“The film is a dream I dreamed for six years,” a remark made by Director Liang Ming on his own film titled Russet River (now called Under the Sun). In fact, the possibility to shoot the film in his hometown Yichun is a dream Director Liang Ming has had for many years, which he attributed to nostalgia.
“I want to tell a story that took place in the past, or a period of the past. The people and things in this story really existed. To me, hometown is a kind of complex that is always ingrained in my mind. I often miss the hometown of my childhood, the wind, the sky and the taste there. Maybe this is the so-called nostalgia.”
Like many others, Liang Ming signed up for the Beijing International Film Festival Project Pitches, with the aim of looking for capital for his first feature film Russet River (now known as Under the Sun). With the help of the Project Pitches platform, Liang Ming has been exposed to a large number of investors. Through his well-articulated project proposal, he showed the judges and investors the potential of navigating a film with both artistic merit and business value. In the end, with the recognition and help of the investors attending the BJIFF Project Pitches, the new virgin feature film Russet River (now known as Under the Sun), directed by the newcomer Liang Ming, successfully concluded filming in January 2019, which is currently under intense post-production preparation.
The BJIFF Project Pitches platform aims to discover and help incubate outstanding film projects and creative talents, and to provide instructive advice for young filmmakers on their works, so that the projects can be transformed from dreams into investible projects that can adapt to the market and screened, and really accessible to the audience through the way of assistance in distribution and publicity.
The 8th BJIFF Project Pitches received a total of 722 entries, including 698 projects from Chinese mainland, 14 from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and 10 from foreign countries. With rich and diverse project types, the entries included excellent shortlisted film projects such as Be Cold Be Warm, Killer APP, Taroko, and Russet River (now known as Under the Sun).
The call for entries in this year’s Project Pitches is now open and submissions will be officially closed on March 3, 2019. The Beijing Film Market Project Pitches platform will assist the nominated young directors in shooting film works with both artistic merit and market potential through first-round selection, second-round selection, training, final-round selection and roadshow, investor negotiation , international promotion and other ways.
Russet River (now called Under the Sun) is a crime film about adolescence. The director provides a presentation of the ignorant growth of adolescence and the cruel trial of crimes in the real world.
The following is an interview with Director Liang Ming, who directed the film Russet River (now called Under the Sun), an outstanding project in the 8th Project Pitches, on his experience in participating in the Project Pitches.
Q: To what stage did the project progress at the time when it went for the interview of the Project Pitches in 2018?
A: At the time when the project was shortlisted for the BJIFF Project Pitches, the team hadn’t been built, concrete operations or actors/actresses hadn’t been finalized, and there were only the leading actress Lv Xingchen and producer Sun Yang in the crew. After the 8th BJIFF, we reached the photographer He Shan when Wrath of Silence he shot was being released. The project started at our most difficult time and the production kicked off when the entire industry was riding the fence. We built the team in May, looked for capital in June, searched the location in July, and kicked off the shooting in October. That is to say, we took nearly half a year to begin shooting the film after we participated in the BJIFF Project Pitches, during which we were also solving various problems and difficulties.
Q: What kind of help did you get in the process of participating in the BJIFF Project Pitches?
A: We met the investors of almost all sorts who are interested in young directors in Beijing. In the process from the top 40 advancing to the top 20, each step forward represented a recognition and encouragement. Some young directors have had the experience in shooting feature films, but I even didn’t have the experience in shooting short films and was a completely rookie director. At that time, we didn’t have a well-established team so encouragement was actually very important, which allowed us to keep going. Director Zhao Tianyu and Ms. Chen Shu, both of whom were the judges of the second-round selection of the 8th BJIFF Project Pitches, gave me great encouragement. Mr. Mei Feng became the script producer of this film, and moive.youku.com where Mr. Liu Kailuo works became the main controller of my project.
Q: With the experience in participating in the Project Pitches, what advice can you share with new directors?
A: For a new director, it is very important and difficult to obtain the trust of investors. In fact, from the start of the project, the importance of an excellent production team is highlighted. The ideal thing is that there is a producer as partner who can join the project, otherwise it is difficult for new directors to accurately express what they want to the investors in a short period of time. If fortunately, some investors will bring their production teams to provide assistance. Come to assist you. So I think that a new director who hasn’t a production team has to be confident, and participating in the Project Pitches is just one of many ways. Don't regard it as a straw to clutch at, otherwise you will be highly stressful.
Q: Can you share the problems you encountered during shooting the film?
A: First of all, the weather is relatively cold and in most instances we shot the film in an environment of minus 20 degrees, including the period of time when we changed the shoot scene from Yichun to Huludao. The winter days are short, and it begins to get dark at about 3 pm, so we ran against time and the sun. In October, the snow in northeast China will not melt. Since we were unable to shoot the film according to the timeline required for the screenplay due to the capital, maybe the 40th scene shot for autumn without snow has been filmed, and it snowed suddenly when the 30th scene was shot. In this case, we had to catch the pictures in advance. Fortunately, we were lucky since there was no snow until late which didn’t cause us a lot of trouble.
Q: What help can the Beijing International Film Festival provide for you in the future?
A: I hope that I will have the opportunity to participate in the "Tiantan Award" in the BJIFF in the future. I also hope that the BJIFF will further help young directors in publicity and promotion.
Q: The last question. Could you talk about the Working In Process newly added to this year's BJIFF Beijing Film Market Project Pitches?
A: I feel very happy because I am very likely to participate. Young directors like us all hope to connect with some more abundant resources and gain more recognition in the industry.
Return a project with a film!
The 9th Beijing International Film Festival is looking forward to your participation!
Link to the registration of this year’s Project Pitches: http://system.bjiff.com/gh_market/loginController.do?entranceJsp&type=ct_en