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“Chinese producers want to make sure that their movies resonate with the local audience”

Industry Report: Europe and the rest of the world

Paul Brett • Producer, Flying Tiger

by 

- The Chinese Bridging the Dragon market met up with Paul Brett, head of Flying Tiger, one of China's leading media-market research companies for the entertainment industry

Paul Brett  • Producer, Flying Tiger

Paul Brett has been working in film and television for the past 30 years and has produced or co-produced many independent arthouse hits in the UK, including the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Tom Hooper
film profile
]
and BBC Two’s highest-rated drama, Wolf Hall. Flying Tiger, his joint venture with Aiman, one of China's leading media-market research companies for the entertainment industry, creates high-quality cooperation projects for the Chinese market, including the recent box-office hit A Street Cat Named Bob, among others.We chatted to him at the fourth Sino-European Project Lab, hosted by the Bridging the Dragon producers’ association in Beijing from 11-14 November 2018.

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From your perspective, what is changing in the Chinese market?
Paul Brett: The biggest trend is that the rising local middle class now has enough money for entertainment and travel. They are able to invest in destinations that they love and have the desire to escape through their cinematic experiences as well. So in movies, too, they want to see themselves in exotic places. That is why my advice to European filmmakers is to find a story that taps into this new fascination, like those featuring romantic or action adventures of Chinese characters abroad.

What are the biggest challenges you face when working with China?
The phrase that is repeated most often is: “It’s not Chinese enough!” China is now the number-one film territory in the world, so Chinese producers want to make sure that their movies resonate with the local audience. Unfortunately, it is still very often the case that Europeans come here with their own perspective, and they don’t want to analyse or learn about the local needs. We often think that we know how films and stories should be made. Instead, if someone wants to work with China, he or she should spend as much time as possible here to better understand the culture. The Chinese are very good listeners; that’s what Europeans have to learn. On the other hand, the market here is developing so fast that even the Chinese are not able to predict where it will go. They think they know what they want, but in fact, the reality often overtakes them. You could say that it is a full-time job just trying to understand each other. But I am confident that it will get better as we meet with each other on a more frequent basis – for example, on occasions such as this Project Lab.

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