Michael McDermott ’83
is the founder and executive producer of Gung-Ho Films
, a leading production services company in Mainland China. The company, with offices in Beijing and Shanghai, has been providing production support for top advertising agencies, production companies, television networks, and film studios from around the world for over 15 years. When CBS’s television show, The Amazing Race
, came to China, Gung-Ho Films helped with creative ideas, negotiated location use, hired local crews, rented equipment, organized transportation and arranged the government film permit that is required for foreigners to shoot in China.
McDermott has produced three feature films in China, numerous television projects, and more than a dozen large scale international commercials. Among the credits for Gung-Ho Films are the film An Inconvenient Truth
, Nike and Adidas commercials, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show
, projects for the History Channel and IMAX's China, The Panda Adventure
In 2017, McDermott and his wife, Amanda Bi, made a leadership gift to establish an endowed fund to support teacher and student development in World Languages and Cultures
, in honor of their daughter Allegra ’18. Specifically, these funds will be used to support instruction in Mandarin and provide faculty and students with resources they can use to further their immersion into their study of Mandarin and Chinese culture.
“We hope to inspire more Americans (with no family connection to China like me) to learn the language. I feel extremely grateful to my parents for giving me the opportunity to study Chinese. It was life changing,” he said.
Soon after graduating from UCLA, McDermott moved to China to work and learn the language. It was an experiment in total language immersion—and it succeeded. His fluency rapidly increased and his interest and love for Chinese and Chinese culture grew. He later married Bi in China and together they founded Gung Ho Films.
As Webb has continued to expand its outreach and travel throughout Asia, McDermott and Bi been true partners—supporting our efforts in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and beyond. Bi is a former parent class agent, and McDermott serves as a Webb Alumni Council regional representative for Beijing.