February 23, 2011

Bringing Little Movies to Big China

SCA Professor Teaches Film Course in Guangzhou

When most people think of Chinese cinema, the last thing that comes to mind is intimate indie films but, according to USC School of Cinematic Arts professor Jason E. Squire, that’s going to change very soon. Squire recently traveled to Guangzhou, China to give two days of lectures on “The Commercial Operation of the Movie Business” to media executives sponsored by the Cheong Kong Graduate School of Business. Participants were CEOs, Chairmen or General Managers of media companies based in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Taipei.

Jason E. Squire teaching in Guangzhou

“In China, there is government involvement in most movies but what’s exciting is that there’s a growing number of independent, regional filmmakers,” said Squire. “In my opinion, filmmaking, as an industry, has been elevated by the government as something they want to explore.”

The lectures included “Introduction to the Global Motion Picture Industry”, “Marketing Overview”, “Revenue Streams” and “Distribution Overview and the Future”. These topics echo Squire’s usual courses at SCA.

“The local industry is producing more intimate, nuanced, personal stories, including an increase in local films by female directors ,” continued Squire. “You see stories ranging from young people falling in love, to gritty, serious stories from the recent history of China set against the tapestry of world events. “

Of special interest to the participants were emerging trends in “Do-It-Yourself” distribution and marketing of features which bypass theatrical release. In the upcoming Summer Program at SCA, Squire is teaching “Under the Radar: Marketing and Distribution in the DIY Digital World.”

When asked about the differences between the young executive storytellers he met in China as compared to the young storytellers at SCA, Squire replied, “There are many similarities. They are passionate about movies and media, and easily engage in the same fundamental issues of creativity, business and process that students grapple with at SCA. There’s something intangible and so appealing about the country and the media professionals I’ve met in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Filmmakers everywhere are primarily concerned with producing the best story in the most economical means.”

In 2011 the Chinese translation of Squire’s book The Movie Business Book International Third Edition is scheduled to be released by China Film Press in a translation by scholars at The Beijing Film Academy.