#08 How to Make a Movie in Only 14 Days - SupChina

#08 How to Make a Movie in Only 14 Days

Making a feature film can be a long and painful process — especially when you’re shooting an indie film in below-freezing conditions 16 hours per day for 14 days. But that is exactly what the creative team behind The Last Sunrise 最后的日出 was able to do, and along the way, they generated useful insight into China’s science-fiction movie scene and the realities of filmmaking in China on a shoestring budget.

拍摄一部故事片是一个漫长而又痛苦的过程——尤其是你制作的是一部独立电影,同时又需要你花上14天在一个每天有16小时都是零度以下的环境里去完成它的时候。 但是,这就真的是《最后的日出》这个创作团队的真实经历。 在整个拍摄过程中,它也引起了一些关于中国科幻电影的有用的思考,并且让大家知道在中国制作电影预算是非常有限的。

Featuring:

Wen Ren: Director | 任文 :导演

Wen’s IMDB | Wen’s Instagram | Wen’s Vimeo

Elly Li: Producer, Co-writer | 李昳青:制片人,编剧

Elly’s IMDB

And, as usual, your host, Aladin Farré.

Aladin’s LinkedIn | Aladin’s Twitter

Four main takeaways from this week’s episode:    

从这期访谈中,我们总结出四个主要观点:

1) Chinese science-fiction productions tend to be optimistic about the future.

中国的科幻电影制作在未来是趋向乐观的。

While Western science-fiction productions are dominated by dystopian tropes, in contrast, Chinese sci-fi tends to paint a far more benign portrait of how science will usher in a better future. Of course, state regulations that govern cultural production in China have something to do with this, but gifted creators can often find workarounds to these restrictions.

当西方的科幻电影主要依靠各种隐喻讲述反乌托邦的故事时,而中国的科幻电影却在热切地描述着科学将怎样给人类带来一个更加美好的未来。当然,国家和政府的一些影视条例对这个也是有影响的,但那些有天赋的创作者总能在各种有限的条件中找到变通的办法。

2) In China, getting started in the film industry is like founding a startup.

在中国,进入电影行业就像创业一样。

The main goal of most filmmakers is to make a good-quality film and, if at all possible, to pay the filmmaking team along the way. There is no shortcut to a successful career in making feature films; making a high-quality movie is the end result of years of experience in the industry. Big payoffs do not happen by accident. Just like any other entrepreneur, filmmakers need to make good products before they can hope to earn serious revenue, and this means working on as many projects as possible. In China as in many other markets, the jump from making low-budget films online to big-budget films intended for cinematic release is a large one, and not everyone makes it.

大多数电影制片人的主要目标是尽可能地制作一部高质量的电影和支付电影制作团队的费用。在故事片制作方面,成功是没有任何捷径的,制作高质量的电影是基于多年的行业经验。巨大的回报并不是偶然发生的。就像其他企业家一样,在期待获得一笔可观的收入之前,电影制片人需要先制作出好的产品,这意味着要做尽可能多的项目。在中国和许多其他市场一样,从制作低成本的在线电影到用于电影发行的高成本电影是一个巨大的飞跃,而且并不是每一个人都能做到。

3) Chinese internet distributors usually pay a flat fee and keep audience numbers secret.

中国互联网分销商通常会支付固定的费用,并对观众数量保密。

If an internet platform agrees to distribute a film, the producer will receive a flat fee and will need to budget the film accordingly. There is no incentive or bonuses for films that reach a large audience on an internet platform. The general public will likely never learn how many people have actually watched the movie, just as with Netflix in the West. Platforms like Youku do provide an indicator of popularity 热度 and share it with the creators after some time. However, the popularity of any given film peaks only briefly before audiences move on. In the case of The Last Sunrise, for example, the movie was the second-most widely viewed movie on Youku for a few weeks before plunging down to number #799 three months later.

如果一个互联网平台同意发行一部电影,制片人将获得固定的费用,并需要对电影做出相应的预算。对于在互联网平台上能覆盖大量观众的电影,它们并不会得到任何的奖励或奖金。公众可能永远也不会知道有多少人真正看过这部电影,就像美国的Netflix一样。像优酷这样的平台确实提供了热度的风向标并且会在一些时间后与创作者进行分享。然而, 任何一部电影的热度只会在观众离开之前短暂地达到峰值。以《最后的日出》为例,这部电影在优酷上的浏览量连续几周位居第。

4) There are a few key secrets to shooting a film in 14 days.

在14天内拍摄电影的秘诀。

  1. Do a lot of advance planning to avoid wasting time.
  2. Surround yourself with a team who can work long hours and understand your creative vision.
  3. Select only a few locations, and shoot indoors as much as possible. For The Last Sunrise , for example, the team limited filming locations to only three places: Beijing 北京,  Zhangbei 张北 in Hebei Province, and Ordos 鄂尔多斯 in Inner Mongolia.
  4. As you pitch the project, be prepared to propose a variety of budgets and lengths to appeal to different types of investors.

 

  1. 计划周全,以免浪费时间。
  2. 和一个能长时间工作并且理解你的创造性想法的团队在一起。
  3. 尽量保持拍摄场所的局限性,最好在室内。
  4. 另外,当你推销你的项目时,要能根据你潜在的投资者提出不同的项目预算和电影长度。

Recommended watching and reading:

The Last Sunrise 最后的日出 (2019): Youku (VIP account needed) | Facebook page

Train to Busan (2016): Wikipedia page

Black Coal, Thin Ice 白日焰火 (2014): Wikipedia page

The Wandering Earth 流浪地球 (2019): Wikipedia page

South Korean director Kim Ki-duk: Wikipedia page

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda : Wikipedia page

Zhang Yimou’s opinion piece in the New York Times, What Hollywood looks like from China.”

Answers to the episode quiz:

  1. Lu Xun 鲁迅 was the famous Chinese author who translated several science-fiction books over a century ago.
  2. Amazon Prime bought the rights to the book The Three-Body Problem 三体, by Liu Cixin 刘慈欣. The full series has yet to be released. 
  3. The year 2003 was when the first Chinese astronaut, or taikonaut, Yang Liwei 杨利伟, went to space.
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Aladin Farré

With two degrees in movie production and Chinese history, Aladin felt it was only natural to go work as a nonfiction content producer in China. He is now a documentary project manager at LIC China (大陆桥), the largest importer of documentaries into China, where he hopes to uncover the secrets of successful international co-production. Follow him on Twitter @aladin_f.