OK folks so it’s Chinese New Year and the pig has chased off the dog and now rules the roost. 

Apparently anyone who is born in the year of the pig is studious and gallant, has tremendous inner strength, will not hesitate to strive for their goals, is quiet but well informed, kind, affectionate and loyal for life.  Long story short, in China, being a pig is actually pretty darned cool.

Here at Mandarin Film, our annual Chinese New Year tradition is to share the ten most mind-blowing locations that we have had the pleasure of filming at this year.  If you’re curious about filming in China or partnering with us on a project,  please feel free to reach out.  

10. Vast Floating Solar Farms, Yangtze River

Yes, floating solar farms are a thing, and of course, in China they are the biggest and the best. 

The vast fields of panels that sit atop the Yangtze river are known as the largest floating solar project in the world. Having said this, given the brisk pace China is building more renewable projects, it’s unlikely to hold that title for very long. 

The floating power plant will produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes. Building on bodies of water, especially manmade lakes that are not ecologically sensitive, helps protect agricultural land and terrestrial ecosystems from being developed for destructive energy use. The water also cools the electronics in the solar panels, helping them to work more efficiently.  

The panels featured in Our Planet, a film for Netflix by Silverback Films in association with WWF. See the Trailer here.  

9. Loopy Bridges in Shanghai

Car shoots in Shanghai are pretty standard, but our client Final Frame in Germany wanted to make this one stand out – so we bridged that valley to get extra super-duper cool locations for the Hella shoot. Nanpu Bridge is as rad as bridges get in Shanghai – and of course you need to shoot it with a drone to get the full effect.  This video recently won gold at the New York Festival TV and Film Awards.

8. Beijing Palace Eaves – Wild Metropolis

The Beijing Swift is so famous. The swift nests in some of the city’s most spectacular locations – including the Summer Palace and Zhengyang Gate at Tiananmen Square, presenting tricky access challenges for the filming crew.  In this film we worked with the BBC to overcome access obstacles and film these amazing birds that fly 30,000 kilometers a year and rarely touch the ground.  

Wild Metropolis is a new landmark three part wildlife series made for the BBC with co-producers Tencent (China) and PBS (US). 

7. Virtual Battles and Foggy Steppes , Inner Mongolia

Yes – virtual locations are still locations!  In this case, shooting Genghis Khan battlefield plates and short scenes on the Mongolian Steppe for a huge computer game franchise. 

This was our producer Shan Shan’s favorite ever shoot – even though it was foggy every day and the whole shoot needed to be squeezed into the few hours on the final day when the fog finally lifted.  Phew!  

6. The Long Game, Heqing, Yunnan Province  

In early 2018 US news site Upworthy, missioned Mandarin Film to produce a short video as part of a global series about long term change-makers, entitled ‘the Long Game’. 

We arranged at Heqing, Yunnan Province in China’s far South-West corner, to film TNC’s work around Plateau Wetland and Bird Habitat Conservation.  We were blown away by what we witnessed.  Amongst the rapid development of the area what we found was a quiet, clean heaven for birds of every stripe, and a paradise for bird watchers and nature-lovers. 

5. Food Glorious Food, Food Unwrapped

Food is a national obsession in China, and food junkies will go to any extremes to get their gastronomic fix.

Food Unwrapped is a long-running popular Channel 4 TV show that travels the world exploring the industry secrets behind our favourite foods. 

Highlights of the shoot included capturing Matt Tebutt opening a freshly fished clam to discover dozens of pearls inside, Jimmy Doherty making traditional soy sauce at a picturesque riverside with 3000 pots of fermenting soy beans and, the star of the show – a five year old boy showing our host how to forage bamboo shoots on the wild film set of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. 

Food Unwrapped China Special Part 1  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6jf97f

Food Unwrapped China Special Part 2 https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6jf97g

4. A Sweep of West China 

From JiayuGuan – The Great Wall’s westernmost watchtower in the desert, to the tropical lush waterfalls of Detian, these were some of the most challenging shoot locations in all of China. The journey led our multiple camera crews from the furthermost border of Horgos in north-west of China, to Pingxiang at the China-Vietnam border in the south west, Mandarin Film took these teams across half of China to make this challenging show happen. 

Mandarin Film worked with Studio Lambert, an award-winning TV production company to help with the China portion of this original travel documentary programme entitled ‘Race Across the World’.

Watch the trailer here and the China episode here.   

3. Death Defying Cliff Climbs – White-headed Black Langur 

The beautiful karst landscapes of south west China make a dramatic backdrop to the death defying free solo climbs of the White-headed Black langurs troupes.  Move over Alex Honnold – White-headed Black Langurs, some as young as six months old, make these daily climbs from the forest floor to their citadels on the cliff tops.  

Mandarin Film is co-producing a new one hour wildlife documentary with Earth Touch for CCTV9, Smithsonian and ORF.  This 4K documentary will showcase these critically endangered White-headed Black langurs in their breathtaking karst homeland of Guangxi.  Already in production, watch out for these cliff-climbing primates with white mohicans and bright orange babies in summer 2020!

2. Starting at the Source

Mandarin Film is producing a new documentary and interactive webseries following travel adventurer Ash Dykes on his mission, created a new Guinness World Record: The first person to walk the length of the Yangtze River.  The show is provisionally entitled Walking the Yangtze with Ash Dykes. 

In this incredible new series, British adventurer Ash Dykes takes us on his most ambitious record- attempt yet: the Yangtze, which is the longest river in Asia and spans across 6,380km long. 

Mandarin Film is partnering with global distributor Bomanbridge and web and TV partners in China and internationally to produce the TV and webseries that has already begun production and will be delivered in late 2019. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCholW9FU8n9pCE_3OK6t2Lw.  

1. Flame Throwing Drones and Three Wheel Mishaps, Guizhou  

From in-car saunas to goose-intestine hot pot, million-dollar luxury cars to three-wheeler stunts, the China episode of Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour is a sight to behold.  

The show was Amazon Video’s most watched premiere episode, and although no viewing figures are available,it is generally regarded as one of the most watched TV shows in the world, even surpassing Game of Thrones in terms of ‘most illegally downloaded show’! 

The shoot took place in several provinces in South China, and included scenes of the presenters exploring China, driving some amazing roads and performing dare-devil stunts.  One of the many challenges of the shoot was to get temporary driving licenses for the cast and crew. Something that had never been permitted before. We filmed a million dollar car, and gained support from different local government bodies allowing the crew to film on the jaw-dropping highway and bridge constructions of China’s stunning southern mountain areas.  

Not enough amazing locations?  You can see the last few year’s here too!