April 2022

My love for film making grew out of my passion for martial arts. Imagine turning a sport that you’re passionate about into a creative career. That’s exactly what Livi Zheng did. But, of course, it’s not like it happened overnight. When Livi was 15, she moved to China to continue her training in Kung Fu. She had a lot of success in competitions, and by 18 she was a stunt person on a Chinese TV series as she finished high school. After gaining her IB Diploma, like many other students, Livi felt she should study a major that would provide her solid job opportunities. She chose to study economics at the University of Washington in Seattle. While studying in the US, Livi continued to compete and win medals. She also started working once again as a stunt person. This meant she met producers, writers, and directors. Interacting with them inspired her. “Seeing them work and be able to tell their own story made me want to explore that world on my own. That was when I decided I wanted to be a director. I wanted to tell stories.” Although it was a tough decision to start on a new career path after getting a degree in something else, Livi knew it was what she wanted to do. Once Livi was accepted into USC’s prestigious film program, she knew that she was all in! “When I was accepted into the USC program, I felt film was meant to be.” Sometimes it’s about getting your foot in the door, and many of her martial arts contacts were also working in the movie industry. That’s when Livi had an idea. She wanted to combine her Kung Fu skills and her younger brother’s medal winning kickboxing skills to film a thriller that included martial arts. She pitched it to people she knew, and some came on board. Initially, the budget was nowhere near what was needed. “When we started, it was just three people and a camera we borrowed from a friend.” Despite not having all the resources, they were determined to start the film. “I hadn’t done anything like this before. I had no other films on my resume, but I kept pitching my ideas and showing the work we were doing.” Slowly, people believed in her. “After that, we started getting more funding, and some great mentors. It all came together.” The film was called Brush with Danger, and it was released in the US and distributed internationally. Livi is now an international film producer and director with multiple movies under her belt. She directed “Bali: Beats of Paradise,” starring Grammy Award Winner Judith Hill. Livi’s most recent film, Insight, blends intense martial arts choreography and science fiction. The film stars Sean Patrick Flanery, Tony Todd, Keith David, and Madeline Zima. Always full of ideas, Livi is also thinking about making a film based on the folklore legend La Siguanaba. Livi’s experience has taught her to be flexible and approach everything with an open mind. I always make sure that I am in a position to take on unexpected opportunities. “The path is never straightforward, and opportunities and challenges come from unexpected places.” Although her 12-16 hour workdays are challenging, she says she loves the flexibility of choosing the crew that she works with and which projects to work on. Her advice to young people just starting out? “Work hard. It usually takes a few years to enjoy the fruits of your labor. So give it time. Many things don’t have instant results. Just like an athlete, you have to train and train to prepare for a competition.” Want to see more? IG @Livizheng www.sunandmoonfilms.com “Many things don’t have instant results. Just like an athlete, you have to train and train to prepare for a competition.” Livi’s latest move promotion