Director's Blog
Where did SHANGHAI CALLING come from?
October 11th, 2011

Hey everyone, this is Daniel Hsia the writer / director of SHANGHAI CALLING. I’ll be posting weekly blog entries in this space, so check in regularly for inside scoops on the movie and stories of how the film was made!  I’ll also answer any questions that you guys might have.

People often ask me, where did SHANGHAI CALLING come from?  Ultimately, it came from my college buddy Vance, a white guy from Atlanta who one day decided that he hated his job and was moving to China.  To be honest, I don’t think anyone knew how long Vance would last, speaking only English and having never lived outside of the US.  But when I saw Vance a year later, he was fluent in Chinese and full of hilarious stories of American “expats” living as foreigners in China.  After hearing his experiences, I knew that there was a compelling screenplay idea here, but I had to figure out what it was.

So while on break from television writing, I went to Shanghai for two months to see what life there was like for Americans like myself.  During my trip, two unexpected things happened: First, I fell in love with the city of Shanghai.  It’s an amazing, vibrant, ever-changing city, and it’s also the place where both of my parents are from.  Even though I don’t have any family there anymore, I felt an immediate connection to Shanghai, and that feeling remains to this day.

Second, I found myself welcomed into the amazing community of American “expats” living in Shanghai.  When I first arrived, I worried that I would never find people who wanted to talk to me and tell me about their experiences.  But the exact opposite was true.  For two months I spent every day meeting and interviewing Americans from all backgrounds: journalists, salesmen, attorneys, teachers, waiters, businessmen, doctors, city slickers, plainsmen, new arrivals, and old China hands.  They were also some of the kindest, most thoughtful people I’d ever met, often inviting me to their offices, homes, business meetings and motorcycle rides.  With their assistance I was able to immerse myself in the Shanghai’s expat community… A community I refer to in the film as “Americatown.”

OK, that’s it for now. Keep on coming back to the site for more inside scoops on SHANGHAI CALLING!

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Americatown, Shanghai