22 Sep 7 WAYS TO BULLETPROOF YOUR SCRIPT FOR CHINA
How do you open up the Chinese market with your awesome screenplay? Changing the story’s location from New York to Shanghai just doesn’t cut it. But there are ways to bulletproof your script for China.
Here are seven ways you can get your script on Chinese production companies radar screens with a bulletproof script.
1. MAKE IT A CO-PRODUCTION
Make your script a co-production. First you can’t compete with every major studio gunning for those few 34 foreign film quota slots. Leave that competition behind by aiming to make your film a co-production. This involves (naturally) your story be related to China; Chinese talent fill at least one-third of above the line and below the line jobs.
2. ADD CHINESE VALUES
Appeal to China’s values. The Indian movie “Dangal” was a huge hit in China. And sport dramas are a new area so everyone was surprised. But the movie emphasized family ties which is integral to Chinese culture.
3. HIGHLIGHT CHINESE SOFT POWER
You don’t need to write the next Wolf Warrior to know that nationalist pride pulls in big numbers in China. You don’t need to fly the Chinese flag but do find ways to add some insight about Chinese history, culture or mythology to your story.
4. FIND A CHINESE READER
See my article on “Where to Find Chinese-Americans to Add to your Co-Pro“. You can also reach out to Chinese groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.
5. PASS CENSORSHIP
In my previous post “4 Ways to Beat the Chinese Censors” I outlined ways to avoid censorship trouble. Here’s the problems and solutions:
No Ghosts → the hero dreamt them up.
There are no bad cops in China → bad cop ends up in jail.
Avoid time travel / supernatural stuff → rebrand as science-fiction’.
No corruption in China → shoot your film in America.
6. HIRE CHINESE INTERNET STARS
You’ll have to have Chinese actors to qualify as a co-pro. Many Chinese “A” list stars are booked on multiple projects (at one time) plus cost millions. Consider China’s internet stars who have millions of fans. In the article, “Bilibili Stars Bypass China’s Fame Machine” the online vide sharing platform – fans are becoming China’s newest virtual idols.
The article told how a young Chinese guy, Xiao Yiqing has become famous. Xiao “…took fame into his own hands, uploading video content on Bilibili beginning in 2015. He now posts roughly one video a week, often combining animation with his own vocals in an ancient-style music genre called gufeng. He has more than 900,000 followers on the site.”
7. ATTACH TECHNICAL TALENT
Instead of trying to compete with the studios to attach a hot director to your script – go after different talent. The article “Building the Industry Behind China’s Unbelievable TV Shows” highlighted China’s need for VFX experts. It said “China’s television industry is a billion-dollar business, especially with the explosive growth of online streaming sites. Yet for years, Chinese audiences have mocked the low production value of visual effects (VFX) in domestic shows as wumao texiao — “50-cent VFX.””
China is decades behind the U.S. in visual effects. Why not attach a top VFX expert to your script? Chinese production companies are hungry for this expertise.
What other below the line talent do you think would attract a Chinese studio? Leave a comment below.