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Young American helps create Chinese tourism video for Times Square

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-01-02 07:44
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Chopped boards are thrown over Times Square in New York City this Friday, the 29th. The action is part of a test for New Year's Eve time. [Photo/IC]

NEW YORK-Video producer and musician Justin Scholar enjoyed his epic moment weeks ago when he spotted his latest work playing on a huge LED screen at New York's Times Square.

"It's sort of the American dream to see your name up in lights," says the 25-year-old New Jersey native. "I'd never really cared about my name being that big, but going to New York and seeing the big screens, you always wonder if your work is going to make it up there."

The video was shot and produced in China, where Scholar now lives and owns a media company. After taking his first Mandarin class in high school seven years ago, Scholar had listed China as a future destination and made his first trip to Shanghai in 2015 through a study-abroad program when he was a student in New York University.

Though he had been told what urban life in China was like beforehand, it was still "a far cry" from what he saw with his own eyes, says Scholar. The film and TV major transferred his focus from technical art to traditional arts during the semester in Shanghai, spending most of the time learning ink-and-wash painting, calligraphy and the guzheng (a traditional Chinese zither), which enriched his artistic skills with a touch of Eastern aesthetics.

He also fell in love with the city, where he ate a lot of authentic xiaolongbao, or steamed meat buns, and felt safe walking on the streets at 3 am.

"Shanghai is an incredibly efficient, modern city," says Scholar. "To have this impeccably accurate and fast metro and to have very clean streets and bright lights at night, and people pouring in by the thousands ... that's just a success story of a millennium."

At the same time, Scholar felt Shanghai's call for greater business prosperity with foreign participation as the local government "opens its doors, offering new business visas and new incentives for businesses to come".

These may explain Scholar's return to Shanghai two years later, when his career at home was already thriving after making commercials for big names such as Coca-Cola and Jaguar. Despite his parents' doubts and worries, Scholar went back to Shanghai on his 24th birthday with an aspiration to launch his own company.

Thanks to a combination of luck and talent, he achieved the goal soon with a Chinese friend as his business partner, and the company has already produced some 15 videos for pop icons, fashionistas and art museums in six months. The video that plays at Times Square-a tourism film for Southwest China's Chongqing city-was the company's first project contracted by a local government in China.

Reflecting on his own story, Scholar encourages more young Americans to explore the outside world to gain a more fulfilling life experience. He strongly recommends Shanghai and other booming Chinese cities to young entrepreneurs and artists who may not be able to find success in New York City, where costs of living are high and markets are relatively saturated.

As a business insider, he has seen rapid growth in music, film and fashion in China, which offers opportunities and incentives to people from various backgrounds.

"Small businesses are incredibly quickly developing in Shanghai, which is so tempting to any young business that needs to come to China for sourcing or for any kind of collaboration, any kind of scaling," he says.

"You come to China to grow big and to work with (a) bigger audience, bigger people. It's just a massive country.

"I think the young people in China are incredibly competent. I've never met people who work so hard and, from an artistic background, have such a vivid and creative approach to modern problems and modern styles."

Through his daily interactions, he sees a bright future for China.

Being aware of the currently strained bilateral ties between China and his home country, Scholar says he hopes the situation will improve as the world is facing severe challenges such as climate change where joint efforts from the two largest economies are indispensable.

In his opinion, young people of both countries can play an essential role in promoting ties by studying in each other's country and developing mutual understanding.

"My kids will probably end up speaking Chinese, and a lot of young Chinese people will say, 'My parents studied in the United States,'" says Scholar.

This could encourage more exchanges of the next generation and gradually break some stereotypical views through personal experience.

"I am an optimist. I really like to think that America and China will develop a very strong relationship," he adds.

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