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New frontier for novice filmmakers

[ 2009-09-29 14:17]     字号 [] [] []  
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China is a new frontier, a 21st century Wild West with fewer cowboy hats - unless you're shooting a Western. And chances are there is a Western being filmed somewhere in the country because it is a growing location for foreign filmmakers just getting on their feet.

One such filmmaker is Montague Fendt, 26, who next month is showing his first feature length film Beijing Taxi at the New Beijing International Movie Festival. Fendt, who moved to Beijing seven years ago from Switzerland, co-directed the film with a Chinese-Australian and a Beijinger. Each directed their own story and the three were interwoven, a bit like the film Paris, Je t'aime.

"This project could have never worked anywhere else but in China," says Fendt. "We made the film, shot in 18 days with great equipment and crew, on a tiny $40,000 budget. If you try to shoot an independent feature in the US or Europe, it will cost you three times as much."

A major draw for Fendt was his autonomy. He wrote the script, directed the film and worked with his own contacts. Starting out in Europe or the US is more complicated - you're not going to make a film for a long time because the first step is usually the bottom rung at a production company.

Then there's the survival issue. Lots of filmmakers want to make art, but need to make a living to make art. In China, Fendt could throw himself into the gritty world of filmmaking proper and it didn't matter as much if he made mistakes. With low production costs and a low cost of living he could afford to.

For documentary filmmaker Van Yang, 25, from Chicago, China presents a rich world of unexplored niches. His current project, a documentary called Red Hot Green China, looks at the untold story of environmentally aware China. For many documentary makers, China is a place of great interest, but little known to the rest of the world.

"These films are not going to be big blockbuster hits, but they're going to tell something intimate about a culture not everybody understands," says Yang. "The opportunity is that there's this vacuum. The Chinese media hasn't shared enough about the real China."

As with many people living in Beijing, Fendt finds there's appeal in being a foreigner, as a guy from the outside. And, for now, he intends to stay: "I think it would be a waste for me to live here 10 years and then go back home and shoot film there. It just wouldn't make sense."


1. What is the name of Montague Fendt’s first full length feature?

2. How many days did it take to shoot the film?

3. What is Van Yang’s documentary called?


1. Beijing Taxi

2. 18 days

3. Red Hot Green China

(英语点津 许雅宁编辑)

New frontier for novice filmmakers

About the broadcaster:

New frontier for novice filmmakers

Chantal Anderson is a multimedia journalist at the China Daily Web site. Originally from Seattle, Washington she has found her way around the world doing photo essays in Greece, Mexico and Thailand. She is currently completing a double degree in Journalism and International Studies from the University of Washington.