Isabelle Yank is an alum of the Spring 2019 - Fall 2019 program:
I was an intern at Central Studios, a photography and media production company in Shanghai. The company consists of three studios which people rent for events, photography, or video shoots. I did everything from making coffee for potential clients (we have an espresso machine which I learned to use!), location scouting for photo shoots, and working in the studios helping with various projects and shoots. I also did a lot of translation work. I translated briefs from Puma and am currently working on translating our company website.
One of my favorite things that I did here was be a producer for a model casting call. The shoe company Pedro asked us if we could hold a casting call in one of our studios and I was asked to be the facilitator for the event. I helped set up the studio in preparation for the model casting, which included setting up the proper equipment, such as lighting and taped floor marks. I was also in charge of recording each model’s measurements as they came in and kept track of the order in which the pictures were taken. Each model was asked to do a couple of photo shoots, a few in front and a few from the side. The models were videotaped doing the catwalk and during their poses. If a model walked in the wrong direction during the catwalk video, I asked them if we could do it again. It was a great experience to get to meet so many people from all over the world who were also in Shanghai for work. Since the casting call lasted a total of eight hours, I was able to get to know my colleagues more while we waited for more models to come in. That was another added bonus! I learned that the videographer I worked with went to New York Film Academy not far from my home.
Another interesting project I worked on was a LEGO animation. Central Studios wanted to make their own little project to promote health and wellness in the form of a LEGO animation of a dance class. I was responsible for one of the cameras and took two shots for each move focusing on different characters. Filming an animation is extremely time consuming and requires a lot of patience and thought since you have to think about every move. I also created behind-the-scenes GIFs for our website article. I enjoyed this project because animation was always something I was curious about but never have had the opportunity to try.
When my time with the company was about halfway finished, I had a meeting with my boss to discuss next steps. He asked me if I could do anything, what would I be interested in? Basically, he was asking me if I wanted to use the studio for my own project. This actually surprised me and caught me a little off-guard. I did have a great interest in working in the studios and getting to experience first-hand what it would be like to produce my own work in a professional setting like this. I make videos on my own, but the production is nothing like what I could do in a professional studio! I considered making a video on “What it feels like being an Adoptee in China” in the form of explaining the stories and meaning behind my multiple names (Isabelle, 福，艺娜，Lindsay, Yank). My positionality in China had always been something I was hyper aware of since I was born in this country, but I do not feel that I am from here. I grew up in the U.S and despite what my face might suggest, I did not grow up speaking any dialect of Chinese at home. I had to learn my “mother tongue” on my own and it was something I worked for my entire life. Being back in China, especially for such a long period of time, allowed me to see my identity from a new perspective and I explored this through the film project.