Interview with Rachel Guo of No Drama Real China

15 Mar 2012

Everyone seems to really enjoy No Drama Real China, so I thought I’d follow up my last post with an interview of the creator, Rachel Guo


John: What inspired you to start No Drama Real China?

No Drama Real China host Rachel Guo

Rachel: It’s a long story. My very first trip to America was on July 7, 2011, and the first thing that surprised me the moment I stepped out of JFK airport in New York was how familiar everything was to me! Yes, I watched too many American movies, TV shows, and everything for years, and I even have a little bit of an American accent. What a powerful soft power! And after 40 days of travel in New York, D.C, Seattle, LA, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and a small town two hours from the Canadian border in Washington, I found the other thing that SURPRISED me was that many Americans know so little about China, they asked me questions like:

– “Are there highways in China?”
– “How do you come here? Yes, i know by plane, but HOW?!!”
– “I heard a story that many Chinese families saved money for years so they finally could afford a refrigerator, but then the refrigerators they bought all broke after a while. So the Minister of the Labor Department ran into the refrigerator factory and shot the factory director because they produced bad quality products.”

There’s a lot of drama surrounding China, but where does it all come from? Form the media, American newspapers, and the Internet, which focuses on attracting attention to China’s problems and abnormal things. Some people see one drop of the ocean and think it IS the ocean. It’s not their fault; they don’t get to watch Chinese TV like us Chinese watch American TV, because most Chinese movies and TV shows suck, and the government channels are too cliche. I really want to show something normal to people who want to know a real China, not through a colored lens, no slant, no drama… Oh there WILL be some drama, of course–drama is a part of reality–but not all of it.

John: How long have you been doing No Drama Real China?

Rachel: In September 2011, i bought a small camera and got started.

John: What are your plans for the show, if it becomes more and more successful?

Rachel: 1) Make the program better and broader. If it gets successful, which means there will be sponsors and volunteers, or i can afford to hire somebody, I will get voices from all over the country, which will make it more real. If I could get some better equipment, I could make the production quality better too.

2) Make the program more diverse and more targeted. My group could do interviews in a particular region in China, or focus on particular issues (still no politics though), or do documentary videos, always keeping the style of putting real people’s real lives and real voices in front of the camera, with as little explanation or interpretation as possible. Because once I talk it’ll become subjective, the people will become the way I see them.

3) Use the program to collect data for cultural and commercial research. Maybe it could be a tool for consulting.

4) Actually I just want to keep doing what I believe in and see where it goes. Life always surprises me!

John: Can you describe the process you go through when creating a new episode?

Rachel: Collect questions, interview people, edit, translate, put music in, make an intro video, sometimes I need to find or make some extra material (like the Beat It! Dance). Then, upload, AND THEN do a little marketing. That’s something… it’s so difficult to get people interested in my interviews while sex and drugs stuff get people’s attention. Many thanks to my friends and friends’ friends who helped me a lot by sharing my videos.

John: Are all those people you interview your friends? If not, how did you approach them? (How do you know the old lady?)

No Drama Real China host Rachel Guo

Rachel: Those are my friends, family, people I meet everywhere in my social life, and some random strangers too.
Again, thanks to my friends who support me and introduce people of different occupations to me to interview. It’s so difficult to get strangers to be open to you in China, to be natural in front of the camera, and to share their real feelings. For example, when I travel on the train everyone is stuck together in a small space, so I can do a small warm-up and explain what I am doing, win some trust, and then interview.

The old lady who is a little deaf is my grandma. 🙂

John: Is there a way to submit questions for the show?

Rachel: People usually leave their questions in the comment sections on the ND/RC YouTube page, I check it every day and answer every comment. I’ve also just started a FaceBook page, so please join me there too! I think a lot about the questions people give me; it’s really very helpful. I hope I can have more ways to reach people, so people will feel its easy and fun to ask questions.

John: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your non-Chinese viewers?

Rachel: This channel is actually made for non-Chinese viewers. That’s why it’s on YouTube. I want to say THANK YOU to all people who appreciate it and share it. Your words, your suggestions, your questions and ideas are the greatest support for me. One of my friends works in the U.S. State Department, and he says it’s so difficult to make the right decisions for America-China-Asia issues, because the media only shows the drama, some voters are misled, and they don’t see how important this is. I want everybody to try not to be part of the problem but the solution. That’s what I also want to say to people who hate my program: PLEASE always give truth another chance!

John: 有没有什么想对中国观众说的话? [Is there anything you want to say to your Chinese viewers?]

Rachel: 多谢大家的支持,相信懂得汉语的观众朋友们会看到画面背后更多有趣的信息。欢迎参与与分享。 [Thank you, everyone, for your support. I’m sure viewers that understand Chinese will notice that there are even more interesting details behind the videos. You’re welcome to participate and share.]

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Hi Rachel & John,

    Thanks to Rachel for her show, this is really an interesting idea and I wish you all the best 🙂
    And of course, thanks to John for letting us know about it (among other things).

    On an another note, may be I can suggest Rachel to start a page on Facebook, instead of a group because you can get more reach with a page as page updates are visible on the feed, which is not the case for groups 🙂

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

    Cheers,
    Claude

    • Good point! I pointed out your suggestion, and Rachel got it done right away. The link in the post is now updated to link to the new No Drama Real China Facebook page.

  2. Thanks the tip John. These are great.

  3. John, these are great. Nice work Rachel.

  4. Another request: more videos on your Youku site for those us in China (and without a good VPN). Great project!

  5. dwayne2d3d Says: March 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    hello…
    you know what i love the most is that
    she ask these questions to everyday people, from rich to poor,
    i also love how comfortable the people seem to be when answering her question….
    The lady with the dog that didn’t understand what she was saying had me laughing for days….

    • :D, i’ m glad that you enjoy it! as you said, you can actually see that if people feel comfortable while they are in front of my camera, i actually put a lot of effort on that. But later on you are also going to see how uncomfortable some people are to answer my questions in the next few videos, and still, you can see how real it is.

  6. Good luck Rachel. It’s a great approach. Penetrating the mind of middle America though seems to be an impossible task. Even for Australians (my perch), we’ve learned to sigh and expect questions about kangaroos on Sydney streets. On the other hand, I have an even bigger challenge for you. After 5 years in China I was astounded by the total blank ignorance of so many Chinese people I met about any country that was NOT the USA, even (or especially) any country that actually had a border with China.

  7. […] Rachel’s newest video was released over a year ago, she’s enthusiastic about continuing the series. If No Drama Real China’s viewership expands, Rachel hopes to do interviews in other regions or […]

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