The University of Nottingham has delivered a project aimed at upskilling professionals working in China's screen industries.
Last year, China overtook the United States as the world’s largest cinema market in terms of the number of films it screened. However, despite the rapid growth of China’s screen sector, there is a shortage of people with the skills needed to support and expand the industry globally.
The University of Nottingham pilot project, which was funded by Prosperity Fund China, was designed to develop China’s screen industries talent and create opportunities for UK-China collaboration. Based on work with a network of 30 UK and Chinese universities, it was discovered that ‘screenwriting’ and ‘innovation’ skills are in high demand.
A global mind-set
It was acknowledged that China needs talent with a ‘global mind-set and local knowledge’. It also called for an integrated approach for the industry and education providers to work together in this sector.
The masterclass for screenwriters was delivered in the City of Ningbo, where the University of Nottingham has a campus. Dr Julian Stringer, incoming Director of the Institute for Screen Industries Research (ISIR) at the University, brought in a team of experts, including experienced Hollywood film-makers, Ed Solomon (Men in Black, Now You See Me 1 and 2) and Ryan Rowe (The Love Bug, Charlie's Angels).
Together they delivered an interactive two-day programme attended by a group of 20 screenwriters and editors working in China’s film companies and as freelancers.
Hollywood style scripts
Dr Julian Stringer said: "The key aim is to give trainees an understanding of how to develop Hollywood-style scripts with Chinese content. They gain knowledge of contemporary US industry practices and screenwriting principles as well as practical tools on all stages of the writing process."
During the two-day intensive training, which was organised by Ningbo TV & Broadcast Group, Chinese screenwriters also had the chance to present their own creative challenges for Ed Solomon and Ryan Rowe. Mr. Lin Hong, the Director of NBTV6 commented: "This is the first time that we’ve ever seen such an interactive and inspiring Continuing Professional Development programme in China. All trainees would like to see another programme happen in Ningbo soon.’’
The City, which hosts China’s second largest film studio, Xiangshan Film Studio, has ambitious plans to be a ‘film city’, and further investment is planned for the film studio and the surrounding infrastructure in order to support the industry.
A new film academy
Ningbo also unveiled plans to create a new film academy, offering world-class film education and professional training programmes. It will not only focus on skills development, but also plans to cultivate senior managers in the film industry who can make a sustainable development for the film industry in China.
Leading Hollywood screenwriter Ed Solomon, who is currently working on The Invisible Man for Universal Studios which stars Johnny Depp, added: "I had a tremendous time in Ningbo. The filmmaking community is world-class — and the people of the city have so much to be proud of. I cannot wait to return.
“Ningbo is a world class city — and its filmmaking community is bursting with talent. It was an honour to work with them, and I am looking forward to many happy returns.”
Passion for stoytelling
Ryan Rowe agreed: "I loved my time in Ningbo, and was deeply impressed with the ambition and creativity of the trainees. They have a real and genuine passion for storytelling, and so I can't wait to see the films they make."
Mr Linjie Zhu, Founder of Ningbo Jiechuangyuan Culture and Media Co. enjoyed the training: “Over the years I have participated in many training courses in China. I found this one very different with a very high level of interaction and participation. The students can develop skills together via discussions – fantastic!”
A film director from Ningbo TV remarked: “I can now better understand how to develop Hollywood-style scripts with Chinese content. I believe good Chinese stories with strong scripts could be successful globally.”
A creative economy
China is undergoing a huge shift from a manufacturing and export led economy to a consumption driven one, developing into a more creative, consumer-driven economy. The Central Government sets out the target of ‘developing cultural industry into a pillar industry of national economy’, with Chinese creative industries currently growing annually at almost 17%. Creative arts and design courses are now amongst the most popular subjects for Chinese students studying in the UK.
The screen-writing masterclass forms part of a wider portfolio of training activity being led by the University of Nottingham in China, through its International Creative Economy Leadership Academy (ICELA). This includes museum management, and a new programme addressing issues for professionals working in the performing arts.
The University’s dedicated Continuing Professional Development (CPD) team works to support China’s talent development in the creative industry, and is keen to work with industry partners in the UK and globally to engage with China in this growing industry.
For more information, contact Min Rose Deputy Director, Knowledge Exchange Asia, at the University of Nottingham, on firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 0115 74 84137
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK for research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.
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The Institute for Screen Industries Research (ISIR)
ISIR is the first ideas incubator and innovation generator for the film and TV industry based at a leading UK university. Established in 2011, it forges partnerships between industry and academia in a confidential data-secured environment. Building on Nottingham’s established reputation as a centre of excellence for screen industries research, as well as the close links it enjoys with Dolby Laboratories, Fox Entertainment, Youku Tudou, Xinhua Net and other major media companies, it offers unmatched resources for talent development and audience testing along with a range of bespoke professional development programmes. In addition, ISIR runs a unique MA in Film, Television and Screen Industries which provides a global cohort of students with the toolkit to master today's fast-changing industry landscape.