CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (12/24/2018 Mon.)


Podcast: Story in the Story (12/24/2018 Mon.)

People's Daily app

01:39, December 24, 2018


From the People’s Daily app.

And this is Story in the Story.

The scandal over famous Chinese actress Fan Bingbing's tax evasion has given many Chinese film producers pause, causing an industry-wide slowdown. 

Even so, some actors and insiders are positive about the turn of events.

Top Chinese actress Fan Bingbing was ordered to pay more than 800 million yuan ($116 million) in tax and fines in October for tax evasion. The State Administration of Taxation (SAT) then stepped up supervision and punishment for tax fraud which some say was widespread in the film industry.

Insiders say that instead of paying big salaries to superstars, the same money could be used to improve the quality of a film and the shooting environment for the cast and crew. 

As the world's largest outdoor movie and television studio, China's Hengdian World Studios is usually seen as an indicator of the state of the domestic entertainment industry.

Today’s Story in the Story looks at the impact the tax scandal has had on the Chinese film and TV industry.


A Peking Opera actor performs at Hengdian World Studios. (Photo: Global Times)

The high efficiency and delicate settings of Hengdian World Studios have attracted a great number of national cast and crew to film there.

"Although Hengdian was 'cold' in July and August, we started to get warm again," manager of the Hengdian Film and Television Management Company, Chen Mingying said.

"The motivation for me to come here was the film I am Somebody," said 18-year old Fang Zhiqiang, explaining the reason he gave up his studies in Shanghai and came to Hengdian to apply to be an extra.

"Working here as an extra is like becoming a soldier for some people. If you become a soldier, you may regret it for two years; but if you don't, you will regret it forever."

The film I am Somebody was released in 2015. The Hong Kong director Derek Yee Tung Sing told the story of hengpiao (Hengdian drifters) and ignited the passion of many Chinese who dream of being actors.

After hearing many bittersweet stories of Hengdian drifters, Du Qiu, also hoping to be an extra, was prepared for the hardships that he may go through.

"We have had to fight in the mud since we came here," Du said, adding he will stay in Hengdian until he can't support himself any longer.

The local government has given strong support to the studio, because the industry benefits the town a great deal.

Hengdian suffered its most serious crisis in the latest 22 years this summer. Not only were extras and prop makers affected, but also people working in the tourism, dining and accommodation industries.


Zhang Hailong, who has 11 years of experience at Hengdian World Studios, reads over a script in preparation for his role as a merchant. (Photo: Global Times)

A change veteran actor Zhang Hailong has seen in the industry since the scandal has been more considerate treatment of grass-roots people in Hengdian, such as a simple canteen with table and desks for the extras to have meals. In the past, everybody squatted with a box of lunch in their hands.

Zhang sees the tax scandal over Fan Bingbing's income as a positive turn for the industry. "I think if the payment for superstars could decrease, more money could be used to improve production, such as props and the environment for workers," he noted.

Talking about the slowdown in the film and television industry, Zhang said not only Hengdian was influenced. The drop-off in production has spread throughout the country.

He was planning to take a bit role in Anhui this summer and had booked the air ticket already. Unexpectedly, the crew was dissolved right before his flight. Shooting hasn't been rescheduled.

"In the first half year, only internet dramas dared to shoot, because they had a short production period, low investment and easy-to-reach platforms to broadcast. These shows can expect instant revenue," said Zhang. 

Internet dramas have made up the majority of productions in Hengdian in the past two years, according to Chen.

Story of Yanxi Palace is an internet drama which has been viewed over 15 billion times on iQiyi, China's Netflix-like video site. The series is popular due to its delicate costumes with historical details, and the realistic sets thanks to Hengdian World Studios.

Chen said that by November 22, Hengdian World Studios had accommodated 390 crews, well on the way to meeting its 2018 target of 400. 

She said Hengdian World Studios wants to learn from and compete with Hollywood. "Hengdian will definitely challenge Hollywood one day," Chen said.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Brian Lowe, Lance Crayon, and Da Hang. Music by: Text from Global Times)

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy to comply with the latest laws and regulations. The updated policy explains the mechanism of how we collect and treat your personal data. You can learn more about the rights you have by reading our terms of service. Please read them carefully. By clicking AGREE, you indicate that you have read and agreed to our privacy policies

Agree and continue