Sophie Shi’s Path into Production and Her Plans for the Future in the Industry

Sophie Shi has come a long way from where she started. Born in Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province, she discovered her passion for film after realizing the significant impact that movies could have on people. Shi herself recognized this after being impacted by the film Warm Spring, which uncovered intense emotions and caused her to completely alter some of her deepest opinions and perspectives. Shi has wanted to be a producer ever since.

Throughout her high school years, Shi spent her days writing, directing, and producing plays, even producing seven films during this time. To increase her knowledge on film, she studied at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English with first class honors. She also served as the President of the school’s English drama club.

Her path took a slightly different turn after graduation. Shi decided to enroll in courses to become a Certified Public Accountant. After earning her certificate, she worked for Deloitte Hong Kong for four years before following her true passion and moving to the film capital of the world: Los Angeles. 

In LA, Shi continued her education even further, this time, involving film production. She was admitted into the prestigious UCLA MFA Producers Program. Even more impressive, Shi was the fifth Chinese student ever accepted to the program and the first Chinese woman admitted in the 2010s.

In collaboration with UCLA graduate students, Shi produced a multitude of short films, which involve extraordinary themes and deep meanings that follow her mission of impacting an audience. 

Her short film Pee illustrates the desperation that females often tend to experience while waiting in a long line for the bathroom. In an interview with the Daily Bruin, Shi notes her desire for involvement due to the film’s realistic capturing of everyday interpersonal interactions, explaining: “In this story, (López) [director of the film] was able to capture another moment in life that everyone experienced. The moments are so rich and full in that short period of time.”

After graduating from UCLA, Shi interned at Temple Hill and Mandeville, helping to oversee the development and production of various films. Now, she works for HBO in their West Coast Production department.

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As her career path continues, Shi holds ambitious plans for her future. She strives to work as an executive for a major production company before becoming a senior executive in the company’s international film and TV department.

Shi shares that, in the distant future, “I want to have my own production company. Janet Yang, who I interned for and am still working with, is a great role model for me. Her dedication to young filmmakers and Asian content and talents and her work at the Academy and various organizations are very inspiring.”

Through all of her work, Sophie Shi aspires to inspire. She wants to produce movies with strong messages that make people feel empowered. She plans to increase diverse representation in film, advocate for equity and inclusion, and work as an eco-friendly producer. Shi’s dedication and passion for the industry, as well as her heartening plans to change it, will undoubtedly lead her to becoming one of the most distinguished producers in the world.

Next on the horizon, is Shi’s upcoming movie, “How to Cure Insomnia”. The film takes on a darker tone than her previous films. The short film centers around a mother’s worrying regarding her son; fearing that one day he may never come home. The mother in the film, Synthia, is played by Sabrina Cofield, and her son, Ray, is played by Mason Reeves. The film is set to release later this month, for more information please visit the film’s Instagram here, and Twitter here