15 Aug 035: WORKING WITH A CHINESE WRITING PARTNER
China-based screenwriter Marc Handler discusses how he writes for a Chinese audience, He suggests working with a Chinese writing partner. He discusses China-bashing and China’s talent management problem.
Writing for a Chinese audience, Marc Handler reveals how he gets jobs in China, Marc is also a producer and international consultant with American and Chinese studio experience. Having a Chinese writing partner has enabled him to get hired in China. He also discusses China-bashing, China’s talent management problem, and possible solutions.
3 KEY POINTS
PARTNERS STAND UP FOR THEIR VISION:
Marc talked about a time he cut the script development process down by ignoring notes and just wrote the script. Note – he beat out the competition for this job based on his take on the story. This is an extreme case. Thus this illustrates there are times you can be a team player and there are times you need to stand up for your vision. In the end, it worked out for Marc. So, pick your battles carefully.
CHINA-BASHING AND WRITING PARTNERSHIPS
In particular, there’s a lot of China-bashing in the US and a lot of US-bashing in China. My podcast isn’t about politics but about cooperation – but cooperation with your eyes open. This means vet your partners, protect your copyright – do your due diligence. As Marc says – look for facts not opinions.
THE PIXAR METHOD FOR A CHINESE AUDIENCE
Above all, Marc hopes Chinese and American studios will stop treating writers as interchangeable parts. He suggests studios use the Pixar method. A typical studio has a development team or corporate execs come up with movie ideas. At Pixar which made blockbuster animations such as Toy Story, Cars, Up, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, etc. Pixar uses small incubation teams made up of a director (usually the one with the idea), a writer, and some storyboard artists. Pixar bets big on these small teams gives them enormous leeway and support. And the teams get honest feedback from everyone. Pixar is also famous for its R&D for its animation projects which can last up to a year. No wonder they are so good at what they do.
For example, see the link to the article The Uniquely Powerful Reason Why Pixar Movies Are So Good
WRITING PARTNERS NEED TO THINK WIN-WIN
Additionally, don’t ask what China can give you. Figure out what you have to offer – skills, investment, distribution, specialized knowledge. Make it mutually beneficial and you will have a better chance of getting hired or launching a joint venture. Writing for a Chinese audience could open Hollywood doors for you as well.
For more advice on implementing a win-win approach see:
Find the Right Chinese Partner: Ep #18
CHINESE WRITING PARTNERS
In brief, if you want to sell your script to China or find a Chinese financier – the best way is to start with the script and partner with a Chinese writer. If you want to write for a Chinese audience, you can do this on my website The China List. Just go to our Find a Writing Partner page.
To clarify, Marc said China has a serious talent management problem. Here’s your opportunity. Whether you’re a talent rep or someone who can coordinate a ‘Hollywood-China sharing of best practices’ event – there’s a job for you. This is a golden opportunity for some smart person to be a problem solver to make hiring Chinese talent easier.
China Hollywood Greenlight Podcast – Episode 035
Marc Handler, Screenwriter, Producer & Int’l Consultant
Host: Caryn McCann
Website: The China List – where Hollywood and China meet
Guest: Marc Handler
LinkedIn: Marc Handler https://www.linkedin.com/in/marc-handler-2482524/
Best restaurant in Beijing according to Marc: Blossom Vegetarian, No.144 Dongshimen Inner Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing China+86 10 6401 2228