When director Yiqiong Li was preparing to make his film “A Gift” he did what most filmmakers do, he referred to the list he keeps of professionals that are both talented and enjoyable to work with. Li had recently served as Assistant Director on the film “Promise Land” and he immediately thought of the Xin Gong the DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) on that film and contacted her for this upcoming project. A DIT is one of those professions that many people do not fully understand but is integral to the camera crew operating efficiently and at full power. It’s a “boots on the ground” role in filmmaking and one which the director and cinematographer rely upon heavily. “A Gift” received numerous accolades including: Award of Recognition – Hollywood International Moving Picture Film Festival, a nomination at the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema London, and was an official selection at film festivals in the US, Berlin, Rome, and others. The dream of a filmmaker cannot be realized without the daily utilized talent of professionals like Xin Gong; skilled artists who will never see their name on the marquee but will always be the support of those who do.
“A Gift” is a film which concerns itself with the choices and potential found in all people. Kindness and redemption are something which can only be offered up, never can they be forcefully taken. The film tells the story of Jack, a young thief who breaks into the home of Margaret. Margaret is a blind elderly woman who mistakes Jack for her son. Margaret comes to realize that Jack is not her son but she still covers for him, protecting him from being discovered when police and neighbors come looking for a dangerous young man in the neighborhoods. The thief comes to realize the error of his ways and is moved by Margaret’s gift of understanding, forgiveness, and non-judgement.
Gong served as a Digital Imaging Technician or (DIT) for “A Gift.” As the guardian in change of protecting the footage for a film, the DIT not only serves as the gatekeeper but also assists many different parts of the film crew and the filming process insuring that instrumentation is working properly and capturing the action properly. Xin’s naturally detailed personality and discernment make her an easy fit for this role in any production. Also known as a talented editor, the duality of her skill set has made her more proficient of both sides of the production process (filming and post). The two complement each other well. Xin describes, “When I work as an editor, I organize the footage, putting different labels on for different footages. In editing software, I’ll put the dialogue into the first track, sound effects are on the second track, and music is on third track. When you know the process intimately after filming, it heightens your awareness for potential problems or mistakes as they occur during the filming process. This is initially what interested me in pursuing work as a DIT. The first time I took on this role [DIT] I began catching things immediately which I understood would be problematic during the post process. I alerted the DP and director about this and corrections were made instantly. Everyone was very appreciative that we had just saved a lot of time and effort, which was a great feeling for me.”
A skill which is paramount for both a DIT and an editor is color correction. This happens to be something which Gong is highly adept at and quite known for. This skill was vital to her work on “A Gift” as she explains, “One of the most problematic scenes for the film was the opening scene. As this is the first impression the audience will have of the film, everyone was aware of its importance. The scene starts at night as the main character breaks into the house. Unfortunately, the production couldn’t shoot at night and were forced to film this scene in the daytime. This was a big part of the reason I was chosen to work for this production. It was a challenge for me. Before they shot, the director and director of photography asked if I could do some color correction to make the “Day to night” when I was on set. Using DaVinci Resolve to change the gamma and highlight, I then did some color correction of the sky. The final result relieved everyone involved and once again, I felt appreciated…that never gets old.” Director of photography for the film, Chuan Li, reiterates, “DIT is a very complicated job. I think it too often goes underappreciated and doesn’t receive the respect it deserves. As someone who is on the camera the entire time, I relax when I have Xin Gong on a film set because I know she has thought for and prepared for more obstacles and how to avoid them than I ever would. I also know that when there is a problem, she is the first on jumping in to fix it. She sets a tone and example that others would do well to follow.”