Animated In China
The market for animated movies is booming By Yuan Yuan
Showing violence, gore, and light pornographic material, Chinese-made animated film Dahufa is the first movie in China to rate itself PG-13, following the enactment of the Film Industry Promotion Law on March 1.
It is a story about a warrior named Dahufa saving his prince from a dystopian village. The villagers, which are peanut-shaped humanoids, are ruled by a fake god whom they must obey. To save the prince, Dahufa has to find ways to defeat his enemies and unveil the conspiracy.
Unlike some other animated movies based on existing concepts from ancient tales or classics, this is an original story. Dahufa, a short, triangle- shaped martial arts master in red, often talks to himself in a humorous manner, and sometimes even philosophically.
“This movie was initially not planned to be shown in cinemas,” producer Shang You told Beijing Review. They struggled to get investment and ran two rounds of group funding events to collect just enough money to finish it. They even planned to release it only online but failed.
But Yi Qiao, CEO of Color Room Pictures, told media website ThePaper.cn that after watching the trailer, he was deeply impressed by the movie and decided to help get it into cinemas.
Li Dashuan, who used to work as an animator and made a documentary on this movie while it was still in production in 2015, told Beijing Review that “it is a big surprise that it finally was released in cinemas.”
Do what I want
The director of the movie, Yang Zhigang, believed he was lucky to be able to indulge himself in the creation of the movie without caring about money at all, as Shang had promised to take care of that.
Yang started work on animation in the 1990s out of interest. After drawing animations for 10 years, he made his first animated video, Black Bird, with software in 2004. The work garnered a group of fans, but Yang stopped after seven episodes. “I want the pictures to be made more elegantly, which requires more advanced techniques,” said Yang in a lecture on Yixi.tv, a speech and online video platform in China. Living in Lin’an, a mountainous area in eastern Zhejiang Province, Yang said he couldn’t even get the movie properly dubbed, as nobody he knew could speak good mandarin.
“You could hardly see a future for this industry [at the time],” said Yang. “I could only afford to pursue it as a hobby, not a career.” He nonetheless followed his passion and quit his job in the telecommunication sector in 2008. He then moved to Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang, which is known for hosting talented animators.
He then went on to spend six years working in the industry, learning how to make more professional animations along the way. He gradually gained some fame, but was still unhappy. “Working for clients is not what I wanted,” Yang said.
Just as Yang quit his job in 2014, he met producer Shang, who encouraged him to try anything he wanted.
“I want there to be more violence in my animation,” Yang said.
“Then go ahead and add more violence,” Shang replied.
That is how they both started working on Dahufa, with a team of only four people.
“It is hard to find a person like Yang who has such a passion for animation,” said Shang. “He is in his 40s now and his rich experience and long-time devotion to this field is something younger animators lack. I am confident in Yang’s work. It might not become a blockbuster, but its strong and unique features will find a niche.”
The movie ended up taking 87 million yuan ($13.2 million) at the box office. “It is a good enough result for us, as we didn’t promote the movie that much,” Shang said. “We recovered our costs and made some profit.”
Monkey King complex
Just after Dahufa finished its first round of group funding in June 2015, another animated mov-
A poster for the movie