029: Writing for China & Hollywood

Chen Xu

029: Writing for China & Hollywood

China screenwriter/development exec Chen Xu 徐晨 talks about the differences between Hollywood and China’s script development process. He shares what you should be writing for the China market.

This is Caryn McCann, the host of the China Hollywood Greenlight podcast – a podcast about creating & distributing content for both Hollywood and China.

If you like the show, please go to iTunes, subscribe and leave a rating so other people can find this podcast. The more we work together – the more opportunities will be out there for everyone. 

Any links mentioned in the podcast can be found in the show notes at chinahollywoodgreenlight.com   / podcast and look for this episode which is #29

Before I introduce today’s guest – I’d like to start out with a motivation quote to encourage our listeners to continue on their path to achieving their own green light. And today’s quote is a Chinese proverb that says “An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet.” 

GIVING THANKS

Before I give you a quick update on what I’m working on I’d like to say this: Today is Thanksgiving – so happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  This is an annual holiday celebrated in American and Canada celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year. With COVID-19 we all have to practice safe distancing so need to say our Thanks via Zoom or some video app. Not as good as being with family but we can still reflect on what we’re grateful for.  I’m grateful the American elections are finally behind us and a Covid vaccine is just around the corner. I’m also thankful the film and television industry can get back into production next year. And I’m especially grateful for all my guests who are dedicated to building a bridge between Hollywood and China. And on that note, I’d like to finally announce the launch date of my new website: 

INTRODUCING “THE CHINA LIST” MEMBERSHIP WEBSITE

It’s called The China List. Our launch date is Monday, November 30th 2020 at 11 AM Pacific Standard Time.  This is a new membership website to connect writers, producers, and talent reps in Hollywood and China.  Producers and Talent reps can enjoy free membership.

Writers – you can take advantage of a free trial offer and get your material seen by industry professionals in Hollywood and China.

On Monday, November 30th at 11AM Pacific Standard Time, sign up at  www.chnlist.com  

It’s been a long road but I’m very excited about the possibility of providing a service that will foster collaboration between Hollywood and China.

Other good news – I finished my look book for a new TV series which is an action-drama which can be shot in Taiwan. Luckily, it’s possible to shoot in Taiwan these days so the timing is perfect. 

And I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, please stay safe and well.

THREE KEY POINTS

1. HOW TO FIND A CHINESE PARTNER

Chen said Beijing is center of film production market. There are over 2,000 production companies. The China market is on fire. And your script can be told a million ways. So how do you find the right partner? Chen says find people who share your vision.   How do you find them?

  • Put yourself in the market. Meet as many people as possible.
  • Look for people who share your vision/taste.
  • Do more than your job title requires.
  • Watch lots of Chinese content. Look at the credits and target those directors / producers.

2. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US & CHINA SCRIPT DEVELOPMENT

Chen says although many in China say the script is the foundation of the film / tv episode – only about ten percent follow this.

  • Writers’ names are usually not even on a film poster.
  • Chinese producers may offer vague notes such as “the script lacks that one last push” or “We have to extract the spirit a little bit more”.  Notes come from many voices and are not coordinated. In my opinion – this is an opportunity smart writing consultants should capitalize on.

3. CHINA’S WRITERS GUILD

China’s Writers Guild doesn’t offer copyright protection. You need to register with the Chinese government office instead.  See my podcast #24  Writers, How to Protect your IP in China for more information.

THREE TAKEAWAYS

1. AGENTS & MANAGERS LACKING IN CHINA

Chinese writers don’t have the same talent agent / manager system that the US has. Some Chinese writers will use Weibo (Chinese twitter) to contact a famous director but success is rare.

2. WHAT YOU SHOULD BE WRITING FOR CHINA

Chen says youth-focused content, stories with universal themes (love, family, friendship). He added that comedy is a popular genre. Especially now – due to the pandemic, people really need a laugh.

3. AMERICAN SITCOMS CAN TRAVEL ABROAD (really!)

Despite what you heard that comedy doesn’t travel – Chen brought up an amazing example of an American sitcom that broke records as the longest-running adapted sitcom ever.

Exporting Raymond is a 2010 Russian American comedy/documentary film directed, written, produced, and acted by showrunner Philip Rosenthal. The Russian title is The Voronins. You can check out the Wikipedia page about the documentary with the link in my show notes (see below). The producer sold the adaptation rights to Russian television – 240 American episodes. The Russian series has now had nine seasons and over 500 episodes!  So yes, American comedy can travel. 

That’s the show. Thank you for listening.

And I’ll see you over at my new China-Hollywood membership website. Producers and talent reps can find the next hot writer or screenplay. Writers get your material in front of decision-makers in Hollywood and China. And right now, you can enjoy a free trial.

On Monday, November 30th at 11AM Pacific Standard Time I’ll see you on The China List at www.chnlist.com   

Bye! 一会见!

China Hollywood Greenlight Podcast – Episode 29

Show Notes

GUEST: Chen Xu 徐晨

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chenxufilmtv/

IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm7497660/

Host: Caryn McCann 马恒驰

(NEW) Membership website to foster collaboration between Hollywood and China: https://chnlist.com

Website: www.Chinahollywoodgreenlight.com

Podcasts: https://chinahollywoodgreenlight.com/podcasts-2/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CHGreenLight/

Twitter: @CHGreenLight

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/2H1sMLn

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