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National News China, New Zealand jointly work on creative aspects of filmmaking
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       Updated:2017-04-24      Text:Large /  Medium  /  Small  


Richard Taylor (center) demonstrates how to turn an audience member into a Hobbit character within 30 minutes. [Photo provided to China Daily]

 

When Sun Lijun visited Wellington-based Weta Workshop in New Zealand 10 years ago, he was impressed by a prop of a sophisticated bow that felt like a real metal bow. The visit thus has pushed the vice-president of Beijing Film Academy to work actively on film-related joint projects of China and New Zealand.


In the past few years, the Beijing academy has sent students to work and get trained at Weta Workshop every year. The workshop is known for its productions of props, weapons, makeup and visual effects for film franchises like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.


Sun says China is short of such kind of talent in its film market. The situation in China is that they spend a lot on buying software and systems from Hollywood, but few are able to make full use of them, resulting in a big waste and little change for China's film production.


At the opening of a visual arts show on Dec 13, in Wuzhen, East China's Zhejiang province, Sun and his peers launched a project to cooperate with the New Zealand company.


Every year, they will send some young Chinese eager to study the craft at Weta Workshop, and fund their works.


Richard Taylor, the owner of Weta Workshop, says he has been in China doing manufacturing for Chinese movies for eight years.


"We want to work for more Chinese movies," says Taylor, adding that his team also has worked with the People's Liberation Army Academy of Arts since President Xi Jinping visited New Zealand in 2014.


During Xi's visit, the president signed with his New Zealand counterpart, John Key, a treaty on cooperation in both the film and TV industries.


With national-level support, Weta Workshop's animation series are introduced to China and many Chinese movies and TV programs are filmed on sets in New Zealand.


Sun believes that in the future, visual-effects production will be affordable and accessible, just as easily as we can use our phone to take good photos, "after we've got enough talented people and learned sufficient experience from the West".


Taylor says that he saw many good qualities in Chinese students at his workshop.


"They're passionate, creative, hardworking and learn quickly," he says.


Gao Xiang, 30, is the only Chinese who now works as a concept designer at Taylor's workshop.


He has been there for three years, taking part in some blockbuster productions and sometimes offering good suggestions.


"After working overseas, I have more motivation to turn to Chinese culture for inspiration," says Gao.