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.


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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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MAR 13 2017

Escaping the Temple premiered last month on Arte, the Franco-German public TV network.

“I have seen your documentary on Arte… It was beautiful, I had tears in my eyes most of the part of it. Beautiful images, beautiful people, beautiful dance and beautiful message. It touched me a lot… as myself trying to live of my art and passions. And I am so glad having discovered great artists! If you see or contact the choreographer and dancers, tell them that they are beautiful and so talented, and to continue on their way. Courage and patience is needed, but it worth it I think. I hope to see the dance in France one day! Thank you for it, and again, congratulations for your beautiful documentary, you are a great artist!” - French artist Alexandra Banti

In co-production with modern dance Choreographer Zhao Liang’s studio “Beijing Kind Giving Culture & Media Co. Ltd.”, Escaping the Temple mirrors the themes in the Zhao Liang’s dance performance of the same name. , Escaping the Temple tells the intensely personal intertwined stories of three sensitive, individualistic and rebellious modern dancers each reaching a crossroads in their lives. They must all resolve their issues to move forward.

It shows a China not well known to the world, young Chinese people who are creative and passionate, a new vision where ancient beliefs and culture collide with the moral and spiritual vacuum of modern-day capitalism.

Click here for the documentary. Online from February 20th to May 21st 2017



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MAR 06 2017

2017 Ten China Locations

2017 Ten China Locations

It’s that time of the year again when the firecrackers chase the ghosts of years past away and the year of the rooster is ushered in.  A chicken-licious happy new year to all!

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


10. Colors of China

We spend several weeks travelling the lengths and breadths of China in the pursuit of three colors: Red, Yellow and Blue.  For France’s Voyages channel and in collaboration with ZED, we hope the three part series will show off the untold beauty and diversity of this country.  Perhaps the most instagram-tastic location was the steep cliffs and petrographic geomorphology of the ‘rainbow mountains’ (see below pic ♯nofilter!)

See trailer here


9. Gap Year

We were lucky enough to be involved in what we think is the first foreign TV drama series ever to be filmed in China (feel free to tell us we’re wrong!)  Appearing on Channel 4 in Spring 2017, Gap Year (former working title Foreign Bodies) is an 8 part series that follows the exploits of five backpackers making their way through Asia.  China’s 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….


8. Jaguar Sky Road

Produced and directed by Patrick Carr for Jaguar, in collaboration with British-based branding company inc, Sky Road is the story of one of the most beautiful roads in the world, told by the man who designed it.  Through soaring tunnels and over gigantic bridges, this was drone and camera work that didn’t need much embellishment to make it sing.  Favorite moment – our police escort clearing the road for us while we motored in Jaguar’s finest!


7. Milk

We came all the way to the Chinese capital of diary Hohhot, Inner Mongolia on a mission of milk:  To visit the dairy giant Mengniu and greet its resident bovine superstars. Working with German production house Eikon Film, we arranged exclusive access into Mengniu’s diary farms and factories and were awed by the efficiency of its production lines (along with how much sanitation procedures and clothes we need to put on before getting anywhere!) – the best was when the crew tried to capture some beautiful moments of the golden Mongolian sunset and were encircled by an entourage of two hundred curious cows (possibly wanting to give feedback on our drone flying technique)


6. Game Fever

Game Fever, a feature doc directed by legend director Hervé Martin-Delpierre follows the worldwide phenomenon that is online gaming.  The doc follows key gamers who have earned millions from their sport, but want more than that – gaming immortality.  Best location?  A football stadium in Lanzhou in distant North-West China packed with more than thirty thousand gamers cheering on their heroes in one of gaming’s biggest tournaments. 

See the trailer here


5. CRRC Trains

In a week, we moved from high- speed train to subway to tram and gained access to one of the most top secret (non-military) factories in China, witnessing the production of a Chinese transportation miracle: the Chinese

bullet train.


4. Discovery VR

Traveling across Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chongqing, Chengdu, and a cruise along the Yangtze River, we captured more than twenty locations for the  Discovery VR team in just ten days – Mandarin Film arranged all location access and were able to film exclusively inside the Temple of Heaven and Terra Cotta Warriors with nobody else inside (felt a bit lonely wi thout all that crazy tourist traffic, but we did have a lot of terracotta to keep us company). As far as we know this is the first VR travel series to be shot in China and the best moment for us was the sun rising on the Temple of Heaven, with just a tai chi master performing his elegant moves inside the famous hall where the Emperor used to offer his prayers… a truly zen moment.


3. Planet Earth 2 One Amazing Day

We can’t say too much about this one because it isn’t out yet, but please watch out for the amazing Chinese locations (wink) and incredible Chinese language version tailored for a Chinese audience (nudge).  Mandarin Film is proud to be involved in this first ever UK/China treaty film. Hitting screens globally in 2017/2018.


2. Dicaprio Before The Flood

With an amazing dreamteam cast including Dicaprio himself, President Obama, Elon Musk and Pope Francis,'Before the Flood' is a powerful reminder of the challenges we face to our environment.

Known for its Nat Geo documentary Green China Rising and having previously worked with director Fisher Stevens on Skyladder Mandarin Film was called in to arrange the Chinese part of the shoot.  With such a high profile celebrity the logistics and security had to be flawless - Dicaprio’s popularity in China meant that we estimated we had around 3-5 minutes in any public location before we ran the risk of being mobbed.

After last minute nerves getting filming permits and a visa for DiCaprio the shoot turned out amazingly well, interviewing China’s highest profile environmental minister, a climate activist and getting amazing footage around Beijing.  Best location?  A roller coaster rickshaw ride around the old city trying not to think about insurance cover.


1.  Free(ze)running at Harbin Ice Festival

Welcome to Harbin Ice Festival! Full scale replicas of palaces, temples, castles, and….chickens.  A playground for world - class free runner Jason Paul, who wowed the  ice-sugar haw wielding crowds. Jason Paul gave performances of his excellent free running to visitors with jaw-dropping, film-equipment busting temperatures of -25 Celsius degree.  The coolest part of our chilliest shoot ever?  Using a snow machine to create a snowstorm, Jason flipped, twirled and generally did his free-running thing – proving he for one is definitely no chicken.   Check out the video here!

Check out the video here


Not enough amazing locations?  Sign up for our blog to receive them hot off the press, and check out last year’s too!



Happy New Year!

Peace, love and poultry,

The Mandarin Film team

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JAN 18 2017

The Crowd & The Cloud

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

“Are you interested in birds, fish, the oceans or streams in your community? Are you concerned about fracking, air quality, extreme weather, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, malaria or other epidemics? Now you can do more than read about these issues. You can be part of the solution.

Smartphones, computers and mobile technology are enabling regular citizens to become part of a 21st century way of doing science. By observing their environments, monitoring neighborhoods, collecting information about the world and the things they care about, citizen scientists are helping professional scientists to advance knowledge while speeding up new discoveries and innovations. The results are improving health and welfare, and giving communities the power to create urgent change and help themselves.

Citizen science has amazing promise, but also raises questions about data quality and privacy. Its potential and challenges are explored in The Crowd & The Cloud, a 4-part public television series premiering in March/April 2017. Hosted by former NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati, each episode takes viewers on a global tour of the projects and people on the front lines of this disruptive transformation in how science is done, and shows how anyone, anywhere can participate.”

With a tight deadline and limited budget, Mandarin Film was tasked to deliver stories from China about three leaders in the environmental field including a pioneering activist, Ma Jun, a passionate environmentalist Peggy Liu, chairperson at Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE), and Kate Logan, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) who explained in their different ways the challenges facing China and some possible new solutions to some of the thorny problems the world currently faces.

One such solution is 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.

The app includes a new function known as “Filthy Rivers” whereby users can report filthy rivers near where they live by uploading a photo and location pin, and have the choice to share on social media and report to the local environmental bureau so they can take action on cleaning up the river. This way, everyone becomes an activist.

Mandarin Film provided full production support across two cities (Beijing and Shanghai) including research, prep, logistics, equipment rental, translation, finding contributors and organizing crew and equipment hire.  DOPs were Elliot Debruyn and Alex Opdam, Produced by Wen Yujia and Li Qiuping.  Head of Production Patrick Carr. 

Funded by the National Science Foundation, The Crowd & The Cloud is created by Geoff Haines-Stiles Productions, Inc., an award-winning producer of science documentaries for PBS and international broadcasters, and is supported by a global network of subject experts and advisors. We hope you enjoy taking part in this multimedia experiment, and follow us to view the future of science in a whole new light!


See the trailer here: 

You can download the Blue Map App here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wei-lan-tu-rang-ni-dui-zhou/id838211758?mt=8

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NOV 23 2016

Game Fever Feature Doc imminent worldwide release

Working with French production company ZED, Mandarin Film provided extensive production services for their new feature length 4K documentary ‘Game Fever’

“Shot in 4K on a budget of €1.25 million, the film follows a group of elite players ­– Moon, Gogoing, Cha Jihoon, Sky and sOs – who are stars in the world of competitive multi-player video game tournaments, such as League of Legends, Warcraft 3 and Starcraft II.

“Dalian Wanda came on board because they were thinking of producing a film about eSports to reach the huge community of fans in Asia,” explains Zed president and the doc’s producer Manuel Catteau. “They thought it would be better to team up with us, rather than producing their own film.”

The move marks the first time Dalian Wanda has backed a theatrical feature-length documentary.

Martin-Delpierre came up with the idea for Game Fever after meeting South Korean pro gamer Jang “Moon” Jae-Ho.

“The story of Moon is very universal – it’s about a young man trying to find a way in life between the virtual world and the real world. It’s about young guys trying to be men,” he tells realscreen during a break in editing for the doc. “A lot of people know nothing about video games or eSports. They know nothing about the Chinese spirit or the Korean spirit. It’s a complex story.” Realscreen – July  2016

Mandarin Film provided full production support for the China shoots including research, prep and production support in the form of crew and equipment hire. 

A key challenge was dealing with crazy schedules of the gamers – not only are they either practicing 24/7 or travelling around the world to international tournaments, but they are also super-rich megastars themselves, and the demands on their time is relentless! 

Fortunately we managed to negotiate quality time with each of the protagonists, the documentary offering an intimate and startling insight into the hidden world of pro-gaming.

The films’ Asia premiere was in Bangkok, and Mandarin Film had the pleasure of attending.



See the Trailer here



Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gamefeverthefilm

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