2021-06-10 09:10:01

New Trends in the Creation of Quality TV Dramas-Take Root in the Promising Land, Be People-oriented, and Write a New Chapter in the Era


"Realistic theme", "mainstream", "embracing the mainstream"...These are the keywords frequently mentioned at this year’s STVForum. In recent years, a series of quality works of realistic themes have appeared in the TV drama market. What kind of creative laws are hidden behind this phenomenon? When realistic TV dramas outshine, what requirements have they put forward for the development of TV dramas in the new era? This morning, the 27th Shanghai TV Festival’s STVForum ushered in the last major sharing. With the screenwriter Wang Liping as the host, Zhang Yongxin, director of The age of Awakening, Wang Sanmao, screenwriter of Minning Town, and Ren Shuangyou, producer of Stage Builder, Lu Chao, producer of With You, Wang Hao, editor-in-chief and chief producer of Crossing the Yalu River, and other crews of outstanding domestic TV dramas and industry representatives, talked freely on the theme of "New Trends in the Creation of Quality TV Dramas in the New Era".



To write life, one first should have the courage to live with real life


Since last year, a large number of excellent works have been produced in the field of TV dramas. This year, the shortlisted works for presented an "Extreme Confrontation", an expression popular among netizens. In this regard, Gao Changli, director of the TV Drama Department of National Radio and Television Administration, said that this shows that the mainstream creation has achieved great results. Through analysis of the shortlisted excellent works, we can find that the secret of them lies in understanding life, restoring life, and surpassing life.


Gao Changli pointed out that understanding life, restoring life, and surpassing life is the only way to climb the peak of art. Understanding life requires that the creator must have the ability to live and truly keep up with the times. Minning Town carried out several investigation, the writing of The Age of Awakening has lasted for many years, and the author of Stage Builder has repeatedly communicated with migrant workers...It is for this reason that they have been recognized by the audience; restoring life is to be as faithful as possible, to portray real objects, real things, true feelings, and truths. After the broadcast of With You, the most frequently used word in online reviews was "restore". The work is powerful because it restores the anti-epidemic scene with high accuracy; surpassing life requires literary works to summarize the universality and typicality of life and carry out artistic sublimation, and the most important thing is to be guiding, guiding the audience to think and be moved.


Gao Changli pointed out that, based on the current and long-term perspective, we should not be satisfied with such achievements in mainstream creation. There are at least two dimensions in the creation of high-quality TV dramas in the new era-one: high quality and diversification. In this process, literary and artistic creation should pay attention to "two points": one is the result and the other is the effect. Literary and artistic works can reveal contradictions and problems, but the final result and effect should be to let people see light and hope.



Take root in the people, create with heart and soul


At the forum, Zhang Yongxin, director of The age of Awakening, Wang Sanmao, screenwriter of Minning Town, and Ren Shuangyou, producer of Stage Builder, Lu Chao, producer of With You, Wang Hao, chief producer of Crossing the Yalu River, shared their experiences and insights for their works being shortlisted for this year's Magnolia Award for Best TV Series (China).




Lu Chao, producer of With You recalled that when Youhug Media received the creation task of With You in February last year, Liuliu, one of the screenwriters, was still abroad, but to make realistic themes, she must first go to the scene. Liuliu arrived in Wuhan at the beginning of March tortuously and took the risk to conduct an interview for more than a month. “We set up a group of screenwriters. Liuliu shared the content of her interviews in Wuhan with the group every day, so that the screenwriters of With You could get first-hand information." 95% of the people in this era report drama have prototypes, and most of the plots are derived from real stories. This makes With You a way for netizens to cry every time they watch it. Lu Chao said that these tears are "invaluable", indicating the audience's recognition of the creation of realistic themes. "I think when my children grow up and ask me how China has fought the epidemic in 2020, I’ll let him watch With You.”



Wang Sanmao, screenwriter of Minning Town mentioned that the creation of this drama was a task suddenly received in November 2019. They moved from Minning Town to Xiji County and then to Fujian. But it was precisely because of this in-depth interview that him realized the arduousness of creation. For example, the immigrants in Diaozhuang were not very interested in the interview process. The reason was that their story had been interviewed too many times, filmed and staged, but the audience didn't like it. In addition, there were dozens of episodes on poverty alleviation last year. How could it stand out? In the end, Wang Sanmao chose to abandon the conventional creative ideas and not to write the history of change, but to write the mindset of 1.04 million immigrants in Diaozhuang, "Finally, we used the local literature to write about their experience of immigrating from one place to another and their spiritual journey. And in this way, we have presented the work today."



Like Minning Town, The Age of Awakening was popular among young people on the Internet. Zhang Yongxin mentioned that the reason why this drama is different is that it avoids the story of the Party history after its birth that has been told too many times, but chooses to go back to the history of "where the ship came from" which is more unfamiliar to the audience, by focusing on the tremendous changes in Chinese people’s thinking in the short period of 6 years from the Red Mansion to the Red Boat.” Second, in the process of creating The Age of Awakening, he has experienced countless times the echoing between the great destiny of the country and the individuals. "The vicissitudes and cycle of a hundred years are reflected in this work. Such echoing is impressive on me particularly. It is the revolutionary martyrs’ devotion that offers the chance for Chinese people to keep abreast with the world today being neither humble nor pushy as a man with grace."



Ren Shuangyou, producer Stage Builder revealed that the reason why Stage Builder is so "faithful" and truly down to earth is the harsh efforts of the original author, screenwriters, actors and so on. The original author, Chen Yan, has been in the Shaanxi Academy of Traditional Opera for 20 years. In his spare time, he went to the labor market outside to chat with the migrant workers, do interviews, and accumulated long-term and rich life materials. The screenwriter Ma Xiaoyong was born in the courtyard of ShaanxiAcademy of Traditional Opera, and he is very familiar with all the sentient beings. The characters under his pen all have advantages, disadvantages, and characteristics. During the filming, Zhang Jiayi turned the shaver in the opposite direction when shaving in order to be faithful to the image of the migrant worker in Stage Builder: "Only in this way can I restore the image of the shaggy Diao Dashun”. There were many details like this in his performance. Director Li Shaofei required, during the shooting, to build a complete scene of the village in the city. The raw materials used for setting the scene, bricks and tiles, were all from from the real villages in the city. It offers both a visual texture and a sense of conviction. The whole team worked hard, and this is quite necessary."



Wang Hao, editor-in-chief and chief producer of Crossing the Yalu River, shared his experience on how to choose historical materials when creating major revolutionary historical TV dramas. He said that in order to use 40 episodes of stories to cover the complex historical materials and show a "panoramic epic", Crossing the Yalu River invited experts from the Academy of Military Sciences PLA China on the war to resist US aggression and aid Korea, and asked them to help the screenwriters screen historical materials repeatedly and finally reserve the major historical facts that can’t be missed, including the decision to dispatch troops, five battles, and urging talks through fights, as well as important figures, especially combat heroes. Finally, it restored the entire picture of the war with a strong documentary narrative.



Mainstream creation continues to lead the industry


At the forum, persons in charge of multiple platforms and industry representatives also shared their understanding of the creation of boutique TV drama. Faith Makes Great, with 40 episodes of short dramas, 17 directors and 40 screenwriters, has become a unique existence among the mainstream works in recent years. Zhu Yan, director of the Program Trading Management Center of Hunan Broadcasting System, said that such a special format has made many young audiences feel like "opening a blind box" when watching, “A story for a day to tell the story of the power of faith.” In her opinion, the work provides a good training opportunity for the young creative team. "We have gathered a creative group of 17 directors and 40 screenwriters. Their stylized performance and expression provide the creation of the entire theme with new possibilities. This time, there are actually more young creative teams born in the 90s and 80s. From them, we have also seen emerging forces in the future."



Wang Leiqing, Vice President of SMG and Director of Dragon TV Center, believes that from last year's With You to this year's Medal of the Republic, innovative era report dramas have continuously enriched the style and form of TV dramas, "Under such a new TV drama style and the mainstream themes, multiple unit dramas and multiple medium-length dramas will be launched in a clustered and resource-reorganized way, which will meaningful for promoting the development of China's short-form TV dramas and medium-length TV dramas.” Wang Leiqing also hopes that creators can look down, really pay attention to the grassroots and reality. “The mainstream TV dramas are booming, bringing a new style to the industry. No matter what kind of theme it shows, it can only win everyone through empathy, resonance, and resonance with the audience can we conquer everyone."



In this regard, Ke Liming, CEO of Ruyi Films, film and television producer, and producer also said that in the past, companies would consider more the entertainment needs of young people in film selection, but in the past two years they have found that these are far from enough. "It turns out that we said that we should respect the audience, but sometimes the audience also needs creators to lead them. This is even more demanding for artistic and contemporary works." He also revealed that Ruyi Films will increase the creation of realistic themes, invest in filming movies and TV dramas that reflect the daily lives of ordinary people. "We are preparing to start a play, and we are cooperating with director Liu Jiacheng, which is the sequel of The Love of Courtyard. There is also a film that will be released on Father’s Day- On Your Mark, which is also an inspirational story between father and son."



Innovation also means a huge challenge. The poverty alleviation-themed TV drama Unbending Will has set up multiple teams to tell 10 very different poverty alleviation stories in a volume of 20 episodes. Jiang Xiaoping, deputy director of Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation and chairman of Omnijoi, revealed that during the nine months of creation, the team has been approach real life in a profound way and fully communicated. “The themes cannot be repeated, and the way of expression of poverty alleviation and cultural characteristics must be varied. Simple repetition will not work. In this case, it is particularly necessary to coordinate 10 creative teams, and the most time is spent on this aspect."



Yuan Jingui, the former deputy secretary and deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Fujian Provincial People’s Congress, and the chief planner of the Red TV drama series, bluntly stated that the most important thing in TV drama creation is to understand the audience, “to understand the public, the audience, the people, what kind of TV drama they need, what kind of TV dramas they like to watch, and what kind of TV series can enable the audience to be inspired while appreciating art." He said, from No Retreat to The Sword Sharpened When Cornered, and to Top Secret Mission which is released recently, the team has always insisted on collective creation, discovering and digging out themes from life practice, only to ensure that the series can always be recognized by the audience.



Zhang Xuemei, deputy director of the New Media Department of Film and Television Documentary Center of China Media Group, shared the successful experience of China Media Group in the selection of dramas. "Our overall demand for works is diversified and quality oriented, but the decision-making is very rigorous, and there is a very complete system to determine whether a TV drama can finally be presented on CCTV." She revealed that to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, CMG is about to launch a major revolutionary historical drama Decisive Victory. The drama is based on the War of Liberation. It tells the three major battles of the Liaoxi-Shenyang Campaign, the Huaihai Campaign, and the Beiping-Tianjin Campaign from the three levels of strategy, tactics, and combat. "We agree that this drama is great, and everyone can look forward to it."



Host Units: State Administration of Radio and Television   China Media Group   Shanghai Municipal People's Government

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