Cedrick Chan, a Chinese-American digital arts director, has worked on projects for leading cinematic lights such as George Lucas and Zhang Yimou but has shifted focus to the mainland in the past two years and is preparing to make a 3-D movie with Yian Studios and the China Film Group. He wants to make an international movie that echoes universal human feelings and at the same time helps lift the country's animation industry. What is the idea behind this 3-D movie? I am thrilled to potentially be the director of China's first 3-D animated movie co-produced by Yian Studios, a Shanghai-based media company, and the China Film Group. We all have Chinese roots and feel it is an exciting time to be in China for many reasons. The No1 reason for me is, as a story-teller, there are many Chinese stories to tell to the world. I know I am not a local so I am not going to tell stories from the perspective of a local, but I do have a unique perspective as an ABC (an American-born Chinese). I know how the West thinks and I know many Chinese people want their own Star Wars and Avatars. The problem is they are obsessed with being Chinese. Is Star Wars a movie about being American? The key is it is not just an American story. It is a universal human story. When you are obsessed with China, China, China, you are not going to tell a story for the global masses. You will maybe fill a couple of niches. Just as if a story is only about America, it will generally only hit people in America. But movies such as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Avatar, they are about the universal human condition, they are not about America. The type of movie we are after is an international movie. To get the big international box office you cannot just make a Chinese movie. Can you reveal what the movie is about? I will not get into the details, but a lot of Chinese movies are set in the past and modern stories are limited in scope and subject matter. I have challenges telling stories of China's past and I am limited by the present. What does that leave? The future. I want to tell stories about what China could be like in 20 years and beyond. Do you have any challenges making that movie in China? I will work with Yian Studios, the China Film Group and the International Technological University to bring the best of the best in the world to China. For example, we are in talks to bring the head of DreamWorks Artist Development to China. So I am not worried about the training, knowledge or experience. I am worried about the culture. I have been on the mainland for two years. Foreigners find it very frustrating to work here because they do not understand the culture and the different ways of thinking. On the other hand, the people in China say, 'This is China and this is how we do things here'. The clash of two cultures now is my biggest worry. Do you feel you can conquer those challenges? You look at Xi Yang Yang (The Happy Sheep and The Grey Wolf) and others, and that is the state of Chinese animation right now. It is terribly exciting right now because we have tremendous opportunities for development and growth. China just needs the right environment to grow and that means changing things a bit. I have been here long enough to know how the East and West come together and we just need to put the elements together. Chinese and foreigners should set aside their egos a bit and find the best of Chinese and foreign methods to create something even better. This movie is an incredible opportunity. What are the Chinese animation artists you work with like? A lot of studios I deal with want to save money so they hire people who have little or no professional training. For me, this is crazy. Many do not have any real artistic sense and I have to do large international movies and projects with them. Many are missing fundamentals - human anatomy, colour theory, and design basics. I am working with International Technological University to reinforce the fundamentals and new technology to do my productions in China. This is a constant process. So you are training professionals and changing the industry? When you go through a studio like Pixar, it is just fun. When I walk into the studios here, people are sitting unhappily in their cubicles. It is not an animation firm. It is a factory. That has got to change for China to do better work. That is what I want to bring more of to China. We need to have a greater sense of play. I talk to animation artists and they love animation. That is why they are doing it, but when they are at work they have lost their passion. You do not see the passion at work. When I work on my movies there is a sense of passion and pride. I want to be proud of it. Even if it is just two seconds, I want to look at it and say I am not ashamed for the world to see this. Artists are easy. If you give them something they can believe in and are passionate about, they will work hard. I want to treat my artists fairly and well. If they are not happy, what is their work going to be like? That is why I do everything I can to integrate education, training and play in my productions.