Across China: Behind the scenes: New production base fuels China's sci-fi moviemaking

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-05 23:33:45|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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JINAN, March 5 (Xinhua) -- With Earth facing imminent demise, Liu Peiqiang must leave his only son and spend the next seven years aboard a space station where the crew's mission is to not only save mankind but Earth as well.

Behind breathtaking scenes, the recent sci-fi hit "The Wandering Earth" features an easily-ignored but key element to the movie's success, the props.

To make scenes in the spacecraft as realistic and detailed as possible, a team of five worked nonstop for a month, the movie's executive producer Wang Hong said.

Taking up eight soundstages, the first round of shooting "The Wandering Earth" started in March 2017 in the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, a movie production base in east China's Shandong Province, where 99 percent of the scenes of the movie were shot.

Covering an area of 1,500 square meters, the "space capsule" took the team 40 days to build.

"What people see in the movie is what the team actually built, not post-production," Wang said, adding that the two-floor capsule was mostly made of wood boards to make it more stereoscopic, offering actors better performing experience.

"The team's efforts in building props not only make up for the weakness of China's movie industry in special effects but also contribute to the success of the movie," said Chen Gang, associate professor with the School of Art and Communication at Beijing Normal University.

During production, the team used two 3D printers to churn out over 10,000 props, including most of the "underground city" and the 3-meter-across wheels of the transport truck.

Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis was built in 2013 and became fully operational in April 2018, covering an area of 1.66 square km and housing a 10,000-square-meter soundstage and a temperature-controlled underwater soundstage.

As a way to support the development of movie industry, local government has offered financial support to the production base -- movies shot at the base can receive subsidies to cover as much as 40 percent of their production costs, according to Zhao Fang, an official with the film and television administration of Lingshan Bay, Qingdao.

To date, the production base has attracted over 200 production companies from home and abroad and has helped with the production of several blockbusters such as "The Great Wall" and "Pacific Rim 2."

Apart from "The Wandering Earth," the production base has also made movies such as "Crazy Alien," another popular sci-fi movie at China's Spring Festival box office, and now all 40 soundstages and most of the 32 prop-making workshops are running at full capacity, according to Zhao Fang.

With its high-quality production, "The Wandering Earth" may herald a new era for the country's sci-fi movies, Yin Hong, vice chairman of China Film Association, said.