Patrick Huang • Producer, Flash Forward Entertainment
“In China, there is now an audience that also appreciates sophisticated animated films”
by Lysann Windisch - Bridging the Dragon
- Bridging the Dragon met up with Patrick Huang, producer at Flash Forward Entertainment, a production company based in Taiwan
Flash Forward produces all kinds of genres, focusing mainly on international co-productions between East and West. Patrick Huang, a producer at the firm, co-produced Lina Wang's A First Farewell, which won the Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury in the Berlinale's Generation section earlier this year. We chatted to Huang at the recent Bridging the Dragon event.
You are a very experienced co-producer bridging the gap between Europe and China. In your view, what are the biggest challenges inherent in co-production?
Patrick Huang: The first big challenge is finding the right audience. Usually, each party has a different opinion on where the right audience for a certain film lies. We are also seeing different demands from Chinese and European audiences, so you can either try to satisfy both or target only one. The second challenge is the financing process: the systems in the two industries are very different. In Europe, you have a governmental financing system, whereas in China, the production model depends heavily on private investors. So the questions to consider are how to balance both models and how to set up the production mechanism, while sharing out money and resources equally as well as finding common ground.
Have some of your projects failed, and if so, why?
I had to abort two of my projects, which both originated in Taiwan, for different reasons. One of them was a very high-budget arthouse film. The script was based on a very famous book that we adapted, but it was not completely ready. We were already pushing the deadlines back and had wasted a lot of money, so I was forced to pull it. The other project was a big animation from five or six years ago, which was simply getting too huge. We didn’t have the right financing model and planned the film more in a Hollywood-studio kind of way, so it just didn’t work out, which was also a matter of timing. At the time, the Chinese animation market was not yet that mature. I believe that in due course, we will see more mature animated movies coming up. Some years ago, it was mainly films targeted at pre-school viewers, but now, there is an audience that also appreciates sophisticated animated films, coupled with the fact that the country also has more cinemas that are able to show those kinds of films.
You co-produced and are selling A First Farewell, a film about the life of a small girl in a tiny Uyghur village, by female director Lina Wang – a fairly specific theme for a rather small audience. Why do you think it is important to produce such films? Is there a difference between festival films and regular cinema?
It may look like a small film, but I still think that something universal is inherent in this coming-of-age story. One of the themes is leaving home and your family, while it also shows everyday life in a very poetic way. This is something that many people can relate to, in other places as well. Filmmakers are pioneers who leave one place and make a journey in order to discover new worlds and portray other experiences. This film was the very first one from this particular province. The stories are there, so you need to go and understand other cultures. We have sold the movie to Italy already and are in discussions with six or seven other European countries, so apparently there is indeed some interest in this topic.
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