General Manager of the China Film Director Center Xin Zheng: How the Pandemic Turned into the Foundation for Propelling the Film & Television Industry to a New Era

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Xin Zheng, General Manager of the China Film Director Center

The China Film Director Center came into being with the era’s new and huge developments in China’s film and television industry. It is the first film and television industry chain complex created in China after the end of the studio era. In its early stages, this whole-chain film and television complex, which was actualized “from a draft into actual work,” participated in the production of a large number of phenomenal Chinese films and nearly 600 movies and television shows, with total box office revenue exceeding RMB ¥100 billion yuan. However, the pandemic forced a stop to many Chinese film markets. What is the current situation with the China Film Director Center?

Xin Zheng, the General Manager of the China Film Director Center stated that during the most serious period of the pandemic in 2020, China Film Director Center still ensured that the post-production of the film Eight Hundred would proceed while taking measures to prevent infection in the crew, guaranteeing the film’s successful release.

Zheng said, “Thanks to our smooth operations, the China Film Director Center has had healthy development since its establishment. Our operations make it possible for us to remain calm when times get difficult.” When talking about development in the past decade, Zheng said that the Center has stepped out of its own comfort zone by relying on 4 innovative concepts, which not only promote the development of the entire Chinese film industry, but maximize the operational benefits with imagination-driven business growth.

Zheng said that the establishment of the China Film Director Center stemmed from a beautiful “vision.” “In 2010, we saw the shortcomings of extensive and technological lag in producing Chinese film and television and hoped to industrialize the industry in China. The first concept we pushed for was creating the first Chinese Hollywood-style film and television industry chain complex.” Driven by this idea, the China Film Director Center was established in July 2012, a progressive move in the Chinese film and television industry at the time. Once it was founded, it established a complete industrialized system of pre-planning, creating, shooting, post-production, special effects, etc., and formed a centralized set of operations and production from “a story” to “a film.”

During that period, various cultural parks began to spring up, almost like mushrooms after heavy rain. “However, cultural parks must understand culture, understand the needs of culture, and understand how people of a certain culture act. The product attributes of cultural parks are cultural attributes. The China Film Director Center was focused on its first concept: to build a cultural park for the film and television industry, and more importantly, to have the China Film Director Center as the first film and television park in China built by film and television practitioners themselves,” stated Zheng, who graduated with a degree in Photography from Beijing Film Academy. The Center’s second concept is the direction of the film and television industry, where it aims to progress past the traditional rental-type park operation model. The perception of the industry right now is that its focus is too narrow and “pure.”

In order to achieve great heights in this field, the Center’s operation team and architects have followed the directors for a long time, learning their needs for space according to each director’s working habits and the characteristics of different film and television production companies, essentially creating tailor-made product spaces. Zheng said: “The product spaces we present are at the top of the industry, which naturally attracts an active influx of resources and generates cash flow.”

Zheng said that although the Center’s product spaces have been perfected, this is only the most basic aspect it has fully refined. “What we are thinking about is how to use the China Film Director Center to present the main characteristics of film and television to the greatest extent possible and create breakthroughs in the industry. At this time, having a huge studio with a total area of 2,000 square meters and no pillars is a major advantage for us, making the China Film Director Center a ‘place for cultural events’ and ‘the place where the brand events take place’, which became the third ‘concept’ of the Center.”

The China Film Director Center is home to one of the world’s two largest film directors’ associations: the China Film Directors Association, bringing together 471 top directors from across the Taiwan Strait and three regions. As the host of the China Film Directors Association Annual Awards Ceremony, the China Film Director Center has become “China’s Kodak Cinema.” Every year, the star-studded red carpet attracts the attention of the outside world, making the Center quickly transform into an extravagant movie theater. As the first choice for premieres and high-end releases, the Center organizes and executes more than 100 annual corporate meetings, public relations events, product launches and promotions, exhibitions, catwalks, and performing arts shows every year, including TV column recordings, which have led to the Center becoming a thriving business hub.

Regarding the fourth concept, Zheng remarked: “In order to expand the Center’s path for the future, we also proposed to focus on the product attributes of cultural products. This is the concept of operating with culture, which is the embodiment of the commercial core value of cultural products.” The China Film Director Center has the best production teams in terms of planning, creativity, shooting, post-production, special effects, music, sound, animation, as well as visual effects and visual packaging from the film industry both at home and abroad. The Center integrates resources to operate its film-based business: media content is its main commercial product, and with movie-quality production standards and story structures, hundreds of commercial micro-films, advertisements, promotional films, and image films have been filmed for various brands and institutions, including the first series of commercial brand documentaries in China. The Center has created a precedent in the industry and has made itself a “well-known IP” for audio-visual content. Zheng joked that the commercials produced by the China Film Director Center were essentially a “dimensionality reduction blow” for other advertising companies.

“Without content, there’s no media and without media, there’s no marketing,” said Zheng. “The China Film Director Center respects Universal’s business model very much. Universal’s film content accounts for 26% of its cash flow income and 74% of its revenue. There’s the cash income of the real estate sector, but real estate only accounts for 22% of the price-earnings ratio, and the remaining 78% comes from the content sector. Inspired by this model, China Film Director Center put effort into making a lot of entertainment marketing products, showing the possibilities of the ‘movie+’ concept, and embedding cultural experience into the products and services for various customers through stars, events, scene implantation, and other means to satisfy consumers. The demand for upgrades in consumption will in turn introduce high-quality customers to the industry chain sector and achieve cross-border integration.”

Through the execution of these four concepts, the China Film Director Center has revitalized its resources, has short-term cash flow in its development model, medium-term high-profit projects, and long-term and creative content. Zheng said this: “A healthy company can only thrive when all sectors work together, which is also necessary to avoid the risk of insufficient cash flow that other Chinese film companies experience.”

As a result, the China Film Director Center has successfully operated three major business sectors, including the “Comprehensive Film and Television Industry Chain Complex”, “Professional Top-Class Content Production”, and “360° Entertainment Integrated Marketing.” Zheng said that in the future, Chinese films will achieve regional development, and “Chinese video” will become mainstream. For this reason, the China Film Director Center has been actively preparing to welcome the arrival of the next window of opportunity.

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