5 Ways Western Film Companies can Access the Chinese Film Market

2018-10-01 16:36:19 Baiyu Li

On September 27th, as part of the the 26th London Raindance Film Festival, 'China Day', a day dedicated to discussions revolving around the Chinese film industry was held at Vue Cinema in London's Piccadilly Circus.

'China Day' was attended by professional directors, distributors and producers such as the founder of Raindance, Elliot Grove, Head of Acquisition at Dreamax Media, Meng Lyu and CEO of Filmdoo, Weerada Sucharitkul to name a few and included panel discussions on the Chinese film industry, as well as a Chinese film screening.

During the 'Sales, Acquisition, and Legal Licensing for the Chinese Market' panel, Meng LYU (Dreamax Media) and Weerada Sucharitkul (FilmDoo) shared their experience with the audience.

'Sales, Acquisition, and Legal Licensing for the Chinese Market' panel

Meng LYU emphasized the fact that demand for foreign films in the Chinese film market has increased over recent years. Chinese film companies are paying more and more attention to internationally-renowned film markets such as those in Cannes, Toronto, and Berlin. The trade between domestic films and high-quality international films is an engaging means of promoting cultural exchanges between China and the world.

There is currently a '70%-30%' distribution quota between Chinese and foreign films annually, which means that 70% of films shown in cinemas or online in China are Chinese films and 30 % are foreign films.

With this distribution quota in mind, we spoke to the CEO of FilmDoo, Weerada Sucharitkul, who listed five ways Western film companies or filmmakers can break into the Chinese market.

1. A Chinese Co-production

This is more appropriate for larger films and entails co-producing your film with a Chinese production company so that it can be registered as a Chinese film. This means that you won't have to follow the 30 percent quota. This requires film companies or filmmakers to consider distribution prior to making the film. This can be an easier route into China, giving those outside of China a foot in the door without some of the hurdles and costs associated with the 70% route. But this way has its own limitations, film companies who take this route may have to so much as double their budget, overcome the difference in language and produce a film for different audiences. This could all slow down the production of a film, especially for a small independent film.

2. Find a Sales Company

“As an independent non-Chinese film maker or producer, it is harder”, Weerada says.

Another traditional way is to find a sales company which distributes films internationally that has strong links to China. Weerada suggested the best way to find a sales agent is to search all of the big film markets such as the Cannes, Hong Kong and Tokyo film markets.

“These sales companies don’t have to be Chinese companies, they could also be French companies. But obviously, Chinese or Asian companies may know the Chinese market better” Weerada says.

3. Contact the Distributor Directly

Finding a way to meet a Chinese distributor directly could also be considered as a route. They help filmmakers introduce their films to cinemas or distribute films as on TV or DVD. But distributors don't attend markets as much as sales agents, so it is really important to find a list of contacts of Chinese distributors through different websites and film festivals.

4. Self-distribution

Weerada also says that film companies or filmmakers can distribute films themselves. As numerous Chinese online video platforms such as iQIYI, Youku and Tudou accept films they could also be contacted directly.

5. Aggregator

Independent filmmakers may not have a record of previous films or be sponsored. In this situation they may try another route, which is with an aggregator, a company that helps films get online. This could include sending films into Netflix or Amazon, which may be able to help in gaining access to the Chinese market.



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