The 33rd Golden Rooster Awards, an important event in Chinese film circles, was held from Nov 25 to 28 in Xiamen, East China’s Fujian province.
The event, initiated in 1981, was hosted by the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, the China Film Association, and the Xiamen Municipal People’s government. It represents one of the most prestigious film awards on the Chinese mainland and was announced in 2019 that it would be held in Xiamen for the following 10 years.
Taking advantage of this grand gathering, Xiamen has been forging ahead with the high-quality development of its film and TV industry by attracting industrial giants, offering preferential policies, setting up funds, and building industrial parks, said Li Huiyue, director of the publicity department of the CPC Xiamen committee at a live streaming TV program during this year’s festival.
Beautiful landscape and mild environment
“We chose Xiamen to host the festival due to its abundant economic, cultural, natural, and social resources,” said Zhang Hong, Party chief of the China Film Association.
Xiamen was named a Designated National Filming Location by the China Alliance of Radio, Film and Television at the first TV Production Conference in October.
The city, dubbed the “most beautiful natural film studio” for its charming coastal landscapes and year-round warm weather, has attracted 200 to 300 film and TV crews every year since 2015.
Zhou Tao, producer of internet drama Detective A & B, which is currently being shot in Xiamen, regarded the city as an ideal place to produce modern-day and campus-themed dramas due to its blend of modern and historic architecture.
He also spoke highly of the convenience of the TV and film production of the city.
“It is easy to gain access to resources such as hotels, personnel, and shooting venues in the city, which saves us time and money,” Zhou said.
Favorable facilities and policies
According to a six-year development plan of the film and TV industry formulated by the municipal government in 2019, Xiamen aims to build itself into a new industrial hub for the domestic market by 2022 and become a model of high-quality development for the Chinese film industry by 2025.
The city has been accelerating construction on a slew of film industrial parks, studios, and other supporting facilities.
The Xiamen Film and TV Shooting Base, located in Jimei district, started operating on Nov 20. It is capable of accommodating a diverse array of requirements for film and TV production and providing a variety of venues for shows and advertisements. The base is expected to receive three to five film crews and 10 to 15 TV and variety show crews annually.
The district’s film and TV industrial park is currently home to 626 companies, which generated 1.08 billion yuan ($156 million) in output from January to October, up 60.8 percent year-on-year.
In addition to its development plan, Xiamen also provides a series of incentives to film companies and talent in an effort to develop the regional film industry.
Subsidies ranging from 50,000 to 5 million yuan are offered to people who establish film companies and studios, write scripts, distribute films, export film services, and more.
In order to ensure the stable development of the film industry during the COVID-19 outbreak, the city gave out 328,800 yuan in subsidies to four shooting groups and 3.89 million yuan to 52 local cinemas during the first half of this year.
Forming industrial clusters
Official statistics show that from January to October, 425 film companies were established in the city, bringing the total number to more than 1,600. Agreements for 161 film and TV projects worth 8.36 billion yuan were inked as well.
During the first three quarters of this year, 97 films made by Xiamen-based companies received approval to begin shooting, five times the number in 2019. Thirty-three of them are online movies, accounting for two thirds of Fujian’s total.
“The film festival will help boost the film and TV industry in Xiamen by raising its profile and attracting more resources,” said Yin Li, vice-chairman of the China Film Association.
During this year’s event, Xiamen signed 32 film and TV project deals valued at a total of 19.6 billion yuan.
The projects involve a film cultural town, investment foundation, 5G VR industrial base, film script center, artificial intelligence-powered online animation platform, and a dozen film companies.
Efforts made to cultivate and attract talent
“I’ve met a number of directors with great potential in Xiamen. They are exploring the future of China’s film industry,” said iconic Hong Kong star Andy Lau Tak-wah at the festival.
Huang Xiaoming, who won this year’s best actor for his performance in The Bravest, a disaster film centering on firefighters, echoed Lau, stating that he has visited Xiamen many times and regards it as a home away from home.
In addition, to attract more film professionals, Xiamen led Fujian in setting up the first film academy in the province.
The Film Academy of Jimei University was established in June and has already admitted its first group of undergraduates and postgraduates. During the festival, Xiamen University also announced that it would soon do the same.
Universities and companies have joined forces to carry out a number of projects in the city, gradually forming an ecosystem of film talent cultivation and helping the city to become a new center of China’s film industry.