Key Crew

Director of Photography, Wang Yu

Wang Yu has worked on an impressive array of films, from his first movie Suzhou River (2000, director Lou Ye) to The Go Master (2006, Tian Zhuangzhuang). He has gone on to win the Golden Goblet for Best Cinematography at the 10th Shanghai International Film Festival in 2007, and he was nominated for Achievement in Cinematography at the 2007 Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Read Wang Yu’s Q & A.

Production Designer, Zhai Tao

Zhai Tao has worked as art director and set decorator on numerous Chinese films. His feature film work as Production Designer can be seen in Kung Fu Hip-Hop, Welcome to Shamatown, and Who Had Seen the Festival of the Wild Animals?, a film that’s been banned in China. Read Zhai Tao’s Q & A.

Costume Designer, Laurence Xu

Laurence Xu is a much sought-after costume designer in China. He’s also a well-known couture gown designer for many Chinese actresses attending red carpet events at festivals around the world. His feature film credits include: When Ruo Ma Was 17, The Road, The Sun Also Rises, A Bride in Shangri-La, The Red Awn, and Dark Matter. Read Laurence Xu’s Q & A.

Supervising Editor, Lisa Fruchtman

Lisa is an Academy Award-winning editor who has worked in both feature film and television. Among her many film projects are Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, Children of a Lesser God, The Godfather 3, The Doctor, My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Woodsman.

Her awards and honors include an Oscar for The Right Stuff; Academy Award and BAFTA nominations for Best Editing for both Godfather 3 and Apocalypse Now; an Emmy Nomination and a cable ACE award for Truman. Her work for Children of a Lesser God was nominated for Best Picture. You can see her full credits on IMDB. Read Lisa Fruchtman’s Q & A.

Editor, Lisa Cheek

Lisa has been a film editor for the past 25 years, working in Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, and San Francisco. She has cut commercials for high-profile accounts and worked on several short films including Spike Lee’s A Weekend in Martha’s Vineyard and the award-winning feature 20 Dates.

Composer, Robert Miller

Robert is a prolific composer of film, concert, and commercial music. His distinctive style has made its mark on over 1800 commercials, a growing body of film scores, and works for concert and the stage. Over the years, he’s received six CLIO awards for his work in advertising. He has also been a long-time collaborator with The American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium, composing orchestral scores for two planetarium shows “Journey to the Stars” and “Big Bang.” Read Robert Miller’s Q & A.

Sound Designer, Richard Beggs

Richard, a sound designer and mixer on 65 feature films since 1976, has worked with Francis Ford Coppola, Barry Levinson, Alfonso Cuaron and other major directors. His most recent project was Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere (2010). He won an Academy Award for sound on Apocalypse Now and has also received seven Golden Reel sound nominations.

In addition to his work on films, Richard Beggs has created scores for contemporary ballets and exhibited his paintings at SFMOMA and the Oakland Museum of Art. He also teaches film sound at the California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Film Society. You can see his full credits on IMDB, and read a Q & A with Richard Beggs.

Feli Tang, First Assistant Director and Visual Effects Artist

Feli is a Hong Kong-based Assistant Director and Effects Artist whose two credits don’t adequately represent her unique contribution to Cinderella Moon.

Max Chan Tat Leong, First Assistant Editor, Post Production Technical Director, Visual Effects Digital Artist

Max is a Hong Kong-based technical wizard and highly skilled digital artist whose fingerprints are on every frame of Cinderella Moon.

Joey Wang Yizhou, Script Supervisor

Joey is a Beijing-based Script Supervisor. Cinderella Moon was her first film, and she proved herself to be one of the fastest learners on the planet.

Production Designer Q & A

In designing the make-believe world of Cinderella Moon, Production Designer Zhai Tao not only modified existing locations in Yunnan to fit the story, but he also designed nearly every prop in the film and supervised the creation of each one by hand. On this page you’ll see some of his designs and plans for props such as the King’s wedding sedan and the Astronomer’s telescope.

Q: How did you become involved with Cinderella Moon?

ZT: Maybe it was fate! Somehow Richard chose me in the end, and even now I think back on what a hard but fun journey it was!

Q: How did you become interested production design? What’s your favorite part about it?

ZT: I’ve always been interested in the arts, and I majored in oil painting from the Chinese Academy of Art. The movie industry inspired my generation in a unique way, so I wanted to express my artistic feelings in a medium more direct than paintings. My favorite part of being a production designer is using what I know — architecture, painting, model-building — to express the script.


Q: Did you know right away how you wanted things to look and did shooting in Shangri-La effect your approach?

ZT: I fell in love with the story as soon as I read the script, not just the Cinderella fairytale, but I was also excited about creating a true, beautiful fairytale in the land of wonders: Yunnan. We were so lucky to shoot there. It’s been given the name “South of the colorful clouds” in history, because there are so many minority tribes living there who have numerous local cultures and customs.

I really like the term magic realism. I wanted to put an emphasis on telling a familiar story but in a unique, Chinese way, to create a true world where miraculous things happened. After we scouted in Yunnan, I had these images in my mind of a beautiful kingdom visually distinguishable but without the limitation of nationalities, a place that looked marked by time but was not part of any particular history.

Q: Were you influenced by the Disney Cinderella?

ZT: Cinderella Moon is totally different. We never wanted to create a fantasy movie. Everything started from the magical land of Yunnan. We searched for inspiration from the local Dong-Ba culture and wanted the Chinese culture as it was expressed in Yunnan to help express the characters: simple but vivid. The final visual effect stresses realism combined with eastern art.

Q: What were the benefits of shooting in the various locales and what were some challenges?

ZT: Most of the sets were located in remote places. The benefits were that the places were rustic and untouched and seemed mysterious, but at the same time, there were so many challenges. Transportation, for instance. We carried equipment on mules, used local stones for props — a fun experience!

Q: What are some props in the film that had to be built?

ZT: There were so many props, and almost all of them had to be made by hand. Some special ones: the marble tub that Mei Mei bathes in the hall; the Dowager’s sedan chair and King’s sedan; the Astronomer’s instruments; and the tools Mei Mei uses to make pots. There are so many different minority tribes in Yunnan, and different kinds of styles. Richard asked the art and prop departments to give him the most humble tools from as many minority tribes as they could, so the art department constructed an invented culture based on the Dong-Ba people — architecture, props, vehicles.

It was harder to create the props for the royal court than for the villagers. We had to create everything for the palace: the king’s chair, his altar, the astronomy instruments. Since the props were all based in different eras, we focused more on the look and artistry than on the historical accuracy of the look. Whether it was a palace or a hut, we designed it with heart.

Q: Why do you think people should go see Cinderella Moon?

ZT: It’s a beautiful fairy tale that returns Cinderella to her eastern origins and creates a world that both seems both real and like a fairytale. Who wouldn’t want to see that? I’m sure everyone will enjoy it.

(Be sure to check out the gorgeous sets slideshow that features Zhai Tao’s creativity on full display.)