So much goes into a film in order to create the visual story that unfolds on the screen, but in the end, it’s the editor who truly sets the tone and pace of the story. Without them, all there’d be is hundreds of hours of costly, disconnected footage. Someone has got to sew it all together in a way that piques our interest and touch us on an emotional level, and one of those uniquely talented individuals is Fei Zheng.
Over the past five years Zheng’s work as an editor has become increasingly well known throughout China and the United States. Regardless of whether she is editing narrative films, television series, commercials or music videos, Zheng is a master of the cut. She knows exactly what shots to choose, where to slow down and where to speed up the footage, and what color tones to use in order to set the mood.
While her work as a film editor, specifically on the 2016 films “Red,” “She” and “Broken,” have proven her artistry when it comes to cutting together highly impactful narratives, she began her career editing television series back homes in China several years ago. Before moving to the U.S., Zheng was the lead editor at Maya Village Culture Communication Company in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. There she edited Hangzhou Television’s popular series “Ye You Shen,” which airs weekly on China’s HTV-2, and “Xiao Yaer,” a weekly program that airs on HTV-5, Hangzhou Television’s children’s channel.
With the series “Ye You Shen” focusing on Hangzhou nightlife, and “Xiao Yaer” being a children’s series about interesting places, Zheng not only perfected her skill at simultaneously editing two shows with totally different concepts, but also editing under an incredibly short deadline. Whatsmore, Zheng was not only the editor of both TV series, she was also the director; and, she would often have only three days between coming up with the concept for each episode to the day it aired on national television!
“I would create an idea for new episode and write the script in one day… After one day of shooting, I would translate the footage to my computer and begin to edit. I would arrange the footage and do rough cut based on my script in one day, because I already directed everything on set, so I was familiar with the footage. The third day, I would include the voice overs, music, sound effects, and subtitles,” explains Zheng.
“This experience helped me to learn to edit under tight deadlines, how to quickly spot the best shots to tell the story, and how to clearly present the information in the show within a short time slot.”
Since moving to the U.S. several years ago, Zheng has focused her editing talents on cutting together narrative films, but she hasn’t left short form content behind completely. She recently edited the “K-Drama” and Marble” commercials for Myanmar’s leading dairy brand Alpine Dairy, which began airing across Asia earlier this year. While her skill editing commercial campaigns has been a huge draw factor for the post-production companies that hire her, it’s through narrative projects that her gift as an editor truly has the chance to shine.
Last year she edited the touching romance film “Red” directed by Yuxin Zhang. Centering on a Chinese man named Moyan who moved to San Francisco to find work, the film follows Moyan as he runs into the lover he left back home in China 14 years earlier. The beautifully shot film perfectly portrays the understandable heart-ache and nostalgia that erupts between the two people as a random coincidence brings them back together again.
Zheng’s work as the editor of the film was key in driving home the film’s emotionally touching story. Upon its release in 2016, “Red” garnered a unanimously positive response from festivals across the U.S. with the film earning awards at the LA Spotlight Film Festival, being nominated at Mississippi’s 5th Sun and Sand Festival, as well as being chosen as an Official Selection of the 8th Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles, the SFAI Showcase, 18th Annual NewFilmmakers New York screening event in Manhattan, and more.
“I slowed down the pacing for the film and used the limited footage to make each frame interesting…. I checked the footage back and forth to choose the best shot for each character’s performance. I also sped up some parts to create a big contrast with the emotional and slow parts,” explains Zheng about her work on the film. “At the same time, I did the color correction to make the frames more attractive and layered, which also improved the emotion of the film. “
Besides being a supremely gifted film editor who sews together the footage and creates a seamless and highly impactful story like the one that unfolds in the film “Red,” Zheng is an expert when it comes to color correction.
About the color correction and overall editing Zheng did for the film, director Yuxin Zhang says,”Fei Zheng was the producer, editor and color corrector on the film. Her work made the story more emotional and visually beautiful than I ever could have imagined. She is definitely one of the best editors I’ve worked with, and I look forward to working with her on other projects in the future.”
Having successfully carved out a prominent position for herself in the U.S. film industry as a multi-talented editor whose extraordinary ability to turn hundreds of hours of footage into a seamless story that touches audiences on an emotional level, it comes as no surprise that a long list of productions are vying to attach Fei Zheng to their projects as a lead editor.
Zheng is currently slated to edit 65 episodes of Mango Television’s upcoming series “We fall in love in New York,” and the series “The Brightest Star In The Night Sky” starring Chinese celebrities Zitao Huang (“Edge of Innocence,” “Railroad Tigers”) aka Z. Tao, and Yi Sun (“My Original Dream,” “The Legend of Miyue”), as well as the thriller series “The Decoding Game,” which is currently being developed by executive producer Han Sanping, who was a producer on the films “Shaolin,” “The Karate Kid,” “Mission: Impossible III” and several other notable features.