28 Apr 016: Jeffrey Gee Chin – An Overlooked Resource – US Embassies & MPAA
Jeffrey shares an underutilized resource for finding Chinese partners – the US Embassy and various screen associations.
Today I interview Jeffrey Gee Chin – a filmmaker who straddles both the Hollywood and China markets. Jeffrey has been a 2ndUnit Director on Billions (on Showtime) and Snowfall (on FX). He is also creating culturally preserving films like Lil Tokyo Reporter.
He talks about how the diversity and #MeToo movements have opened the door for fresh voices in film and TV. Additionally, he talks about the advantage of connecting with a Hong Kong producer vs. a Mainland Chinese producer.
Additionally, he offers tips on casting and advises you’re better off casting Chinese singers over “A” list stars.
3 KEY POINTS
- NOW IS THE TIME:
As Jeffrey said the old guard of film and TV are changing – they are looking for younger artists/filmmakers with a fresh perspective – this whole diversity movement and Me Too movement has opened up the doors for new voices.
- SCHOOL ALUMNI:
Jeffrey got a huge head start on his career by having the acclaimed director John Singleton as one of his USC professors. As you’ve heard before on this podcast – mine those alumni networks. People want to work with people they know – who they have some history with. So, go to your next alumni function.
- HONG KONG vs MAINLAND CHINESE PRODUCERS:
Jeffrey suggests you go to Hong Kong or Guangzhou to find producing partners.Currently, Hong Kong legal agreements follow the Hong Kong system, not the mainland Chinese system. Jeffrey highlighted there’s a lot of startup film companies in Guangzhou so put them on your radar and get on theirs.
- OVERSEAS CHINESE Jeffrey said he’s keen to tell stories of overseas Chinese – for example, a Chinese person growing up in Africa or Ireland. This could be the spark of an idea for writers out there who are looking to shoot with the China market in mind but also take advantage of overseas tax breaks. Also – it’s a fresh idea. Hey, Chinese in Africa did great for Wolf Warrior 2. And as Jeffrey said – we all have the urge to travel and explore things. Make your protagonist a fish out of water (my words) in a foreign country. And according to Jeffrey – this is appealing to Chinese investors.
- SINGERS OVER ACTORS Jeffrey said that some “A” list Chinese actors are not attracting fans into movie theaters. And now Chinese investors are going after young singers. So, if you are casting – remember “A” list stars are expensive and booked usually on simultaneous projects for years. Consider casting a singer.
- PRESERVE CULTURAL HERITAGE Jeffrey brought up the fact that besides Chinese studios wanting a piece of the next Hollywood blockbuster – there is a desire to preserve their cultural heritage or invest in projects that do that for other cultures. Jeffrey mentioned there were several Chinese producers on the film “Marshall” which is the story of Thurgood Marshall, the crusading lawyer who would become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.
- FILM SCHOOL Jeffrey said if he had to do it over again – he’d probably go to USC undergrad and then straight into the job market instead of getting a master in film.
- LEARN MANDARIN Jeffrey said a big skill in finding a Chinese producing partner is the ability to speak Mandarin. Now even Jeffrey said he isn’t fluent and nobody expects a gwailo to spend 5 years away from their job just to learn a new language. But if you show you want to participate in the culture -= that can only impress develop guanxi with your potential partners.
- PARTNERS Jeffrey mentioned the Hong Kong International Screen Association as a resource to find potential partners. I contacted them and alas they told me they don’t do that. So, I will keep looking and keep you posted.
That’s the show for this week. Thanks for listening!
And I’ll see you at the premiere. Bye! 再见！(Yī huǐ jiàn)
China Hollywood Greenlight Podcast – Episode 16
Jeffrey Gee Chin
Host: Caryn McCann
Guest: Jeffrey Gee Chin – Filmmaker
Jeffrey’s film Lil Tokyo Reporter: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2396866/
Look for it in May on Xfinity: https://my.xfinity.com/asian-american
U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau: https://hk.usconsulate.gov
Hong Kong Screen Association:http://hkisa.film
Hong Kong Motion Pictures Association: https://www.mpaa.org/news_post/hongkong/