a cinematic journey through the mines, factories, and shipyards of chinese production

Apr 02, 2021

richard john seymour premiers his directorial debut with ‘consumed’, a short film that follows the laborious processes behind everyday products. the cinematic journey takes viewers to china, where a worker narrates his story to the rhythm of industrial machinery. from coal mines and polluted waters in inner mongolia, to container ships at qingdao port, the director gives a sober look at the impact of contemporary consumer society.

an excavator in a coal mine outside of baotou, inner mongolia

all images from ‘consumed’ (2016) by richard john seymour

one of seymour‘s most effective tools in ‘consumed’ is the contrast in scale. vast landscapes are pitted against tiny diggers and men are seen working tirelessly to load boxes into enormous shipping containers. in this way, seymour re-frames complex global supply chains from the perspective of the individual worker and questions their place in them.

a toxic river of tailings on the edge of baotou, inner mongolia

the short film is also visually beautiful and captivating to watch. produced in collaboration with unknown fields, richard john seymour’s ‘consumed’ was nominated for a BAFTA award in the british short film category 2017.

waste from the steel-making city of baotou filling a tailings lake on the edge of the city

a worker assembling electronics in a factory in shenzhen

a worker making christmas decorations in yiwu

two workers cutting artificial christmas tree decorations, yiwu

quality control in an electronics factory in shanghai

RAM modules being manufactured in shanghai

containers being loaded onto a ship in qingdao port

shipping containers stretch into the distance at qingdao port

industrial machinery, qingdao port

the maersk gateshead container ship waiting in a shipping queue outside shanghai

film info:

name: consumed

director: richard john seymour

director of photography: richard john seymour

written by: richard john seymour

producer: richard john seymour, liam young, kate davies, unknown fields division

editing: richard john seymour

music: chapman kan

music: nick cave and warren ellis

narration: yongpeng liu

translation: yongpeng liu, zifeng wei

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: lynne myers | designboom