Chloe Zhao's life was primarily guided by a quest for information. Born in China, she grew up in a place where she felt trapped, like she was never going to get out. When her family finally moved away to London when she was in high school, she then researched and learned what she had missed being in China. She was able to separate what was true about her home country and what was false, which led her to studying Political Science at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. However, her time studying politics made her disenfranchised by the subject. Her fascination with politics was about learning people's stories, so she decided to transition into film. Attending NYU's graduate film program, she began to create short films starting in 2008. She wrote and directed her first short "Post" (2008), which led her to create "The Atlas Mountains" (2009) and "Daughters" (2010). After finishing up school, Zhao started work on a project that would soon consume the next four years of her life. She began working on a screenplay for a film based on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that was originally called "Lee." The project, which eventually was a Kickstarter success story in 2013, focuses on the trials and tribulations of Lakota teens. Zhao learned the group's stories, and even casted a large number of the people she talked to in the film. Now called "Songs My Brothers Taught Me" (2015), the film premiered at Sundance in 2015.