Mar­quee movie

What can one ex­pect when three Os­car win­ners join hands for a Chi­nese film? Maybe a film com­pany in Hangzhou is about to pro­vide an an­swer.

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - ByWANG KAIHAO in Hangzhou wangkai­hao@chi­

What can one ex­pect when three Os­car win­ners join hands for a Chi­nese film? Per­haps a com­pany in Hangzhou, the cap­i­tal of East China’s Zhe­jiang province, has the an­swer.

Film Car­ni­val, which last year moved from fi­nanc­ing to film­mak­ing, an­nounced last week that its first fea­ture film has brought some of the peo­ple be­hind Mid­dle-earth on board.

Jim Ry­giel, the vis­ual ef­fects su­per­vi­sor of TheLord­oftheRings tril­ogy, and Ethan van der Ryn, who was in charge of sound edit­ing in the se­cond in­stall­ment of the tril­ogy, Two Tow­ers, will lead the vis­ual ef­fects and sound edit­ing teams, re­spec­tively, for Film Car­ni­val’s up­com­ing fan­tasy com­edy Nezha.

Nezha is based on the le­gends sur­round­ing a Chi­nese folk de­ity by the same name.

The film, which is sched­uled for re­lease next year, fea­tures A-list ac­tor Zhang Fengyi and MalaysianChi­nese ac­tress Michelle Yeoh. It is di­rected by Jeffrey Lau, well known for his film A Chi­nese Odyssey.

The Lord of the Rings films that Ry­giel and Van der Ryn worked won Os­cars, and Van der Ryn won an­other Os­car for King Kong (2005) in ad­di­tion to nom­i­na­tions for the Trans­form­ers se­ries and Argo (2012).

Nev­er­the­less, the in­dus­try veter­ans say that the Hangzhou firm’s of­fer was a chal­lenge for them.

“I had not heard of the Nezha story be­fore I got the script,” says Ry­giel. “I am grate­ful tomy Chi­nese col­leagues in the art de­part­ment who helped me.”

Van der Ryn says that work­ing on Chi­nese films is a good way to learn Chi­nese cul­ture and his­tory. He re­cently did sound edit­ing for a Chi­nese film on the Chongqing Bomb­ing, an atroc­ity com­mit­ted by Ja­pan dur­ing World War II, which is not well known in theWest.

“I will use sound to show dark­ness and light, loud­ness and quiet­ness (in Nezha),” he says.

Com­pared to them, how­ever, Gabriella Cris­tiani, an Ital­ian film edi­tor who won an Os­car for The Last Em­peror (1987), seemed more pre­pared when join­ing the Nezha pro­duc­tion team.

Re­call­ing her work on the film on Puyi, the last Chi­nese monarch, Cris­tiani, who once stud­ied Tao­ism, says, “When I was edit­ing the film im­ages then, I felt like I was mak­ing a sculp­ture.

“You have to bring emo­tion and dy­namism to your work. And I think we are now pre­pared to pro­duce the most exquisite scenes from China.”

Although many Chi­nese film stu­dios have­worked with­Hol­ly­wood in re­cent years, the Hol­ly­wood pro­fes­sion­als work­ing on Nezha sounded a note of cau­tion.

“Some peo­ple (in Hol­ly­wood) get a lit­tle ner­vous about this (sit­u­a­tion) and don’t ac­cept and em­brace it,” says Stephen Cas­tor, a Hol­ly­wood vet­eran of mo­tion-cap­ture tech­nol­ogy, who is the post­pro­duc­tion pro­ducer of Nezha. “But the col­lab­o­ra­tion can pro­duce op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Cas­tor says China now has more tal­ent and ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy for cinema, but he also cau­tions the Chi­nese in­dus­try to learn from Hol­ly­wood’s mis­takes and not to waste money.

“It’s im­por­tant to learn how to plan prop­erlyan­d­ef­fi­ciently, and­not to go for too large a crew,” he says.

Ry­giel also says that film tech­nol­ogy should serve the sto­ry­telling part.

“When we use the footage and tell a story, it has to be a com­pelling story,” he says.

“I al­ways hope that I can do as lit­tle work as pos­si­ble, be­cause the best way to tell a story is to make it as real as pos­si­ble, rather than mak­ing ev­ery­thing blow up.”

Prob­a­bly, this is why Film Car­ni­val does not want to make its films ex­trav­a­gan­zas of daz­zling vis­ual ef­fects, although its first three films are all fan­tasy fare.

“Cre­ative ef­forts will be made, and all of them are to take tra­di­tional Chi­nese sto­ries abroad,” saysHuang Xiaofeng, vice-pres­i­dent of Film Car­ni­val.

“The in­tro­duc­tion of Hol­ly­wood tech­nol­ogy is one chan­nel, but it needs many more ways.”

Separately, the com­pany has signed Kim Ki-duk, an art house film guru from South Korea, for the up­com­ing film Who Is God?


The up­com­ing film Nezha fea­tures an in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tion team in­clud­ing (from left) Stephen Cas­tor, Gabriella Cris­tiani, Ethan van der Ryn and Jim Ry­giel.

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