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EvilRbt
10-27-2009, 10:24 AM
My action project "BULLET RUN" has a director, actors, BMW sponsorship, almost 2/3 of its $40m budget, etc, BUT...

It was originally set in Morocco but the primary financiers (a Chinese co.) want to shoot it in China. That means the script has to be approved by the Chinese Communist Government and THAT process is proving to be a nightmare.

So, the moral of this story, never set your story in China.

Just an FYI... :)

Ulysses
10-27-2009, 11:12 AM
My action project "BULLET RUN" has a director, actors, BMW sponsorship, almost 2/3 of its $40m budget, etc,

Congratulations!


BUT...


Oh, no. Why's there always a "but" in life. Can't it be a "butt"? (pretty and female)


It was originally set in Morocco but the primary financiers (a Chinese co.) want to shoot it in China.


China has fascinating locations. And think of the masses of extras you can get for cheap. They should have pretty good crew there, too.



That means the script has to be approved by the Chinese Communist Government and THAT process is proving to be a nightmare.


You mean this can compete with Hollywood's development hell?

So what you hear is right: the Chinese are trying to catch up with the US.

Good luck to your project. Very exciting.

PS: I hope they get the idea that a writer should always be present on exotic locations. Plus: writers do better location rewrites when they travel first class.:jester:

JakeLong
10-27-2009, 11:13 AM
Man, that sounds awesome and horrible at the same time. Hope it gets better.

cmmora
10-27-2009, 11:16 AM
Big congrats on making it this far. Hopefully a little bit more pain will result and something great coming from it.

EvilRbt
10-27-2009, 11:27 AM
It doesn't help that a big part of the story is set in Western China, in the city of Urumqi, where rioters spent all summer stabbing people with needles. :eek:

The main problem is that the Chinese censors insist on certain things. For example, if your story featured a bank robbery then you had better show the police arriving within seconds or they won't approve it.

I am waiting on the next set of notes from the producers, at which point I'll know the full extent of what's involved in the next rewrite. I'm just hoping the censors don't want us to gut the story...

Ulysses
10-27-2009, 11:42 AM
For example, if your story featured a bank robbery then you had better show the police arriving within seconds or they won't approve it.


But you can still show them being ambushed and mowed down by the gangsters?

12916studios
10-27-2009, 12:08 PM
The main problem is that the Chinese censors insist on certain things. For example, if your story featured a bank robbery then you had better show the police arriving within seconds or they won't approve it.

Sound's like Hollywood's Motion Picture Code from the 1930's (look it up).

Holy sh*t... I just used something I learned from film class. This is a first.

EvilRbt
10-27-2009, 12:15 PM
There is no bank robbery in my story. That was just an example. My headaches stem from bigger political issues and the rioting in China over the summer certainly doesn't help... :(

alex whitmer
10-27-2009, 12:28 PM
Interesting thread. Same boat here.

I'm working on a horror, and oddly enough we can't show the phantom. Go figure. What's a ghost story without a ghost. Need to get really creative here to find a way around that one.

aw

grant
10-27-2009, 12:28 PM
Yeah, in mainland China you still can't do stuff like having the robber get away without justice kicking in. And probably stuff like the old cop shows where the good guys couldn't shoot until the bad guys did first. Sometimes Hong Kong films will even have a mainland cut that adds/removes junk...

Okay, I'll admit it, I broke down and watched Transformers 2 now that it's in the Redbox. I was really surprised at some of the stuff they got away with in Shanghai. Like the government covering stuff up. Turns out that was all filmed in the US, so they didn't need Chinese government approval.

EvilRbt, are they doing it it Chinese or English?

bigscreeninkster
10-27-2009, 12:31 PM
The state using secret police to accumulate black lists, using attack dogs and fire hoses on people, deploying the military to shoot and tear gas pro-democracy demonstrators... This seems so familiar, I just can't put my finger on it.

dwest
10-27-2009, 12:38 PM
Wow. That sounds frustrating. Sounds like you are getting close though!Hoping it all works out for ya, Evil.

EvilRbt
10-27-2009, 01:02 PM
EvilRbt, are they doing it it Chinese or English?

English. Although 1/3 of the characters have to be Chinese.

$5m is coming from China so it has to be shot there. They want to lure more Hollywood productions so I had to shift the story from Morocco to Western China and they want to show off parts of the country you and I have never seen before.

But while that may sound good in theory, the Communist censors are likely to make it impossible. I'm having discussions with everyone involved to see if we can move it back to Morocco and get that $5m elsewhere.

umo
10-27-2009, 04:15 PM
English. Although 1/3 of the characters have to be Chinese.

$5m is coming from China so it has to be shot there. They want to lure more Hollywood productions so I had to shift the story from Morocco to Western China and they want to show off parts of the country you and I have never seen before.

But while that may sound good in theory, the Communist censors are likely to make it impossible. I'm having discussions with everyone involved to see if we can move it back to Morocco and get that $5m elsewhere.

Hope you can get it out of China. This is just a taste of how oppressive that Communist government truly is. Scary stuff.

Good luck, Evil :)

Butch Jarvinen
10-27-2009, 05:22 PM
I had the pleaseure of beig posted in Morocco (Casablanca) for two years, during the Gulf War. I made a lot of side trips throughout Morocco with my British counterpart, and we got to visit most of the historical sites, and meet folks from all walks of life in Morocco. VERY VERY interesting, and the hospitality was next to the best I experienced in my career.

I was also posted in Hong Kong for three years, and made many trips into mainland China during the negotiations for the turnover of Hong Kong from British control to the Chinese.

The publicized human rights violations that we read about are only a touch of what I saw in mainland China. I saw whole families, from 8yrs old to 80 yrs old, working in factories mass producing Chinese "artifacts" that tourists buy thoughout the world.

Our visits were "controlled", but sometimes we arrived without notice, and they couldn't hide what took place in their everyday world. When tourists visit, they are shown clean streets and happy faces. What I saw was three shades of gray.

I took the Hollywood Scriptwriter's Course while I was in HK, and I had a real good idea for a movie (which came out long enough for a mini series), that I wanted to start in Shanghai in 1840. SHANGHAI GOLD was to be a story about the Chinese laborers in California during the gold rush of 1849.

The more uncomfortable I became about China, the less I wanted to have anything to do with them. I changed my story to originate in Macau, but it still told the plight of the Chinese that were brought to America to work in the gold fields.

I have another movie idea, and action drama, that deals with a mass produced toy from China, that I thought Jacki Chan would be perfect for. However, I found out that he is the spearhead to get the film industry to make more movies in China, so I will pick another actor for the Asian lead.

As impossible as it is, I try TRY not to purchase products made in China.
They have tried to poison our dogs, harm our children, and add pollutants to the construction materials that the money hungry manufacturers in the US have shipped production of to China.

Sorry I got political
Butch

grant
10-27-2009, 05:43 PM
Hope you can get it out of China. This is just a taste of how oppressive that Communist government truly is. Scary stuff.

Good luck, Evil :)

Well I've heard that the Chinese censors can get downright bizarre, so I totally sympathize with EvilRbt, but I don't know how it's scary. That's pretty much anyone you take money from.

The Pentagon needs to approve a script if you want to use their toys.

If you want Canadian tax incentives, or even US state incentives, there are rules you need to play by.

BMW probably wouldn't sponsor the film if it was about BMW execs letting people's cars explode because it's cheaper than a recall.

Homer doesn't drink beer in the Arab version of The Simpsons.

You hear stories all the time about a financier's mistress with no acting experience getting a part in the film.

umo
10-27-2009, 06:02 PM
Well I've heard that the Chinese censors can get downright bizarre, so I totally sympathize with EvilRbt, but I don't know how it's scary. That's pretty much anyone you take money from.

The Pentagon needs to approve a script if you want to use their toys.

If you want Canadian tax incentives, or even US state incentives, there are rules you need to play by.

BMW probably wouldn't sponsor the film if it was about BMW execs letting people's cars explode because it's cheaper than a recall.

Homer doesn't drink beer in the Arab version of The Simpsons.

You hear stories all the time about a financier's mistress with no acting experience getting a part in the film.

True...whomever holds the pocket book, pulls the strings. Each buyer dictates "rules", whether financially driven, creatively driven, or censorship driven...

In this case, I sympathize with the people of China, who are subjects of an oppressive government, just as I sympathize for any group of people oppressed in any part of the world.

We're very lucky. Certainly, we wouldn't even be able to discuss this topic openly in China.

EOTWAWKIN
10-27-2009, 06:55 PM
I had the pleaseure of beig posted in Morocco (Casablanca) for two years, during the Gulf War. I made a lot of side trips throughout Morocco with my British counterpart, and we got to visit most of the historical sites, and meet folks from all walks of life in Morocco. VERY VERY interesting, and the hospitality was next to the best I experienced in my career.

I was also posted in Hong Kong for three years, and made many trips into mainland China during the negotiations for the turnover of Hong Kong from British control to the Chinese.

The publicized human rights violations that we read about are only a touch of what I saw in mainland China. I saw whole families, from 8yrs old to 80 yrs old, working in factories mass producing Chinese "artifacts" that tourists buy thoughout the world.

Our visits were "controlled", but sometimes we arrived without notice, and they couldn't hide what took place in their everyday world. When tourists visit, they are shown clean streets and happy faces. What I saw was three shades of gray.

I took the Hollywood Scriptwriter's Course while I was in HK, and I had a real good idea for a movie (which came out long enough for a mini series), that I wanted to start in Shanghai in 1840. SHANGHAI GOLD was to be a story about the Chinese laborers in California during the gold rush of 1849.

The more uncomfortable I became about China, the less I wanted to have anything to do with them. I changed my story to originate in Macau, but it still told the plight of the Chinese that were brought to America to work in the gold fields.

I have another movie idea, and action drama, that deals with a mass produced toy from China, that I thought Jacki Chan would be perfect for. However, I found out that he is the spearhead to get the film industry to make more movies in China, so I will pick another actor for the Asian lead.

As impossible as it is, I try TRY not to purchase products made in China.
They have tried to poison our dogs, harm our children, and add pollutants to the construction materials that the money hungry manufacturers in the US have shipped production of to China.

Sorry I got political
Butch

Don't worry Butch, we'll be fighting them sooner or later anyway.

seh
10-28-2009, 05:29 AM
I had a spec set in Shanghai go out about two years ago. John Woo's company said "this would NEVER get by the censors." There were other flaws with it to be sure, but that comment from their company was something I never even considered ...

jonpiper
10-28-2009, 10:46 AM
I'm having discussions with everyone involved to see if we can move it back to Morocco and get that $5m elsewhere.

My wife is from Morocco and we've visited three or four times. Great sites and I've heard the King is very open minded and pro business. Should be plenty of investors out there for the right story.:)

Good luck.

Takezo
10-28-2009, 06:41 PM
My action project "BULLET RUN" has a director, actors, BMW sponsorship, almost 2/3 of its $40m budget, etc, BUT...

It was originally set in Morocco but the primary financiers (a Chinese co.) want to shoot it in China. That means the script has to be approved by the Chinese Communist Government and THAT process is proving to be a nightmare.

Let the producers deal with this--just collect your check and run to the bank.
If they want changes, $$$$.

T

EvilRbt
10-28-2009, 08:02 PM
Let the producers deal with this--just collect your check and run to the bank.
If they want changes, $$$$.

T

If only it were that simple. But it's not. It rarely is.

nic.h
10-28-2009, 11:12 PM
This has been a really informative thread for me - my current script, which is out to various producers, is set in Japan. Recently, one working screenwriter (at seminar he was running) suggested I transplant it into China - ostensibly to broaden the audience and cash in on the current wave of Sinophilia. (Did I just make up a word?)

I had doubts already. (Having lived in Japan for some years I felt comfortable setting a script there. But I have never even visited China, so would have to start over in order to really nail the setting.) Now I'm determined to keep things as they are.

Thanks Evil. This thread definitely helped me in a very direct way.

Nic

Rantanplan
10-28-2009, 11:35 PM
I'm sort of boggled about how a script could go from Morocco to China.... I guess the script isn't very culturally oriented ?? No offense intended, just wondering... :)

Mac H.
10-29-2009, 03:21 AM
However, it can be made to work.

A recent Aussie film "Mao's Last Dancer" is about a Chinese dancer who was .. umm... 'detained' forcefully by Chinese authorities at the Chinese consulate in Houston. After the FBI surrounded the building he was allowed to leave, but the Chinese government revoked his citizenship.

Yet with the right Chinese co-producer, a film was was made about his life and about 1/3rd of it filmed in China.

The Chinese co-producer is Geng Ling.

See http://www.chinafilmassist.com/html/news.html for details of his company.

It might be difficult but it can be done.

Mac

EvilRbt
10-29-2009, 10:15 AM
I'm sort of boggled about how a script could go from Morocco to China.... I guess the script isn't very culturally oriented ?? No offense intended, just wondering... :)

No offense taken. The fact I was able to do it simply proves I'm the greatest writer in the world. ;)

In all seriousness, I had to change all the antagonists nationality/backstories and research Western China and its politics. Most of the major action sequences could be transplanted very easily.

Think THE ROAD WARRIOR meets BOURNE meets RONIN...

ProfessorChomp
10-29-2009, 01:03 PM
I pitched a China story to Mike Medavoy one time, and at the end of it, he leaned back in his old school leather desk chair, looked me in the eye and said "Let me tell you why this picture will never get made..." Classic.

(By the way, his reasoning was that studios' parent companies don't piss off China)

Rantanplan
10-29-2009, 01:30 PM
No offense taken. The fact I was able to do it simply proves I'm the greatest writer in the world. ;)

In all seriousness, I had to change all the antagonists nationality/backstories and research Western China and its politics. Most of the major action sequences could be transplanted very easily.

Think THE ROAD WARRIOR meets BOURNE meets RONIN...

Well I think that royally sucks and I happen to have a weakness for Morocco, so I think that sucks even more !

EvilRbt
10-29-2009, 01:40 PM
It's all good. I'll probably start the rewrite next week and crank it out before Thanksgiving. Just means production will be pushed back a few months, hopefully next summer. It'll be worth it in the end because it's going to be a great movie. Morocco would have been cool but we're going to shoot in some stunning locations in China. :)

The White Album
10-29-2009, 02:16 PM
It was originally set in Morocco but the primary financiers (a Chinese co.) want to shoot it in China. That means the script has to be approved by the Chinese Communist Government and THAT process is proving to be a nightmare.

So, the moral of this story, never set your story in China.

Just an FYI... :)

If it is set in China -- can't you go to Taiwan to shoot where logistics is a lot easier? Also, can you shoot in Korea or other Asian countries as a stand-in to your story's setting? The Korean film commission are very easy to deal with.

grant
10-29-2009, 03:22 PM
If it is set in China -- can't you go to Taiwan to shoot where logistics is a lot easier? Also, can you shoot in Korea or other Asian countries as a stand-in to your story's setting? The Korean film commission are very easy to deal with.

Probably because none of them are coughing up five million bucks, which was the original reason for relocating the story.

EvilRbt
10-30-2009, 12:57 PM
Probably because none of them are coughing up five million bucks, which was the original reason for relocating the story.

Exacta-mundo. China wants to lure more US-China productions to shoot in their country and show off more of their culture/landscape etc.

madyellowduck
10-30-2009, 08:40 PM
Morocco and Dubai - any difference? (well, dunes and souks)

Dubai/Abu Dhabi are making a big push for luring productions to their countries too. So you could consider those options. They have quite an attractive film fund as well apparently (google it).

You have problems like this all around the world because governments (via sometimes institutions like sovereign wealth funds) need a place to park cash and generate jobs. Banking is now out and A LOT are looking at entertainment. Unfortunately, many governments have a hard time separating the issue of jobs and investment with morality.

Abu Dhabi/Dubai had this problem when Sex in the City 2 was looking to shoot in Dubai and they flipped over the sexy LBDs in the show. So, no shoot. Dubai's loss was NYC's gain I suppose.

China has a lot of money and a HUGE box office market. And the chinese govt is dithering between being nice and open, and controlling at the same time. THey are on a major PR offensive as well to show themselves as 'nice' (largely because of all the issues they've had this year with Tibet and the Muslims in Urumqi being unhappy). Which is why Hong Kong productions almost always like to do WuXia (Kungfu) movies in China. Period costume movies in China always do well and are politically neutral. Plus, it's easy to hide a lot of subversive stuff in Shakespearean like plotlines.

madyellowduck
10-30-2009, 08:41 PM
I pitched a China story to Mike Medavoy one time, and at the end of it, he leaned back in his old school leather desk chair, looked me in the eye and said "Let me tell you why this picture will never get made..." Classic.

(By the way, his reasoning was that studios' parent companies don't piss off China)

Ironically, Mike Medavoy IS doing a film set in China called 'Shanghai'.

LIMAMA
10-31-2009, 08:53 AM
I wish you luck but man, it sounds like a migraine and a half.

:p

EvilRbt
10-31-2009, 10:20 AM
China has a lot of money and a HUGE box office market. And the chinese govt is dithering between being nice and open, and controlling at the same time. THey are on a major PR offensive as well to show themselves as 'nice' (largely because of all the issues they've had this year with Tibet and the Muslims in Urumqi being unhappy). Which is why Hong Kong productions almost always like to do WuXia (Kungfu) movies in China. Period costume movies in China always do well and are politically neutral. Plus, it's easy to hide a lot of subversive stuff in Shakespearean like plotlines.

Yeah, that's precisely why there are so many period movies shot in China. Any story set in the past has less of a problem getting past the censors.

Unfortunately for me, I was asked last year to shift the story to Western China and one pivotal sequence is set in the capital of Urumqi... exactly where all the political strife went down. So it's hardly surprising.

But I have my notes and I'm about to begin the next pass.

Writing is rewriting... *sigh*

sndwav82
11-01-2009, 01:11 PM
I don't know if Chinese historical pieces are necessarily politically neutral.

'Hero' certainly tows the party line. I also just saw Red Cliff part 1 and 2. The first part clearly expressed the communist theme 'We can triumph if we work together against the strong individual.' (echoes of Eisenstein, methinks) The second part had a bit more of a neutral theme, expressing that victory will come when you know the land.

China is certainly a super interesting topic lately. They seem to have made massive economic reforms to push them to the top of the world, but they've done it while keeping their politics.

Congrats, EvlRbt, hope you can sort it out.

bigscreeninkster
11-01-2009, 02:54 PM
'To Live' is one of my favorite movies---of course, it was banned from mainland China and got Zhang Yimou banned from film-making for 2 years. It's too bad US studios are supporting censorship by avoiding films the Chinese government deems objectionable.

I've traveled to Chengdu, Sichuan twice (went to Hong Kong once, too, but that was way back when it was a British territory). Although not as far west as Urumqi, Chengdu is still considered the "West" in China. From what little I've seen, China is among the most visually interesting places to film in the world me thinks. To me I think all of the paperwork and permits in the world would be worth it.

Lil_Ze
11-02-2009, 04:11 AM
I was just preparing the groundwork for my next screenplay, set in China, when I stumbled upon this thread!

Knowing the Chinese government, I'd be lying if I said censorship never crossed my mind. My screenplay-in-the-making features child abuse, an opportunistic bent cop, and a few Triads for good measure.

The potential saving grace is that most of it is set in the countryside, and can be filmed elsewhere - unless crazy Chinese financiers insist otherwise, in which case I'll just re-write the script and turn it into My Little Pony Goes East.

Congratulations and commiserations, Evil, I hope the end result is not too heavily compromised by the censors' idiocy.