As Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. China Film & TV Industry Expo, Raymond Cheng worked diligently behind the scenes to bring together some of the biggest players from Hollywood and China to speak about the growing Chinese marketplace at this year’s inaugural expo.
Co-Productions with China have boomed over the past few years as Hollywood tries to capitalize on China’s emerging marketplace for film, television and new media entertainment.
At this year’s inaugural U.S. China Film & TV Industry Expo held in Los Angeles Sept 15-16, Cheng emphasized the need to further educate industry people on both sides of the world in order to work together on joint partnerships in both markets.
“‘You cannot force Hollywood values on China’,” Cheng said, referring to a statement made during a panel discussion. “I believe that the same can be said about Hollywood as well. Investment dollars are great but at the same time the Hollywood machine works a certain way so old habits are hard to change.
A favored topic of discussion during the expo panels was how to deal with China’s strict co-production rules and regulations.
“When you come to my house you have to take off your shoes,” Cheng said. “That’s the rules of the house. So everyone has to acclimate themselves with each others’ rules and customs. You can’t come to America and expect to not work with the unions or run down the street without getting a filming permit. Every house has its own rules so on both sides. Hollywood and China. We just have to work it out. This the purpose of the expo is to educate and discuss these things. What are the rules? What are the issues? Let’s talk about them. Let’s see if we can make some adjustments and make some concessions here.”
As for the importance of the expo, Cheng stated that the goal is not so much to create simply a trade show with buildings and booths but rather to bring people together.
“It’s the people who come to listen and interact that’s really important,” said Cheng, who was born in Hong Kong but moved to the United States at age 10 and grew up in Southern California.
According to Cheng, the expo was financed solely through private money from Chinese and U.S. business people with no government involvement.
However, the event was collaborative effort with The City of Los Angeles along with the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board.
Featured speakers included several local politicians at various UCFTI events, including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Congresswoman Judy Chu.
With China topping $3.3 billion in ticket revenues to rank as the second largest movie market in total world box offices sales in 2013, it’s no surprise that the burgeoning market would lead to the creation of the UCFTI Expo in order to connect U.S. and Chinese industry leaders looking to get their foot in the door of a growing marketplace for jobs and content.
Founded by Chinese businesswoman Bianca Chen, who has dreamed for many years of creating a two-day expo to bridge the gap between China and Hollywood film and television industries, the UCFTI Expo goal is to be more than just a commercial marketplace for vendors, it is a place to bring together key professionals from both countries to trade, exchange and learn in a cooperative environment.
Cheng stated that the UCFTI Expo will expand in the coming year to include a symposium with collaborations involving the American Film Institute and Chinese students studying abroad that will include educational workshops and breakout sessions focused on content creation for the Chinese marketplace.
The UCFTI Expo also collaborated with New Filmmakers L.A. to showcase several of its filmmaker’s short films at this year’s expo, with Cheng mentioning the possibility of creating a New Filmmakers Asia organization.
Furthermore, Cheng said that plans are in the works for a new media conference focused on Chinese markets with big Internet television players such as China’s Youku and Tencent participating with American giants Youtube and Vimeo.
Another goal of UCFTI Expo organizers is also to put investors in touch with film producers and studios, as well as create more job opportunities for Hollywood through Chinese investment dollars in American co-productions.
“If a filmmaker wanted to make a film in China, hopefully we can help facilitate,” Cheng said. “Either here as an organization directly or by aiding in setting up the connections and network to facilitate it.”
Fore more info about UCFTI please visit: www.ucftiexpo.com