20 Oct 019: China’s Untapped Heritage Stories – Can Hollywood Get in on the Act?
VR Creator Carol Liu feels China hasn’t yet tapped its unmined heritage stories. But can the East and West collaborate to make Chinese IP appeal to a worldwide audience?
Carol talks about how she created a VR series around a misrepresented historical figure and gave it a revisionist look. Using in-depth research and fresh ideas – her series is finding new audiences.
3 Key Points
FINDING CHINESE PARTNERS
First of all, it’s easy to get caught up in researching hundreds of companies on IMDB or reading the trades for months. A quick way to find a Chinese partner as mentioned by Carol is to look at who made the films you like and track those people down. Also, reach out to people who may know your targets and ask for an introduction.
ONE MEETING WON’T DO IT
As a result, you need to vet your future partners and one meeting isn’t going to do it. You need to go to China. You also need to learn a little about China –especially if you’re developing stories for the China market. So besides staying up on the China film / TV news – you also need just to familiarize yourself with Chinese news in general and read what’s happening in Chinese society.
THE HOLLYWOOD WAY
Carol mentioned before the China market opened – fifth generation Chinese directors make really powerful films. Then some of them tried to become too commercial and ending up losing their appeal. She also said some Chinese try to emulate Hollywood’s methods because they think – that’s how they’re going to make it big. She suggests Chinese think about what you already have within that’s already valuable and make it stand out.
FILM SUBJECT MATTER
Furthermore, Carol mentioned her VR series about Marie Antoinette and how it’s a revisionist look at history. She mentioned how some folks in France couldn’t understand why she was making it and said it’s in the past, it’s not important, it’s like it’s like a burden etc.
But Carol feels this subject would be interesting to foreign audiences. She also mentioned Chinese may not be thrilled with another film on the Opium War for example since that was a humiliation and not a past the Chinese want to remember. It’s a bit of a tightrope.
If you’re exploring subjects for film or TV projects that encompass a sensitive period in history – maybe you need to dig deep into history and find a fresh point of view to add a revisionist look at something – to see something an old subject with fresh eyes.
IP IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
Both Hollywood and Chinese studios are looking for material that will appeal to both markets. As I mentioned in my podcast – American studios routinely make lists of what IP in the public domain. Is there such a list in China? If anyone knows – please email me to let me know.
I googled Chinese IP copyright and discovered in China a published work enters the public domain after the life of the author plus 50 years basic rule in the U.S. is the life of the author plus 70 years. So basically any Chinese literature where the author died prior to 1968 (not that long ago) should have their IP in the public domain.
If this hasn’t been done yet – it would be a huge product for some government agency or maybe a private company to list IP in the public domain.
Then you have the best of both worlds in my opinion – Chinese heritage combined with perhaps a universal story structure or perhaps a revisionist twist.
… Just a thought.
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China Hollywood Greenlight Podcast – Episode #19
HOST: Caryn McCann
GUEST: Carol Liu
Marie Antoinette: https://www.facebook.com/marieantoinettevr
Leftover Woman: https://www.facebook.com/leftoverwoman