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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