Movies in and for China — an introduction
It is obvious that particular challenges have to be mastered when filming in the Middle Kingdom. This applies, of course, to issues of bureaucracy and logistics, as well as linguistic and cultural differences in cast, crew and the extended environment.
But even if these problems are solved a good film with the intended effect of the Chinese public is far from guaranteed. Those who ignore the development of China’s self-consciousness and the different viewing habits, will most likely shipwreck their project. For a film that appeals to the German public, may encounter a negative response in China.
China — an important market with high demands
In recent years China has become one of the most interesting and most important markets for German companies. Similarly, the Chinese have now replaced the Germans as a “world travel champions” who are even more generous spenders than tourists from the Middle East. Of course, the newfound strength of the Chinese economy is also reflected in a stronger self-confidence of Chinese customers and business partners. They no longer content themselves with simple linguistic adaptations of Western advertising and product films, but rightly expect a communication that respects their own viewing habits and their cultural background. The Chinese numbers and color symbolism may serve as an example. Thus, white is seen as a traditional color of mourning and four as explicitly unlucky number. If such factors are not taken into account, for example, an image film may have exactly the reverse effect and harm your reputation. Also training videos are accepted by Chinese employees more readily if they represent a familiar environment.
No movie “off the shelf”!
To further complicate matters there are less obvious aspects such as image segmentation and the average speed of a film, which are due to different viewing patterns of German and Chinese audiencees. Generally speaking, Asian viewers prefer color-intensive, long-lasting sequences and smoother transitions.
On the other hand, Germany and the German mechanical engineering industry in particular have a very a good reputation in China. Thus, quite deliberate stylistic incongruities can be set, to give the Chinese audience an impression of being “typical German”. As you can see, an intercultural competence is needed that goes far beyond purely technical skills.