High school filmmakers aim for international recognition

Two high school students from Dimond High School and Stellar Secondary School met at King Career Center to make short films. Working well together, they decided to produce a film that can possibly take them internationally.

With the help of local businesses and UAA's Confucius Institute, their story has the support to make it big.

Jiin F. Chang, visionary writer of the short film, "In the Frontier the Flower is Quiet," started writing the script in October of 2017. He showed his script to his friend, Nathan Shuttleworth, who was immediately on board.

Bright Chang, Jiin F. Chang, Nathan Shuttleworth, Garrett Yeagley, Slade Hallett, Kennedy Shields, and Ryan Tester are part of the production team for "In the Frontier the Flower is Quiet." Photo credit: Courtesy of Jiin F. Chang

With the vision and ambition of Chang and Shuttleworth’s expertise in cinematography, they decided to make it a budget short film.

“We’re usually a group of friends who get together to make a short film. Now, we’re outsourcing from people all over the world who’s working on this project,” Shuttleworth, director of photography, said

Excited to bring this story to life, they formed a production team.

"In the Frontier the Flower is Quiet" is about a Chinese girl and her brother who have been separated from their father due to the war between the Chinese and Russians. Set in the 1900’s, the main character, Dor, tries to find hope in an inescapable war zone through the hope of the flower, Chrysanthemum.

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Chrysanthemum symbolizes different meanings in various cultures.

"[In China,] if you give chrysanthemum to someone who’s older than you, you want this person to live longer. If you bring chrysanthemum to someone to a funeral, this person’s soul will be with us forever,” Chang said.

In Europe, it is seen as a memorial flower. In Australia, it’s their Mother’s Day flower representing family love.

‘Mum’ for short, the ‘silent flower’ is what Chang envisioned the flower to exemplify.

The story is sparse in dialogue, holding the emotions of each character to move the film. Chang’s vision was motivated by his personal experience in various cultures.

“Under different cultures, sometimes I felt isolated and had to have a fresh mind whenever I was in a different culture. At the same time, I kept in my mind that I should not forget where I came from,” Chang said.

In the film, Chang wanted to use Russian twins, Sasha and Sonia, played by Cailey and Sydney Winn, to represent his difficulties integrating himself into new cultures. Although the characters are of Russian descent, they were raised in the Chinese culture.

“It’s very interesting because I’ve always been in a position where I am able to speak for myself because I’ve been raised in a country where my first language is the main language. So, I find it very interesting that I’m able to express someone else’s version of what it’s like to live in a different country,” Cailey Winn, actress playing Sasha, said.

Along with an intricate and poised storyline is a budget new to the student filmmakers.

“We’ve never had to deal with money before. Never had to manage where we put our money, and how much we should put towards camera gear. We’ve never had to think about insurance before, the risks, because we’re going to have so many people on set. A lot of them we haven’t met before,” Shuttleworth said.

Chang and Shuttleworth have reached out to local businesses for support of the film. They also reached out to a writer in Seattle, Washington and six investors in China.

With a budget short film, they also needed a producer.

Jessie Wei was introduced by a mutual filmmaker who showed her a short film previously created by Chang and Shuttleworth called, "Sean with a Young Smile."

Chang talked to Wei about his vision for "In the Frontier the Flower is Quiet."

“I think the thing that attracted me the most about this project is that the two filmmakers are so talented, and they’re so passionate about their work…They have many ideas, and we are on very tight shooting schedule. So, we have to be very quick with everything we’re trying to get organized,” Wei said.

Their premiere date has yet to be announced. For more information, check out their Kickstarter page.