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Bringing Little Movies to Big China

Bringing Little Movies to Big China
USC professor Jason E. Squire in Guangzhou, China

When most people think of Chinese cinema, the last thing that comes to mind is intimate indie films but, according to USC School of Cinematic Arts professor Jason E. Squire, that’s going to change very soon.

Squire recently traveled to Guangzhou, China to give two days of lectures on “The Commercial Operation of the Movie Business” to media executives sponsored by the Cheong Kong Graduate School of Business.

Among the participants were chief executive officers, chairmen or general managers of media companies based in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Taipei.

“In China, there is government involvement in most movies, but what’s exciting is that there’s a growing number of independent, regional filmmakers,” Squire said. “In my opinion, filmmaking, as an industry, has been elevated by the government as something it wants to explore.”

The lectures focused on an introduction to the global motion picture industry, revenue streams, and overviews of marketing and distribution.

“The local industry is producing more intimate, nuanced, personal stories, including an increase in local films by female directors,” Squire said. “You see stories ranging from young people falling in love, to gritty, serious stories from the recent history of China set against the tapestry of world events.”

Of special interest to the participants were emerging trends in do-it-yourself distribution and marketing of features which bypass theatrical release. In the upcoming summer program at the School of Cinematic Arts, Squire will teach “Under the Radar: Marketing and Distribution in the Digital World.”

Asked about the differences between the young storytellers he met in China and their counterparts at USC, Squire replied, “There are many similarities. They are passionate about movies and media, and they easily engage in the same fundamental issues of creativity, business and process.

“There’s something intangible and so appealing about the country and the media professionals I met in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Filmmakers everywhere primarily are concerned with producing the best story in the most economical means.”

The Chinese translation of Squire’s book, The Movie Business Book International, is scheduled to be released this year by China Film Press.

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