It will focus on the incubation, development, packaging, financing, production and distribution of content for a global audience. It will also deliver specialized training in new and emerging areas of the entertainment ecosystem.
The partnership is headed by Starlight’s Peter Luo and Li Weike, president of the BFA’s educational institute BFA Century Group. It is a close parallel to the Stars Collective program that Luo established under Starlight, and which currently supports over 100 emerging filmmakers and actors around the world.
Among the first steps will be the establishment of a BFA Century-Starlight master class program. This will lean on U.S., Chinese and international luminaries already associated with Stars Collective. They include: directors Sam Raimi, James Wan, Alan Taylor; producers Paula Wagner, Donna Gigliotti, Gianni Nunnari, Chris Lee, Han Sanping, Patrick Wachsberger, Eric Heumann, Ke Liming, Rob Minkoff, and Anthony Maccarten; as well as top Chinese acting star Huang Xiaoming, who is already a Stars Collective partner and mentor. Classes will be provided through streaming services and utilize advanced AR/VR digital technologies to achieve a high-end presentation.
A second focus will be to incubate the careers of cyber influencers, who are now establishing a social media-based business akin to film or television. Training in this segment will focus on content creation, dissemination and audience engagement.
A third prong will be the deployment of funds to develop films by BFA alumni and currently-enrolled students. The fund will favor projects that may appeal to a young, diverse demographic and those that use multiple new media distribution channels.
“We are not making student movies or generic content – this is more of a commercial business enterprise that serves to make content of the highest quality that can compete in the global market,” said Luo, who acknowledged that the BFA had played an important role in his own life and career.
The deal follows the launch of the Sundance Institute | Stars Collective Granting Fund that focuses on critical development support and funding that advances projects forward through pre-production, production, post-production, and self-distribution stages.
It also follows Starlight’s involvement in SYSM, a multi-disciplined streaming platform to launch in 2023, alongside Jetsen Huashi Wangju, one of China’s largest digital media companies, and Sky Link TV, a U.S.-based Chinese TV broadcaster.
“BFA Century Group will support and join hands with Starlight to provide a wider stage for a new generation of talented storytellers, and introduce more Chinese content to global audiences,” said Li.