Tension and Release with Filmmaker Zhe Song

Tinhead is a film which does not focus on the disease causing a difficult experience for one family but instead concentrates on the emotional tax effecting those around it. Director Stephen Inniss wanted to present how the mental deterioration of one family’s patriarch created a wave of anxiety to those most dear to him, and he chose editor Zhe Song as the perfect partner to sculpt this tale. Zhe has received overwhelming praise within the industry for his propensity to build the story around a character’s emotional state and journey rather than overt action. This approach has made him much sought after by directors in search of a collaborator more intent on the experiential than the expositional. Stephen Innis communicates his affinity for working with Zhe noting, “Combined with his keen eye for small details, Zhe’s style is a complement to my own. He is skilled at implementing changes quickly, which is important because I prefer to be in the room with my editors for as much of the process as possible. I also appreciate his ability to advocate for his opinions.” Also testifying to Zhe’s versatility is his editing work for the popular online series by Maggie Q which informs about everything from cuisine to yoga. Editing is a vocation which is built upon increasing the potential for greatness offered by collaborators. Under this premise, Zhe Song continues to prove himself to be one of the most accomplished in the modern industry. 

Zhe Song

  A win for Best Editing from the Los Angeles Film Awards as well as nominations from the Global Film Festival Awards and Five Continents International Film Festival (also for Best Editing) confirms that his peers and audiences recognize the impact of Zhe’s contributions to Tinhead. The film itself won awards at the London Independent Film Awards, 7th San Francisco International New Concept Film Festival, and others in addition to numerous nominations. This touching story of a daughter (Becca) who cares for her increasingly dementia riddled father (Tim) is more about dealing with reality than curing a sad fact of life. From the very first scene of the film which starts with someone sleeping, it’s apparent that Zhe’s masterful pacing can bring intrigue to any scene. One of the most tense scenes in the film is one predicated upon silence as the family considers a retirement home as a solution. The edits communicate more intensity than any dialogue might aspire to. Establishing a smoothness to the story and performances takes much more skill and oversight than one might guess. Zhe states, “There’s a continuity that you are responsible for that can majorly effect a film. I have to find the proper take to make sure everything really works fine. A lot of times, if I cut out something, the shot before and after may not smoothly connect to each other, no matter the character’s mood, status, or the lines and actions. For this film, my approach is for those big changes, I may need to recut the shots related to the changes, review all the footage again and pick up the best for that part.”

Editor and Colorist Zhe Song at work on Tinhead

  The slow percolating anxiety of Tinhead is a distant temperament from Maggie Q’s online videos. These short two to three minute videos feature Maggie relating and demonstrating a wide range of topics and skills that can bolster happiness for her audience. The producers of this video series enlisted Zhe to bring the same expertise to this production that he has contributed to many award-winning films as both an editor and a colorist. He notes, “Because I’ve worked with them before and had a positive experience, they gave me the power to edit it without any instructions. And mostly, they like my ideas on how to structure the video and the contents I put in there. I’m also the person who make the camera angle switches and decides the editing pacing. In these videos, the director and producer had a topic for each video but not a precise line that was required of Maggie to deliver. So what she says becomes a pool for me to work with. I could choose whatever I thought worked the best. I become the person who ‘decides’ what this video will emphasize, the tone and pacing of the video, what’s important or not, and what lines stay, what lines out.”

Writer: Coleman Haan

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