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Man on a bicycle becomes a star of Chinese TV
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During the summer holidays of 2008, Weathers bought a small camera and started shooting "Foreigner Perspective." It was designed for Chinese to learn English and get an idea of a foreigner's perspective on China. It was also designed to show the real China to foreigners.

Steven Weathers (M) dances with Tibetan when filming an ethnic dance sequence in Qinghai Province for ICS' upcoming travel documentary.

Steven Weathers (M) dances with Tibetan when filming an ethnic dance sequence in Qinghai Province for ICS' upcoming travel documentary. [Shanghai Daily]

In accordance with his adventurous nature, the videos feature Weathers eating dog meat, bargaining at the fabric market and travelling to little known corners of China. Working on a low budget - as low as US$10 per finished minute - Weathers even trained his taxi driver to use the camera while on location in Fuzhou, Fujian Province.

"Mr Ling, the taxi driver was very excited, and he took me to the secret places only local people know. But when I gave him the tape he got embarrassed at his parts, and wanted to cut them out," says Weathers.

During his adventures in China there have been some memorable moments, such as the day he got lost hiking on a mountain in Henan Province and had to hitchhike down a dirt road. He later found himself on the back of a motorcycle-wagon with a Chinese woman and her two-day-old baby.

Then there were the simply ludicrous times such as when he was shooting a commercial and the director handed him a stack of papers to pretend to read as part of the plot. The papers turned out to be the budget for the commercial and Weathers found his agent had charged the client five times the amount he paid Weathers.

"I suspect agents all over the world are crooked," he says. "Many people got a piece of that pie."

There were also fun if exhausting experiences such as shooting film for 22 hours straight as a pirate for a well-known pizza company.

"I had to swing from one boat to another, land on the edge, jump down on the deck, draw my sword and lock blades with the other pirate.

"It was grueling but the end result was pretty cool - it looked like 'Pirates of the Caribbean.'"

Now he hopes to do more hosting for Chinese TV, as well as more directing of his own.

"Nowadays 'personalism' trumps professionalism," he says of the success of his "Foreigners Perspective" videos. "Many expats have thanked me for showing them what price a tailor made suit should be. It's from the heart, it's real experience."

A new project he's working on involves a video series where users can choose their own ending. "Web video can be interactive now, but no one's done it. I hope to see this idea launched."

Even now in Shanghai, most of his friends are local Chinese who don't speak English.

It's a deliberate decision he says, as is travelling all over China from tier-one cities to the poorest countryside villages. It's part of that elusive challenge of really understanding China.

"It will be a lifelong goal, I'll never get there completely."

Meanwhile, the funny and bizarre stories keep accumulating and he has even considered writing a memoir. When asked why he finds so many interesting situations Weathers reflects and says: "I guess I'm the common denominator, I'm adventurous or stupid enough to follow random friends into vehicles going where I don't know."

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