09 Jun 032: Screenwriting for China
Producer and Distribution Exec David L. Suarez talks about the challenge of finding good scripts and how to find screenwriting success in China..
THREE KEY POINTS:
1. SCREENWRITING 101: TAP A DISTRIBUTOR’S NETWORK
Due to his company’s track record in China, David says it’s easier for them to connect with Chinese producers and financiers. Many times, those potential partners come to him. Instead of reaching out to Chinese partners directly which can be very complicated – reach out to a distributor who already has a track record in China.
2. WILL ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE REPLACE SCREENWRITERS?
David joked about wanting machines to write screenplays. Personally, I don’t think you a machine to create different stories for different cultures. What you need is a universal theme that can resonate with any culture.
Take for example – Dangal – an Indian film about wrestling that did gangbusters in China. Screendaily published an article entitled: What the west can learn from the surprise success of ‘Dangal’ in China. It said: “One of the most important factors is that it has emotions that resonated in China,” explains Prasad Shetty, a partner in Strategic Alliance, which promotes Indian films in China. “In addition to the father-daughter relationship, it revolves around the sacrifices you have to make in order to achieve excellence. That’s a very common theme in both Indian and Chinese culture, where there’s an emphasis on hard work and needing the correct support or guidance of your parents.”
Dangal was also an original film. Audiences get tired of sequels. They are hungry for new stories but stories that resonate with universal themes. I will put a link to universal themes in the show notes. list of universal themes in literature in the show notes.
Some universal themes about friendship and family would include:
- bonds of friendship
- family traditions
- importance of communication
- ties that bind
- unbreakable bonds
- unconditional love
- who you can rely on
Check out my link in the show notes for a more comprehensive list.
3. SCREENWRITING TIP: CHOOSE A COMMERCIAL GENRE
According to David, for the next three years, distributors will have a hard time getting their films released due to the pandemic shutting down theaters last year. Theater chains will have their pick of the best of the best films. So, make it easier on yourself by choosing a commercial genre to write in – such as action, disaster, or creature feature stories.
1. FIND AN OLD CHINA HAND
Therefore, I hope David does seriously consider opening a consulting side business. You can check his IMDB page or company website Ytinifni Pictures which I’ll link in the show notes.
2. SCREENWRITING FOR CHINA
Additionally, you need to realize that business is done differently over there. You need to spend time there and learn about the culture. Then pitch your projects after you’ve done some research on the China market.
3. SCREENWRITING FOR THE MARKET
Ultimately, AI, David believes, would be a solution to his problems finding suitable scripts. Suitable in this case means ‘commercial’. Especially going forward when the theatrical market will be overcrowded. So, production companies will think twice before making a drama or comedy which can be a tough sell overseas. I mentioned the book Writing for the Green Light: How to Make Your Script the One Hollywood Notices by Scott Kirkpatrick. I’ll put a link in the show notes.
China Hollywood Greenlight Podcast – Episode 032
David L. Suarez
Host: Caryn McCann
The China List membership website – where Hollywood and China meet
Universal themes in Literature: https://examples.yourdictionary.com/universal-themes-common-concepts-literature-life
David L. Suarez, Distribution Executive, Producer
Company Website: Ytinifni Pictures ytinifnipictures.com
David’s Book – Forever Twilight in New York: https://www.forevertwilightinnewyork.com