- Matt Ellis
Co-Producing With China - The Fastest Growing and Soon to be Largest Film Market in the World
Traveling to China with Neal Allen and Frank Kostenko of Pacific Rim Media (PACRIM) to film IMAX - Pandas (2018) was a great learning experience in many ways. Not only did I get a chance to handle the safe movement of almost 1.5 million dollars of advanced film gear and equipment through two completely different and strict customs authorities, but I also had the opportunity to pitch several Television and Film ideas with Frank to top studio executives in Beijing - two concepts (an action-comedy by yours truly and a horror film by internet horror sensation - Joel Farrelly) were given the nod for moving to the next stage of consideration.
China currently has a 34 film cap on foreign film imports, with 14 required to be IMAX and/or 3D content, the latter being driven by heavy Chinese investment in IMAX/3D venues. Luckily, PACRIM's staff are some of the most experienced in the world with both of those specialties, with production experience in successes such as Magnificent Desolation - Walking on the Moon, Panda 3D, & Arabia 3D.
The other path to getting a film to this growing market is co-production, which brought us to our most recent pitches. However, the West must be a quick study in order to not fall into the quick fix Hollywood pitfalls, like merely adding token Chinese characters to please Chinese censors and audiences. Early criticisms by Chinese and International audiences of the "The Great Wall" with Matt Damon narrowed in on the fact that Hollywood seemed to believe that an American had to be the one to save China. Chinese audiences also largely turned cold on the insertion of a few famous Chinese actors in the most recent Star Wars film, believing it was merely a cash grab ploy.
Other interesting tips I learned while in China about the Chinese film industry:
--Films shot in China must have a 1 for 1 matching of Chinese crew. Definitely a plus if they speak English (they can also help you get around for shopping...LOL).
--Guns cannot be used in films, unless the films are shot and are about countries outside of China.
--Your aliens (or other entities of your choosing) cannot destroy Chinese monuments or cities unless they are among a larger group of nations that suffer as well.
China is close to becoming the #1 grossing film market in the world and are hungry for original content, which is why IMAX's Panda 3D will be the first of many films to be shot or co-produced for PACRIM.
Fingers crossed that you'll be squinting at English subtitles at a Matthew R. Ellis and Joel Farrelly PACRIM film premiering in 2019.