China's Hollywood - Hengdian World Studios sees post-pandemic boom
Published: Jul 07, 2021 04:34 PM
Hengdian Photo: CFP

Hengdian Photo: CFP

Hengdian World Studios, China's equivalent to Hollywood, has fully reclaimed the vitality it had from before the pandemic and has even surpassed it, staff and actors at the film base in East China's Zhejiang Province said on Wednesday. 

Liu Fanming, a manager at Hengdian's props warehouse, told the Global Times that the first half of 2021 has been a positive time for Hengdian World Studios as about 20 large crews have been filming there and that he predicts things will improve even further during the second half of the year. 

Some popular sets are already fully booked, and many crews are working overtime to finish filming on schedule. 

Du Shanshan, an undersecretary at the film base's Sales Department, told the Global Times that there are 59 crews preparing for shoots and 51 crews currently filming, of which 72 percent of the films are filming costume dramas.

As the number of shoots has increased, so has the demand for extra roles.

Zhao Handan, an employee at Hengdian, told the Global Times that the cumulative number of registered extras has exceeded 100,000, and currently more than 8,000 of them have been living in the area in the long term. 

Naturally, the COVID-19 outbreak had an enormous impact on film production.

Zhao noted that in March 2020, when the pandemic was still a major threat, 2,000 extras were working on productions, a huge drop from the 5,000 extras working in March of 2019. 

Li Faguang, an extra who has made the town of Hengdian his home, told the Global Times that during the outbreak, he and a few extras remained at the studios despite the lack of demand for roles. Now that things have recovered, they have found themselves even busier than they were in 2019. 

Li noted that he has been getting 1.5 times more work than that in 2019.

However, since more people than ever are coming to the film base to fulfill their acting dreams, getting roles has become extremely competitive. 

"A competitive extra should continue to practice their acting and Putonghua [Standard Chinese], and be polite and responsible when playing a role even if it doesn't have any lines. This is a matter of accumulating experience. Appearance and luck are also important factors, so not everyone will be rewarded for their hard work, but anyone who doesn't work hard will definitely go downhill," said Li.

As the largest film production base in China, Hengdian World Studios was the main filming place of many revolutionary and historical films and TV dramas about the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, including 1921, The Pioneer, and The Rebel. Considering this connection, the base has recently also become a major tourist spot amid the centennial, according to reports.