as M50 is located in Moganshan Lu or Putuo District. This road was once the Chunming Slub Mill that housed the operations of Shangtex, a textile and apparel holding company. The Shangtex Holding Corporation traces its history back to the Shanghai Mechanical Textile Bureau, which was organized by the Qing Dynasty in 1878. The factories at M50 were constructed at various stages and are an example of a diverse collection of architectural buildings that reflect the growth of the textile industry. In 1999, the government shut down all slubmills and Moganshan Lu factories were downsized. By the mid 1980’s, most artists in China produced art for the state, until the late 1990’s when foreign and domestic art galleries began popping up all over Shanghai.

Artists such as Xue Song were attracted to the are because of the low rent and the rustic/industrial aesthetic. More and more artists began to settle in permanently and open up art galleries and studios. The former industrial district began to grow as an art hub and received the name M50. In 2004, the government wanted to demolish M50 in the name of development. Public outcry and media news were able to convince the government that the space be conserved. Today the historic value of M50 tells a story about factories, abandoned warehouses, and slubmills in a metropolis of modern high rises and urbanization.

The story I want to tell is a transition from old textile factories to art warehouses that have engulfed the space and converted it into a contemporary modern art district. The drone aspect will incorporate the contrasting views of the skyscrapers and the old factories. I want to talk to some artists in M50 to ask them more about the history and why they decided to move into the district. So the sound of the interviews would be the participatory and expository feature that tells the history of the area as well as the present state. Then the poetic form would be incorporated by using the art and the architecture of the space to convey the shift in the space and how it has been both repurposed and functional but at the same time completely new.

Not only is this space for the art community, but it is also a frequently visited tourist attraction that attracts people from all over the world. The target audience is people of all ages interested in art/architecture and historians who are interested in the history of urbanization in Shanghai. The documentary piece is a mix between poetic, expository and participatory. Approaching it from all three angles may be a little difficult but it makes the plot more interesting and adds different aspects to the video that are informative and aesthetically pleasing to watch and hear.

I checked out a book from the library called A Walking Tour of Shanghai by G. Byrne Bracken and on page 136 he covers M50 in a short excerpt that briefs up the history mentioned as well as some of the most famous studios today. I also found a blog from an artist who worked for island6, an art gallery in M50, that gave a little anecdote of the buildings come-abouts in the area.

Sources:

Bracken, G. Byrne. Shanghai: a Walking Tour: Sketches of the City’s Architectural Treasures. Marshall Cavendish, 2011.

McCampbell, Kati. “Art Warehoused on the Shores of Suzhou Creek: The Transformation of M50.” island6 Blog, 25 July 2014, www.island6.org/blog/?p=5250.

 

UAS #2: Exploring Coexistence on Chongming Island

Once upon a time…there was an island called Chongming Island. As the third largest island in China, it was home to a large population of farmers. But they were not the only residents on the island. The large wetlands at the southern portion of the island were a perfect landing spot for migratory birds.
And every day…the farmers and birds lived in harmony with one another. While occasional skirmishes were unavoidable, for the most part, the two species coexisted without any difficulties.
Until one day…the country started large-scale developments in Shanghai, only an hour away from the island. In only a few years, Pudong went from farmland to bustling metropolis.
And because of this…people in real estate and construction began scouring nearby areas ripe for development.
And then…Chongming Island caught their eye. To developers, Chongming Island was the ideal location for rich Shanghainese people to buy vacation homes. Serious plans were made to pitch housing developments.
Until finally…the government declared parts of the island as protected land. Furthermore, they declared Changing Island would only be developed if it could be done in a sustainable way.
And ever since then…Chongming Island has become an area where locals can continue farming, birds can safely land, and tourists can enjoy natural wetlands.

I would like to film a story concentrating on the relationship between Chongming Island and the people who live and visit the area. I believe it has the potential for a interesting human interest piece, and it could provide others (especially Westerners) a different perspective of China. Urban development and factory life have been widely studied or covered in China. However, I feel there most Westerners know very little about the lives of farmers, and I think my documentary could give them an introduction into the subject. The story of Chongming and its stakeholders demonstrates how Chinese people interact with their environment, whether through farming or by visiting a nature reserve. I would like to highlight the relationship between farmers and their environment, such as the many migratory birds landing on the island. After I introduce the birds, this could be where I add the perspectives of tourists, birders, and scientists.
Pending further research, especially interviews with locals residents and tourists, there are a few angles to this story that will captivate different audiences. I believe people will care because Chongming Island is an area, unlike many in China, where the natural environment is seriously taken into account. The island houses one of the only, if not the only, national wetland parks in the country. Instead of kicking out the locals and razing farmland to build apartment complexes, as is usually done, the environment is the foremost consideration for Chongming Island’s future developments. This obviously has great impact on the lives of many people—farmers are allowed to continue farming the land as their families probably have done for generations instead of being relocated, birders and tourists can see a piece of nature less than an hour from one of China’s largest urban areas, and environmentalists or other scientists can study the area to better understand native Chinese ecosystems.
Highlighting the diverse perspectives regarding Chongming Island and its development will bring in a human element which will get people to care about this subject. Urban development and environmental issues are subjects everyone experiences in their own life. Since people can relate to this issue, I think this could be a piece anyone and everyone cares about. By depicting the experiences of people living or visiting a place where sustainable development is encouraged, it will demonstrate to viewers the benefits and/or disadvantages developing this way. Furthermore, the focus on human element will help people develop a deeper connection with the story. While the story could interest many, the groups who care the most will probably be environmental groups (because they are the most vocal proponents of sustainable development) and governments (because they were the ones who called for sustainable development and their actions are largely dictated by citizens’ desires).
I would like to combine a few documentary styles when telling the story of Chongming Island. First, I would like there to be a participatory aspect. Whether through voiceovers or actually filming myself, I think incorporating my curiosity into this story will help me relate to my/an audience more because they will follow me on this journey discovering the perspectives of people connected to Chongming (farmers, environmentalists, tourists, et cetera). However, when I am actually telling the story of the people, the documentary will probably lean towards an expository style, but I would also like to incorporate some poetic elements so the story is told more thoughtfully rather than in a fact-heavy style.
In my opinion, the most important source of research will be interviews with people in Chongming Island. However, before I do that, I need to actually go to the place and see for myself info any of my preconceived notions are actually true — going to the island may completely change my understanding of the place. While I am there, I want to hear the perspectives of farmers, tourists, and other people involved which will require speaking with them and asking them questions. Before I can visit, some preliminary research is helpful, especially if I want to interview people. Background research, either on the internet or in the library, includes gaining better knowledge of the island and the wetland park. Some questions I will research include:
How long have people farmed in Chongming?
Why did the government choose to develop this island sustainably?
When was the wetland park created? When did it become a national wetland park? Why did the government choose to do this? Are there other wetland parks? If so, where? If not, why not?
Were there any environmental groups involved in the creation of the park or in encouraging sustainable development, if so who?
Which birds have been found on Chongming?
Why is it important to provide birds with this specific migratory area?
Why are birds important to the local ecosystem?
How long has Chongming Island been a tourist area?
Why did the island develop as a tourist area?
Before urban development, how did farmers and birds coexist?

Proposal #2: The Contradicting Construction Project: Expo Culture Park

I would like to propose an expository story on the current and future situation of the Shanghai World Expo 2010 site. Shanghai’s desire to attract visitors with grandiose structures can easily be seen with the World Expo 2010 pavilions and remodeling the Oriental Crown (China pavilion) into one of the largest art museums in Asia. Now, Shanghai is in progress to make one of its largest downtown parks in Pudong at the former China Expo site.

As of now, the park’s opening date has not been released yet. Different construction projects can be seen all around Pudong, and this new one has a plan to add a green highlight to Shanghai’s Huangpu riverside. Though not as constant and heavy as Beijing, Shanghai has had its own troubles with pollution levels. According to the Shanghai Daily, the new park, set to be called the Expo Culture Park, will largely consist of the planned Shanghai Opera House and conservatory garden, and “outdoor forest and grassland theaters will be built around the opera house to create an iconic cultural site along the river.” In addition, there will be large recycling theme to the park like “twin hills” made of recycled waste and a water recycling system to accumulate and purify rains and flood water. A large volunteering team is setting up 18,000 trees to span an area of 76,000 square meters, a project designed to “become the best sightseeing spot during spring and autumn,” says Shanghai Daily. A large team means more access to thoughts and opinions about the park construction.

If only given these news, Pudong residents would probably support this construction project. Though in addition to this changes of the World Expo site, the construction team is also planning to redesign and remodel the pavilions of Italy, France, Russia, and Luxembourg to preserve their culture legacy. China has a streak of creating grand structures with high hopes to attract people to the sites but quickly losing the interest of people after the opening of such sites. Shanghai’s efforts to preserve the pavilions is unsure to become another example of such.

I want to interview the people on the construction team or resident volunteers to hear their thoughts on helping build a quite pricey recycling land. I hope to also find residents not involved in the building process and hear their opinion about the park and the remodeling of the pavilions. How attached were they to the discontinued pavilions? Do they appreciate having such an extravagant park built for green purposes?

The park will extend 1.88 kilometers by the riverside, and I can use the unmanned drone to capture just how long the length will stretch. The park is quite near a no-fly zone border, so technically, I will not put lives in danger, but there is no guarantee filming will not be interrupted. For research, I will look into the past of this particular piece of land. I will use the Internet as well as oral history from residents with memories about the riverside to show what multiple purposes the riverside had. There may also be past research about the land in any construction plans for the Shanghai Expo 2010, so I can add that information to the history of the area.

Resources:

https://www.shine.cn/archive/metro/society/Culture-park-will-be-sited-near-Expo-site/shdaily.shtml

https://www.shine.cn/archive/metro/Work-begins-on-Expo-Culture-Park/shdaily.shtml

Detailed pitch (Jerry)

What is the story?

Once upon a time, there used to be a beautiful old Watertown.

Generation and generation, people living their did their own small business in their small shop along the river. Everyone knew each other and visited each other occasionally, chatting and drinking tea. The life was slow and casual.

Until one day, people from the outside found this place very beautiful and natural. They thought it would be a great place for traveling.

And because of this, the Watertown became more and more famous, tons and tons of people came here for sightseeing and traveling.

Then, the people who lived in the water town started restaurants, shops and tea places. The big business also came here to invest and make development. There were even Airbnb, cafes, and bars being opened here. The place got more and more developed.

Until finally, people no longer remember how they lived before. They start living their new, busy life.

How to develop it?

The timeline of the documentary starts with the sunrise of the Watertown and ends at the sunset. By showing the old, undeveloped Watertown, the developed Watertown, and the modern part of the Watertown in sequence with the interviews embedded, the documentary is intended to show the great comparison of the different parts of the Watertown and how they are affecting the residents there.

The beginning of the documentary should be the scene of the undeveloped part of the Watertown in the morning, creating a feeling of peace and quietness. It can be a long shot of the area and some close shots of representative objects, like the calm river, the rising sun and the chirping birds.

Then it’s several scenes of the opening of many shops and interviews of the local vendors about the old life they had. (a tea place, a restaurant or an Airbnb) Then the new life they have.

After the life they have, the shot expands from the crowded old Watertown to the newly-developed modern style part of the Watertown. Then the close up of the modern shops in that area. The jumping shots of what people are doing in a comparative way, such as cafes and tea places, traditional restaurants and modern pizza places.

Interviews about their opinions of the newly developed area

The long shot of the sunset of the Watertown and conclusion.

So what?

By showing how the Watertown looked like, how it has been developed, and how residents view these changes, the documentary raises discussions about how we should treat this traditional culture and how to commercialize the traditional culture without destroying it.

Who cares?

The tourists who go to this place would know more about how the residents really live. This will eliminate some misunderstanding and help them understand why the Watertown looks like how it is nowadays.

The developers will get inspirations from the documentary and figure out the most proper way of developing this area. It somehow helps them understand what residents really think about these new constructions and avoid making useless or ineffective constructions.

Production Risk

Economical: The Watertown is in the very suburbs of Shanghai, and there is no metro to it. Thus, it takes about 2.5 hours to get there.

Physical: Since there is a scene of sunrise, it may mean that the crew needs to stay there for one night.

Project proposal number 2

Title:  We Can’t Burn Climate Change Away

 

New Idea

I changed my project idea. Even though I find the copycat culture in China extremely interesting, I found that others might don’t share my interest and anyways I want to make a documentary on larger scale problems such as pollution. Probably, hundreds or thousands of movies and documentaries were made about this topic, but what scares me is that people still buy cars that are not green, still use plastic bags, plastic boxes etc.  In this film I would like to focus on trash in Shanghai and what happens to it.

Inspiration

My inspiration is Single’s Day, the day where everything online goes on sale in China, people buy everything they want, Jack Ma earns 25.3 billion dollars, everyone is happy, except the environment. Shanghai is the city producing the most household rubbish in the country: 22,000 tonnes a day. Where does the waste, packages, plastic and paper of all these millions of orders go?And what about clothes that are too small, shoes that are too big, toys that no one actually wants? All to the trashcans and next week, no one will remember the piles of trash this one day produced.  

Where does the trash go?

I did some research and found that Shanghai’s 2 largest places taking the garbage in are landfills and incinerators. In my project I would like to focus on incinerators. They burn waste and form it into energy. At least that is how they advertise themselves.

 

What are incinerators?

“A waste treatment technology, which includes the combustion of waste for recovering energy, is called as “incineration”.  Incineration coupled with high temperature waste treatments are recognized as thermal treatments.  During the process of incineration, the waste material that is treated is converted into IBM, gases, particles and heat. These products are later used for generation of electricity. The gases, flue gases are first treated for eradication of pollutants before going into atmosphere.”

 

They are bad!

However, I found that as waste is burnt acids and toxins and emitted to the environment through ash and also some gets to the air.

“Smoke and ash emitted by the chimneys of incinerators include acid gases, nitrogen oxide, heavy metals, particulates, and dioxin, which is a carcinogen. While incineration pollution control technology is evolving to reduce these pollutants, it has been found that even with controls in place, some remaining dioxin still enters the atmosphere

Where?

I found that China’s last 5-year plan includes building more incinerators, including the largest one in Laogangzhen, in Shanghai near the sea. It is currently under construction and will be ready by mid-2018. I thought it would be interesting to go there and film the construction but it is a little bit hard to get there, since it is way outside from the city center and I believe, there is ano transportation that goes there. ( However, I will ask one Chinese classmate to help me search in Chinese. For the time being I found another incinerator that works in Shanghai, the Shanghai Jiangqiao MSW incineration plant. This place burns the 10% of Shanghai’s garbage. It is located in Putuo district, about 1 hour 15 minutes from school.

 

Who cares?

Everyone should care. Climate change is a real thing and I believe, environmental documentaries should be made until people don’t change their way of thinking and we will stop consuming that much.

 

How?

I image this film to be and expository one, with narration and some added text, especially numbers.

Why aerial storytelling?

I imagine it is not really possible to go in these incinerators but I believe I can get some interesting aerial footage of them. I see this documentary first getting some shots of the city, few seconds talking about how rapidly growing Shanghai is. And then talk about garbage and probably a little bit of pollution. These shots can be taken in Puxi and Pudong basically anywhere. Then some shots at around the  Shanghai Jiangqiao MSW incineration plant .

Ultimate goal

My ultimate goal with this project is making people think about overconsumption in their daily life. If I make people ordering a bit less delivery food in plastic bags, or saying no to plastic bags in stores or think twice when buying something they don’t need, I will consider my project successful. I want to encourage zero-waste, not just in the level of governments but in the level of person.

Project Pitch, Unmanned Aerial Storytelling – Western Embodiments in Shanghai’s Urban Landscape

Date: 12.11.2017
Professor: Benjamin Moskowitz
Student: Franklin Jingyuan Xu
Post: Project Pitch

My project will be an urban documentary contrasting fake European-style towns lying on the outskirt of the metropolitan Shanghai to colonial architectures at the heart of Shanghai to highlight how people perceive the western embodiments in the urban landscape of Shanghai differently with different contexts attached to those buildings. In terms of the style, the documentary will combine both expository and participatory approaches.

The first part of the documentary will feature historical images and footages that I will gather to walk the audience through the history of colonial architectures in the French concession and the bund. Also, the great preservation status of those historical colonial buildings will also be included in this part with the help of aerial images. Despite the fact that colonial buildings are the conspicuous marks of a hundred years of humiliation and turbulence for the Chinese people, those buildings are well-preserved and loved by most Chinese people living in Shanghai. In addition, they are constantly exploited by municipal government and Shanghai people alike to facilitate Shanghai to truly transform into a global, cosmopolitan megacity with a diversity of architectural styles. Some interviews will be conducted on the site to grasp a general understating of how tourists and locals view the existence of western-style colonial buildings at the encipher of the Shanghai city.

Fake European towns surrounding the metropolitan area of Shanghai serves a similar purpose on the municipal government’s agenda. The so-called “One City, Nine Towns” initiative was meant to develop ten modern Shanghai’s suburban districts through the 2000s. Under this plan, each suburb was given a themed neighborhood, most of which were designed to look like foreign cities, and Shanghai ended up with German, Dutch, Swedish, Canadian, Spanish, Italian, American, as well as British satellite towns. The vision was to have these new towns house one million people by 2020 and take some of the population density pressure off of central Shanghai, the world’s most populated city. The orientation towards European-style suburbs conveyed the underlying message that Shanghai wished to copy western urban planning methods to face increasingly-worsening urban defects as well as architectural styles to promote its status as a global hybrid of the East and the West. Differently, this time, western powers do not need to take chunks of the city by force to instill their architectural legacy — they are invited to become a part of city’s ambitious “going global” plan.

The second part of the documentary will mainly apply a participatory approach through the angle of me, a tourist who will visit one of the nine suburban European-style towns – Thames town. It is a British-style town lying on the outskirt of Shanghai which is a replica of a British town featuring a parish church, some center squares and a lot of statutes of British celebrities such as Shakespeare, Churchill, James Bond, etc.

The town was originally constructed to become a residential area to accommodate students and staff members of the neighboring universities in the Songjiang University City. However, when the project was completed, wealthy investors and developers swarmed into the town and brought up the prices. The skyrocketing prices made it impossible for university students and staff members to reside there. As the region was scarcely populated and can merely support the minimum traffic to maintain businesses, nearly all businesses were shut down and the Thames town ended up a ghost town with only a small number of travelers taking photographs with fake British architectures as the backdrop.

Besides some aerial images to present the scale, size, and pattern of the town, I will also use drones to shoot how visitors treat this bizarre town as a palace of photographing. By showing the desolation and emptiness of the town, the narrative approaches of the documentary story comes back in. I will try to explain how the development of the town went opposite of the municipality’s original plan and was turned out to be a ghost town. Then, the narrative will go deeper and proceeds to why this is the case – why the mere copy of western architectural style and suburb planning might not well fit in the actual needs and demands of Chinese people living in the region. Sets of interviews with some locals and tourists will also be conducted to add to the diversity of the opinions within the context of urban planning dialogue I try to contain in my documentary.

Reference Source:

“A Journey To China’s Italian Ghost Town.” Vagabond Journey, 3 Sept. 2013, https://www.vagabondjourney.com/china-ghost-town-italy-style-pujiang-shanghai/.

Shape of the City. http://shanghaisquared.com/2011/02/08/shape-of-the-city-thames-town/. Accessed 12 Nov. 2017.

“Shanghai’s Dutch Ghost Town.” Vagabond Journey, 16 Aug. 2013, https://www.vagabondjourney.com/shanghai-new-neatherlands-dutch-town-gaoqiao/.

Pitch for Project Porsche by Kacper (Moskowitz)

Date: 12.11.2017

Professor: Benjamin Moskowitz

Student: Kacper Krasowiak

Post: Project Pitch

Working Title: Highway to Hell

Codename: Project Porsche

My last research idea was related to Chinese real estate. I wanted to show that there was a big macroeconomic bubble and high oversupply of real estate. Yesterday, however, I was in a cab and was wondering how I could make my project a bit more down-to-earth by adding a perspective of a local person into the story. While thinking I realized I had already spent over an hour in a cab and had not travelled a long distance at all. It is how I became interested in Shanghai’s traffic issue.

In 2016 there were 2.5 million cars registered in the city which was an increase by 13% compared to 2015. It was the fastest growth in the past few years. The total length of roads in Shanghai is 22,878 km and out of it only 4.3% is highways. In 2016 Shanghai’s road network grew by only 2.2%. By only those metrics, 13% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in the number of cars and 2.2% y-o-y growth in the road network, one can tell that development of the transportation development is not able to catch up with the demand. As a result, at the moment Shanghai is 22nd most congested city in the world with an even worse forecast for the future. It is estimated that in Shanghai extra travel time is on average 41% (5% y-o-y growth) and it can reach 76-77% during the morning and evening peaks. Consequently, on average citizens spend extra 46 min in the car per day and 176 h per year!

There are many places in the world which have a similar problem but the Chinese context makes it much more interesting. While speaking about the problem one might touch upon Chinese demographics, environment, technological advancements and culture. Currently 23,019,200 people live in Shanghai according to the official statistics. By 2050 the population of Shanghai alone is estimated to be over 50 million. 53% of the current population live in the most urbanized regions of Shanghai, which results in the average density of 3854 per square kilometers. Also, the number of people taking buses and taxis declined by 4.4 percent and 6 percent respectively. Hence, the problem of high traffic congestion is very likely to escalate even more. As mentioned the high traffic has an adverse impact on everyday life of the people living in Shanghai. In 2016 there were around 265,000 road accidents with over 73,000 deaths. Moreover, it is estimated that in 2014 29% of Shanghai was already caused by cars, ships and other modes of transport. Most of that pollution is PM2.5 and it means there are particles which can get deep into people’s lungs. It can cause a variety of problems including, premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, decreased lung function, aggravated heartbeat or aggravated asthma. Thus, bad traffic conditions affect the health of millions of Shanghai people adversely. The problem is even more likely to become worse due to the increasing popularity of car sharing services. In the city in 2016 there were 400,000 Uber and Didi drivers who were not from Shanghai. The government tightened controls on cars with license plates issued outside Shanghai. It was successful at the beginning but by the end of the same year the traffic increased again. Hence, it is likely Uber and Didi will be contributing to the issue more and more. Lastly, there is an interesting phenomenon in the Chinese culture. Older people are against younger people using bikes as they believe having a car is a symbol of status. Hence, it is interesting to see how the relation between the old culture and the general eco-friendly movement would affect the problem with traffic.

For my documentary, I was thinking about the expository documentary style. I simply believe that in the movie I will be conveying a lot of information and having one narrator, who would part and structure the information, would help viewers to process all they see and hear. Nevertheless, I also want to include a series of interviews from taxi drivers, Didi drivers, possibly bus drivers and some local people. I would love to know whether in their opinions the traffic problem is real at all, how it affects them and if they are afraid of the future with even more condensed traffic. I think that using drones in the case of this documentary could show the scale of the problem by filming gigantic traffic jams in Shanghai.

I think that statistical data would be in the core of this documentary. Hence, I plan to extensively use the data from National Bureau of Statistics of China and other data-cantered websites. At the same time, I have big hope for the potential interviews and imagine that if there is an interesting story of such as a taxi driver then I could spend some time with him and put his story in the core of the documentary. I am truly excited about the project!

Best,

Kacper

Pitch2: Shanghai Story: From Shanty Town to Modern Block | Emma

My project will be a participatory documentary, focused on Shanghai shanty towns and their changes, and I have chosen the most typical one of them: San Wan Yi Nong( three bays and one lane ). This shanty town no longer exists, on its former site today, is the super modern neighborhood Zhong Yuan Liang Wan Cheng(中远两湾城). I will trace back the history by doing interviews and research in this documentary. The time line of it will span under 100 years, from early 20th century till now. The interviewer, as the leader of the story, will guide the viewers into this period of story and create a sense of participation.

Why do I chose this place? Actually this area has significant meanings for many Shanghainess like me. The place has witnessed the huge change of Shanghai after the reform and opening up. More importantly, it has witnessed how the life of Shanghai people are being improved. From shanty towns to modern blocks, everything belongs to the old times seems to have changed in one second. This place is filled with laughters, tears and precious memories. Shanghai seems to be a super international and modern city, but if we look back into this collective memory, we can view Shanghai in a very different way.

I want to do the documentary in a participatory way, because I view my project as an exploring adventure. The focus of my documentary will be on the relationship between people and the area. It won’t be a plain and boring introduction, instead, I want to explore the memories, the emotions behind all these buildings. These memories and emotions mean a lot to me, and I believe, my peers and many locals.

First of all, the director, as well as the leader of this story, will lead my viewers into the modern neighborhood and give them a brief view of it. There are two views I want to show them: one on the metro, and the other using drones from high above. Basically, I want to give my viewers the impression of its huge sale.

Then, I will show some interviews. I want to interview residents of the neighborhood and random walkers on the street(both Shanghainess and non Shanghainess). I want them to use one word to describe this area, and some of my expected answers are huge, complicated, easy to lost…

After that,  I will lead my viewers into the neighborhood, with drones and cameras, to show the complicated inner structure of it. If possible, I want to find some historical marks inside this neighborhood, thus I will raise the question to my viewers: Why is this neighborhood so huge? What are these historical marks representing? Why is it so famous and so significant for Shanghai people?

Next, as I start to look for the answer of the question, I want to use 3-4 research sources. Basically they are the historical photos (videos) of San Wan Yi Nong. One target time period of the source would be during late 19 century, when the area was the center of light and textile industry in Shanghai, and later, it became the center of labour movements.These resources can be found in local museums, and I intend to visit the museum to collect information.

Another target time period is from the late 20 century till early 21 century, when the area was getting removed and thousands of families removed and lived in better place. There are many documentaries and resources in local museums. I’ve viewed some of them, they are very detailed and are full of video resources. It would be even better if we can find former residents. (It won’t be very hard I think, the children who removed 20 years ago are in their 30s now.) I want to talk with them inside the neighborhood, and use the drone to record this interview, to create the sense of walking through an adventure.