On June 16, 2017, the 23rd Magnolia Awards were unveiled one after another. As the earliest film and TV festival across the nation, the 2017 Shanghai International Film & TV Festival again manifested the philosophy of Tolerant and Generosity, Innovation and Development to the whole world. As SARFT’s new management deal – Independent Innovation has been implemented for one year, original cultural varieties have achieved both prestige and popularity in the past year, becoming one of the most eye-catching themes of the Festival; TV dramas returns from IP fever to rationality, with more original realistic works telling Chinese stories and showing cultural confidence; the NBA Show, known as Oscar in Radio & Television Circle, joined hands with STVF for the first time, presenting the most cutting-edge hardware & software equipment and production ideas in terms of radio & TV media to the Chinese TV makers; the Magnolia Awards gathered the most remarkable TV makers and programs in China, and meanwhile treated each and every applicant with the consistent principle of fairness, authoritativeness and professionalism, thus having received unanimous acclaim from the industry.
Tell Chinese stories with original models
In June 2016, the SARFT issued the new management deal, intending to promote the Independent Innovation of Chinese TV programs, and the same year was deemed by the industry as the primary year of Chinese Original Variety Shows. Till now, the new deal has just been carried out for one year, during which time more and more original high-quality programs have been emerging.
At the opening forum, Gao Changli, Director of the Publicity Management Department of SARFT analyzed the current status in his address: “The current Chinese TV programs present three characteristics: more public welfare elements, more well-received culture programs and less introduction from overseas.” On the level of macro-control, SARFT sticks to the correct direction, advocates Chinese spirit and endeavors to better serve people, allowing more public welfare elements to show up on the TV screen; Chinese Poetry Conference, The Reader, Letters Alive, Poem & Prose China and a number of other culture programs are welcomed and heatedly discussed by the audience; under the SARFT’s supervision on the programs introducing foreign copyright and format, more and more excellent Chinese original programs emerge, “Communicating Chinese culture cannot depend on foreign formats, but has to emphasize on originality."
China Formats, the newly organized event of STVF, has already formed brand effect in the international market, and become an essential industry activity for international peers to know about the Chinese market and for Chinese film & TV institutions to go global. At the China Formats this year, the increasingly mature development pattern of the Chinese TV market has gained much attention from foreign users. The production teams of domestic popular culture shows including Chinese Poetry Conference, The Reader and Listen To China attended the China Formats forums to discuss about the creation and innovation approaches behind the programs.
These original culture programs have achieved satisfactory results in terms of both reputation and ratings, which proves the success and necessity of original variety formats. It is because the original varieties start from Chinese traditional culture and utilize the most daily and common styles to tell Chinese stories that the hearts of audience are so deeply touched. General Director of The Reader, Mei Tian said: “As long as the stories are sincere and inspiring, you can stand here.” “For producers, high ratings and positive public response are surely important, but we are more delighted to see some changes happening in real life. We should learn more from the programs that are doing well in this aspect, putting more efforts in changing people’s life and guiding people’s pursuits,” said Yan Fang, General Director of Chinese Poetry Conference.
Show cultural confidence in drama creation
As the traditional event of the STVF every year, International Film & TV Market – TV Market received numerous visitors and TV industry practitioners from all over the world at Shanghai Exhibition Center. Compared with the dominant status of IP last year, the TV Market this year released a strong signal: the IP fever is being gradually brought down, and the creation of TV dramas tends to return to originality.
The racing-themed TV series Speed, produced by Wit & Key, released its first poster during the STVF 2017 and is highly expected by the industry. Due to the high professionalism, production costs and filming techniques required by the theme, racing has always been paid little attention. The head of the production side said: “Generally speaking, Big IP is the first choice of producers, while the original screenplays that haven’t been tested by the market are usually beyond the scope of selection, and some of them are even abandoned directly. However, either the success of Fast & Furious series, or the recent hit Dangal is demonstrating: theme is never a restriction, yet telling stories well is the fundamental. Therefore, we choose to work on original IP.” Many industry insiders believed that IP adaptation is still a major orientation for TV dramas in the future, but the heat of IP is mitigating, and the industry is targeting originality again.
Compared with the prevailing of costume fantasy last year, the realistic theme gained more heat in the program market this year, with many new dramas focusing on the life of common people being paid more and more attention. Yu Heng Film introduced the TV drama Lifeline, which spotlights the frontline of firefighting, full of positive energy. The producer Dai Yue told the Reporter: “The extensive popularity enjoyed by realistic TV series in recent time has brought about an exemplary effect, and they will also join in the next strong wave of TV dramas. Lifeline is also an original IP incubated by us.”
A Magnolia TV forum titled “How can cultural confidence be embodied in Chinese TV dramas?” was also organized during the STVF, where the guests deliberated on topics including how to excavate the essence of traditional culture, create original works with thinking, warmth and quality, tell Chinese stories to show cultural confidence. National Class-A Screenwriter Wang Liping believed that adherence to originality, reality and reflection of the true, the good and the beautiful in works is an integral aspect of showing cultural confidence. Jury President of the Magnolia Awards, TV Drama Category Mao Weining appealed in his speech: “I really hope our productions, especially those of realistic theme, could focus on the public life again and depict the Chinese society by truly reflecting the life of the Chinese people.”
Present most advanced software & hardware technologies
The TV Market this year covered an exhibition area of nearly 11,000 square meters, and was participated by approximately 150 film & TV companies from 7 countries and regions, among which 12 companies have joined in the event for consecutive years, such as SMG, New Culture, Inlook Media, Croton, STPA, CCTV, New Classics Media, Perfect World Pictures, joint booth of Taiwan, etc. The Grand Media, which newly set up a special booth this year attended the TV Market with a large amount of film & TV content. At the exhibition area, apart from the MIPClub organized by the long-term partner REED MIDEM, Buyer’s Club and a screening zone of competition programs for Magnolia Awards were specially set as comfortable negotiation venues for exhibitors and buyers.
The annual STVF is also a display platform for the most advanced and cutting-edge media equipment from all over the world. The cross-media technology exhibition NBA Show Shanghai – the first collaboration with Shanghai International Film & TV Festival has attracted the participation of 300 enterprises from more than 20 countries. At the meantime, tens of world renowned experts joined in industry dialogues at NBA Show GIX, stressing on the discussion concerning the innovative business model and technology application in global digital content ecology, and displaying China’s most leading edge media technologies on the international stage. Sony’s HDR-based production solution, Full Dimension’s 3D Sound Technology, Sharp’s 8K TV and other top technological hardware and software products intrigued many citizens and visitors.
A lot more "black technologies" appeared at the Shanghai International Film & Television Festival NAB Show, such as the first Mixed Reality (MR) filming & production system, which integrates mixed reality cameras, real-time action capturing, physical and virtual props, live shot & keying synthesis, global time code synchronization and other modules based on a unified definition of space-time coordinate system. Through uniform operating tools and interfaces, a mixed reality cross-media content production environment is offered, which can be widely used in the rehearsal and production of film & TV, gaming, VR and other fields; on the basis of Ali Cloud big data platform, Haihe Big Data utilizes AI, user portrait, flow calculation, semantic analysis, real-time computing, machine learning, emotional algorithms, data warehousing and other technologies to provide industry big data analysis solutions. The product is applicable to public opinion collection, communication analysis, real-time hot spots tracking and other media areas; multi-imaging technology can synthesize a series of photos and video and then display a viewport. In addition to expanding the range of creative expressions by synthesizing photos and videos, the technology will add new dimensions to industrial applications such as UAVs and burners. The NAB Show has not only opened the eye of Chinese TV makers, but also enhanced the mutual understanding between the foreign exhibitors, speakers and Chinese counterparts in exchanges and dialogues.
Modern and contemporary works share Magnolia Awards
As the oldest and most professional TV program selection activity in China, the Magnolia Awards of STVF has been known for its professionalism. This year, a total of 12 Chinese TV dramas have entered the competition for each award. Ode to Joy, In the Name of People, Chinese Style Relationship, A Love for Separation and Feather Flies To The Sky all received multiple nominations. Different from the outcome last year that ancient period TV series including Legend of MiYue and Nirvana in Fire grasped final awards, the nominated works this year were mostly realistic works, which indicates that modern, contemporary and realistic themes have become the genre valued more by Chinese TV makers in recent years.
To ensure the fairness, authoritativeness and professionalism of the entire selection process, the Organizing Committee of STVF has specially invited one of the "Big Four" accounting firms – Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited to be the independent ballot scrutinizing institution for the Magnolia Awards. Taking the selection of the TV drama category as an example, Deloitte was solely responsible for the sending, collecting and counting of the ballots, which is an important mechanism for the Organizing Committee to specify the appraisal process, as well as an indispensable measure to guarantee the impartiality and authoritativeness of the Magnolia Awards.
The Chinese TV dramas signing up for the Magnolia Awards of STVF must go through four rounds of appraisal and selection, and then the final winners of each award are determined. In the first round, the Organizing Committee invites professional selectors to select about 40 candidates based on ratings, CTR and other data among all the applied Chinese works. In the second round, The Organizing Committee entrusts Deloitte to send the ballots to the 100 professional selectors across the nation, and the latter give grades to the candidates from the perspective of professionalism. Then Deloitte collects and counts the ballots, and automatically generates a shortlist according to the grades given by the selectors. In the third round, the 100 professional selectors receive the ballots again, and give grades to the shortlisted programs and persons; meanwhile, the jury of the TV drama category grades the works and candidates as well. A final shortlist ranking them according to the ballots weighed by the proportion of 70% of the professional selectors and 30% of the jury comes out. In the fourth round, the Jury deliberates on the final shortlist, and selects the winner of each award. Each Jury Member has 1 vote, and the Jury President has 2 votes. In case of special circumstances such as a Jury Member is engaged in the production of a shortlisted program, the relevant personnel is obligated to withdraw or abstain from voting to ensure the unbiasedness of the selection.
Concerning the issues existing in the production of domestic TV dramas such as stand-ins for filming, the Jury President of the Magnolia Awards, TV Drama Category Mao Weining showed his standpoint at the press conference: what cherished most by the Magnolia Awards is professionalism, so these issues are never allowed to appear in the awarded works, “First of all, the awarded works shall be genuine creation, instead of changing the nature of performance by other means. Genuine works win respect through efforts spared, and creation requires true efforts too.” Mao Weining said, judges shall not be influenced by the factors other than the creation itself when judging a work. Neither rating nor social opinions shall have impact on the judgment.