Ruowen Lu: Waterless






During my childhood there was a beautiful lake by my house. For all the kids growing up in the neighborhood, the lake was like our backyard – a place to play and see friends. About 5 years ago, the city decided to reclaim the lake into land for commercial use. Water was drained and replaced with a luxury shopping district. People got used to the new center quickly, but for me, every time I walked by the mall, I still see the lake I used to play around. With some nostalgia, confusion, and primarily helplessness- Waterless is made.

It was my first time making a video and I didn’t know any filmmaking techniques or rules. I planned out the scenes in my head and just went for them. When I first started shooting, I only had two scenes in mind and came up with the dream scene much later. Initially, the water balloon part was just to contrast the past with the waterless “reality.” However, my film teacher inspired me with the idea of using a war metaphor to create a sense of irony to the dream scene. Likewise, with other spontaneous decisions, I added random elements to the film but luckily the dots all connected at the end and served the overall story well.

Looking back, I am glad this is my first film experience. In a way, ignorance of the filming rules gave me freedom and allowed me to follow my heart.  Now after having more experience, I can’t approach a film without worrying about the structure of the story, character development, etc.  Sometimes, when I am overthinking my work, I think about Waterless and tell myself to relax because the story will come together at the end.


Portrait of Ruowen Lu

About The Author: Ruowen discovered her passion for film last year when she made a video for her acting class. She now studies at the University of Pennsylvania, intending to major in environmental science and cinema studies. She hopes to use her artistic skills to advocate for the environment and helps green organization reach high impact. Ruowen also has a background in theatre and sometimes acts in her own films when she has spontaneous ideas. Even though it is hard to operate the camera while acting, Ruowen finds it fun and a great way to make short experimental films.

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