MAR 20 2017

Gap Year

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!