MAY 09 2018

“For thousands of years, Chinese dragons have been symbols of power and auspiciousness. This is what marks them apart from dragons in the West.” In a quiet exhibit room of National Museum of China, world famous art director John Howe stands in front of the six thousand year old Dragon and Tiger tomb. He talks animatedly with Chinese experts about the dragon culture which he sees it as his one true passion in life.

Mandarin Film collaborated with Cerigo Films on their new landmark documentary “Dragon!”, a 4 episodes series commissioned by ARTE featuring John Howe, who was the concept artist for the movie trilogies “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”.

In this series, John Howe takes his sketch book to in a journey across space and time to get to the heart of dragon legends and myths around the world. This time, he set foot on an ancient soil, China, to discover hidden secrets among the descendants of the dragon.

John Howe has a keen interest in and deep relations with Chinese culture. He first came to China over twenty years ago and has developed life-long friendships with a range of the most well known Chinese artists. No wonder he’s adored by a huge Chinese fan-base. He’s treated like a superstar wherever we go. Shan-Shan Wang, – Mandarin Film Producer.

Key challenges for the production were obtaining the permissions to access some of the most closely guarded national cultural relics at the Great Wall and China’s National Museum. Working closely with CARFTE (The Chinese Association for Radio, Film and Television Exchange), Mandarin Film was able to obtain permissions for all of the filming sites and appropriate visas for the foreign crew.

Cerigo Films is a respected production company with more than 10 years of experience making high-quality television series as well as fictions such as, “The Lord of the Castle”(commissioned by ARTE, France 3 Alsace), “Looking for the Hobbit”(commissioned by ARTE), “Paroles de Vitrail”(France Televisions)

"Dragon!" documentary series is now in post-production stage, and aims to be released winter 2018 on ARTE TV. Created by Yannis Metzinger and Alexis Metzinger. Directed by Rüdiger Mörsdorf, featuering John Howe and presented by Nicolas Mezzalira.

Photo credit Mandarin Film

Photo credit Cerigo Films

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APR 23 2018

In early 2018 US news site Upworthy,  “covering current events in a way that elevates the shared conversation and ourselves.” Commissioned Mandarin Film to produce a short video as part of a global series about long term change-makers, entitled ‘the Long Game’. 

The Nature Conservancy has been involved in environmental protection all over the world for seventy years now, and in China for almost thirty. 

The Nature Conservancy is enhancing the quality of life in China by using science supported by international and local expertise to ensure that China can solve its most pressing environmental challenges—like the threats linked with rapid urbanization and climate change.’

The concept behind the series is that change doesn’t happen overnight, real change only occurs with many years, decades even, of solid application.  With more than a decade of producing experience in China, Mandarin Film couldn’t agree more!

We arranged to go to 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 haven for birds of every stripe, and a paradise for bird watchers and nature-lovers.

Looking deeper we discovered a great example of how NGOs can collaborate with government and the community to effect change and make everyone’s lives better – people and wildlife too, and hopefully create a better future for our kids and their kids.  The Long Game indeed!

During our two day shoot we filmed a number of incredible sequences, kids in the local middle school getting a lesson in what part they could play; a temple right on the wetland where the abbot is working with TNC to make sure that when pilgrims release fish in the lake (to gain good karma) it’s a non-invasive species that they release.  Finally we were blown away by the sheer number and diversity of the birds we filmed.  [Ruddy Shelduck,Purple Swamphen,Common Coot,Greylag Goose,Common Merganser,Great Egret,Northern Pintail,Northern Shoveler]

Filming using the latest DJI drone ‘Inspire 2’, Amira with long lens monoscope for close up wildlife shots, and Sony A7s with Gimbal, we hope you will agree we were able to capture everything from breathtaking aerials to close ups of rare bird species, from the clear limpid depths of the wetland to the colorful local people that have worked alongside and in harmony with nature for thousands of years.

A rare ray of sunlight in an often unremittingly dark news cycle, Mandarin Film is proud to have played its part in bringing TNC’s work in the wetlands to a wider audience.

You can find out more and donate to the TNC here 

Mandarin Film has long been a supporter and passionate advocate for environmental causes, producing everything from a Oscar nominated ‘Before the Flood’ with Leonardo Dicaprio, ground-breaking documentary ‘Green China Rising’ for National Geographic in 2011, to short ‘micro films’ for a Chinese audience like ‘Thirsty Earth’.

Mandarin Film recently launched a new initiative called ‘Fresh Start’ whereby it donates its time and resources to help NGO’s and charities hone and market their vision using the power of the video.  We do this work completely for free.  If you know of a worthy beneficiary of this, let us know at info [at] mandarinfilm.com

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APR 13 2018

Mandarin Film collaborated with Icon Films to produce the Chinese episode of their new show “Mighty Rivers”, a 6-part series commissioned by Animal Planet US/Discovery Channel and distributed by ITV G about the world’s  six greatest rivers, featuring angling superstar Jeremy Wade.

The world’s freshwater monsters are vanishing – and for biologist Jeremy Wade, that’s a wake-up call: a sign that our rivers are in trouble. Polluted, controlled, and over-exploited, even the mightiest are said to be dying. But are things really that bad, or that simple?

In Mighty Rivers, Jeremy sets out to take the pulse of six of the planet’s biggest waterways. With the same immersive style that’s made him a global TV star, Jeremy investigates the Amazon, the Ganges, the Yangtze, the Mississippi, the Danube, and the Zambezi. Are these huge rivers really sick beyond the point of hope? Or have reports of their death been greatly exaggerated? Which if any of them can be revived?

From insane mega-cities to remote plains, audiences travel with Jeremy as he mixes with the people who live along these rivers, tests their waters, and tries to make sense of what’s happening. After years of solving freshwater mysteries, this is more than just another adventure. In Jeremy’s own words, it’s the most important mission of his life.”

Icon Films is a respected production company with twenty years of experience making high-quality television programming across many factual genres – ‘River Monsters’, ‘Primal Survivor’ and ‘Savage Kingdom’ are global hit shows.  Their best-known work is River Monsters, the most popular series on Animal Planet for the past nine years.

After six months of pre-production, Mighty Rivers brought the Icon crew to China in summer 2017, for many of them it was their very best time to China. Together, our journey started in the teeming metropolis of Shanghai and ended in the quiet beauty of the high plateaus of the Tibetan plateau.

I was amazed that Jeremy even studied Mandarin prior to coming and learned quite quickly to become a wandering local in such a short period! Jeremy spoke with people from all walks of life in the hope to learn more about China’s ‘mother river’ and all those that rely on her for their livelihood, passion and traditions. “ YuJia – Mandarin Film Producer

Mandarin Film was the local partner that oversaw the whole spectrum of activities – from research, character casting, story development, film permit, location management. The shoot  involved a three-week recce months prior to the shoot.

The most challenging part was obtaining the permissions to access some of the science institutes and nature reserves, but it was worth it for the highlights:

- Filming Jeremy riding a bicycle along the top of the Three Gorges Dam while riding a bicycle

- Taking a speedboat in the midst of a downpour and seeing finless porpoises making their way up the river

- Standing atop 4,500m high peaks in the Tibetan Plateau and filming the stunning aerials Jeremy needs to tell his story of the source of the Yangtze water

- Attending the biggest fish-release event in Shanghai, arranged by Buddhists who volunteer to come together and released over 6,800 kilograms of carp fish to save them from the slaughter (thereby gaining karma for themselves). 

Working closely with CITVC (China International Television Corporation), Mandarin Film obtained permissions for all of the filming sites and appropriate visas for the foreign crew.

Simply put, it was 21 days across 10 cities and many unforgettable memories shared.

Mandarin Film continues to work with Icon on new ideas for filming unforgettable shows in China.

 

See the trailer here 

Screening Schedule

Ep 1: Ganges, 8th April 2018 - Animal Planet US 

Ep 2: Yangtze, 15th April 2018 - Animal Planet US 

Ep 3: Mississippi, 22nd April 2018 - Animal Planet US 

Ep 4: Danube, 29th April 2018 - Animal Planet US 

Ep5: Amazon, 6th May 2018 - Animal Planet US 

Ep6: Zambezi 13th May 2018 - Animal Planet US

Mandarin Film Crew – Head of Production Patrick Carr, Producer Yujia, Researcher Li Qiuping, Post production producer Li Wei, Soundman Li Shuo

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MAR 23 2018

 

It’s that time of the year again when the firecrackers chase the ghosts of years past away and the year of the dog is ushered in. 

If you had a ruff one last year don’t worry – this year is going to be absolutely pawsome!

Our new year tradition has come around too – sending the most unusual, beautiful and diverse locations from around China we have had the pleasure of working on over the last year.  Enjoy!

 

10. Electric racing in Hong Kong

Formula E is one of the world’s fastest growing sports and the track in Central and Wanchai along the waterfront in Hong Kong couldn’t be more stunning.  This project is hush hush, but look out for an amazing new feature doc on this subject coming up later this year!

9. Blue Map Apping

OK – we haven’t highlighted one location here – its more like 8000 surface water quality monitoring stations and over 9000 key air emissions and wastewater pollution sources across China!

The Crowd & The Cloud is an exciting new four part series for PBS exploring the new frontier of citizen science in the age of mobile technology.   

Mandarin Film helped feature one such solution: the Blue Map App, which was created by the IPE, enabling the public to check up on air and water quality, local sources of pollution, and keep record of emissions from 9,000 polluting companies.

See the trailer here

You can download the Blue Map App here

8. Mandarin Film’s new office in Shanghai!

Our office might not be one of the world’s most amazing filming locations but Shanghai is – and it DOES mean we are spreading our wings further and will be able to service our clients all the better from multiple offices around China!

7. Terracotta Soldiers Photogrammetry and Great Wall Tobogganing

China’s first international Virtual Reality (VR) travel series was created when Mandarin Film partnered with Discovery US and luxury travel operator Abercrombie & Kent.

In just ten days, the crew travelled across the major cities and landmarks of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chongqing, Chengdu, and cruised along the Yangtze River to bring China’s highlights to the world’s eye using VR.

One of the highlights was getting exclusive access into Beijing’s most sacred temple Temple of Heaven and one of the world’s most visited tourist sites XiAn’s Terra Cotta Warriors with nobody else inside, which gave them a great chance to capture a moment of zen.  The Terracotta Warriors were shot using a cutting edge technique known as photogrammetry - taking photos from all angles then stitching and mapping them in post-production to crate an incredibly detailed 360-degree world. 

Other techniques were designed to give VR users insane birds-eye or action adventure views: whether be using camera to follow a kite-flyer on the busy Bund of Shanghai or sliding down the Great Wall toboggan, the journey was definitely one filled with all the great surprises and wonders of modern China.

6. Avian Superhighway

US news site Upworthy,“covering current events in a way that elevates the shared conversation and ourselves.” commissioned Mandarin Film to produce a short video as part of a global series about long term change-makers, entitled ‘the Long Game’. 

The Nature Conservancy has been involved in environmental protection all over the world for seventy years now, and in China for almost thirty. 

We arranged to go to 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.  Amidst the rapid modernization of this area we discovered a quiet, clean haven for birds of every stripe, and a paradise for bird watchers and nature-lovers. 

You can find out more and donate to the TNC here

5. Dam Biking

Mandarin Film helped Icon Films produce the Chinese episode of the new show “Monster Rivers”, an 6-part series commissioned by Animal Planet US/Discovery Channel about the world’s six greatest rivers, featuring angling superstar Jeremy Wade and his journey down these rivers to learn about the diverse cultures.

The film isn’t out yet, but look out for riding a bike along the Three Gorges Dam, finless porpoises and the biggest fish-release event in the metropolitan of Shanghai, arranged by Buddhists who volunteer to come together and released over 6,800 kilograms of carp fish to save them from slaughter. 

4. Cleaning Beijing’s Waters

Mandarin Film has long been a supporter and passionate advocate for environmental causes, producing everything from a Oscar nominated ‘Before the Flood’ with Leonardo Dicaprio, ground-breaking documentary ‘Green China Rising’ for National Geographic in 2011, to short ‘micro films’ for a Chinese audience like ‘Thirsty Earth’.

Mandarin Film recently launched a new initiative called ‘Fresh Start’ whereby it donates its time and resources to help NGO’s and charities hone and market their vision using the power of the video.  We do this work completely for free.  If you know of a worthy beneficiary of this, let us know at info [at] mandarinfilm.com

3. Crash Zooms and Wall Raves

Mandarin Film was the local production partner for the China part of the Channel 4 and TNT drama series, shooting in multiple locations across China.  

“For me the defining shot of the show is, one of the opening shots of the show, a big wide shot of a massive intersection in the middle of Beijing where we crash zoom into Dylan and Sean standing with a guide book and Sean’s comment that’s basically ‘Is there a beach nearby?’ In some ways this summarises the show, it’s about people who are out of their depth trying to make sense of their environment, and us watching them and having fun, whilst we see them navigate that world. 

We couldn’t be more delighted with what we shot in China…When we filmed live at the music festival at the Great Wall, it felt like we’re doing something quite innovative in some ways and when we were filming on the subways and at the train station in Beijing.” Jamie Campbell, Executive Producer, Eleven Films

We believe this is the first foreign drama to be shot entirely on location in China (other than just small scenes) – and we are proud to have been a part in it.

2. One Amazing Day

 “From BBC Earth Films, the studio that brought you Earth, comes the long-awaited sequel – Earth: One Amazing Day, an astonishing journey revealing the awesome power of the natural world, narrated by the Oscar-winning American movie icon, Robert Redford.”

This is a landmark film in many ways.  A true China-UK collaboration that will be of key interest to the wider industry as it is the first film to be produced under the new UK-China film treaty, signed by President Xi Jinping and then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014.

A co-production between BBC Earth Films and China’s Shanghai Media Group, Mandarin film played a key role not only in helping facilitate the film within the terms of the treaty, but also by shooting key elements in China, and, perhaps most importantly, helping ensure that the Chinese version was every bit as good as the international one.

On the production side, we filmed Pandas, Cranes and Langur Monkeys using gimbal and drone rigs specifically designed for each shoot.  A highlight for us was drone shooting with the cliff-dwelling monkeys of Guangxi.

1. Ski The World

We’ve never been involved in anything quite like this - champion skier Candide Thovex skis in some of the world’s most iconic locations on brick, sand, mud, grass and water - anything but snow!

Mandarin Film provided production support in terms of research and location scouting as well as securing locations, equipment and fixing for the China sections: at the (fake) Great Wall and the incredible Huo Lingol statues in Inner Mongolia.

Hope you enjoyed them! Wishing you no dog days but a great year of the dog!

Patrick and the Mandarin Film team

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JAN 19 2018

Mandarin Film has worked on some charity and pro bono work in the past, but never in a systematic way.  Our Fresh Start initiative is a chance for us to team up with vibrant communities of organisations, volunteers and activists trying to make a difference, and in a small way help to tilt things in their favour.

As a part of the Mandarin Film’s Fresh Start initiative, we produced a video for the “Beijing Waters” NGO’s annual research launch.

Communicating your ideas is also a critical factor for success.  Making a video that captures the essence of their goal often helps tip investors,volunteers and even the general public into a new way of thinking.

“Beijing Waters” is an organization that arranges volunteer activities and investigations. Beijing rivers and wetlands ecological data collection let the NGO fill the gaps in existing data, publish the results and enhance public awareness of the rivers ecological situation to assure its future conservation and advocacy.

“We arrived to Jumahe. In Beijing, there is a so few non-polluted rivers like this one,” said Patrick (Wang Yibin), getting out of the car.

He is one of the volunteers, who arrived to the Juma River with his wife to take part in the “Beijing Waters” NGO research.

“My work is pretty stressful,” shared Patrick. “I have tried different ways to release this pressure till the moment I realized, when you go back to nature, it makes you calm and relaxed, and makes you appreciate what you have now.”

However, what we really face now is pollution, climate change and shortage of water – not necessarily the most stress-free of challenges!  In October 2017 Mandarin Film team joined the “Beijing Waters” voluntary activities to see with our own eyes how the research on bio-diversity and river quality is done.

When I was small, I went to the river every day to swim and catch fish there. Due to the city and village development, rivers become like you see now, stated Li Cheng, who has been living in that place since childhood.

What we saw was beautiful, sunny day with blue sky and no smog, but the river landscape with its shallow waters and narrow riverbanks full of piles of rubbish, old, broken furniture, dry plants and smelly rotting food was dismaying. It was our first stop at the Juma River.

We had three stops during that day, moving along the stream of the river and exploring it from the worst part to the cleanest part. On our last stop, nature was picturesque: clean water, steep cliff, mountains, chirping birds and horses walking around, giving hope that the environment can be better.

“We think optimistically that the future will be better if people work on it,” says Xiao Yuru, Head of “Beijing Waters”.

“Beijing Waters” is one of the projects of the NGO with the unofficial name “Let’s protect environment together.” Their first project is collaboration with schools for environment education, the second one is help local people organizing their own environment protection groups, and the third one is “Beijing waters” to do research on river creatures and ways people influence them as well as the river quality.

Over three months Mandarin Film worked with Beijing Waters to produce a brand video that encapsulated their mission statement and documented the work they were doing.  The movie was released on Dec.2, on the “Beijing Waters” press conference.

In the film, you can find out the key reasons ‘why’, see which waters are endangered and what volunteers do there, and understand the essence of what a better future might look like.

Mandarin Film is a film and TV production company with more than 10 years experience and over 500 projects in China under its belt.

We often travel to the most remote regions and film in extreme environments. We have seen people and organizations triumph over insurmountable odds.  We have seen (and filmed) humanity’s indomitable spirit. 

We would like to try to give something back.  We have done some charity and pro bono work in the past but never in a systemized way.

This leads us to teaming up with Vibrant Communities. We would like to offer our pro bono support to organizations who share the above vision and have the tools and drive to make it happen.

If you own/work for an organisation working for positive outcomes in the community that you believe could meaningfully benefit from some focused support from professional services companies like Mandarin Film. We would love to hear from you.  Mail us at info@mandarinfilm.com, and check out our website www.mandarinfilm.com

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JAN 08 2018

Popular shared bikes have brought great convenience to many people who find their daily commute a hassle in big cities across China. Now that we have the colorful dockless bikes within reach in a handy fashion, what’s next?

Well, the guys over at Bee-fly are counting on the next generation of  Chinese hipsters to scoot their battery-operated shared scooters into a new era of shared-scooter transportation!

Mandarin Film worked with Bee-Fly and produced the Bee-Fly launch video entitled “One More Choice in your City Transportation Armoury!”

We are not new to the concept of shared economy. The challenge is how to create an outstanding branded video that people can remember? It is about the concept, and of course about how to produce a high quality video under a tight budget.

Mandarin Film produced the video ’script to screen’, from coming up with and finalizing concept options to delivery to a full scripted shoot, edit and delivery in an incredibly tight turnaround of three weeks.

Professional actors were used and awe-inspiring locations were scouted that tapped into the essence of the ‘Beijing spirit’ as well as what the scooters were all about – adding some drive and distance into Beijing’s shared bike options.

Take a look at the video and see if you agree – and we wish the Bee-fly team all the best with their launch!

Nelson Quan, director and Jack Lam, DOP turned the Bee-Fly scooter into a moving dolly track.

Head of Bee-Fly acted as one of the tens of thousands of the programmers at morning rush hours at Wudaokou Subway station.

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NOV 06 2017

Mandarin Film is proud to have been a production partner to this amazing film, an endeavor of over three years involving scores of talented people from China, the UK and beyond.

“From BBC Earth Films, the studio that brought you Earth, comes the long-awaited sequel – Earth: One Amazing Day, an astonishing journey revealing the awesome power of the natural world, narrated by the Oscar-winning American movie icon, Robert Redford.”

This is a landmark film in many ways.  A true China-UK collaboration that will be of key interest to the wider industry as it is the first film to be produced under the new UK-China film treaty, signed by President Xi Jinping and then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014.

A co-production between BBC Earth Films and China’s Shanghai Media Group, Mandarin Film played a key role not only in helping facilitate the film within the terms of the treaty, but also by shooting key elements in China, and, perhaps most importantly, helping ensure that the Chinese version was every bit as good as the international one.

A year’s preparation went into pinpointing the perfect Chinese director (Fan Lixin), screenwriter (Yan Geling) and narrator (Jackie Chan) for their roles, as well as recruiting the best below the line talent that China has to offer, including producers, cameramen, sound engineers, even accountants who could take on a project of this international complexity.

Highlights including Jackie Chan’s incredibly high energy-yet-marathon recording sessions, and Alex Heffes  and Roc Chen’ s collaboration to create a soaring musical score with a 120 piece Chinese orchestra, recorded in Beijing.  Reviews reflect the hard work, skill and dedication that everyone put in.

LA Times Review

China Daily Review

Hollywood Reporter Review

On the production side, we filmed Pandas, Cranes and Langur Monkeys using gimbal and drone rigs specifically designed for each shoot.

World premiere was in Beijing in August 2017.  The film has gone on to gross over seven million USD in China alone, and is now on general release in theaters around the world.

For us ‘One Amazing Day’ has been Three Amazing Years.  

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NOV 06 2017

Mandarin Film has just won the Best Pitch at 2017 “Gold Panda” Documentary Film Pitch. The event is jointly organized by Sichuan TV Festival and China Intercontinental Communication Center and Mandarin Film won with their pitch  “China’s Greatest Poet Du Fu”, a co-production documentary project between Mandarin Film and London-based renowned British production house MayaVision.

China’s Greatest Poet Du Fu was among the nine finalists chosen from hundreds of pitching projects. The Pitch Program had a team of judges from both TV and online from China and abroad, including CCTV9, National Geographic Channel, Discovery, A+E Networks, Tencent Video, Anhui TV, etc.

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APR 20 2017

China’s first international Virtual Reality (VR) travel series was created when Mandarin Film partnered with Discovery US and luxury travel operator Abercrombie & Kent.

The highly skilled international team travelled across the length and breadth of China, using the latest cutting edge techniques in VR filming to capture everything from iconic locations, hidden gems (and of course panda bears) to make an incredibly rich, visually stunning and beautifully diverse series.

In just ten days, the crew travelled across the major cities and landmarks of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chongqing, Chengdu, and cruised along the Yangtze River to bring China’s highlights to the world’s eye using VR – Mandarin Film conducted research and location scouts during pre-production as well arranged all location access for the shoot, as well as providing key crew and fixing services for the duration of the shoot.

Mandarin Film was able to gain exclusive access into Beijing’s most sacred temple Temple of Heaven and one of the world’s most visited tourist sites XiAn’s Terra Cotta Warriors with nobody else inside, which gave them a great chance to capture a moment of zen.

The Terracotta Warriors was shot using a cutting edge technique known as photogrammetry - taking photos from all angles then stitching and mapping them in post-production to bring out an incredibly detailed 360-degree feel. 

Photogrammetry is used in fields such as topographic mapping, architecture, engineering, manufacturing, quality control, police investigation, and geology. Archaeologists use it to quickly produce plans of large or complex sites, and meteorologists use it to determine the wind speed of a tornados when objective weather data cannot be obtained.

It is also used to combine live action with computer-generated imagery in movies post-production; The Matrix is a good example of the use of photogrammetry in film (details are given in the DVD extras). Photogrammetry was used extensively to create photorealistic environmental assets for video games including The Vanishing of Ethan Carter as well as EA DICE's Star Wars Battlefront.

Other techniques were designed to give VR users insane birds-eye or action adventure views: whether be using camera to follow a kite-flyer on the busy Bund of Shanghai or sliding down the Great Wall toboggan, the journey was definitely one filled with great surprises and wonders of an authentic China.

http://www.discoveryvr.com/

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MAR 20 2017

Look out for ‘Gap Year’ a hilarious backpacker drama on Channel 4, Thursdays at 9pm in February and March 2017.

With almost a year’s recce, planning and permissions work with eleven film followed by shooting between July and September of 2016. Mandarin Film was the local production partner for the China part of the Channel 4 and TNT drama series , shooting in multiple locations across China.  

“E4 is strapping on its backpack and going travelling, having commissioned an exciting and funny original comedy-drama series Foreign Bodies (8 x 45’) from Eleven.

Gap Year is the story of a motley gang of travelers embarking on a three-month trip around Asia. British lads Sean and Dylan meet American girls May and Ashley in Beijing and opt to undergo the first leg of their travels together, but soon find that their journey takes them much further than any of them expected.

Will the gang manage to find the nirvana they seek as they camp on the Great Wall, wade through jungles in Malaysia, rub shoulders with ex-pats in Singapore and the crowds that throng the banks of the Ganges? Or will they lose their money, their passports and control of their bowels in a filthy backpacking hostel that doesn’t exist on Google maps? None of them get what they hoped for, but all gain something better, as they learn that no matter how far you go and how hard you try, you can’t take a holiday from yourself.”

Mandarin Film was involved in all aspects of the shoot, from research, recces, and permits to shooting across China.  Memorable locations included filming several days at the Great Wall with 70 crew in the middle of a heatwave (gallons of sun-cream plus comedy hats got us through), and having an actor throw a key prop into the Yangtze while filming on the Bund in Shanghai before realizing the replacement was a thousand miles away in Beijing….

“There’s loads of experiences I’ve had on the shoot which make you stop and think ‘wow we are actually making this show and it’s exactly the show we hoped it would be’. Being stood with Tom, Jamie and Jonathan, the director, on the great wall of China, having just finished all of the shooting and thinking ‘we actually did it, we actually shot on The Great Wall of China.’” Joel Wilson, Exec Producer Eleven Films

“For me the defining shot of the show is, one of the opening shots of the show, a big wide shot of a massive intersection in the middle of Beijing where we crash zoom into Dylan and Sean standing with a guide book and Sean’s comment that’s basically ‘Is there a beach nearby?’ In some ways this summarises the show, it’s about people who are out of their depth trying to make sense of their environment, and us watching them and having fun, whilst we see them navigate that world. 

We couldn’t be more delighted with what we shot in China, when you put in context and against the fact that it took so long to get the permission to shoot in China, when we actually got, for example on to The Great Wall and it was a beautiful sunny day and you had all the actors up there, it was tranquil, everything went smoothly and we were getting beautiful shots – it really felt worth it.

When we filmed live at the music festival at the Great Wall, towards the end of the schedule, it felt like we’re doing something quite innovative in some ways and when we were filming on the subways and at the train station in Beijing.

Our company makes factual films as well and we employed a documentary technique in some of those scenes where we were shooting live amongst real people and locations. To do that in Beijing felt very exciting…the process of getting to shoot in China was arduous but ultimately really worth it.” Jamie Campbell, Executive Producer, Eleven Films

We believe this is the first foreign drama to be shot entirely on location in China (other than just small scenes) – and we are proud to have been a part in it – particularly given how well it turned out.

Check it out on Channel 4 and let us know what you think!

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