Virginia McCutcheon’s story spans three continents and most of a century. Join us for a sip of champagne and follow the making of My Shanghai, a documentary of love, art and survival.
I wish I’d met Virginia sooner. We have a family tie, but her stories hadn’t traveled my way. Now I feel very fortunate to have made that connection and to be given the rare chance to document her life.
The idea for the film took root about a year ago, after Memorial Day, 2011. Virginia was featured on the front page of The Tribune newspaper in San Luis Obispo County, California. Under the headline “POW of the Japanese,” Virginia described her internment at Lunghwa Camp near Shanghai, China, during World War II. What I learned about Virginia beyond her wartime experience would shape the film for me.
I recruited friends Joan and Ron Macbeth to be my associate producer and cinematographer. On a stormy day in June, we packed my Subaru with gear and headed to California. We had the luxury of shooting over four days. Virginia was a pro, elegant and open. Her family provided not only their full support but willingness to be part of the film. I had even secured a film permit with fees waived to shoot at the local farmers’ market.
Sounds like a basket of fresh strawberries, doesn’t it?
I’ll let you know how things are going. Not every day — you’re welcome — but I’m thinking a couple of times a week. Maybe three. Progress and pitfalls, insights and oversights, techie tips, maybe a recipe or two… for mixed drinks…
Welcome to My Shanghai.