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City eyes much bigger role in film industry

SHANGHAI will no longer simply be a film backdrop for foreign blockbuster movies, as it vows to be developed into an incubator for original content and a center for film shooting and post-production, officials said as the 17th Shanghai International Film Festival concluded last night.

People in the industry said that endeavors will cover all parts of the film chain to revive Chinese cinema - from talent reserve and early script creation to film production and the innovation of theaters to attract larger audiences.

According to Hu Jinjun, director of the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV, the newly launched Shanghai Vancouver Film School is one of the most eye-catching projects.

Enrollment will begin in the fall, with about 100 students at the school. They will take a one-year curriculum of movie production, visual effects, sound and 3D animation.

"More than 90 percent of the teachers are film professionals from North America," said Hu. "The five-year education of global film schools will be condensed into a short period of time, and it means that the students will have high-intensity theory and practice schedules."

Since advanced post-production teams are what?s most needed in the domestic film industry, Hu said the school is focused on long-term aspects, and its establishment will help to create a global film post-production cluster in Zhabei District.

In August, the Shanghai Leading Digital Post - the city's first world-class post-production facility - will be put into trial operation. Located in the South Bund area, it annually can offer post-production services for 50 films and 500 commercials.

Officials from the facility said that more than 60 percent of Chinese films and co-productions have to do their post-production overseas. The base will cultivate local expertise in this field and create more business opportunities for the film industry.

In another development, Youku Tudou Inc, which has more than 400 million users, has joined forces with the Shanghai government to establish a center to develop original content, including micro movies, online drama series, animations and entertainment shows.

The company's CEO, Gu Yongqiang, said the collaboration can not only fund and nurture China's emerging filmmakers but encourage Chinese stories with big market potential.

To control the budgetary risks, a completion bond - a financial contract that insures a given project will be completed - is expected to be widely used in film production in China in the future.

Hu said internationally experienced underwriters of the bonds have been introduced to the city. Young Chinese filmmakers have signed agreements with investors to produce two films - "Beijing Holiday" and "Trace Memory" - to test and localize completion bonds.

"In the long run, completion bonds will help the whole industry to achieve a sustainable and healthy development," he said. "It will also bring more opportunities to young and unknown directors."

With more online competition for film viewers’ eyes, industry insiders will also improve the local cinemas to offer a more immersive cinema-going experience.

Shanghai Film Art Center, a main site of the Shanghai International Film Festival, has opened a new screening hall with a special laser beam-projected screen. Compared with traditional 3D screens, the 4K high-definition giant screen, constructed with homegrown technology, presents images that are brighter and more diverse in color. The technology will be applied to many other theaters in town.


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