DocuChina TV, foreign studios to collaborate
China not only permits, but also encourages foreign companies to team up with Chinese to produce documentaries about China, said Gao Changli, an official with the country’s administration for TV and film industries.
Gao is head of the publicity department with China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and TV. He was in Shanghai on June 11 for the launch of Yunji Media, a production company that produces documentaries for the DocuChina channel of Shanghai Media Group (SMG). The ceremony was part of the 21st Shanghai International TV Festival, an annual event followed by the Shanghai International Film Festival.
DocuChina also announced five ongoing projects between the channel and foreign TV companies on June 11. These heavyweight collaboration projects with foreign companies will cost a total of 160 million yuan ($25.8 million) to make.
The five documentaries are: Coast China, to be produced in collaboration with BBC Worldwide, Celebrities vs. Wild, with Discovery Channel, Super Asia with KBS TV from South Korea, Desire for Food, with MBC, a TV company from South Korea, and China by Your Side with A+E Networks of the United States.
DocuChina is the first TV channel in the country to air only documentaries. It was founded by SMG nine years ago, and since 2014, has become a satellite channel, covering an audience base of 400 million.
David Weiland, executive vice president Asia for BBC Worldwide, said that BBC has collaborated with SMG quite a few times in the past, and the new documentary Coast China will be by far the most important and expensive to make.
Celebrities vs. Wild will be the first to go on air later this year on Dragon TV, also an SMG satellite channel. This is a reality show about survival skills.
Bear Grylls and the longrunning show Man vs. Wild has had a solid viewership base in China through the past few years. This, together with the participation of China’s own celebrities, makes the show Celebrities vs. Wild “zero chance for failure”, said artistic director of DocuChina, Chen Liang.
The show will be produced largely by the original team of Man vs. Wild featuring “the most risky shooting process, and greatest safety assurance”, Chen said.
The launch of Yunji Media means a fundamental step forward in the separation between the broadcasting and production of TV shows in China, said Gao. He went on to praise DocuChina for its daring creativity and outstanding achievements, especially since the channel launched nationwide last year.
China’s documentary industry has been growing by 30 percent every year, Gao said. “It is an industry of expansive prospect.”
Documentaries played not only on TV but also on the Internet have gained greater audience numbers in China.
“Many foreign friends are curious about the ordinary people’s life in China,” Gao said. “These five projects will be good examples of telling Chinese stories to audiences worldwide.”
a reality survival show jointly produced by Shanghai Media Group and Discovery Channel, will be broadcast in China later this year.