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The dream of 'Way Out'
This celebrated film about a young woman striving to attain her dreams in a difficult family situation is discussed by the producer behind it, Liv Li.

The title of producer is vastly misunderstood by those outside the film industry. Visions of suit wearing professionals yelling into phones and a seeming need to feel superior to those around them; this may exist to some small degree but most are more like Liv Li.

She is passionate, emotional, disciplined, and incredibly talented. She's been a major part of award-winning films like Son of Wanderer (London Independent Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, Mindfield Film Festival), All That Glitters, and others but she proved the depth of her creativity with the film Way Out. It's her love letter to a period of her life and a tale of warning to anyone who struggles with the decision to chase their own personal dreams. Having established herself as an integral part of a number of acclaimed films, Liv's own story and successes carry a substantial weight to those in doubt. As producer, writer, and director of Way Out, Liv Li paralleled the tale of a Chinese filmmaker to that of a NorCal dairy farmer to confirm that a dream is a dream, no matter where you come from and where you want to go.

Filmmaking is storytelling, whether it's someone else's or your own. Great storytellers understand how to tell the universal peaks and valleys in a way that all of us can relate to. Becoming any type of creative professional is a struggle and becoming successful is a long shot for anyone. Felice, the central character in Way Out, is not a carbon copy of Liv but she embodies the same conflict and insecurities of the filmmaker and nearly every person who reaches the tipping point of whether or not to do what is difficult or to take the more "normal" one. For Li, she credits her experience in the US as the best thing to happen to her. Having asked herself "what if" and taking a leap of faith, Liv wanted to help others understand that the simple fact of undertaking the risk is in itself a major accomplishment. She relates, "The story is very important to me personally. Shooting this film was the most nostalgic and romantic way to bring closure to several years of my life. I met so many great people, learned so many things from them, and evolved even more as an individual. When I created this character, I wanted to tell people that the most important thing is to be yourself and to take that very first step forward. Live in the moment. In this story, at the very end, she just leaves. Nobody knows where she goes, because that does not matter."

This romantic and inspirational aspiration wasn't taken lightly. Liv spent ten months developing the script with a screenwriter. Spenser Querry specifically helped add a rural tone to dialogue due to English being Li's second language. After successfully obtaining funding, she spent four weeks in Petaluma and Sonoma County (north of San Francisco) where a lot of dairy farms are located, to find the ideal location for the shoot. Liv obtained Jun Li as the film's cinematographer. Known for his work on award-winning films like Freeride (CineChina Film Festival Award winner and Official Selection at the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival) and As Ye Sow (Best short film Winner at the Oniros Film Awards), Jun was vital in assisting Liv to manifest the look and tone she desired. She notes, "I told him that I wanted to use long shots, old-fashion static shots, and slow pacing editing to create a nostalgic look. He also suggested to use blue, green, and yellow color tones for a better 16mm film representation."

As with most big decisions in life, the situation Felice finds herself in within the story is very difficult. Her family's Northern Californian dairy farm has been handed down from generation to generation. Her father would like Felice to take it over and keep it in the family but admits that selling it would give them funds to provide medical care for her mother who is gravely ill. The young woman feels that there is no correct answer and also fears being tied to a business that will restrict her from following her dream to be a professional photographer. Going through a deep self-reflection, Felice finally confesses to her family that she wants to go out to the big city to pursue her photography dream.

Way Out is a coming of age film which is timeless to a great extent. The story of Felice Loiz may be fictional but there's a large amount of reality to it. In a very altruistic sense, this film is a way for Liv Li to say to anyone who views it, "Go forward and test yourself. You just might cause your own dreams to become real."

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