CAS Quarterly

Spring 2017

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Page 43 of 59

44 S P R I N G 2 0 1 7 C A S Q U A R T E R L Y It was an absolute pleasure to sit down for lunch at the lovely Urth Caffé in Santa Monica with this year's Student Recognition Award winner, Wenrui Fan, also known as Sam. This tough competition had applicants from all over the country—and all over the world. Being only the third winner of this prestigious award, Sam is an originator as well as someone who has cemented himself into the upper echelon of the industry at a very young age. I've always felt that success in anything consists of three parts: TALENT (an extremely loaded term—which I will consolidate to include work ethic, pure skill set, and a col- laborative personality), CONNECTIONS, and then lastly, LUCK. There was such fierce competition for this award this year that no matter how you look at it and no matter how much talent one has, luck plays a huge role. What I'm really expressing is, it's nice to see good things happen to good people. Excerpts from our conversation on the noisy patio of Urth Caffé on a Friday afternoon brought a smile to my face. Sam has clearly made this a priority in his already busy, post- prestigious, and well-deserved award-winning life. Give us some background on yourself, Sam. I came from Beijing, China, where I was born and raised. I earned my bachelor's degree at the Beijing Film Academy (BFA) where I studied in their sound department. After that, I came to the US to earn my master's, studying at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, in film production. So at BFA, it's a pretty good school in Asia for film, and so within the four years of my undergrad, I had some experiences in working in post-production sound. After I graduated, in my second year I had a commercial shoot with the people who were a little bit older than me. They asked a person who they knew in school if they would bring them to the set to record production sound and maybe do the post for them, just for experience in the real world—what is the real world like? It was a Jordan commercial in Beijing and it was an American crew—it was [almost] all people from Hollywood. The producer was from Taiwan and so they found a local production sound mixer in Beijing and that person is my professor and my friend, and he grabbed me as a utility and boom operator for the shoot. So it's the first time I experienced the American industry. I learned a lot from them and this really makes me want to explore more in the workflow. I decided to apply for the master program in the US and my parents also wanted me to have more experiences in traveling abroad and living outside the country. I also wanted to go out and see what happens on the other side of the world—yeah, that's here. I came and Chapman offered me the position in a short amount of time. This is something I really like about film students' involve- ment in sound. These schools often end up mandating that students get involved in both production and post-produc- tion sound. That's really important to the CAS, as well. Even if you know which side of it you're interested in, you should immerse yourself in both, especially at that educational level. Talk to me about how that went about while you were in school. I have a lot of friends who are production sound mixers back in Beijing, and they teach me a lot from the school and from outside-of-school. But for me, it's the learning process that you need to know—what kind of stuff you can grab on set and all of this can influence you while you're in post or in the editing bay, either doing dialogue editing or cutting. So you kind of know what happens on the set and what we need in post. By learning all that and from experience, you have a bet- ter understanding of the whole process. That's my biggest gain from this school, and also, back in Beijing, all the courses and all the training I received was more from the technical side. For example, we learned all the microphones and all the polar patterns and the electrical circuits part of it. Yeah, we don't need to fix them, but we need to know how it functions and how it works physically and all that. Even if a cable was broken, how you're going to fix it. We had a class teaching us how to use Pro Tools and, from the very begin- ning, how to build a track and labeling your session, and by the end, how to mix and how to create your template. But after I came here, Chapman is more from the bigger side, like in the artistic way—understanding the film and understand- ing the sound. They also have some technical courses for teaching the specifics. They also have group workshops, like a bunch of us talking about film, what kind of film we are watching, and how we're doing with our thesis or school projects together. So I kind of gained from both ways, from both the technical way and the artistic way, which is all very good for helping me to understand the process. CAS STUDENT RECOGNITION AWARD WENRUI FAN by Devendra Cleary CAS 2015 CAS Student Recognition Award recipient Matt Yocum, Wenrui "Sam" Fan, and Sherry Klein CAS MEET THE WINNERS

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