British Film Commission welcomes Chinese film executives to the UK

Having been part of both trade missions to Beijing and Shanghai, the British Film Commission has been a consistent part of all the British Film Institute’s wider business development work with China. In partnership with the BFI and funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Office’s China Prosperity Fund, the National Lottery through the BFI and Creative Skillset and also supported by UKTI China, the BFC brought a select group of senior Chinese film executives to the UK as part of a familiarisation trip, to explore how the UK and Chinese industries can best work together.

The executives included Ms. Wei Zhang, President of Alibaba Pictures and Senior Vice President of Alibaba Group; Jeffrey Chan, COO and board member of Bona Film Group; Yamin Zhang, General Manager of the International Department at Enlight Pictures; Janice Chua, Director of Production at Ivanhoe Pictures and Celine Lin, previous Director of International Operations at Wanda Group, now based in NYC.

China FAM

Benefits of filming in the UK

Organised and hosted by the BFC, the Chinese executives were treated to a day of panel discussions, presentations and workshops highlighting the benefits of filming in the UK. Based at the new Picturehouse Central in Piccadilly Circus, the day commenced with talks from each of the UK Screen agencies. Creative England, Creative Scotland, Film London, Northern Ireland Screen and Wales Screen showcased their regions’ first-class locations, studios, crews and production incentives, along with successful productions shot in the regions.

John Graydon from Saffery-Champness and Anna Mansi from the BFI Certification Unit provided an in-depth discussion on the generous and the UK and China Co-Production Treaty, while UK Producer and BFC Chair Iain Smith followed with a presentation on the practicalities of film budgeting and scheduling, highlighting the similarities and differences between China and UK-based productions.

There was a series of in-depth workshops examining what the future holds for China and the UK working together, including the delegates and Chinese Officials from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film ad Television (SAPPRFT), which was chaired by the BFI’s Isabel Davis and involved speakers and representatives from Zhang Hongsen, Film Bureau, Miao Xiaotian, GM and China Film.

Location, location, location

As well as covering the business aspect of filming in the UK, the BFC took the delegates on a tour of filming locations in the South East and London, with representatives from Creative England and Film London UK Film and High-end Television Tax Reliefs respectively. This included a visit to Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire; a sprawling country house and gardens that featured in Never Say Never Again (Warner Bros), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Village Roadshow Pictures) and served as a replica of Buckingham Palace. They enjoyed a Thames River boat trip from Westminster to Greenwich, passing London’s iconic bankside vista before touring the Royal Naval College, which has hosted a number of large-scale productions such as Thor: The Dark World and Les Miserables.

A tour of Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire followed, whose 60,000sq ft. of stage space is known as the birthplace of Star Wars. As well as numerous television programmes, some of the most famous films in the world have been produced at the impressive facility. These include the Indiana Jones trilogy, The Shining and, more recently, The King’s Speech and Paddington.

UK’s post-production and VFX facilities taking over the world.

Towards the end of the visit, the delegates were offered an afternoon of VFX presentations and talks, showcasing the tremendous talent and facilities the UK has to offer.

Presentations included speakers from major London based VFX companies, who work closely with the BFC, including Double Negative (Spectre, Bridge of Spies), Framestore (Everest, Gravity), MPC (Life of Pi, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Blue Bolt (Macbeth, The Imitation Game) and Cinesite (World War Z, Skyfall).

To see the calibre of work produced by the UK take a look at the BFC showreel.