Director Jia Zhangke works in the studio. (Photo: VCG)
As a leading director who has been working in the Chinese film industry for over two decades, Jia Zhangke has been a key player in the recent success of the industry where over 1，000 films were produced in 2018, generating box office receipts of more than 60 billion yuan (about 9 billion US dollars).
However, Jia believes that this success hides a number of problems for the industry, one of which is the lack of movie professionals.
"In the past, we produced around 200 films a year, and the personnel allocation was configured according to this output. In 2018 alone, over a thousand films were made in China. But what such a number demands, is more professionals, from creative staff to technicians," said Jia.
"In fact, we don't have enough professionals to support this progress. Boom operator, for instance, is a job that needs highly professional training. And what's more, the boom operator himself should also be able to bring his emotions and creativity to bear on his job. Basically, we can only train professionals like this, hands-on. But nobody has the time to do so. So such people are very scarce."
Speaking about the consequences of such a talent shortfall, Jia believes that there are no other options but patching over or working until you drop.
The director said, "At the beginning of my film career, I remember that the cameraman, art director, sound engineer and I would get together to conduct on-location investigations and do lots of research two or three months before we finally went to 'action.'"
"The preliminary work took us a great deal of time. Today, apart from the director and his assistant and the producer, the rest will show up no more than a week ahead of shooting. In short, once you've got less time to make a movie, you're limiting your expectations for its quality."
Jia also elaborated on his criteria in choosing actors and actresses. He said first from a professional point of view, the actor or actress should be suited to the role in the movie. Second of all, it's very important to know whether or not the actor or actress is fully committed.
"He or she should respect what they're doing and should be very involved in the role they're playing. I think that's how a good actor should be," according to Jia.