When we watched the short film ‘Feverish‘ by USC School of Cinematic Arts graduate Xinyuan Zheng Lu, we were engulfed in a lot of emotions.
It’s a love story that’s messy and painful and something we could all relate to.
Falling for someone and not having that love reciprocated? Yeah, we’ve been there.
Making someone a priority when you were just an option? Yup, did that too.
There was so much emotional turmoil going on that was beautifully captured and portrayed on screen. The film also left us with a lot of questions – so we reached out to the director to speak to her about it.
Hailing from China, filmmaker Xinyuan Zheng Lu already has a few films under her belt. Aside from that, she’s also actively involved in photography and video installations. After graduating in July 2017, she went back to China to prep for her first feature that was set in her hometown. The film is already in the editing process and should be out soon!
Here’s how Xinyuan’s journey to filmmaking started
“I’ve always loved writing and photography. When I was in college, I met Shekhar Kapur (British Indian film director, actor, and producer) at an event and worked as his assistant for a few days. I was curious about filmmaking,” she explained.
“He encouraged me to get started and feel it out. So my first video work was shot on an iPod right before the Chinese New Year, during my first train trip to Hong Kong, which took about 10 hours. Throughout that night, I was filming and hanging out with migrant workers from different places. They were riding that train to go down south to be home.”
Filmmaking gave me an excuse to live the world and interfere with life.
The inspiration for Xinyuan’s impressive film ‘Feverish’ came from a river in LA
Yes, the idea for the film came to her after visiting a friend in Los Angeles. Xinyuan recalls her fond memory of LA.
“In LA, it was hard to stay conscious of the passage of time. It was always sunny. You can wear shorts in February. It’s also such a big city, you can easily meet someone and suddenly disappear from their lives. I knew that I wanted to tell a story of the young people who were foreign to where they were in life. By that, I don’t only mean the city, but also their sexualities and status of being,”
“I started writing after a visit to a friend who lived by the LA river. The film opened and ended at that location. Then it was constant rewriting during the audition and production process. The film was not only formed based on the script but also around the cast and locations.”
As for the story, Xinyuan says she gets inspiration from people around her, but also tries to cast people who can bring more to the characters.
On why she narrowed down on homosexuality
“It’s not a process of narrowing in from lots of choices onto a precise point. The story emerged and showed itself to me through certain emotions, by looking at a love-interest at a bar or hearing the colour of someone’s voice on the phone. Despite the definition of gender, I’m fascinated by the fluctuating nature of human relationships,” she said.
The actors who played lovers did not know each other before
According to Xinyuan, the two main actors did not know each other prior to the film. Which is quite impressive, given their on-screen chemistry.
“The cast started to get to know each other from the rehearsals. As for sexual scenes, we cleared the set and I talked it through with the actors. The scenes were written in the script, so no surprises.”
“We also had coffee together to get to know each other better for the film.”
How USC’s film program helped her set standards high
“During my time at USC, because it was an MFA program, I got to meet people from all over the world with various backgrounds and of different ages. It was also about being part of LA, I guess. The program offered me time and space to keep on making films. Also, the training at USC was very industrialized, it helped me understand the standards so that I can work from there.”
Xinyuan also playfully adds that she first learned how to drive in LA!