The Chinese government loves the idea of foreigners making movies in China, either as co-producers on local projects or using the country’s locations. It is also eager to see local crews benefit from the transfer of overseas expertise.
However, China’s media industry offers little in the way of production incentives other than the fact that it is a low-cost production environment and the infrastructure is surprisingly well developed. Lures such as tax reliefs are generally thin for foreign producers.
But watch this space. There are reports that Shanghai Film Group has applied for permission to offer financial incentives to foreign companies.
For those looking to make movies in China for Chinese auds, or make Chinese movies for wider auds, the best route is co-productions. This means not just assisting in the production of a project but sharing costs with Chinese partners as well. These co-productions are regarded as local pics and may bypass the foreign film quota that limits non-Chinese films from being released in the country.
Countries such as Canada and Italy have signed co-production agreements with China’s Film Bureau, so when they co-produce in China, they may apply for tax relief in their home countries.
- Beijing Rosat Film & TV Production: Web: rosat.com. cn; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. cn; Contact: Li Xiaowan
- Huayi Brothers Pictures: Web: hbpictures.com; Email: email@example.com
- Beijing Poly Bona Film; Web: polybona.com.cn; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Contact: Guan Yadi
“The Painted Veil” is a period romancer that made good use of what China has to offer filmmakers. Helmed by John Curran and starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, pic was shot in Beijing, Shanghai and the province of Guangxi.
A classic co-production, it was produced by Warner China Film HG, a tie-up between state-owned China Film Group, privately held Hengdian Studios and Warner Bros. Pic is partially financed by Bob Yari’s Stratus Film and will roll out Stateside through Warner Independent.
Norton describes it as an “incredible shooting experience,” even though he hurt his back falling off a horse.