Alibaba Pic­tures pledges fund for young film­mak­ers

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By SUN YE sunye@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Zhou Tong, in his early 20s, so far had only his girl­friend’s moral sup­por­t­and­his mother’smoney to make short films on tight bud­gets.

But now he thinks Chi­nese film­mak­ers, es­pe­cially as­pir­ing ones, may see bet­ter days.

Zhou’s con­fi­dence comes from Alibaba Pic­tures’ re­cent an­nounce­ment that it will pro­vide 1 bil­lion yuan ($158 mil­lion) in funds for young film­mak­ers in the next three years.

De­signed to help both do­mes­tic and for­eign film­mak­ers, the com­pany named its ef­fort Project A, ac­cord­ing to Zhang Qiang, CEO, Alibaba Pic­tures.

The funds are open to Chi­nese and for­eign film­mak­ers age 45 or be­low. The project in­cludes work op­por­tu­ni­ties un­der three men­tors: An­thony LaMoli­nara, who won an Os­car for spe­cial ef­fects in 2005 for Spi­der-Man 2; Renny Har­lin, the di­rec­tor of Die Hard 2; and Zhang Yibai, a pop­u­lar Chi­nese di­rec­tor­known­for his col­lege ro­mance Fleet of Time.

“We hope to nur­ture our own direc­tors of block­buster films by first let­ting them work with mas­ters on co­pro­duc­tions,” Zhang Qiang said at a press con­fer­ence in Beijing. “In se­ries movies, we could prob­a­bly pro­duce the third, fourth in­stall­ments on our own af­ter the ap­pren­tice­ship.”

The com­pany also hopes to grow the mar­ket for com­edy films by de­vel­op­ing an in­cu­ba­tor that would have young direc­tors ex­per­i­ment­ing with short films to be re­leased on Youku.com and Tu­dou.com, pop­u­lar Chi­nese on­line video sites. The pop­u­lar short films among them would then get a chance to be made for the cine­mas.

“We are pay­ing spe­cial at­ten­tion to film­mak­ers born af­ter 1985,” Zhang Qiang says. “We con­sider com­edy very im­por­tant. Light, hu­mor­ous­films will­beour fea­ture.”

As the project con­veys the com­pany’s as­sess­ment of the do­mes­tic film mar­ket, en­try re­quire­ments for ap­pli­cants in­clude so­cial val­ues and be­ing tech­no­log­i­cally savvy.

“We want them to share the same main­stream, pos­i­tive val­ues, and make happy films that are good for the whole fam­ily to watch to­gether,” theCEOsays. “We found that films that dis­play such val­ues of­ten per­form very well in the box of­fice, too.”

ForChi­nese films to be­come truly in­ter­na­tional, they have to be able to use tech­nol­ogy well, he adds.

China’s box-of­fice rev­enues touched 33 bil­lion yuan in the first three quar­ters of the year, around 60 per­cent of the num­ber came from lo­cal films.

“For a mar­ket of such po­ten­tial, we need our own tal­ent pool,” he says.

Zhou, the as­pir­ing di­rec­tor, there­fore hopes to make more come­dies in the fu­ture.

He has a few short films to his credit and was part of the public­ity team for Breakup Guru, a ro­man­tic Chi­nese full-length fea­ture from last year.

“Our works can reach au­di­ences in more forms and on plat­forms that we didn’t have ear­lier,” he says. “That’s why it­may be the best time for us young film­mak­ers.”

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