Creative in association withGear Seven

Chinese University Showcases Its Creativity in Series of Films from Liz Hinlein

Production Company
London, UK
Fresh Film director works with student volunteers and WeChat on series of spots for Sichuan Film and Television University

Fresh Film director Liz Hinlein, known for advertising and branded content, VR and features, has created eight mini-movies for a university in Chengdu, China.

Liz is well known for bringing compelling stories to life, no matter the location or the medium. She’s a veteran of feature films ('Other People’s Children'), commercials (Maybelline, A&E, Dove, Lifetime, Gillette), web series, music videos and virtual reality.

However, the hurdles she faced recently on a shoot for Sichuan Film and Television University in China were unlike any she’d encountered in her 20-plus year career.

“I had limited equipment, no script and no money,” she said. “I basically made these short films with a piece of tape and an apple box.”

While using mostly student volunteers, WeChat for on-set translation and borrowed cameras, Hinlein also was able to tap into a well of local talent, including Jackie Chan’s fight choreographer and accomplished visual effects specialists in the area.

The result is a series of eight standout commercials that put Sichuan’s best foot forward, highlighting the wealth of creative energy at the school, including their photography, VFX, directing, dance and eSports departments. The vignettes stand apart from typical docu-style marketing videos, often aimed at parents, to give potential students a peek into the fields of study available at the college in southern China."

The behind-the-scenes stories show how she got from winning the job (she was in the region to teach master classes on digital filmmaking) to cobbling together a team (WeChat was heavily involved for translation because few of her recruits spoke English) and, finally, creating the cinematic work. 

Hinlein, a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and the American Film Institute, is a professor in USC’s MFA Directing program. She has directed Shonda Rimes for Dove’s Real Beauty series and partnered with The Sundance Channel, Revlon, MAC Cosmetics and other global brands on advertising, promotional and content campaigns.

She’s collected multiple awards (Best Director at the NYLA International Film Festival and Best of the Fest, Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, to name a few) for her first feature, 'Other People’s Children', which Variety called, “an intriguing debut.” (It’s currently screening on Amazon Prime and iTunes). A VR film she directed for Accenture won Best Branded Content/Commercial at CES’ VR Fest 2018.

And in another groundbreaking collaboration, she and longtime business partner, cinematographer Anka Malatynska, are launching BeFearless.TV as the first women-led filmmaking program, sharing their technical know-how and offering career advice to aspiring filmmakers. Their first workshop, an elite, hands-on experience, is planned for this summer in South Africa.

You can view more of her work, including the Sichuan films, here.

Liz behind the scenes