Lights, camera, retro action! – Chinadaily.com.cn

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A series of short films produced by Shenlouzhi Studio take viewers on a journey to ancient China. An incredible amount of work goes into the making of each video, from historical research and crafting authentic costumes to finding period-appropriate furniture and props. [Photo provided to China Daily]

As an elementary school student, Wu Xuan often doodled characters from the Three Kingdoms period (220-280) on his textbooks. He was particularly curious about what the ancient Chinese wore and how they lived.

While history lessons planted a childlike enthusiasm for time travel in his heart, it wasn’t until he met a group of like-minded young people online years later that he found a way to make that dream come true.

“I loved collecting information found in books, archaeological studies and other documentary resources. It was like detective work for me. I was solving mysteries,” says Wu, 30, now director of China Media Group.

In 2019, he teamed up with three other popular culture enthusiasts to launch Shenlouzhi Studio, a hobby group that makes short films about the lives of ancient people for the internet. An incredible amount of work goes into the making of each video, from historical research and crafting authentic costumes to finding period-appropriate furniture and props.

Symbiotic needs in the creative pursuit brought Wu Xuan to Wu Yicheng and Wu Chuanjie, who took photos and videos of people wearing styles representative of hanfu (traditional Chinese attire) in the cultural attractions of Fuzhou City, Fujian Province.

Hailing from Fuzhou, Wu Xuan stumbled upon the duo’s work online and was impressed. “Their photo and video shoots were different from costume dramas, which are often made in studios. I almost traveled back in time and saw what my hometown was like in ancient times,” he says.

Wu Xuan offered to help Wu Yicheng and Wu Chuanjie edit their videos. The latter realized that with the help of Wu Xuan, they could do more, such as making short films, with plots and performers.

The three joined Chen Cai, another history buff with a creative flair for antique furniture, and formed Shenlouzhi, which literally translates to “recording a mirage.”

The four friends live in different places and have separate day jobs, but their shared hobby brings them together to make movies that rack up hundreds and thousands of views on the internet.

“Through these films, we are able to capture a small part of our country’s rich culture and heritage, which we offer to our audiences for free. It was never about money or fame. It’s the deep satisfaction of creating something priceless that keeps us going,” says Wu Xuan.


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