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HK FilMart: Chinese Filmmakers Struggle With Side Effects of Success

Grooming new filmmaking talent in China remains a major preoccupation for Chinese companies, despite, or even because of, the growing success of local movies in the fast-growing industry.

Speaking at a seminar sponsored by Fox International Productions, Peng Li, g.m. of Beijing EE Media, said that mainland Chinese film has become polarized between big-budget fantasies and low-cost romantic comedies, with little in between.

Peng said that many new directors are coming from acting or technical professions, with few emerging from more formal film academies. Still others, such as Han Han (“The Continent”) and Guo Jingming (“Tiny Times”), have become stars of the Internet and then parlayed their celebrity into movie success.

What seems to be missing is good screenwriters and creative producers.

“In China a producer is a manager, not a creative executive and not involved in script development,” said Teng Huateng, director of “Love Is Not Blind.” “Many companies may have worked on Internet dramas, but it is a big step up for them to make movies and work with big stars.”

Patrick Mao Huang said that the Taiwanese film industry benefits from more European-style subsidies for new talent. But he said that the island has few bankable directors and that many filmmakers are stuck trying to please narrow local audiences.

The costs of making movies in China and growing rewards for the limited number of successful titles may have changed the economics of the whole industry. Peng said that talent costs have risen steeply in recent years, making many films economically unviable. He also described a “bubble effect” in which prices of rights have ballooned for certain genres that are popular on online video sites. “Rights prices are high for romantic comedies and very low for period dramas,” he said.

FIP sponsors a part of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) project market focusing on development of Chinese-language screenwriting.

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