Wannabe actors in China's Hollywood

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/7 19:23:40

Actors are given direction during the filming of the movie Sun Yat-sen in Hengdian, Zhejiang Province. Photo: CFP

Nicknamed China's Hollywood, Hengdian attracts thousands of young people looking to pursue their dream of making a name for themselves in the country's booming movie industry.

The small town in East China's Zhejiang Province is crowded with movie studios and life-size replicas of ancient palaces built to be the backdrops of historical dramas.

Young people who have just arrived in the town attend every audition they can to seize their chance to win a role, even as an extra, eager to appear in a scene with a big-name star. However, years in the background don't always lead to lasting success and most of the young people will see their efforts yield little.

In the film I Am Somebody, by director Er Dongsheng, these wannabe actors in Hengdian are placed on center stage as the camera follows their lives and pursuits. But Er has become worried that the story might have been too romantic and might attract more youngsters to come to Hengdian. Now he is shooting a documentary about Hengdian to show the dark side of the acting trade.

When the Yuanmingyuan Old Summer Palace was rebuilt in Hengdian, it has met with fierce criticism from culture preservationists who described the replica as "worthless," but it does provide a chance for dedicated and talented actors to reenact imperial China.

The qualifications of actors in Hengdian are no higher than those working on Foxconn production lines making iPhones. However, people in Hengdian are happier and more sensitive than those working in factories and their dreams are bigger and more beautiful.

Global Times

Actor Li Pengfei holds a gun before shooting a scene in Hengdian. Photo: CFP

Crew members move a camera crane in Hengdian. Photo: CFP


Actors fall to the ground following an explosion in a scene from the movie Sun Yat-sen. Photo: CFP


Tourists visit a replica of the Forbidden City which was built to be a film set in Hengdian. Photo: CFP

An extra takes a nap on the ground during a break between scenes. Photo: CFP


Newspaper headline: Wannabe actors

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