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WHY: Prices may be rising in China, but it remains a low-cost option for filmmakers who are keen to look a bit further afield for production opportunities, while expertise in the country is also on the increase.

The big development in China’s shooting environment this year was the opening in August of the giant Huairou Film Base in a suburb north of Beijing. The largest of its kind in Asia, the base covers 131 acres and cost $294 million. It provides facilities for almost everything involving production and post-production, such as 16 soundstages, a digital production studio and a prop/costume warehouse.

Negatives about shooting in China include the difficult regulatory environment.

Co-productions count as local Chinese films and are not limited by the import quota on foreign films, but they do have to meet local censorship rules, which means projects must have approval before they begin lensing.

A subcategory is “facilitated” co-productions, where Chinese companies offer help with location and assist production. Such projects only have to pass the censors if they are to screen in China, and they get to bypass the quota system as well.

However, if a producer has partners who will help with local hurdles, the China market has much to offer. The possibility of finding great locations is a big factor for William W. Wilson, prexy of Wilson Prods., but cost is a factor, too.

BONUS: Film and TV companies choosing to base themselves at Hengdian get tax rebates and are free of corporate taxes, says Wang Zhiping, deputy g.m. of Hengdian World Studios.

Guo Jingming, an official with the local Dongyang People’s Government, says the government offers subsidies to help the film zone develop.

HOT SPOT: Still a big draw is Hengdian Studios in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang. This boasts 13 movie lots spread over 815 acres and is luring a growing number of productions, as it can offer the Forbidden City in China’s ancient capital, or a marketplace in the Ming or the Qing dynasty, or 1920s Shanghai, or even the Warring States period. The surrounding area also has lots of great dramatic scenery.

SHOT THERE: “John Rabe,” “The Children of Huang Shi”

LINKS:

China Film Co-Productioin Group: cfcc-film.cn