though I believe that the themes addressed in “SHIFT”
are universal, I believe that this story belongs in San Francisco,
California. For this script, there is an inherent sense of authenticity
that comes with no other backdrop than the Bay Area, where the rich
and poor coexist more than I’ve seen anywhere else. The economy
of San Francisco is still today recovering from the dot.com crash,
and this is also where many first-generation Chinese immigrants
find their first homes in America. And on top of all of that, cinematically,
Francisco lends itself to beautiful summer nights.
But because this film is a thesis I am funding myself, I soon realized
that it was impossible to make this film completely in San Francisco
with an out of town crew. Though I am not as poor as the workers
I met through the factory, I am definitely not wealthy enough to
single-handedly support such a production, especially since I am
borrowing more money than I’ve ever seen just to attend college.
And even if I did have the money to do this all in San Francisco,
I don’t think that I would; though my hometown roots are in
San Francisco, my filmmaking partners are all New York based; and
they are the only people I’d trust to make this film a reality.
Because of these concerns, I’ve decided to shoot half of my
film in San Francisco and half of it in New York. This way, I can
shoot all interiors in New York and have the best cast and crew
available to me from start to finish, since all the big story scenes
happen indoors. I plan to shoot all exteriors later, in San Francisco,
with a slightly scaled down crew and a very scaled down cast. Also,
by doing this, our shooting time in San Francisco will be cut down
to only a week, cutting production costs down considerably.
I was initially worried about finding the appropriate mailroom in
New York to substitute for San Francisco. After all, the main difference
I see between the two cities is in its construction (New York is
brick heavy - non-earthquake safe). But after looking only a short
while, I found several places where the interior can definitely
substitute for my old California workplace.
Shooting on both coasts is a choice that will inevitably create
the best film possible. This is a San Francisco story, and it shall
remain so, all the while maintaining the best production values
in all areas without compromise.