Being able to emotionally connect to your work is what makes a good artist. The capability to take emotions and know how to express them to engage an audience takes true talent. That is what producer Jinming Zhao understands, and that is what makes her successful.
Zhao produced the film Nothing But Her, a touching story about about Jim, who while observing his father’s Alzheimer’s condition worsen, struggles to continue taking care of his father on his own or sending him to a nursing house. However, after his father puts his pregnant wife in danger, he is forced to make a difficult decision.
“When I saw it on big screen, I teared up because it’s such a beautiful film. It moved me and moved the festivals. I was happy,” said Zhao.
Nothing But Her was an official selection in the world renowned Cannes Short Film Corner, as well as The Monthly Film Festival. It won the Award of Recognition at The Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival and Best Drama at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. The film’s director, Binbin Ma, believes none of this would have been possible without Zhao.
“During our time together, I came to realize why Jinming was in such high demand as a producer. Every film must have a producer to ensure that various requirements are fulfilled, and I am certain that Jinming is among the most talented I have worked with,” said Ma. “Of our various awards and Official Selections, I cannot think of one that we could have achieved without her. She is an inspiring creative, and a driving producer, and we were wholly fortunate to have featured her as our leading producer. She is responsible for a great deal of our acclaim.”
Zhao was immediately motivated to work on the project because of the story it told, and the closeness that Ma felt to the project.
“It was a nice experience,” said Zhao. “Binbin told me that it’s kind of her own experience, because her grandpa died from Alzheimer’s and she wanted to make this film to get more people to pay attention to seniors. I decided to help her make this happen right away because I was touched by her statement, and I believed that the audience would be touched as well.”
Because of the skills required to play a character with Alzheimer’s in a truthful and captivating way, casting was a challenge for the film. They required a senior acting who was willing to work long days in the heat that would find the film rewarding.
“The performance came out perfectly,” said Zhao.
Zhao previously faced a similar challenge working on the film Nothing But Her. While Nothing But Her gave her experience with older actors, From Now On involved working with child actors.
From Now On is about a little girl who is suffering from her parents’ divorce, and meets a middle-aged man, who is suffering from his beloved wife’s death. Despite being annoyed by each other in the beginning, they end up comforting each other and help each other to overcome the pain and move on to happy life.
“Finding the right actress was the key of this film. I knew it would be hard to find a 6-year-old girl with good performance skills, so I interviewed more than twenty girls. Some of them had the look but they would be too young to read and understand the script,” said Zhao.
Finally, Zhao found Noelle Sheldon, who played Ross and Rachel’s baby girl Emma in Friends.
“She was super young, but she knew what was I talking about and understood the character arc and stuff. I was surprised and excited to have her in the film,” said Zhao.
From Now On went on to be officially selected for the Miami Independent Film Festival and the Roma Cinema DOC.
“There are very specific requirements when filming with young children, and Jinming managed it gracefully,” said Mohamad AlYamani, the cinematographer of the film. “Undoubtedly, the film would have been sorely lacking without Jinming to go above and beyond her normal duties. She was an indispensable member of the film, and a joy to work with.”
What really was important to Zhao while making the film is what makes her a good producer and storyteller
“It’s like I was telling my own story to other people,” she concluded.