12 Sep 036: Acting in China – Pros & Cons
American actor Davy Williams talks about the differences between acting in Hollywood and China. He also gives advice on getting steady work and the challenges of Chinese distribution.
Davy Williams – an American actor, writer and producer talks about the difference between acting in Hollywood and China. Moreover, he also gives advice on getting steady work and the quandary of Chinese distribution.
THREE KEY POINTS
1. PROS TO BEING A WESTERNER ACTING IN CHINA
Of course, if you speak Mandarin – you can get steady work.
2. CONS TO BEING A WESTERNER ACTING IN CHINA
In contrast, American line producers and assistant directors are more organized than their counterpart in China. As a result, on a western set – the crew takes an hour or two to set up and then the actors arrive. On the contrary, this isn’t the case in China. Even more, the actors arrive with or even before the crew. As a result, you day has an hour or two boots morale and provides of sitting around built into it.
3. CRAFT SERVICES
In the first place, craft services is different from catering. Craft service refers to food that is always available to the crew and extras while they’re working. Catering handles full meals. Shooting a film requires long hours. For instance, there’s a saying that goes – a crew runs on its stomach. Certainly, be aware that according to Davy, craft services in China are spotty or non-existent.
1. WHAT ARE CHINESE STUDIOS LOOKING FOR?
Chinese studios like big budget spectacles with name actors. Davy calls these films generic or pro-china. Nothing political. Lots of action. No vampires and no ghosts. Why can’t you have supernatural characters in a Chinese film?
In the article Why is the Chinese Community Party afraid of ghosts? the author explains this quandary. The article said “In Chinese literature and folk tales, “evil ghosts” serve as a metaphor for corrupt officials.” The report quoted a British artist born in China named Aowen Jin who said “Banning ghost stories sounds almost absurd and laughable to the West, and yet it carries the deep-rooted, historical fear that the government feels about its own people.”
Lastly, see my blog post – 4 Ways to Beat the Chinese Censors
2. LEADING ROLES NOT FOR WESTERNERS IN CHINA
If you speak Mandarin – you can get steady work as a middle to the top-range characters. Just know you’ll never be the lead. According to Davy, China won’t allow a foreigner to be the lead.
3. HOW TO MAKE IT AS AN ACTOR OR FILMMAKER IN CHINA
Additionally, you should learn the language. Live in Beijing. If you’re a filmmaker, your content needs to be neutral politically. And like always, get name actors.
China Hollywood Greenlight Podcast – Episode 36
Actor, Writer, Producer Davy Williams 大洋
Host: Caryn McCann
Website: The China List – where Hollywood and China meet
Guest: Davy Williams 大洋